There’s a short answer and a long answer to why Morgan Wallen won’t likely be at the Grammys on Sunday (Feb. 4).
Short answer: Country music’s biggest star in 2023 wasn’t nominated for any awards at the 2024 Grammys, although his song “Last Night” showed up in one category (nominations go to songwriters).
The long answer has to do with who votes and how they define country music. Remember, it’s not a country crowd that decides nominees and winners each year.
Morgan Wallen 2023 Accomplishments
Why Didn’t Morgan Wallen Receive Any Grammy Nominations?
It’s easy to assume Wallen wasn’t nominated because voters are punishing him for racist comments caught on camera three years ago, but there’s evidence (albeit anecdotal) this isn’t true. Variety spoke to voting members last fall, and no one admitted this was the reason they ignored him.
“I’m not sure people are still holding that against him so much as people on the coasts, including our membership, just not really resonating with the record as much as middle America did,” a voter shared.
Taste of Country readers are less convinced:
attachment-Morgan Wallen Poll Results
Taste of Country
A look at country artists who’ve never won a Grammy is more informative. The full list is below, but it features some heavy hitters including Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church and Luke Bryan, who’s never even been nominated.
Meanwhile, the Civil Wars were Grammy darlings from 2012 to 2014 for songs that country radio never considered and most mainstream fans found — OK, this may be just one writer’s opinion — boring. Their win does not hold up when you look at the competition in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category:
Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”The Civil Wars, “Barton Hollow” — WINNERThompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”
This duo was what’s known as Grammy bait: an artist with a sound that voters think should be country music in 2024. They scratch an ideological itch, or at the very least are so far away from pop/hip-hop/rock, etc … that they must be “real” country.
Imperial evidence of this trend is found by comparing a list of country music’s most-played songs to Grammy winners. You need to go back 15 years to find the No. 1 airplay song of any given year that won an award (Lady A, “I Run to You”).
Only one of the last five winners in Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance categories has received radio airplay (Willie Nelson has won the latter category twice in that time frame).
It’s easy to dismiss this as radio’s shortcomings, and perhaps that true, perhaps not. What is true is that Morgan Wallen is the opposite of the Civil Wars. He’s closer to Luke Bryan — in fact, he’s arguably the next Luke Bryan, a singer who’s not only never won, he’s never been nominated.
These 15 country singers have never won a Grammy Award, but it’s worse than that. Collectively, they’re 0-92!
Morgan Wallen fans may be angry about his lack of Grammy love heading into the 2024 Grammy Awards, but he’s in very good company. This list includes two Country Music Hall of Famers and five more destined to get invited one day. Commercial success doesn’t equal Grammy success. Remember that.
Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes
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