Predictions for Country & American Roots Categories at the 2017 Grammy Awards

Grammy

This Sunday we celebrate the biggest music awards show of the years. I’m of course referring to the 59th Grammy Awards, set to air Sunday night at 8 pm ET on CBS. Many of the awards however are presented in the pre-show that’s live streamed online and information for this can found be found here. After hosting for five years, LL Cool J steps aside as host and The Late Late Show host James Corden takes over. Multiple country artists will be performing on the show, including Sturgill Simpson, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban (most likely new single “The Fighter”), Little Big Town (part of tribute to Bee Gees), Maren Morris (duet with Alicia Keys) and Kelsea Ballerini (duet with Lukas Graham). Now let’s get to the predictions! Keep in mind I’m not the best at this prediction game, but I feel like I do a little better each year. The award shows can be unpredictable. And be sure to make your own predictions in the comments.

Note: I will not be doing a live blog this year. I will however be live tweeting it all on Twitter, where you can all of my live thoughts as the show unfolds. Just go to twitter.com/realcountryview to follow if you don’t have Twitter. I’ll also most likely be doing a recaps/reaction post.

Album of the Year

  • Adele – 25
  • Beyoncé – Lemonade 
  • Justin Bieber – Purpose 
  • Drake – Views
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth of course. Just imagine the outcries afterwards of all the big names that got taken down by some guy from Kentucky who made an album for his son.

What I Predict Will Win: Beyoncé’s Lemonade is the clear favorite I think, with Adele being the closest competition. But with other big names in Drake and Bieber also here, the votes could easily split and lead to Sturgill pulling off an upset similar to Beck a few years ago. I’d be fine with Beyoncé and Adele winning if Sturgill doesn’t, as I enjoyed both of their albums.

Best New Artist

  • Maren Morris
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Chance The Rapper
  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Anderson .Paak

Who I Would Pick To Win: Anderson .Paak or Chance The Rapper, as both of their latest albums were awesome. But if I had to pick between these two, I would go with .Paak.

Who I Predict Will Win: Honestly I have no clue here. I could see any of these nominees winning, even Kelsea Ballerini because despite being a complete unknown outside of the country music bubble, Black River Entertainment continues to prove they have a lot of friends in high places. Morris is getting to duet with Alicia Keys and is quickly becoming a darling on the awards circuit. I’ll be content as long as Ballerini or The Chainsmokers don’t win.

Best Country Solo Performance 

  • Brandy Clark – “Love Can Go To Hell”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells”
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

What I Would Pick To Win: Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” (Anything but Urban’s song, which is ironically exactly what I wrote here last year)

What I Predict Will Win: Maren Morris’ “My Church” due to as I said above Morris quickly become an awards circuit favorite and this single being extremely popular. The other favorite I would think is Underwood, as she’s been a favorite of the Grammys.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
  • Kenny Chesney & P!nk – “Setting The World on Fire”
  • Dolly Parton & Pentatonix – “Jolene”
  • Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Woof this category is rough. I guess I would go with “21 Summer.”

What I Predict Will Win: Dierks Bentley & Elle King’s “Different For Girls” because apparently people are okay with stereotypical bullshit and really think this is some deep song.

Best Country Song

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen)
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” (Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur)
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind” (Lori McKenna)
  • Maren Morris – “My Church” (Maren Morris & busbee)
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne)

What I Would Pick To Win: Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” (Not Urban or Rhett)

What I Predict Will Win: Any of these have a great shot at winning I think. But I think they’ll go with “Humble and Kind” or “Vice.”

Best Country Album

  • Brandy Clark – Big Day in a Small Town
  • Loretta Lynn – Full Circle
  • Maren Morris – Hero
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth 
  • Keith Urban – Ripcord

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Predict Will Win: A Sailor’s Guide To Earth is pretty much a lock here, with Simpson getting an overall Album of the Year nomination and a performance slot.

Best American Roots Performance 

  • The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”
  • Blind Boys of Alabama – “Mother’s Children Have a Hard Time”
  • Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”
  • Sarah Jarosz – “House of Mercy”
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”

What I Predict Will Win: The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”

Best American Roots Song

  • Robbie Fulks – “Alabama at Night” (Robbie Fulks)
  • Jack White – “City Lights” (Jack White)
  • Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars – “Gulfstream” (Eric Adcock & Roddie Romero)
  • The Time Jumpers – “Kid Sister” (Vince Gill)
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You” (Lori McKenna & Felix McTeigue)

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Predict Will Win: Jack White – “City Lights”

Best Americana Album

  • The Avett Brothers – True Sadness 
  • William Bell – This Is Where I Live
  • Kris Kristofferson – The Cedar Creek Sessions
  • Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle
  • The Time Jumpers – Kid Sister

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle

What I Predict Will Win: William Bell – This Is Where I Live

Review – Beyoncé & The Dixie Chicks’ “Daddy Lessons”

daddy-lessons

Did you know there’s been a controversy surrounding Beyoncé, the Dixie Chicks and the CMA? It’s such an under-the-radar story and almost nobody is talking about it. I for one am shocked. All sarcasm aside, this story has been raging for days in the country music and parts of the rest of the music community. I hear bullshit from both sides and it’s so stupid. All I’ll have to say on this “controversy” is this: If you didn’t have a problem with Justin Timberlake performing at last year’s CMA Awards, but you do have a problem with Beyoncé performing at this year’s CMA Awards, then you’re a hypocrite. And you wonder why the country music community is unfairly stereotyped as racist and sexist. I digress because like always I would rather focus on the music. That music today is Beyoncé’s new, country take on her popular song “Daddy Lessons” off of her excellent album Lemonade that features the iconic Dixie Chicks that was performed at the CMA Awards and has since had a studio recording of it released.

I’ve said before in various places that the original version of “Daddy Lessons” was not country and I would classify it more as southern flavored R&B. Nevertheless it was nice to see Beyoncé embrace her southern roots on a song and it’s understandable why many in the country community would gravitate towards this song. That’s because the song itself has always been country. What’s more country than a song about a father passing on life lessons to her daughter? This sense of family and tradition is a vital part of country music and it’s appeal and kudos to Beyoncé for incorporating this into her music so flawlessly. In this new version of the song the instrumentation is definitely country, as the song opens with some excellent harmonica play and noticeably more subdued horns (which I remind you again is a part of country music going back to Western Swing).

The harmonica play shows up frequently throughout the song and essentially replaces the booming horn section in the original version. There’s also some noticeable fiddle and banjo play throughout to give it a decidedly rustic feel. Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks sound great together and fit like a glove, especially when harmonizing. The icing on top of the cake for this song is when the quartet break into the Dixie Chicks’ 2002 hit “Long Time Gone,” written by the excellent Darrell Scott. They sing the main lines, which still ring true: “Now they sound tired, but they don’t sound Haggard/They got money but they don’t have Cash/They got Junior but they don’t have Hank/I think I think I think…” Yet people are complaining about the return of one of the most traditional country trios in the history of the genre meanwhile Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini performed on the same show and none of them have ever come close to sounding as traditional as the Dixie Chicks.

I thoroughly enjoyed the original version of “Daddy Lessons” and I think I enjoy this version even more, as a top pop artist and one of country music’s all-time best trios come together to create something great. I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to these four recording more music together in the future, maybe even a full country album to really get heads spinning. At the end of the day I don’t care about all of the outside stuff because it’s impossible for me to not recognize and appreciate when great music is delivered.

Grade: 9/10

 

Recommend? – Yes!

Download it for free by clicking here.


Written by Beyoncé Knowles, Wynter Gordon, Kevin Cossom & Alex Delicata

The Hodgepodge: Beyoncé’s Visual Album ‘Lemonade’ and Music’s Next Steps

On April 23, pop sensation Beyoncé dropped another surprise album for her fans. However, unlike 2013’s Beyoncé, this surprise album Lemonade also included a surprise HBO special. This one-hour program was a visual aid to the album, essentially a string of music videos for the album’s songs, interlude with an original poem written by Warsan Shire. That’s breaking it down to almost nothing, because the album, listening to it or watching it, is deep. It’s more than just a call-out to her husband Jay-Z who may or may not have cheated. In an age where social justice is at the forefront of many of today’s issues, Beyoncé’s Lemonade gives a voice to African-American women. A voice that challenges stereotypes and the treatment this group of women tend to receive from the public.

Beyoncé not only simply uses music, but an entire album in multiple media, to send her message. She connects with her core audience in the best way she knows: writing and singing songs. And she takes this a step further with the visual album. As many of the songs deal directly with the anger, confusion, and worry of a possible cheating husband, the visuals on the album tell a more complete story.

Now there’s an elephant in the room that quickly needs to be addressed: Tidal. For a short time, Lemonade, was solely available through Tidal: the music streaming service owned in part by Jay-Z and Beyoncé. It’s obvious that, to some degree, the purpose of Lemonade’s surprise release was to boost sales and interest in the streaming service. In the wake of Lemonade’s release, Tidal saw a huge increase in downloads and online searches. This is only a part-time victory for Tidal, as Lemonade also became available through Apple Music only a day after its release to Tidal. But I also believe that message spoken loudly in Lemonade was also part of Beyoncé’s honest motivation for creating the album.

I’m a big proponent for albums and singers/songwriters using their artistic ability to tell stories and spread messages through the album format. I would love to see more of it in country music. For the most part, country music tends to build albums with songs not generally connected by a theme. It’s not a bad thing, and there are some great albums (Traveller, for instance) that don’t necessarily follow a theme or concept. Albums like Sturgill Simpson’s latest two albums, Southern Family, and Red-Headed Stranger are fantastic examples of concept albums in the genre.

The beauty of devoting a whole album to a story and message is seeing an artist stretch his or her creativity beyond other albums. Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and A Sailor’s Guide to Earth both showcase Sturgill Simpson stretching the genre of country music and his own personal musical prowess, exploring different avenues for the songs’ production. Beyoncé’s Lemonade shows the pop star letting outside genres influence certain songs or chapters of the story, including a country/western influence on “Daddy’s Lessons.”

Unfortunately, mainstream country is too controlled by Music Row who wouldn’t dare risk any loss of revenue by experimenting with a concept or visual album. Artists working independently have the creative freedom to create such an album if they so choose, which is why we see Americana artists release more theme-oriented albums. Now these independent artists don’t necessarily have the same resources as Beyoncé to create a visual representation of their album, but I would like to see more creative visual representations of the music from these artists.

Dierks Bentley is doing a smaller version of a visual album with his own four-part mini-movie over the course of four songs from his upcoming album Black. While this is as much of a marketing ploy for Black as it is a creative display of his music, it’s still something different and I respect the effort from Dierks. While the Black mini-movie isn’t as symbolic as Lemonade, it’s nonetheless a visual representation of the songs – a creative music video that goes beyond three minutes. As music continues to move toward the digital medium, away from radio, and away from music videos on TV, mini-movies for the albums would be a good move forward that I’d be excited to see more of from my favorite artists.

Upcoming/Recent Americana and Country Releases

  • Mary Chapin Carpenter‘s The Things That We Are Made Of will be released tomorrow.
  • Cindy Lauper‘s Detour will also be released tomorrow.
  • Also released tomorrow is Ryan Beaver‘s Rx.
  • Jennifer Nettles’ newest album, Playing With Fire will be released next week on May 13.
  • Americana singer/songwriter Michaela Anne‘s newest album, Bright Lights and the Fame will also be released on the 13th.
  • We’ll soon have a review for the Elephant Revival‘s Petals, released last month.

Throwback Thursday Song

“That Ain’t No Way to Go” by Brooks and Dunn. Hearing Brooks and Dunn perform last Sunday at the ACCA’s was a treat. Ronnie Dunn’s voice is one of country’s best. This 1993 number one hit was released on their album Hard Workin’ Man.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

Tweet of the Week

A milestone always worth mentioning.

iTunes Review

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 10.35.33 PM

This was left under Florida Georgia Line’s newest single “H.O.L.Y.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Hodgepodge: Beck Deserved to Win & Kanye West Doesn’t Understand Artistry

The 57th Grammy Awards took place this past Sunday and as always there’s a lot to talk about afterwards. As the show came to an end, myself along with many others thought the biggest story coming out of it would be Sam Smith’s dominant night, racking up several Grammy wins. The biggest story though would be just after the show. Kanye West, who appeared to be drunk, gave an interview with E! News. West was asked about his thoughts on Beck’s Morning Phase winning the Grammy for Album of the Year and him almost interrupting the rock artist. For those who didn’t see the show, right when Beck was beginning to give his speech after being handed the award, West acted like he going to interrupt him, the same thing he did to Taylor Swift at VMA show a few years ago. Instead West smiled and ran off the stage, in what many people took as a joke.

Except Kanye wasn’t joking. He nearly did it again. Here’s what he told E! News in his interview after the show:

“Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé,” West said in an interview with E! after the ceremony. “At this point we tired of it because what happens is when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats in music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration.

We aren’t playing with them anymore. And by the way, I got my wife, my daughter, and I got my clothing line, so I’m not going to do nothing that would put my daughter at risk, but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything tonight, but you all knew what it meant when ’Ye stepped on that stage.”

This is absolute and complete bullshit of course. Kanye if you remember interrupted Swift because the award Swift won wasn’t given to Beyoncé either. There’s a video going around of Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z in the crowd watching in horror as Kanye nearly did it again. So before I level a rant against Kanye keep in mind they didn’t condone his actions and deserve no blame.

So let’s break down the diarrhea that spewed from Kanye’s mouth. First he says “Beck needs to respect artistry.” Hahahaha! Beck is one of the last people who needs to respect artistry, as anyone who listened to Morning Phase will tell you it was one of the deepest, most complex albums of 2014. As someone who has listened to Morning Phase, I assure you it will take several listens to full grasp it. There’s a reason many music critics, as well as fans put it on their best of albums list for 2014. I didn’t see Beyoncé’s album on too many lists and the ones I did were mainstream outlets that clearly don’t base their list on objectivity. What do they base it on? I’m $ure you can figure it out. This is also coming from an artist that uses so much auto-tune on his songs that it makes T-Pain blush.

Then Kanye says, “…he should have given his award to Beyoncé.” Oh really. Beyoncé, the international superstar, who everyone knows and hears about on major publications everyday should have gotten the award. Like she doesn’t get enough accolades and spotlights. She’s also married to Jay-Z, another international superstar. They have millions of dollars. She is one of the last people in the world who deserves more attention and another award. I’m sure, as much as she wanted to win a Grammy, would agree. I don’t think she’s crying any tears or losing any sleep over it in her mansion.

Meanwhile Beck is by no means a mainstream artist. There’s a reason “Who is Beck” was trending on Twitter, as most mainstream music fans can’t be bothered to expand their horizons beyond bubblegum pop and artificial bullshit. They of course parrot Kanye on social media because they’re ignorant. Beck had been nominated twice before for Album of the Year, so he was pretty ecstatic to win the biggest award of his career. In other words, this award will help him gain more exposure and fans.

The most ridiculous part of Kanye’s statement is next when he goes on this big rant about art being diminished. Well Mr. West if you want to know why the art of music has been diminished, go take a look in the mirror. You’re part of the problem. Your two latest, auto-tuned singles do nothing to enhance the art of music. By the way, how disappointing is it to see the great Sir Paul McCartney lower himself to collaborate with such a buffoon like Kanye? Kanye and his fans though believe that his auto-tune bullshit is true art, hence why he’s called a genius. I don’t think they know what genius means.

Speaking of art in music, let’s just take a look at the making of Beck’s Morning Phase and Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 album (the two albums nominated for Album of the Year). Beck’s album had one producer, which was himself. Beck also wrote and composed each of the songs on the album. Beyoncé’s album had a total of 16 producers, including Beyoncé herself. Beyoncé has a total of 15 writers for the entire album, with Knowles having a co-writing credit on each song. So let me get this straight. Beck did his entire album himself. Beyoncé’s album took a total of 25 different writers and producers.

For those who operate within logic, it’s pretty clear who does and does not respect artistry. Beck clearly respects artistry. Kanye West simply does not respect artistry.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases 

  • Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires caught everyone off guard on Tuesday when Isbell announced via social media that they’re releasing a duo of songs titled Sea Songs:

  • Jana Kramer just released a new single titled “I Got The Boy.” It’s exclusively available through Spotify, which is a curious decision. I’ve listened to it and I’ll say this: I was surprised. Derek is going to have a review on it soon.
  • The Mavericks’ new album Mono comes out next Tuesday. Right now you can stream it on NPR. I’ve already streamed it several times and I’m just going to say it now. It’s great and you need to check it out, just as I expected. How great? You’ll find out in my review next week.
  • Aaron Watson’s The Underdog comes out next Tuesday too. This is highly anticipated release in the Texas country scene, as Watson is a well-known name in Texas. I’ve also noticed that in the last few weeks a new song has been released on iTunes each week off the album and each time it goes to the top of the iTunes country chart. I’m curious to listen to it and see if it lives up to the hype.
  • Steve Earle and the Dukes are also releasing a new album next week titled Terraplane. I can’t keep up with all of these releases! Slow down so I can consume everything, country music.
  • Gary Allan will be releasing a new single called “Hangover Tonight.” Deb Bose of Windmills Country says Country Aircheck confirms this. It will be available for radio add on March 2. Windmills also says the writers for the song are Allan, Cary Barlowe, Jess Frasure and Chris Stapleton.

Throwback Thursday Song

 

Merle Haggard – “Mama Tried.” You can never go wrong with the Hag. To me this is a song every country music fan should know. If you don’t, you need to change this.

My Non-Country Song of the Week

 

HAIM – “If I Could Change Your Mind.” While covering the Grammys isn’t the most fun thing in the world, it did give me a change to broaden my music listening horizon. One new band I discovered for the first time was the pop trio of HAIM. And I’m damn glad I did. They’re unlike any other band I’ve ever came across. I cannot think of another group like this one. They’re truly unique. This is the best song, in my opinion, off their debut album Days Are Gone. Really I recommend the whole album. I’m anxious to hear their next album now.

Tweet of the Week

Remember a few weeks ago when I said Isbell would be showing up here a lot? Well he’s back again, as it was impossible for me to not make it the tweet of the week. Maybe I should just dedicate a section to Isbell’s tweets in The Hodgepodge.

I’m trying to picture Sturgill acting like Kanye and it just makes me laugh. If you’re not following Isbell on Twitter, you need to go do this now.

An iTunes Review That Will Make You Face Palm

Sam Hunt Rant Review

Another Sam Hunt fan has taken to iTunes to convince us he’s country. WRITING IN CAPS ALWAYS WORKS! Thank you Hunt fans for providing a weekly dose of laughs.

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments!