Previous Grammy winners dominate Best Country Album race

The biggest names in music are duking it out for a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album.

In 2010, Taylor Swift won this category as well as Album of the Year for “Fearless.” This year she contends with “Speak Now,” which sold more than a million copies in its first week. All fourteen of its tracks charted on the Billboard Hot 100. That feat is a first for any artist and makes Swift a serious threat to win again.

The reigning champ is Lady Antebellum who won for “Need You Now.” That album was enormously popular because of its title track, a crossover hit on pop radio that claimed both Record and Song of the Year. Their new disc “Own the Night” topped the country charts. Though it has received mixed reviews and is selling less well than their last album, it remains a safe bet for a bid.

Country music veteran George Strait has been nominated for his last three albums, winning for the first time in 2009 for “Troubadour.” “Here for a Good Time” includes a concluding track that hints at retirement. That sentiment should be more than enough to lock Strait in for another nomination.

The remaining slot may go to a first-time nominee in the category. Recent Grammy winner Miranda Lambert‘s side project with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, Pistol Annies, could get a nod. Their well-received album is titled “Hell on Heels.”

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Jason Aldean sold more than a million and a half copies of “My Kinda Party,” boosted by the success of his collaboration “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson. This may be his breakthrough year with Grammy voters, especially now that he has been announced to perform at the Grammy nominations concert.

There is also the possibility Brad Paisley will mount a  Grammy comeback with “This is Country Music.” The album has spawned two No. 1 country hits, “Old Alabama” and “Remind Me” featuring Carrie Underwood. The album was critically acclaimed, but so was Paisley’s last album “American Saturday Night.” Grammy voters snubbed that, despite having nominated him for “5th Gear” in 2008 and “Time Well Wasted” in 2006.

Keith Urban could make a showing for his “Get Closer.” The Australian superstar is a Grammy favorite, emerging victorious in the Best Male Country Vocal Performance four of the last six years. His albums “Defying Gravity” (2010) and “Be Here” (2005) contended in this category.

Nominations will be announced November 30.

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