The question is, will Taylor Swift continue her winning streak and pull through for country music at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards? While Swift leads the country genre with eight nominations, including five nods outside of the Country Field, she is only second to Beyoncé, who leads overall with 10 nominations. Swift's General Field nods include Album Of The Year for Fearless, as well as Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for "You Belong With Me." She shares a collaborative Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nomination with Colbie Caillat for the song "Breathe."
Country newcomers the Zac Brown Band eceived a nomination for Best New Artist, as well as nods for Best Country Album for The Foundation and Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for the song "Chicken Fried."
While you could say Swift and the Zac Brown Band are representing country music in the overall categories, let's not forget the Country Field nominations within the genre.
Swift, Lee Ann Womack and George Strait lead the genre with three nominations each.
Best Female Country Vocal Performance:
- "Dead Flowers" — Miranda Lambert
- "I Just Call You Mine" — Martina McBride
- "White Horse" — Taylor Swift
- "Just A Dream" — Carrie Underwood
- "Solitary Thinkin'" — Lee Ann Womack
It's possible for Swift to take this category, but I would love to see Lambert pick up the GRAMMY for "Dead Flowers," the debut single from her latest album, Revolution. On the contrary, this could very well be a great year for Womack. Her last win was in 2002 for a collaboration with Willie Nelson.
Best Male Country Vocal Performance:
- "All I Ask For Anymore" —Trace Adkins
- "People Are Crazy" — Billy Currington
- "High Cost Of Living" — Jamey Johnson
- "Living For The Night" — George Strait
- "Sweet Thing" — Keith Urban
This category is really tough. Urban has his star power to rely on, but I think I would put my money on the "Texas Troubadour," George Strait. "Living For The Night" was an awesome song and Strait had a great year with it.
Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals:
- "Cowgirls Don't Cry" — Brooks & Dunn
- "Chicken Fried" — Zac Brown Band
- "I Run To You" — Lady Antebellum
- "Here Comes Goodbye" — Rascal Flatts
- "It Happens" — Sugarland
Sugarland is the incumbent in this category and is usually my first pick. But putting them head to head with newcomers Lady Antebellum is going to give the duo a run for their money. Lady Antebellum has had a great year and could quite possibly take one home. Hey, "it happens!" I can't ignore the fact that Books & Dunn, within the last year, announced the retirement of the duo. It would be great to see a GRAMMY win as a final salute.
Best Country Collaboration With Vocals:
- "Beautiful World" — Dierks Bentley & Patty Griffin
- "Down The Road" — Kenny Chesney & Mac McAnally
- "Start A Band" — Brad Paisley & Keith Urban
- "I Told You So" — Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis
- "Everything But Quits" — Lee Ann Womack & George Strait
The Bentley/Griffin duet, while awesome, is probably the most unknown in this category. Underwood's rendition of Travis' "I Told You So," then a duet, really took off this summer. But Paisley/Urban's "Start A Band" is my number one pick in this category.
Best Country Song:
- "All I Ask For Anymore" — Casey Beathard & Tim James, songwriters (Trace Adkins)
- "High Cost Of Living" —Jamey Johnson & James Slater, songwriters (Jamey Johnson)
- "I Run To You" — Tom Douglas, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott, songwriters (Lady Antebellum)
- "People Are Crazy" — Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones, songwriters (Billy Currington)
- "White Horse" — Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
I think Johnson is an excellent artist/performer and he is an equally awesome writer. My nod goes to Johnson and Slater for "High Cost Of Living." If you haven't given this a spin, do so. It's raw and real. Lady A's "I Run To You" and Swift's "White Horse" are also major contenders in this category.
Best Country Album:
- The Foundation — Zac Brown Band
- Twang — George Strait
- Fearless — Taylor Swift
- Defying Gravity — Keith Urban
- Call Me Crazy — Lee Ann Womack
Again, I wouldn't be surprised if Swift took this award. She is highly talented and worthy of it, but I think the Zac Brown Band should take it for their debut album, The Foundation. The album has already produced several radio hits, including "Chicken Fried," "Whatever It Is" and "Toes," while "Highway 20 Ride" is climbing the charts as I write this. We'll see, but hopefully this will be an even better year for the Zac Brown Band.