Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" is the only Grammy nominee for Best Country Song that also contends for Song of the Year. Does that make it unbeatable in this contest? It just might. When a song is nominated in both categories, it almost always wins the country award.
To find an exception to the rule, you have to go back to John Michael Montgomery's "I Can Love You Like That" in 1995, which was nominated in both races but lost Country Song to Vince Gill for "Go Rest High on That Mountain." Since then, there has been a country tune in contention for Song of the Year 11 times. If they were also nominated in this category, they won it, though there were three anomalies.
In 1997, "How Do I Live," recorded separately by LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood, was nominated for Song of the Year, but not Best Country Song. The same happened in 1999, when Shania Twain's "You've Got a Way" earned a bid for Song of the Year, but not Country Song; Twain did win the country category that year, but for "Come on Over" instead.
Last, in 2006, the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice" won Song of the Year but wasn't even nominated for Best Country Song. Instead, "Jesus Take the Wheel," recorded by Carrie Underwood, was nominated in both categories, winning in the country field.
There is no such anomaly this year. "Girl Crush" is nominated in both categories, and it's the only song with that distinction, so history overwhelmingly favors its victory here, though Little Big Town wouldn't actually receive the award. The song wasn't written by the band, but by the trio of songwriters Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose. Incidentally, Lindsey was one of the winning writers of "Jesus Take the Wheel," while Rose previously won for co-writing Taylor Swift's "White Horse" in 2009. McKenna has no previous nominations in this category.
If there's a threat to "Girl Crush," it may be "Traveller (song)," the title track from Chris Stapleton's breakthrough solo album, which contends for Album of the Year. Stapleton is the most nominated country artist this year with four total bids, so there's a chance he could sweep the country field, where he's also up for Best Country Solo and Best Country Album.
Also a strong possible contender is "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools," recorded by Tim McGraw. It was written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Jonathan Singleton, and while Dean and Singleton have never been nominated here before, Laird was nominated for two songs last year and won Best Country Album in 2013 as a producer of Kacey Musgraves's "Same Trailer Different Park."
Singer-songwriter Brandy Clark earned a previous nomination in this category in 2013 for Miranda Lambert's "Mamas Broken Heart," but this year she's nominated for her own recording, "Hold My Hand," which she wrote with first-time contender Mark Stephen Jones. Clark was also nominated for Best New Artist and Best Country Album ("12 Stories") last year.
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Little Big Town photo credit: Jim Smeal/BEI/REX