(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)
In looking over this year's crop of Grammy nominees, I have to conclude that this is about as anemic and lifeless a lineup as I can recall since the glory days of Milli Vanilli. That's not much of a surprise, when you think back over the past year and search in vain for major musical highlights.
But it speaks volumes that a song titled "F*** You" is actually regarded as a serious contender in two major all-genre categories (in both the song of the year and record of the year categories). How artistically bankrupt can popular American music become? I cannot envision a lower level than that ditty. What a great role model for aspiring young songwriters.
Nashville's Lady Antebellum are nominated in both of those categories with the song "Need You Now," but it is not favored by the Las Vegas oddsmakers.
As of Wednesday (Feb. 9), they rated the song category thusly: "Beg, Steal or Borrow" (Ray LaMontagne) 3/1; "F*** You" (Cee Lo Green) 3/2; "The House That Built Me" (the Miranda Lambert hit written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin) 3/1; "Love the Way You Lie" (Eminem) 3/1 and "Need You Now" 7/2. Even though country Grammy voters will undoubtedly split their votes between "Need You Now" and "The House That Built Me," I have a feeling that "The House That Built Me" is a long shot to run away with this Grammy.
In the record of the year category, Las Vegas rates the candidates thusly: "Empire State of Mind" (Jay-Z & Alicia Keys) 22/17, "Nothin' on You" (B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars) 5/1; "Love the Way You Lie" (Eminem) 1/1; "F*** You" (Cee Lo Green) 6/1 and "Need You Now" 5/1.
And in the all-genre album of the year category, Lady A's Need You Now album is not favored. The odds: The Suburbs (Arcade Fire) 4/1; Recovery (Eminem) 1/2; Need You Now 10/1; The Fame Monster (Lady Gaga) 5/2; Teenage Dreams (Katy Perry) 7/1.
Viewed objectively, the Need You Now album is over a year old. The single of "Need You Now" debuted on the Billboard radio chart in 2009. How long can a song be considered new? Voters have probably taken that factor into account.
Moving into the country categories, I would venture a guess that there is a lock in the female country performance category. The nominees are Jewel for "Satisfied," Lambert for "House," LeAnn Rimes for "Swingin'," Carrie Underwood for "Temporary Home," and Gretchen Wilson for "I'd Love to Be Your Last.' The favorite? I think it's a runaway for "The House That Built Me."
In the male country performance category, the nominees are Jamey Johnson for "Macon," Toby Keith for "Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)," David Nail for "Turning Home," Keith Urban for "'Til Summer Comes Around" and Chris Young for "Gettin' You Home." Probable winner: Keith Urban.
For best country song, the nominees are "The Breath You Take" (recorded by George Strait), "Free" (Zac Brown Band)," "I'd Love to Be Your Last" (Gretchen Wilson) and "If I Die Young" (The Band Perry), along with "Need You Now" and "The House That Built Me." Why six nominees here, when all other categories are limited to five? Anyway, logic says it's Miranda's "House." But I have a hunch that The Band Perry's "If I Die Young" may sneak in and steal this prize away.
In the best country performance by a duo or group with vocals category, the entries are "Free" (Zac Brown Band), "Elizabeth" (Dailey & Vincent), "Little White Church" (Little Big Town), "Where Rainbows Never Die" (the SteelDrivers) and "Need You Now." Probable winner: "Free."
Grinding on to best country collaboration with vocals, the nominations are "Bad Angel" (Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson), "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (Dierks Bentley, Del McCoury and the Punch Brothers, "As She's Walking Away" (Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson), "Hillbilly Bone" (Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins) and "I Run to You" (Marty Stuart and Connie Smith). A strange field, with "As She's Walking Away" probably winning.
And, of course, country album of the year awaits. Nominees are: Up on the Ridge (Dierks Bentley), You Get What You Give (Zac Brown Band), The Guitar Song (Jamey Johnson), Revolution (Miranda Lambert) and Need You Now. My pick: Jamey Johnson.
And all of this comes even without all the fabulous Grammy musical performances to come. I just can't wait for the return of Mick Jagger, without Keef, on the Grammys.