The best thing about the best country music out there has always been a meaningful, passionate performance and vocal -- and that's what the Grammy Award for Best Country Solo Performance is made for. This year, country newcomers Cam (with "Burning House") and Chris Stapleton (with "Traveller") are set to battle against some of the genre's most celebrated modern artists Keith Urban ("John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16"), Carrie Underwood ("Little Toy Guns") and Lee Ann Womack ("Chances Are") for the golden gramophone, making for one of the most exciting genre races of the year.
"Burning House," Cam
"Traveller," Chris Stapleton
"Little Toy Guns," Carrie Underwood
"John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16," Keith Urban
"Chances Are," Lee Ann Womack
WHAT SHOULD WIN: "Traveller," Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton has had a storybook year. After spending years writing songs for other people, he finally recorded and released Traveller, an album from his own point of view and heart. The result was engaging, and though there are arguably a few centerpiece tracks on the record, the title track is just as good as anything else on there.
The best thing about Stapleton's "Traveller" is, in fact, his performance and delivery. He sings this song straight from the gut, and his passion, time in this industry and past all come through loud and clear. In the great country tradition, this song tells a story, and that's something we need to hear more of.
WHAT WILL WIN: "Traveller," Chris Stapleton
After sweeping the CMA Awards last year with this very same song, Chris Stapleton has proved to be a force to be reckoned with on the award show circuit. Thanks to that big profile boost and momentum, Best Country Solo Performance is his to lose. This year, Stapleton is a Grammy nomination favorite with four total nods to his name (including the major Album of the Year category for Traveller), and it's hard to imagine him walking away with no wins, and this category is easier than some of his other entries.
The only potential upset for "Traveller" is "Little Toy Guns." Underwood has a storied history in this category -- with three previous nominations and two wins -- and she's been a longtime Grammy voter favorite choice. There's no denying that the power behind Underwood's vocal in "Little Toy Guns" is massive, but in some ways, she's a tired choice for this. We get it, Carrie Underwood can sing, but isn't it someone else's turn?
As for the other nominees, Cam's "Burning House" succeeds less because of her delivery, which is relatively light, and more on the strength of its songwriting. Meanwhile, Urban's and Womack's entries are some of their lesser work.