The process for selecting Grammy nominees underwent big changes for 2022, but in country music, the end results were similar. The electorate also gave a cold shoulder to a marketing trick that’s becoming more and more popular as the industry shifts from airplay and hard sales to streaming as the hallowed metric.
Once again, country music’s biggest radio hits were overlooked for songs and collaborations deemed to have more artistic merit. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Best Country Solo Performance category, where Jason Isbell‘s “All I Do Is Drive” (a Johnny Cash cover) nabbed him his first nomination in a country category after four noms (and four wins) in Americana categories. Meanwhile, Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Gabby Barrett have country chart-toppers that got snubbed. Church and Bryan are among a notorious group of superstars with zero Grammys. In fact, the OG Luke has never even been nominated!
For a seventh-straight year, Brothers Osborne scored a Grammy nomination. In fact, they earned two for Best Country Album (Skeletons) and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Younger Me.” The duo’s performance at the CMA Awards should only serve to further justify John and T.J.’s importance to the genre. “Younger Me” is an album cut, and they’ve not had a Top 5 radio hit since 2015, proving that despite the changes in voting procedures the Grammys consider commercial success of small importance.
About those changes: It used to be that secret nominating committees would decide the nominees, but earlier this year the Academy announced (per Variety) they’d let the general voter do it. Some thought this might make it more of a popularity contest, and perhaps it has in some places. After all, does “Fancy Like” — Walker Hayes‘ insatiable viral dance hit — get a fair shake from these secret committees?
You’ll find this song under the “Surprise” banner below, as well as others from Kacey Musgraves and the aforementioned Isbell. Most interesting in 2022 is the Best Country Album category, where five straight-forward albums made the cut. The last two years have been filled with Part 1 and Part 2, or Side A and Side B, or an EP followed by an expanded EP or a double album or even a triple album. Some of those were easy ways to boost streaming numbers and assure a strong release ranking, others were offered as half thoughts. None of them earned a nomination for 2022. With the Grammys, it’s always best to keep it traditional.
The 2022 Grammy Awards are set for Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. They’ll broadcast live on CBS and Paramount+ from 8 PM to 11:30 PM EST.
Remember: The best way to watch the 2022 Grammy Awards is on TV, with ToC on your phone!