Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Stagecoach

ANALYSIS: Country (Especially Women!) Shows Strong in Grammy Nominations

We've had a few days to think through the nominations for the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards, and man did country music come out looking good. And perhaps a little unlike the CMA and ACM awards, women in country showed up REALLY strong. Let's take a look at some of the categories where country stood out.

Record Of The Year
“I Like It” – Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin
“The Joke” – Brandi Carlile
“This is America” – Childish Gambino
“God’s Plan” — Drake
“Shallow” — Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
“All The Stars” — Kendrick Lamar & SZA
“Rockstar” — Post Malone Featuring 21 Savage
“The Middle” – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey

ANALYSIS: The top award of the night features three artists with country ties, including two women. Brandi Carlile may be more folk country or Americana, but undoubtedly is representing the genre well with six nominations. And while Lady Gaga is not typically a country artist, her hit song from the movie "A Star is Born" with Bradley Cooper has more of a country feel, as Cooper's character in the film is a country music superstar. And lastly, Maren Morris is one of the top women in country music for 2018, but alas, this song was a pop smash.

MALIBU, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 02: Musician Brandi Carlile performs onstage during the One Love Malibu Festival at King Gillette Ranch on December 02, 2018 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for ABA)

Album of the Year
Invasion Of Privacy — Cardi B
By The Way, I Forgive You — Brandi Carlile
Scorpion — Drake
H.E.R. — H.E.R.
Beerbongs & Bentleys — Post Malone
Dirty Computer — Janelle Monáe
Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves
Black Panther: The Album, Music From And Inspired By — Various Artists

ANALYSIS: Brandi Carlile pops back up here, with her beautiful "By The Way, I Forgive You" album coupling with Kacey Musgraves' stunning "Golden Hour" to give country legitimate contenders for the best album honor.


Song Of The Year

“All The Stars” —Kendrick Lamar & SZA
“Boo’d Up” —Ella Mai
“God’s Plan” —Drake
“In My Blood” —Shawn Mendes
“The Joke” —Brandi Carlile
“The Middle” —Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
“Shallow” — Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
“This Is America” —Childish Gambino

ANALYSIS: Back to the same trio of songs for Record of the Year. Country is all over this one too.


Best New Artist
Chloe x Halle
Luke Combs
Greta Van Fleet
H.E.R.
Dua Lipa
Margo Price
Bebe Rexha
Jorja Smith

ANALYSIS: The strongest country contender of the night might very well be Luke Combs, who was undoubtedly the country newcomer of the year. Margo Price may not be a name many country fans know, but you probably should, because she's tremendous. And rounding out the country influences in the new artist category, country fans will know the name Bebe Rexha from her megahit collaboration with Florida Georgia Line.

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 07: Luke Combs performs during a Radio.com 'Stars and Strings' Concert to honor our nation's veterans at Chicago Theatre on November 7, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for CBS Radio)

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
"Fall In Line" - Christina Aguilera featuring Demi Lovato
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" - Backstreet Boys
"'S Wonderful" - Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
"Shallow" - Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
"Girls Like You" - Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B
"Say Something" - Justin Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton
"The Middle" - Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey

ANALYSIS: Loose country ties again here with "Shallow" and "The Middle" having their country connections. But then a big country connection with Chris Stapleton's collaboration with Justin Timberlake falling into the pop category.


Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Love Is Here To Stay - Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
My Way - Willie Nelson
Nat "King" Cole & Me - Gregory Porter
Standards (Deluxe) - Seal
The Music...The Mem'ries...The Magic! - Barbra Streisand

ANALYSIS: Classic country makes its mark here, with our old friend Willie Nelson showing up here. But man, that competition he's up against is fierce here.

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson performs during 2017 Farm Aid on September 16, 2017 in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)


Best Pop Vocal Album

Camila - Camila Cabello
Meaning of Life - Kelly Clarkson
Sweetener - Ariana Grande
Shawn Mendes - Shawn Mendes
Beautiful Trauma - P!nk
Reputation - Taylor Swift

ANALYSIS: Whether she's country now or not, Taylor Swift's mark on the industry is undoubtedly immeasurable. A surprisingly quiet showing from T-Swizzle this year, however.

Best Country Solo Performance
“Wouldn’t It Be Great?” – Loretta Lynn
“Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” – Maren Morris
“Butterflies” – Kacey Musgraves
“Millionaire” – Chris Stapleton
“Parallel Line” – Keith Urban

ANALYSIS: Well hello ladies! A very different looking lineup than what the country industry awards from this year. Loretta Lynn, Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves are stealing the spotlight from the guys here, even with big names like Stapleton and Urban in the mix. All five of these tracks are great though, and the GRAMMY's clearly got this category right.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 28: Kacey Musgraves performs onstage during 2018 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 28, 2018 in Indio, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Shoot Me Straight” – Brothers Osborne
“Tequila” – Dan + Shay
“When Someone Stops Loving You” – Little Big Town
“Dear Hate” – Maren Morris feat. Vince Gill
“Meant to Be” – Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

ANALYSIS: Another category with women showing up more so than they did in the industry awards. But there is a lot of big power in this category. "Tequila" and "Meant to Be" seem to be the favorites, but GRAMMY voters sometimes think a little differently.

Best Country Song
“Break Up in the End” – Cole Swindell
“Dear Hate” – Maren Morris feat. Vince Gill
“Space Cowboy” – Kacey Musgraves
“Tequila” – Dan + Shay
“When Someone Stops Loving You” – Little Big Town

ANALYSIS: Many country radio fans may not have heard three of these tracks, as "Dear Hate", "Space Cowboy" and "When Someone Stops Loving You" weren't chart toppers. But all five of these tracks are strong, and GRAMMY's nailed this category.

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 07: Cole Swindell performs during a Radio.com 'Stars and Strings' Concert to honor our nation's veterans at Chicago Theatre on November 7, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for CBS Radio)

Best Country Album
Unapologetically — Kelsea Ballerini
Port Saint Joe — Brothers Osborne
Girl Going Nowhere — Ashley McBryde
Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves
From A Room: Volume 2 — Chris Stapleton

ANALYSIS: While CMAs had the Kacey Musgraves and Chris Stapleton albums on their list, the other three were different. But we can't help but think maybe GRAMMY got this a little more accurate too. With three women in this lineup, it's obvious GRAMMY was trying to show the folks in Nashville something about their exclusion this year. But don't think for a second GRAMMY missed the mark, these are all GREAT country music albums.

Best Americana Album

“By the Way, I Forgive You” — Brandi Carlile
“Things Have Changed” — Bettye LaVette
“The Tree of Forgiveness” — John Prine
“The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone” — Lee Ann Womack
“One Drop of Truth” — The Wood Brothers

ANALYSIS: Think of Americana as country music's artistic and soulful cousin. When you do that, it's not hard to see why many artists toe the line of both genres. Brandi Carlile definitely fits Americana more than country, but the crossover here is undeniable. Most notably, Lee Ann Womack, who has been an undeniable country star in her career, had one of the strongest Americana albums this year.

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 09: Recording artist Lee Ann Womack performs onstage in the HGTV Lodge at CMA Music Fest on June 9, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for HGTV)