While the Billboard Music Awards are based on sales and the American Music Awards are determined by public voting, The Grammys are given out because of the opinions of a relatively small but influential group. Often the rarest honor a musician can receive, the Grammy is, for one reason or another, the award that usually means the most to them.
This weekend, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will be handing out the gramophones to a smorgasbord of artists with various styles that appeal to vastly different audiences. It’s anybody’s guess as to who will come home a winner, but let’s take a look at the nominees’ odds based on past experiences.
Song of the Year
Fun. & Janelle Monae’s “We Are Young” (Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost & Nate Ruess)
Vs. Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” (Jorgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi), Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team”, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” (Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen & Josh Ramsay), and Miguel’s “Adorn”
Pop was back in a big way last year and these nominees prove it. Despite the earth-shattering popularity of “Stronger” and “Call Me Maybe”, voters will more likely go to the more intellectually-frou-frou pick of the pop hit with a philosophical punch for this songwriters’ award.
Record of the Year
Fun. & Janelle Monae’s “We Are Young”
Vs. Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”, Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You”, the Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy”, Gotye and Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
For the past two years, the “Song Of The Year” winner also takes home this award. Given the rise in pop music’s popularity, it’s a good bet that this year will be no different.
Album of the Year
Fun.’s Some Nights
Vs. Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, the Black Keys’ El Camino, Mumford & Sons’ Babel, and Jack White’s Blunderbuss
While it is also very likely that Ocean may add this award to his roster, you can also make a good case for Fun. continuing their sweep of the show instead.
Best New Artist
Vs. The Lumineers, Frank Ocean, Fun., and Hunter Hayes
The Grammys have a long-standing history of picking new artists that make viewers at home say, “Who?” While it would be interesting if they picked Hayes (as the youngest artist of the group, he statistically has the best odds for the longest lasting career), it is unlikely that a majority will vote for a country act. Many in the industry feel that rock has been under-appreciated lately, so look for the traditional rock & blues blend of indie newcomers Alabama Shakes to take home the gold.
Best Pop Solo Performance
Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” (Live at the Royal Albert Hall)
Vs. Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”, Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake”, and Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been”
After her deserved takeover of last year’s show, Adele’s popularity and critical acclaim has only continued to skyrocket. The Academy is certainly looking for the opportunity to honor her again this year with a nod for a live recording, and voters will most likely be happy to oblige.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Fun.’s Some Nights
Vs. Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger, Florence & The Machine’s Ceremonials, Pink’s The Truth About Love, and Maroon 5’s Overexposed
With the nominees very similar to the Album Of The Year category, it’s a good guess that these techno-pop newcomers will take it. However, voters might choose to make up for years of neglect on the behalf of Clarkson, whose decade-long career with only two Grammy wins is a little shocking.
Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes “Hold On”
Vs. Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care Of Our Own”, Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait”, The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy”, and Coldplay’s “Charlie Brown”
Mumford swept the awards last year and Springsteen might have a bit of an advantage in the fact that his single debuted as last year’s opening performance, but voters tend to hand out multiple awards to winners. Chalk this one up to Alabama Shakes again.
Best Rock Album
The Black Keys’ El Camino
Vs. Muse’s The Second Law, Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, Jack White’s Blunderbluss, and Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto.
The Black Keys had a good 2012, and their album garnered some of the best reviews of the year. However, it could easily go to Muse, who broke their own sales records and are lacking in previous wins.
Best R&B Performance
Estelle’s “Thank You”
Vs. Usher’s “Climax”, Robert Glasper Experiment & Ledisi’s “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)”, Miguel’s “Adorn”, and Luke James’ “I Want You”
A category missing from the awards from 1969 until last year, Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Is This Love” was its most recent winner. It’s a toss-up, but Estelle seems to be the more traditional choice here.
Best Urban Contemporary Album
Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange”
Vs. Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream and Chris Brown’s Fortune
Maybe the reason why they only bothered to nominate three albums is that they already knew who would be the obvious winner. 2012 was Frank Ocean’s year, and he will most likely take over most (if not all) of his six categories.
Best Rap Performance
Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz’s “Mercy”
Vs. Nas’ “Daughters”, Young Jeezy, Jay-Z, and Andre 3000’s “I Do”, Kanye West & Jay-Z’s “Ni***s In Paradise”, and Drake and Lil’ Wayne’s “HYFR (Hell Yeah Fu***ing Right”
A tight race, but voters may give the sentimental edge to father-to-be West, with his newest offering leading the pack.
Best Country Solo Performance
Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”
Vs. Eric Church’s “Springsteen”, Ronnie Dunn’s “Cost Of Livin’”, Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted”, Blake Shelton’s “Over”, and Dierks Bentley’s “Home”
Underwood was a frequent winner/nominee in the previous half of this new category (Best Female Country Vocal Performance), so that gives her some credit. Plus, having an artist booked to perform is usually an indication that they won’t go home empty-handed.
Best Country Album
Miranda Lambert’s Four the Record
Vs. Hunter Hayes’ Hunter Hayes, Jamey Johnson’s Living For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, The Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged, and the Time Jumpers’ The Time Jumpers
This award usually goes to big sellers, and Lambert is at the height of her career. With no rival nominations for perennial favorites like Lady Antebellum or Taylor Swift in this category, Four The Record is the most eligible candidate.