"Single Record of the Year" Nominees - Academy of Country Music Awards
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The Road to Producing the “Single Record of the Year”

The “Single Record of the Year” is awarded to the entire team: the artist, the producer and the record label. Being nominated for this category means that the single has high quality of production, technical proficiency, innovative instrumentation and overall excellence. This year, each of the singles nominated has a fundamentally different and memorable sound, making this a highly competitive category.

But of course, the successes of these singles didn’t come without obstacles.

However, the artist, producers and record labels overcame the difficulties that hit them in the process of production. Here’s what they had to share:

Florida Georgia Line wrote, and then re-wrote,… and re-wrote “Cruise” again

Artist: Florida Georgia Line

Producer: Joey Moi

Record Label: Republic Nashville

Joey Moi, the producer of Florida Georgia Line’s album Here’s To The Good Times, talks to Music Row about making the record-setting single, “Cruise”. In addition to producing, Moi was also a part of the writing process for the song and had the guys re-write most of the song with him. “Part of the development process we did with FGL was to implement ‘better is better.’ Just because the song is written, doesn’t mean it can’t be re-written,” Moi said. “Normally you get your song, go into the studio, have the band play it and move on. You don’t sit in the studio and re-write it. We wanted Brian [Kelley] and Tyler [Hubbard] to embrace the re-writing process, and they completely did… We added parts and revised things on ‘Cruise.'”

Recording “Highway Don’t Care” wasn’t quite as simple as putting three country superstars in a room together for an afternoon

Artist: Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

Producers: Byron Gallimore, Tim McGraw

Record Label: Big Machine Records

McGraw and Gallimore knew that adding Swift and Urban to the track would be the perfect fit. “You never want to force any of these things. You want these things to happen organically,” Tim confessed to the Taste of Country. “So the fact that it was Taylor singing this song from the perspective it was coming from, and Keith playing the guitar, and all three of us being able to work together just seemed really natural, and I think the song feels that way too.”

But trying to create time for three superstars to sit down and record a hit song isn’t easy, if even possible. If it were not for today’s technology advancements, the song may not have featured the trio together. The artists found a way to overcome the issue. “Thank God for modern technology because everybody is so busy,” McGraw tells Country Music Tattle Tale. “I could just shoot over the track to Keith and he could lay his part down and Taylor could do the same.”

Producing “I Drive Your Truck” was an emotional ride for Lee Brice 

Artist: Lee Brice

Producers: Lee Brice, Kyle Jacobs, Matt McClure

Record Label: Curb Records

Lee Brice is used to singing songs he wrote himself, but when “I Drive Your Truck” came along, he knew he had to put it on his album. Brice, who co-produced the single with Kyle Jacobs and Matt McClure, tells Yallwire, “I didn’t write the song but I felt a real connection to it.” He continues, “I wanted to do [this song] as much justice as I could in the studio, and I think we did… We’ve gotten so many stories about so many people, so this song is more than just a song.” This worked out for them as GAC says it is Brice’s fastest-rising single to No. 1.

Brice and his co-producers successfully delivered a powerful single that they made sure others would connect with. “The first time I heard it, it absolutely slayed me,” Brice opens up to Billboard. “I’m a songwriter, and I’m a sucker for great songs. I was so overwhelmed that I was even considered to take care of the song. It’s an amazing song, a positive song about loss and being able to reconnect with someone that you have lost in your life.”

It wasn’t “Mama’s” heart that Miranda Lambert had to win over… it was Kacey Musgraves’

Artist: Miranda Lambert

Producers: Chuck Ainlay, Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf

Record Label: RCA Nashville

This chart-topping single, written by Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, was originally supposed to be one of the songs on Musgraves’ own debut album. However, Lambert read it, sang it, felt it and convinced Musgraves to let her record it for the Four the Record album. Initially, Musgraves was hesitant, but ultimately let the song go because she knew Lambert would be a great fit. According to Music Row, Lambert said, “the song was worth fighting for.” To compromise, Musgraves struck a deal with Lambert by telling her, “you can record it if I can sing background vocals on it.”  You can hear Musgraves vocals harmonizing with Lambert in the single.

Darius Rucker brought a Bob Dylan song back to life

Artist: Darius Rucker Featuring Lady Antebellum

Producer: Frank Rogers

Record Label: Capitol Records Nashville

Covering a Bob Dylan song is no easy feat, but one that Darius Rucker was willing to take on. In collaboration with Lady Antebellum, Rucker decided to re-record Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” an elaborated version of an unfinished song by Dylan titled “Rock Me, Mama”.

Rucker tells Radio.com that this song was the first he ever had to cut. “But with that I just really wanted to cut the song. I didn’t know how big it was until after it came out and then I realized on college campuses a lot of people knew it.”

But it wasn’t only college campuses that loved the new version of the song: Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel”  earned the No. 1 spot on a variety of hot country charts, including Billboards Country Airplay.

Tune in to the ACMs to see who wins “Single Record of the Year” Sunday, April 6th at 8/7c on CBS.

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