Does country music get the clout it deserves? Grammy nominations are still scant for this popular genre.
Ahead of the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday, Billboard Magazine published a story on why country music has remained underrepresented among what are called the Big Four nominations — song, album, record of the year and best new artist. Even though there have been 196 total nominations between 2019 and 2023, only six country artists or albums have been nominated. Of those six, Kacey Musgraves’ album “Golden Hour” was the only winner.
One of the reasons could be that country music still has a stigma around it. Beverly Keel, Middle Tennessee State University’s dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, told Billboard Magazine.
“I think a lot of Grammy voters may not even listen to country, and I think there is, in many voters’ minds, still a stigma about country that it’s not as sophisticated, hokey, the music of the conservatives,” she said.
Popularity of country music
That notwithstanding, country music remains one of the most popular music genres. The genre saw something of a boom in interest during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Time Magazine, “country music has soared 15.8%, according to MRC Data/Nielsen Music” when compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
The Country Music Association released data in 2021 showing that 51% of U.S. adults listen to country music monthly or even more often. It’s not just the South that listens to country music — while 50% of the South listens to country, the West is at 58% and the Northeast is at 46%.
Country music is the third most-popular music genre in the U.S., according to Bloomberg. Previously, the genre was stuck in the “analog” age. It was popular among CD listeners, but now the genre is ranking high on streaming services as well.
Even though the genre is popular among U.S. adults, data shows that Grammy voters are less inclined to like the genre. “Of the current 12,000-plus voting members, less than 10% identify with the country genre, according to the academy, compared with pop (23%), jazz (16%), rock (15%), R&B (15%), American roots (13%), alternative (10%) and classical (10%),” according to Billboard.
Even though country music might not win big at the Grammys this year, it’s steadily climbing in popularity.