Country music only gets four dedicated categories at the Grammys, so there are always going to be artists — and fans — who are disappointed. Also, unlike the more country-centric award shows — the Academy of Country Music Awards, the Country Music Awards and the CMT Awards — everyone doing the nominating and voting aren’t from the country music industry. As such, there are frequently missed opportunities to honor the biggest artists in country at the show that refers to itself as “Music’s Biggest Night.” And that’s certainly the case this year: no one had as big of a year in country as Luke Combs and Kane Brown, however, neither of them got even one nomination.
Kane Brown has appeared on the Grammy red carpet and has presented an award on the show, but he has never been nominated. He’s a surprising omission, as he’s an artist who has shown appeal in other formats, having collaborated with Nelly, John Legend, Swae Lee and Khalid in the past few months (and Marshmello last year). It is a big surprise that he didn’t get any recognition from the Grammys this year for his excellent EP, Mixtape, Vol. 1.
Luke Combs’ lack of nominations is another surprise; What You See Is What You Get was released on November 8, 2019, which is within the eligibility period for this year’s nominees (Sept. 1, 2019—Aug. 31, 2020 per the Grammys official website). The LP has been one of the most dominant albums in the genre during that time. Combs is one of country’s biggest new stars over the past few years, and What You See Is What You Get will surely go down in history as one of his classic albums. It’s one of the best albums — in any genre — of this era.
All of the nominees in the Best Country Song category for the Grammy’s this year are surely worthy of recognition, but the omission of the Carly Pearce/Lee Brice duet, “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (co-written by Luke Combs), is another surprise. Another duet that would seem like a Grammy no-brainer: Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s “Happy Anywhere.” It was a positive song when America really needed one.
Even though some stars were missing in a year they should have gotten a nod, on the positive side, it was nice to see newer faces like Mickey Guyton and Ingrid Andress get some Grammy love this year!
Another thing the Grammys should consider: country music is its own genre, but it’s not a niche. Our format consistently cranks out new stars, who sell albums, who rack up great streaming numbers and who sell out huge venues. Luke Combs wasn’t just an oversight for Best Country Album, but for Album of the Year. Let’s take a look at the other nominees: the Black Pumas album — while great — is a deluxe edition of an album that was originally released in 2019. If it was so deserving of recognition, why wasn’t it nominated for Album of the Year last year? Coldplay’s Everyday Life is fine, but it seems to have made significantly less impact than their previous albums. With respect to those artists, it’s more than disappointing that there wasn’t room for Combs’ album in the category Album of the Year.
Similarly, Morgan Wallen is one of country’s biggest up-and-coming stars; surely he’s made as big of an impact — or bigger — than some of the other Best New Artist nominees. (We were, however, happy to see that Ingrid Andress and Noah Cyrus were nominated!)
Country fans have enough award shows already; we can see our favorite artists perform on television fairly frequently. The Grammys are fun too, but hopefully in 2022, they’ll make it more worth our while to dedicate our Sunday night to it.