Lack of All-Genre GRAMMY Nominations for Country Singers Sends Shockwaves Through Industry

Country music didn't see the light of day in some of the biggest GRAMMY Awards categories, and the industry is shocked.

Written by Kelly Brickey
Lack of All-Genre GRAMMY Nominations for Country Singers Sends Shockwaves Through Industry
Pictured L-R: Jimi Westbrook, Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, and Philip Sweet of Little Big Town; Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The star-studded GRAMMY nominations pulled out a number of stops, snubs and surprises for all of the music industry, but no one was more shocked about the lack of acknowledgement for country music than the genre itself.

Although country music snagged a handful of its own categories per usual, the prestigious all-genre honors of Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist left the country music community hanging high and dry. Marking the first time this nomination debacle has happened since 2004, whispers started creeping around the rumor mill for the format’s absence.

Some insiders from Nashville, though, expected a list such as the one announced due to country’s mainstream standards throughout the past year. While huge releases from Chris Stapleton and Miranda Lambert left critics and fans floored over their authentic artistry, it didn’t pull enough weight over the heavy force of influential rap records and aesthetically-pleasing lyricality.

“When I voted this year, there weren’t a lot of things I was excited about on the country side of things,” an anonymous source involved in the Recording Academy told Variety. “You’ve got to do something brave to get nominated [in the big categories], and I’m trying to think of any country act that’s being brave right now. We have artists who do that, but did anything they put out surpass what they did two years ago?”

In 2017, country music held its own in a number of categories outside its specialized grouping; Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris both notched Best New Artist nods and Little Big Town competed in the Song of the Year category respectively. Country music may be slowly gaining a bigger audience due to its diversity of the sound nowadays, but it’s the generality that’s to blame for its missing originality in the Recording Academy’s eyes, according to the source.

“Everything is consistent. I think it may take another new artist like Chris or Maren to thrill us and make us rethink what [country] is and reenergize those top categories again,” the source said.

The 60th GRAMMY Awards, hosted by James Corden, will broadcast live from New York City on Sunday, January 28, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. EST on CBS.