This post has been updated with predictions about who will win the country categories of the 2017 Grammys.
This Week’s News
The nominees for the 2017 Grammys were released Tuesday. They were full of the usual suspects (Adele, Beyonce, Drake) and some serious head-scratchers (Justin Bieber in the “Album of the Year” category”; David Bowie’s omission in the same group). But one of the most shocking aspects of this year’s nominations was all of the attention given to Sturgill Simpson, and in the country category, no less.
Simpson’s third album, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Country Album.
Simpson, who has kept a low profile in the past few years except for touring and occasionally sparring with the Nashville establishment, said in a Tuesday interview with the New York Times that he was still processing what the nomination meant.
“I’m just grateful,” he said. “I really can’t believe it. To be even mentioned in the same breath as all those other artists is a little surreal for someone like me.”
Those other artists in the Album of the year category include Beyonce (“Lemonade”), Adele (“25”), Justin Bieber (“Purpose”) and Drake (“Views”).
“I loved ‘Lemonade.’ I thought it was genius. I love the Adele record. I really, really wish, honestly, and no [expletive] — I would’ve liked to see Frank Ocean’s name where mine is,” Simpson told the Times.
Simpson was last nominated at the 2015 Grammys in the Americana category for “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music,” an album that sounds more “country” than the rollicking, Dap King-laced sounds on “Sailor’s Guide,” but Simpson was included in the country category for this year’s awards.
“Just being nominated in that field — I’m trying to maintain some perspective. I’d resigned myself months ago that nothing like this was going to happen and was totally O.K. with that,” Simpson said in the Times.
Simpson also said he might have to miss the entire ceremony, which will be aired live on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Central.
“My wife and I have our second child on the way, due any time in the first two weeks of February…I would love to be [at the Grammys], but I’m not going to miss a birth for it.”
He also said he might have to tour more now, since he was included on a list of more well-known musicians.
“But it might be a good idea to go play some shows again, I don’t know, given how many millions of people are saying, ‘Who the [expletive] is Sturgill Simpson?’ as of this morning.”
Other nomination categories that country music/Americana artists appear in are as follows, along with my picks for who will win:
Best country solo performance:
“Love Can Go to Hell” — Brandy Clark
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert- Maren Morris may be a crowd favorite, and recently won New Artist of the Year at the 2016 CMAs, but she’ll probably win that category here, too. Which leaves this category wide open for Lambert.
“My Church” — Maren Morris
“Church Bells” — Carrie Underwood
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Keith Urban
Best American roots performance:
“Ain’t No Man” — The Avett Brothers
“Mother’s Children Have a Hard Time” — Blind Boys of Alabama
“Factory Girl” — Rhiannon Giddens
“House of Mercy” — Sarah Jarosz
“Wreck You” — Lori McKenna- This one will be between McKenna and Giddens. But I’m thinking this plaintive ballad will add on to her CMA win for Song of the Year.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
“Cinema” — Andrea Bocelli
“Fallen Angels” — Bob Dylan
“Stages Live”— Josh Groban
“Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” — Willie Nelson- Given the competition, this could come down to Nelson and recent Nobel prize winner Dylan. But, here’s hoping for the Red-headed Stranger.
“Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” — Barbra Streisand
Best country duo/group performance
“Different For Girls” — Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King
“21 Summer” — Brothers Osborne- This is what should win, although Dierks Bentley could show some competition and the voters might have gone with the legacy tribute for Dolly.
“Setting the World On Fire” — Kenny Chesney & P!nk
“Jolene” — Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton
“Think of You” — Chris Young With Cassadee Pope
Best country song
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen, songwriters (Keith Urban)
“Die a Happy Man” — Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur, songwriters (Thomas Rhett)
“Humble and Kind” — Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw) Another tough category to call, but it’s either this or “My Church” or “Vice.”
“My Church” — busbee & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris)
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
Best country album
“Big Day In a Small Town” — Brandy Clark
“Full Circle” — Loretta Lynn
“Hero” — Maren Morris
“A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” — Sturgill Simpson- The biggest victory for Simpson was to just get nominated for Album of the Year, which, with competition from Adele and Beyonce, he probably won’t win. He has a much bette shot here, although Clark could give him a run for his money.
“Ripcord” — Keith Urban
Best roots gospel album
“Better Together” — Gaither Vocal Band
“Nature’s Symphony In 432” — The Isaacs
“Hymns” — Joey+Rory– The Grammys have an opportunity to honor an album the the CMAs completely ignored.
“Hymns and Songs of Inspiration” — Gordon Mote
“God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson” — (Various Artists)
American roots music
“Alabama at Night” — Robbie Fulks
“City Lights” — Jack White
“Gulfstream” — Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars
“Kid Sister” — The Time Jumpers
“Wreck You” — Lori McKenna– If McKenna doesn’t win for “American Roots Performance,” she’ll get this one.
Best Americana album
“True Sadness” — The Avett Brothers
“This Is Where I Live” — William Bell
“The Cedar Creek Sessions” — Kris Kristofferson- Recorded in Austin, this jam session is Kristofferson his best.
“The Bird & the Rifle” — Lori McKenna
“Kid Sister” — The Time Jumpers
Best bluegrass album
“Original Traditional” — Blue Highway
“Burden Bearer” — Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
“The Hazel and Alice Sessions” — Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands
“North By South” — Claire Lynch
“Coming Home” — O’Connor Band With Mark O’Connor
Best folk album
“Silver Skies Blue” — Judy Collins & Ari Hest
“Upland Stories” — Robbie Fulks
“Factory Girl” — Rhiannon Giddens
“Weighted Mind” — Sierra Hull
“Undercurrent” — Sarah Jarosz
Best recording package
“Anti” (Deluxe Edition) — Ciarra Pardo & Robyn Fenty, art directors (Rihanna)
“Blackstar” — Jonathan Barnbrook, art director (David Bowie)
“Human Performance” — Andrew Savage, art director (Parquet Courts)
“Sunset Motel” — Sarah Dodds & Shauna Dodds, art directors (Reckless Kelly)
“22, A Million” — Eric Timothy Carlson, art director (Bon Iver)
Best album notes
“The Complete Monument & Columbia Albums Collection” — Mikal Gilmore, album notes writer (Kris Kristofferson)
“The Knoxville Sessions, 1929-1930: Knox County Stomp” — Ted Olson & Tony Russell, album notes writers (Various Artists)
“Ork Records: New York, New York” — Rob Sevier & Ken Shipley, album notes writers (Various Artists)
“Sissle and Blake Sing Shuffle Along” — Ken Bloom & Richard Carlin, album notes writers (Eubie Blake & Noble Sissle)
“Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism & the Phonograph, 1890-1900” — Richard Martin, album notes writer (Various Artists)
Best music film
“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: Steve Aoki” — Justin Krook, video director; Brent Almond, Matt Colon, David Gelb, Ryan Kavanaugh, Happy Walters & Matthew Weaver, video producers
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week the Touring Years” — Ron Howard, video director; Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Scott Pascucci & Nigel Sinclair, video producers
“Lemonade” — Beyoncé Knowles Carter & Kahlil Joseph, video directors; Beyoncé Knowles Carter, video producer
“The Music of Strangers” — Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble Morgan Neville, video director; Caitrin Rogers, video producer
“American Saturday Night: Live From the Grand Ole Opry” — George J. Flanigen IV, video director; John Burke & Lindsey Clark, video producers
This Week’s Best New Song
“With You I Am” is the first official music video from Cody Johnson‘s “Gotta be Me” album. When the video was released last week, it hit more than 1.6 million views on Facebook in less than 24 hours (now at a little more than 3 million views) and it’s almost at 100,000 views on Youtube.
The song, a love ballad dedicated to his wife Brandi (who appears in the video with their daughter, Clara Mae) sounds like a throwback to the Alan Jackson and George Strait albums of the ’90s, with plenty of twin fiddles and steel guitars, but also sounds modern at the same time. It’s heartfelt and original.
This Week’s Worst New Song
Kane Brown, the so-called “Justin Bieber” of country music, recently released his eponymous debut album. I haven’t heard the whole thing. “What Ifs” and “Thunder In the Rain”, while not horrible, are not country in the slightest. “What Ifs” sounds like Avicii crossed with bro-country two years too late. But the YouTube star’s rap-singing cadence actually helps with the soul-searching “Learning,” about Brown’s tough upbringing in East Tennessee.
This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin
It’s been a great week for live country in Austin— Dolly Parton just played the Frank Erwin Center Tuesday night, where she “amazed the crowd with her wide-ranging musical talent.” But there’s still more great music to come this weekend.
If you missed Amanda Shires this year at the Austin City Limits Festival because you had to choose between her or Willie Nelson, you’re in luck. Shires will be back in Austin this Friday at the Texas Union Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25.The Lubbock-raised Shires is touring to support her new album, “My Piece of Land,” released in September.
This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: email@example.com.