As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

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


WHO’S MISSING: This is one of the categories that got created in 2012 when the Grammys shrunk the number of awards from 109 to 78. It blends the previously separate categories of best country performance by a duo or group with vocal, best country collaboration with vocals and best country instrumental performance. In other words, ongoing groups are contending with one-off performances. Because of the consolidation, worthy acts like  Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band and The Band Perry got left by the wayside.

THE PLAYERS: Despite the acts I mentioned above, country music is dominated by solo acts right now. Of Billboard’s Top 50 country songs for 2012, only 11 were by duos or groups. Here’s where the Grammy Awards veer radically from country-only awards like the Country Music Awards or the Academy of Country Music Awards: the Grammys look at artists like The Time Jumpers or Don Williams/Alison Krauss, who seldom get airplay and are on the fringe of current country and plop them down alongside the hottest names.

THE ODDS: If only the Nashville community voted on this award it would go to Little Big Town for “Pontoon,” the coed quartet’s first No. 1 single after years of toiling away. However,  if interlopers are voting, they could sway the vote to Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars (The Civil Wars won last year). Then again, it’s a foolish person who bets against Alison Krauss: she has won more Grammys than any other female, even more than Barbra Streisand. Since this is only the second year in the category, it’s hard to spot any trend.

THE WINNER:
Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound”

Previous Predictions:

Best Rock Song
Best R&B Performance
Best Pop Vocal Album
Best New Artist