Taylor Swift leads the race for Best Country Song with her anthem “Mean.” She wrote the tune in response to her critics — particularly those who allege she has pitch problems. It grew in scale as it became one of the anti-bullying themes of 2011. The song is a frontrunner for its relevance and power even if it’s upbeat and fun. She won this race two years ago with “White Horse.”
Her biggest challenge comes from veteran Vince Gill who reaped a ninth bid in this race for penning “Threaten Me with Heaven.” He won for “Go Rest High on That Mountain” (1995) and “I Still Believe in You” (1992). His co-writers on this low-key track are Amy Grant, Will Owsley and Dillon O’Brian.
Christian music singer Dave Barnes wrote and recorded “Gave God Me You” in early 2010. It’s unclear how its cover by Blake Shelton — which sat atop the country chart for three weeks — even qualifies in the first place. The powerhouse ballad is in the vein of Lady Antebellum‘s “Need You Now” and Sugarland‘s “Stay,” which both prevailed in recent years.
“Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” — the Thompson Square hit — was penned by songwriters Jim Collins and David Lee Murphy. The sweet, romantic diddy hit #1 on Billboard Country Singles chart and stands a chance at staging an upset. Collins was previously nominated in 2006 for Gretchen Wilson‘s “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today.”
Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter‘s “You and Tequila” was written by previous contenders Matraca Berg and Deana Carter. Berg was cited back in 1996 for a song Carter sang called “Strawberry Wine.” Carter reaped a bid the following year for writing “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”
Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell and Ed Hill vie for their work on Trace Adkins‘ charming “Just Fishin’.” The tune about a father and daughter is heartwarming enough to win at least a few voters, but the honor is almost always bestowed upon a bigger number.
Listen to the nominated songs below.