Lady Antebellum is a Grammy finalist for Record, Album and Song of the Year. Their chief country rival, Miranda Lambert, was passed over for nominations for Record and Album of the Year. (Her hit, "The House That Built Me," is nominated for Song of the Year, but she didn't write it.)
This might lead you to think that Lady A will easily beat Lambert in the country categories in which they go head-to-head. Not necessarily.
The two acts competed against each other in three categories at last fall's Country Music Assn. Awards. Lady A took Single of the Year for its monster hit "Need You Now," but Lambert won for Album of the Year and Music Video of the Year. In addition, "The House That Built Me" won for Song of the Year, beating "Need You Now."
It looks like Lambert is stronger with "pure country" voters, while Lady A is stronger with "crossover" voters, people who listen to both pop and country. Who will prevail at the Grammys? Sometimes you can get an indication by checking to see who was booked to perform on the telecast, but Lady A and Lambert are both set to perform.
Let's take a closer look at the nominations in the country field.
Best Country Album
The nominees: Dierks Bentley's Up On The Ridge, Zac Brown Band's You Get What You Give, Jamey Johnson's The Guitar Song, Lady Antebellum's Need You Now, Miranda Lambert's Revolution
The likely winner: Need You Now
. Lambert won in this category at both of the major country music awards shows (presented by the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Assn.) (Owing to the varying eligibility periods, Lambert and Lady A went head-to-head only at the CMA show.) Lambert may do it again, but Lady A's nominations in the top three categories will probably give them the edge. The Grammys' voting base is broader than those country organizations.
Best Country Song
The nominees: the George Strait hit "The Breath You Take" (Casey Beathard, Dean Dillon and Jessie Jo Dillon), the Zac Brown Band hit "Free" (Zac Brown), the Miranda Lambert hit "The House That Built Me" (Tom Douglas, Allen Shamblin), the Gretchen Wilson hit "I'd Love To Be Your Last" (Rivers Rutherford, Annie Tate and Sam Tate), the Band Perry hit "If I Die Young (Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry), the Lady Antebellum hit "Need You Now" (Lady Antebellum with Josh Kear)
The likely winner: "Need You Now." It's very close between this and "The House That Built Me." "Need You Now" is closing in on Taylor Swift's
"Love Story" as the top-selling country hit of the digital age. Voters like to celebrate success.
Best Female Country Vocal Performance
The nominees: Jewel's "Satisfied," Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me," LeAnn Rimes' "Swingin'," Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home," Gretchen Wilson's "I'd Love To Be Your Last."
The likely winner: "The House That Built Me." This will be Lambert's first Grammy. Underwood won in this category three years in a row with "Jesus, Take The Wheel," "Before He Cheats" and "Last Name." Wilson won for 2004's "Redneck Woman."
Grammy trivia: Jewel's nomination is a case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Jewel was nominated for Best New Artist of 1996, but lost to country star LeAnn Rimes.
Best Male Country Vocal Performance
The nominees: Jamey Johnson's "Macon," Toby Keith's "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song)," David Nail's "Turning Home," Keith Urban's "'Til Summer Comes Around," Chris Young's "Gettin' You Home."
The likely winner: "'Til Summer Comes Around." Urban is the only one of these five finalists who was nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year at the CMA Awards. This would be Urban's fourth win in this category. He previously won for "You'll Think Of Me," "Stupid Boy" and "Sweet Thing." "Sweet Thing" and "'Til Summer Comes Around" are both from Defying Gravity
, which was a finalist for Best Country Album a year ago.
Grammy trivia: The George Strait hit "The Breath You Take," which is a finalist for Best Country Song, was passed over in this category.
Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals
The nominees: Zac Brown Band's "Free," Dailey & Vincent's "Elizabeth," Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," Little Big Town's "Little White Church," the SteelDrivers' "Where Rainbows Never Die"
The likely winner: "Need You Now." The group won in this category last year for "I Run To You." They'll be only the fourth act to win back-to-back awards in this category, following Alabama
, the Judds
and Dixie Chicks
Grammy trivia: "Free" is from the Zac Brown Band's previous album, The Foundation, which was a finalist for Best Country Album a year ago. "Elizabeth" is from Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers, a tribute album to the group that won a Grammy as Best New Country & Western Artist of 1965.
The Band Perry's "If I Die Young," which is nominated for Best Country Song, was passed over in this category.
Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
The nominees: "Bad Angel" (Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert & Jamey Johnson), "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" (Dierks Bentley, Del McCoury and the Punch Brothers), "As She's Walking Away" (Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson), "Hillbilly Bone" (Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins), "I Run To You" (Marty Stuart and Connie Smith).
The likely winner: "Hillbilly Bone." This won the CMA Award for Musical Event of the Year. "Bad Angel'' was also a finalist for that award. "As She's Walking Away" sold nearly as well in the digital realm as "Hillbilly Bone."
Grammy trivia: Connie Smith and Marty Stuart are vying to become the second married couple to win this award. (The two singers were married in 1997.) Faith Hill and Tim McGraw have won here twice. (Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks also won in this category, but the award came eight years before they were married.) Smith landed her first country hit, "Once A Day," in 1964. This is her 11th Grammy nomination. She has yet to win.
Best Country Instrumental Performance
The nominees: Cherryholmes' "Tattoo Of A Smudge," the Infamous Stringdusters' "Magic #9," Punch Brothers' "New Chance Blues," Darrell Scott's "Willow Creek," Marty Stuart's "Hummingbyrd."
The likely winner: "Hummingbyrd." Stuart's nomination in the Country Collaboration category may help him here. Voters will want to give him something. The Infamous Stringdusters track also has a good chance.
To My Readers: If you missed my preview of the "Big Grammy Categories," here's a link. And here are links to my pop and rock and R&B and rap previews.
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