You Won’t Believe The Nominated Country Stars For The 2018 Grammy’s


2017 created stiff competition for artists in the awards world. The 2018 Grammy Awards are proving to be no different. This year’s list of nominees include some serious Grammy surprises. Surprises about who is–and isn’t–on the list. Here, we give you a breakdown of it all.

2018 Grammys
Kenny Chesney (photo from

Grammys: The Basics

Just for a bit of background, the Grammys are a slightly different type of award. They are supposed to be a more level playing field because popularity isn’t a factor. According to their website, the Grammys are “the only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.” 

There are several categories of awards (84 of them, to be exact). This year, four of them are straight-up country categories. These include Best Country Album, Best Country Song, Best Country Solo Performance, and Best Country Duo/Group Performance. To clarify, the songwriter receives the Best Country Song Grammy.

Grammy Surprises: Best Country Album

The nominees for Best Country Album are reasonably who you would expect. Well, almost. Here is the list of nominees:

Kenny Chesney, Cosmic Hallelujah
Lady Antebellum, Heart Break
Little Big Town, The Breaker
Thomas Rhett, Life Changes
Chris Stapleton, From A Room: Vol. 1

Some of the nominees aren’t surprising. The albums of Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, and Chris Stapleton were all nominated for Album of the Year at the recent CMA Awards. (Stapleton won). And Thomas Rhett‘s Life Changes produced several huge singles. (Plus the album itself went to No. 1 on the all-genre chart.)  

However, Kenny Chesney is a bit of a surprise in the group. This last album sold reasonably well, but didn’t produce much in the way of chart-topping singles. Previous albums seemed more likely. However, it’s again an industry decision, so popularity isn’t a factor.

What is also surprising is who isn’t on the list. Notably, Miranda Lambert’s double-disc The Weight of These Wings. The project not only won critical acclaim but produced some major singles. It was also CMA nominated. No word on why she was passed over for a Grammy.

2018 Grammy
Miranda Lambert (photo from

Grammy Surprises: Best Country Song

Actually, Best Country Song (awarded to songwriters) wasn’t anything surprising. The nominees are as follows:

Little Big Town, “Better Man”
Sam Hunt, “Body Like a Back Road”
Chris Stapleton, “Broken Halos”
Midland, “Drinkin’ Problem”
Miranda Lambert, “Tin Man”

Miranda Lambert’s “Tin Man” enjoyed two CMA nominations. One was for Single of the Year and the other for Song of the Year (which also goes to the songwriter). Despite the fact it didn’t win either category, the song obviously had an impact.

Of course, “Body Like a Back Road,” co-written by Hunt, was the biggest country hit of 2017 with an unprecedented stay at the No. 1 spot. And Stapleton‘s “Broken Halos” won quite a bit of industry praise.

An interesting point-of-fact: If Little Big Town’s “Better Man” wins, the Grammy will actually go to Taylor Swift. She penned that song. 

Grammy surprises
Taylor Swift (photo from The Independent)

Grammy Surprises: Best Country Solo Performance

The nominees for this category are:

Sam Hunt, “Body Like a Back Road”
Alison Krauss, “Losing You”
Miranda Lambert, “Tin Man”
Maren Morris, “I Could Use a Love Song”
Chris Stapleton, “Either Way”

In actuality, little in this category is surprising. Almost any ‘Best of 2017’ playlist would list this group. This is particularly true of “Body Like a Back Road” and “Tin Man,” given their praise from both fans and artists.

Morris and Stapleton weren’t surprising, either. “I Could Use a Love Song” is gut-wrenchingly beautiful–and heartbreaking. Only Stapleton’s “Either Way” rivals the heartache of it. (“Either Way” definitely showcases Stapleton’s vocal range, as well).

There was one surprise, though. Alison Krauss’ “Losing You” is an interesting choice for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s a much more bluesy sound than you typically hear from her. And two, it isn’t a song that has had much play–and it’s against some really stiff competition in 2017. 

Grammy surprises
Chris Stapleton (photo from Billboard)

Grammy Surprises: Best Country Duo/Group Performance

This group was more or less expected. The nominees are:

Brothers Osborne, “It Ain’t My Fault”
Zac Brown Band, “My Old Man”
Lady Antebellum, “You Look Good”
Little Big Town, “Better Man”
Midland, “Drinkin’ Problem”

Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, and Little Big Town enjoyed CMA nominations for Vocal Group of the Year (Little Big Town won). And Brothers Osborne actually won the CMA for Duo of the Year. (The CMA divides group and duos into separate categories).

It was a bit surprising that Old Dominion wasn’t there. however, the nominee group is quite solid. All of those groups were fair choices.

Grammy surprises
Little Big Town (photo from AllMusic)

Grammy Surprises: The Snubs

Aside from the surprises as to who was, and wasn’t, listed in the country categories, there were a few other Grammy surprises, as well. In this case, who was snubbed.

First of all, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit received no nominations. Considering that their Nashville Sound album was up for CMA Album of the Year, it was surprising that they didn’t get any nods. This is especially true given that he tends to buck against more mainstream country, which is usually more popular with industry artists (Sturgill Simpson is a great example).

Secondly, and probably most surprising, is that no country artists were tapped for any of the ‘Big Four’ categories (Best Record, Song, Album, and Best New Artist). Those awards pull from all genres–but not a single country artist received a nod.

It’s a shame, because not only has country had an outstanding year of artistry and sales, but country music represents a significant portion of music consumers. Despite the fact that the Grammys aren’t about popularity, to dismiss country from those categories altogether seems narrow. 

Regardless, the Grammys will not likely sway fans. For most of us, it’s just another fun opportunity to see amazing artists perform and be honored. This year is the 60th Grammy Awards show, so it’s sure to be a big night! The Awards will broadcast on January 28 on CBS.