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Hunter Hayes, Carrie Underwood, Eric Church Among Top Country GRAMMY Nominees

The nominees for the 55th GRAMMY Awards were announced tonight, and many of this year's best-known country songs and albums made the list--along with a few surprises. In terms of sheer numbers, Hunter Hayes led the pack with three nominations; Taylor Swift, Eric Church, Ronnie Dunn, The Time Jumpers, Carrie Underwood, and the Eli Young Band each earned two.

Taylor Swift, who cohosted the GRAMMY Nominations Concert broadcast on Wednesday night, earned a nomination for Record of the Year for her single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." She was also nominated in tandem with the Civil Wars for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their song "Safe & Sound" from the Hunger Games soundtrack. (Taylor's new album Red, however, did not make the nomination list, due to the fact it was released after the GRAMMYs' Sept. 30 eligibility cutoff.)

Among country artists, 21-year-old heartthrob and instrumental whiz-kid Hunter Hayes actually nabbed three nominations--Best New Artist (a multi-genre category), Best County Solo Performance (for "Wanted"), and Best Country Album (his self-titled release Hunter Hayes).

And speaking of the Best Country Solo Performance, that list included some of the year's most powerful and memorable songs, including "Home" by Dierks Bentley and "Springsteen" by Eric Church.

Eric, Carrie Underwood, and Ronnie Dunn all showed up in both the Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song categories. The latter was rounded out with Alan Jackson and the Eli Young Band.

The list of Best Country Albums included such popular releases as Zac Brown Band's Uncaged and Miranda Lambert's Four the Record, but threw in a couple of more off-the-beaten-track gemes -- Jamey Johnson's beautiful, moving Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran and rootsy supergroup The Time Jumpers' self-titled release, an album many country fans probably didn't even know about (even though the membership includes Vince Gill and Ranger Doug of Riders in the Sky).

The Time Jumpers, I Ain't got Nothin' But The Blues by Nashville High on YouTube

It's interesting, in fact, that The Time Jumpers made the Best Country Album vs. the Best Americana Album nomination list, where rootsier material often winds up these days. The latter list instead included The Carpenter, the excellent new release by The Avett Brothers (who recently performed on a CMT Crossroads special with Randy Travis), alongside albums by Mumford & Sons, Bonnie Raitt, John Fullbright, and The Lumineers (whom you might recognize as having been name-checked on the TV show Nashville).

A few additional names showed up in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category, including the Eli Young Band for their Number One hit "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," Little Big Town with their summertime anthem "Pontoon," and country legend Don Williams, who was nominated alongside Alison Krauss for their duet "I Just Come Here For The Music."

Below are the nominees in the country music categories. See the full list of nominees for the 55th GRAMMY Awards on

Best Country Solo Performance:
"Home" — Dierks Bentley
"Springsteen" — Eric Church
"Cost Of Livin'" — Ronnie Dunn
"Wanted" — Hunter Hayes
"Over" — Blake Shelton
"Blown Away" — Carrie Underwood

Best Country Song:
Blown Away - Carrie Underwood
Cost Of Livin' - Ronnie Dunn
Even If It Breaks Your Heart - Eli Young Band
So You Don't Have To Love Me Anymore - Alan Jackson
Springsteen - Eric Church

Best Country Album:
Uncaged — Zac Brown Band
Hunter Hayes — Hunter Hayes
Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran — Jamey Johnson
Four The Record — Miranda Lambert
The Time Jumpers — The Time Jumpers

Best Americana Album:
The Carpenter — The Avett Brothers
From The Ground Up — John Fullbright
The Lumineers — The Lumineers
Babel — Mumford & Sons
Slipstream — Bonnie Raitt

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
Even If It Breaks Your Heart - Eli Young Band
Pontoon - Little Big Town
Safe & Sound - Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars
On The Outskirts Of Town - The Time Jumpers
I Just Come Here For The Music - Don Williams Featuring Alison Krauss

Best Bluegrass Album:
The Gospel Side Of - Dailey & Vincent
Life Finds A Way - The Grascals
Beat The Devil And Carry A Rail - Noam Pikelny
Scratch Gravel Road - Special Consensus
Nobody Knows You - Steep Canyon Rangers

- Kurt Wolff, CBS Local

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