(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)
Grammys have become such fun every year, you almost forget that they're also serious music awards. Of course they are. But
the expectations and the hoopla and then the realities of the nominations and actual awards themselves have become such a
major societal and media event. All kidding aside, in the past few years, the Grammys have shed their old image of being elitist
awards and have been accurately reflecting musical triumphs -- rather than commercial success -- much more so than in years
Last year's crowning of O Brother, Where Art Thou?
as album of the year could not have been more apt (although O Brother was a rare smash success both commercially and
critically). And Dolly Parton and Ralph Stanley
winning, respectively, the country female and male vocal performance awards sent a clear shot across the bow of the mainstream
country record labels. This year, the choices are again studded with sentimental favorites and anti-mainstream establishment
icons. Parton, Stanley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson
are prominently nominated and -- given the temperament of the Recording Academy voters -- have to be serious contenders.
the four big all-genre Grammy categories (record, album, song and new artist of the year), there are two country nominees.
Alan Jackson will likely win in the song category for "Where Were You (When the World
Stopped Turning)," where his strongest competition is Bruce Springsteen's similarly 9/11-themed "The Rising." The Chicks likely won't win album of the year, where their stiffest rival is -- again -- Springsteen, with
his album The Rising. As the two artists who most eloquently addressed the 9/11 tragedies in song, Jackson and Springsteen
deserve to win.
The biggest country surprise is new artist Joe Nichols' nominations
for best male country vocal performance and best country album. There's one key factor at work, though: Nichols is easily
the strongest debuting artist since Brad Paisley, and I suspect voters are so relieved
to again see a truly talented newcomer emerge that they fell all over themselves voting for Nichols. At any rate, he deserves
Another surprise is Pat Green's double nominations (for song and male vocal
performance, both for his "Three Days"). Again, though, I think Green's emergence as a national artist -- due largely to his
own hard work and initiative over the past few years -- resulted in his being rewarded. He also likely was the recipient of
favorite son votes from the large number of voters in Texas, which hasn't had a local boy busting out in a while.
lot of readers (including this one) are puzzled by the exclusion of Montgomery Gentry in the country performance by a duo
or group category while Trick Pony gets nominated. The Grammys are expected to be a benchmark of recorded excellence, not
a popularity contest. Trick Pony is a fun, entertaining band, but are they truly Grammy
A great many readers were outraged over the fact that Kenny Chesney
and Toby Keith were completely overlooked when both had breakout years and strong albums
and singles. In Chesney's case, one can only speculate about his omission, but I suspect that it's pure and simple a matter
of voter snobbery. In the matter of Keith, I think he's being punished by industry highbrows for recording the bellicose and
politically incorrect "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)."
Several readers have inquired about
the absence of Shania Twain and Tim McGraw in
the nominations. Since the cut-off date for nominations is Sept. 30, the new albums by Twain and McGraw (which were released
in November) won't be eligible until next year.
P.S. If you bought CDs -- or even a single CD -- between 1995 and 2000,
you're entitled to a refund. It's part of a settlement that major record distributors have agreed to in settling a price-fixing
lawsuit. About $44 million of the settlement is being set aside to
pay customers from $5 to $20 each (per person, not
per CD), depending on how many wind up splitting the money. By year-end 2002, only about 30,000 applications had been received.
To file a claim, go to this site: http://www.musiccdsettlement.com.
Jackson Get Four Grammy Nominations
Joe Nichols Wasn't Expecting