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Grammys 2016 Best Country Duo/Group Performance, Who Should/Will Win: Joey+Rory Vs. the Hits

By Carolyn Menyes c.menyes@musictimes.com | Feb 11, 2016 02:30 PM EST

Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 2016 Grammys is sure to be one of the most emotionally charged categories. Right on the cusp of a big career emergence, Joey Feek of bluegrass duo Joey+Rory announced that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, giving their inclusion in this category extra weight.

Though Joey+Rory dominate the personal narrative in country at this year's Grammys, Best Country Duo/Group Performance is filled with some of the genre's biggest hits and collaborations. Who could (and should) take home the golden gramophone? Let's take a look...

Nominees:

"Stay a Little Longer," Brothers Osborne
"If I Needed You," Joey+Rory
"The Driver," Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley & Eric Paslay
"Girl Crush," Little Big Town
"Lonely Tonight," Blake Shelton feat. Ashely Monroe

WHAT SHOULD WIN: "Lonely Tonight," Blake Shelton feat. Ashley Monroe

Best Country Duo/Group Performance is a category filled with emotionally charged love songs and ballad, as it oftentimes is apt to do. And, in the best country tradition, each of these five songs contain some stunning harmony work.

Joey+Rory's "If I Needed You" is a gripping, beautiful yet somber song that hits all the right notes and comes with the heartbreaking news of Joey Feek's terminal cancer diagnosis, so it's hard to say that song doesn't deserve a win. But...

While that single makes a strong argument for itself, there's simply no denying that Blake Shelton's "Lonely Tonight" featuring Ashley Monroe is the best performance of this bunch. Shelton and Monroe both capture a sense of loneliness and urgency in this Bringing Back the Sunshine cut, and explore the topic of a one night stand with a dynamic range and passion. Shelton and Monroe are seasoned collaborators (previously working together on "You Ain't Dolly"), and their chemistry is strong here once again, as their vocals weave in and out of the music together, playing off each other in a truly gripping way.

WHAT WILL WIN: "Girl Crush," Little Big Town, or "If I Needed You," Joey+Rory

In country music at the Grammys, it oftentimes comes down to name recognition, and that's something that Brothers Osborne, Charles Kelley and Joey+Rory simply don't have. While Shelton has the A-list name to potentially nab a win, no country song took the world and award circuit by storm this year quite like "Girl Crush." The track's nomination for Song of the Year should be enough to prove that. Little Big Town also has a good history with this award. In its various incarnations over the years, Little Big Town has been nominated for Best Country Duo/Group performance six times, winning once in 2013 for "Pontoon."

Pedigree aside, you also can't necessarily discount Karen Fairchild's delivery on this song -- it's light yet engaging and her bandmates' vocals (when they come in) do add some much needed texture to this song.

While Little Big Town seems to easily have this award in the bag, an emotional vote and passion from country music fans could sway things in Joey+Rory's way, and you wouldn't hear many complaints for that. "If I Needed You" is a personal, passionate narrative and Joey+Rory's heartbreaking personal tale and a solid song to boot could just cinch the win.

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