The ladies have the edge over the menfolk in the newly combined Country Solo Performance category with three nominees versus two. The frontrunner is Taylor Swift for her crossover hit “Mean” which peaked at #2 on the country singles chart. Its topicality about bullying and name-calling should push her to a victory. The album it’s featured on, “Speak Now,” was an enormous success and contends as well. Swift won this category two years ago for “White Horse.”
Carrie Underwood, another female superstar, finds herself competing for a vocal performance for the sixth year in a row. Her nominated “Mama’s Song” also peaked at #2 on the country chart. Underwood won the now-defunct female category for three years running beginning in 2006 for: “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” , “Before He Cheats” and “Last Name.” She lost her recent bids for “Just a Dream” and “Temporary Home.”
The third woman in contention is Martina McBride with I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” This is her 10th solo bid. You’d think that would make her the frontrunner, but she has lost every one of her previous nine nominations. Even hits like “Independence Day” (1994) and “This One’s for the Girls” (2003) could not put her over the top.
Blake Shelton could win this race for his smash hit “Honey Bee.” The frothy, upbeat song sat atop the Billboard country singles chart for four weeks — longer than any other song in 2011. It may, however, be a bit too lightweight when stacked against Swift’s “Mean.”
Though Jason Aldean is finally breaking through with Grammy voters for his album “My Kinda Party” and duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson, it’s still improbable he wins for his solo performance on “Dirt Road Anthem.” The track is partly a wacky rap, not the sort of country ballad voters tend to favor.
Listen to the nominated songs below.