Can Sam Hunt (‘Body Like a Back Road’) win his 1st Grammy against a field of past champs? Our Experts say … maybe

Sam Hunt is the only Grammy nominee this year for Best Country Solo Performance who has never won before. The recording academy often likes to keep rubber-stamping their past favorites, so that might normally put him at a disadvantage. In this case, though, he happens to be nominated for by far the biggest hit in the category: “Body Like a Back Road,” which made history as the longest running number-one country song with 34 weeks on top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Does that mean he’s bound to win? Our Experts say … maybe.

As of this writing we’ve polled five Expert journalists for their picks, but they’re divided three ways. Two are betting on Hunt: Edna Gundersen (Gold Derby) and Adnan Virk (ESPN). This would be the first win for Hunt. This year he’s also nominated for Best Country Song for co-writing “Back Road,” and in 2016 he contended for Best New Artist and Best Country Album (“Montevallo”). Those past bids, plus the songwriting nom for “Back Road” indicate a lot of respect for Hunt within the recording academy.

But there’s a ton of respect for other artists in this category too. Two Experts, Joyce Eng (Gold Derby) and Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo Music), are predicting Alison Krauss for her cover of Brenda Lee‘s “Losing You.” Krauss is not just admired by the recording academy, she’s the most admired country artist in Grammy history. With 27 past victories she’s also the second most awarded artist in history and the most awarded woman. But she’s not insurmountable. She has one other nomination this year, Best American Roots Performance for “I Never Cared for You,” but the album both of those songs are featured on, “Windy City,” wasn’t nominated.

Our last Expert, Chris Willman (Gold Derby), is predicting Chris Stapleton for “Either Way.” He’s a more recent favorite of the recording academy, winning Best Country Album in 2016 for “Traveller” and Best Country Solo Performance for the title track, and “Traveller” was also up for Album of the Year. This year he’s the frontrunner to win Best Country Album for his follow-up effort, “From A Room: Volume 1,” so he could easily win this race again as well.

Rounding out this category are two more past winners: Miranda Lambert (“Tin Man”) and Maren Morris (“I Could Use a Love Song”), but none of our Experts currently expect them to prevail this time around. Do you think either of them can upset in this wide-open race?

Be sure to make your Grammy predictions so that Hollywood record executives and top name stars can see how their songs and albums are faring in our Grammy odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on January 28. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Grammys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our music forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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