by Julian Spivey
I debated whether or not this should be an article prognosticating the Best Country Song field for Monday night’s (Feb. 15) GRAMMY Awards or whether I should just rank the nominees from what I consider to be most to least worthy. I quickly realized that prognosticating the award would be a waste of time, because it’s pretty obvious Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose, is going to take home the honor. It’s obvious because the song is also nominated for the general category Song of the Year award at the ceremony.
So, “Girl Crush” will be Country Song of the Year, but here’s what I’d like to see …
1. “Chances Are” by Lee Ann Womack
I love Lee Ann Womack. I love songwriter Hayes Carll. I love the old school, throwback, traditional country music feel of “Chances Are.” This song has no chance in hell of winning this award. If I were to rank the songs as most likely to win this award this would come in at fifth place. It’s a miracle, and truly a win in itself that it was even nominated. Despite Womack’s flawless vocals on this song, to be honest, I’d rather have seen Carll’s own recording from his terrific 2011 album KMAG (YOYO) nominated, but again the fact that this truly underrated songwriter has gotten his due now is amazing.
2. “Traveller” by Chris Stapleton
If there is a song in this category that could upset “Girl Crush” it would be Chris Stapleton’s “Traveller,” the title track from his album that has him nominated overall for Album of the Year and essentially a lock for the Country Album of the Year win. Stapleton is a singer-songwriter who has brought back some of the traditional country sound to the genre. His traditionalism has seen him garner much critical acclaim and awards already over the last few months.
3. “Hold My Hand” by Brandy Clark
Brandy Clark has been one of Nashville’s best songwriters for a while now, but recently she’s become one of its best singers (though criminally underplayed on country radio), as well. She stunned everybody on last year’s GRAMMY telecast when she performed this song, with Dwight Yoakam backing her, from her GRAMMY nominated debut album 12 Stories (nominated last year). It’s also a traditional sounding country song showing great emotion.
4. “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” by Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw has undergone somewhat of a return to traditionalism recently after a little while of recording absolute crap like “Truck Yeah” in an effort to stay relevant on country radio. “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” was essentially the beginning of this switch in his music and is one of the countriest sounding tunes he’s ever recorded. The song, written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Jonathan Singleton, gets the emotion of hardcore country music down perfectly.
5. “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town
That’s right, I have the favorite and essential lock to win this award as my least favorite of the category. That’s not, in any way, saying “Girl Crush” is a bad song. This is a category filled with terrific songs, there’s not a loser in the bunch, it’s just that I find myself liking “Girl Crush” the least (and Little Big Town the least). “Girl Crush” sounds the least-country of any of the nominees in this category, and to me that’s important. The style in which Little Big Town performs the track is essentially more soulful and really pop-sounding to really appeal to my country-tuned ears.