Oddsmaking: Best Country Solo Performance, Where Ludacris's Stamp Of Approval Makes A Difference

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As part of this year's larger reduction in genre-specific awards, 2012 will see the country portion of the Grammys streamlined to just four categories: Best Solo Performance (which swallows Male and Female Vocal Performance), Best Duo/Group Performance (which swallows Best Duo/Group Vocal Performance and Instrumental Performance and Best Collaboration with Vocals), and Best Album and Best Song (which have been around since the beginning). This year, the last of those categories mixes old and new, split (along gender lines, as it turns out) between Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Martina McBride, who between them racked up 13 Female Vocal Performance nominations and four wins, and Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton, both up for the first time. Full breakdown below.

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Q&A: Jason Aldean On His "Really Good Build," Making New Fans, And New York's Country Radio Drought

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Jason Aldean uses the royal "we" so often that you're half-tempted to ask for whom else he's speaking. Yet Nashville's newest king comes by the grammatical flourish honestly: Barring a last-minute surge by Lady Antebellum or the kids in the Band Perry, Aldean's My Kinda Party is almost certain to end up as the best-selling country album of 2011, thanks in large part to the crossover successes of "Dirt Road Anthem" and "Don't You Wanna Stay," his killer duet with Kelly Clarkson. Earlier this month Party beat out records by Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley for Album of the Year honors at the CMA Awards, and tonight Aldean is scheduled to appear alongside Lady Gaga and Rihanna on CBS's live Grammy-nominations special. I recently sat down with him prior to a show at L.A.'s Gibson Amphitheatre, where he performed "Don't You Wanna Stay" with an enormous video version of Clarkson that reminded me of Apple's famous "1984" commercial.

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