Guessing the 2014 Grammys

Predictions and behind-the-scenes info on who will win the 2014 Grammys in ten major categories.

It’s hard to guess who will be taking home the golden gramophones this year, as the Academy has confused music fans with a combination of older releases, albums with mixed reviews, and complete surprises in their nominations.

Here’s a look at ten popular award categories on “music’s biggest night”, and speculation on what will happen. The nominees are listed in order of the best chances to win. In other words: this is going to be a big year for Macklemore & Lewis, and Taylor Swift will likely be spending most of the night sitting down.

Song of the Year

“Same Love” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert

– vs. –

“Royals” Lorde, “Just Give Me a Reason” Pink feat. Nate Ruess, “Roar” Katy Perry, and “Locked Out of Heaven” Bruno Mars

For this songwriters’ award, the academy will most likely pick the song with the big message in its lyrics. While many voters would love to shine the spotlight on pop/rock’s new “it” girl, the historic possibilities behind “Same Love” will likely give it the edge instead.

Record of the Year

Lorde “Royals”

– vs. –

Imagine Dragons “Radioactive”, Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams “Get Lucky”, Bruno Mars “Locked Out of Heaven”, and Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams “Blurred Lines”

It’s unusual to have so many nominees in this category that aren’t also nominated for Song of the Year. Does this tell us that the Academy thinks only two of these songs not only sound good, but are also well-written? Regardless, Lorde will likely take this for her memorable debut: a song with a unique subject.

Best Pop Duo, Group, or Collaboration

Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams “Get Lucky”

– vs. –

Justin Timberlake feat. Jay Z “Suit & Tie”, Pink feat. Nate Ruess “Just Give Me a Reason”, Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams “Blurred Lines”, and Rihanna feat. Mikky Echo “Stay”

The Grammys love to have a single artist or group completely sweep the awards. While I wouldn’t say “Get Lucky” is on the same level of greatness as “Smooth” or “Fallin'”, it has enough universal appeal to grab multiple wins. That is, unless voters are sentimental about “Suit & Tie”, which was performed at LAST YEAR’S show. As many times as JT and Hova are nominated this year, they will have to take at least one major award.

Album of the Year

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis The Heist

– vs. –

Daft Punk Random Access Memories, Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Sarah Bareilles The Blessed Unrest, and Taylor Swift Red

Bareilles only has two other nominations. Swift’s 2010 album was celebrated, and it’s been over a year since “Red” was released. Kendrick Lamar might be too exclusive for general audience-seeking voters. Daft Punk has only had one big hit from their nominated album. So this leaves us with another win for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Best New Artist

Kacey Musgraves

– vs. –

James Blake, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The RIAA has a history of picking the least known, most surprising nominee for the big win, like Esperanza Spaulding or Bon Iver. But every so often, they pick a celebrated newcomer that has real staying power, like the Zac Brown Band or Adele. Due to her many other nominations, Kacey Musgraves looks like the safe choice. James Blake is the dark horse pick, however.

Best Country Album

Kacey Musgraves Same Trailer, Different Park

– vs. –

Blake Shelton Based on a True Story, Jason Aldean Night Train, Tim McGraw Two Lanes of Freedom, and Taylor Swift Red

Kacey Musgraves was one of the most highly praised new artists of 2013, and she will probably win most, if not all, of her three nominations. This is her most likely category, but a surprise win from either Shelton or Aldean (both of whom have never won any Grammys) are also possibilities.

Best Rap Album

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis The Heist

– vs. –

Kanye West Yeezus, Jay Z Magna Carta…Holy Grail, Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Nothing Was the Same Drake

This is the toughest category to predict this year. Yeezus found itself at the top of most critics’ “best of 2013″ lists. Jay-Z has more nominations than any other artist or group. Lamar just might win every Grammy in the Rap category. Drake has been getting a lot of critical buzz. But in the long run, The Heist seems the most accessible to non-rap listeners, which make up a large percentage of the votes. Not to mention, it is one of the two nominees that are also up for Album of the Year.

Best Rock Song

“Cut Me Some Slack” Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic, & Pat Smear

– vs. –

“Ain’t Messin ‘Round” Gary Clark Jr, “Doom And Gloom” Rolling Stones, “Panic Station” Muse, and “God Is Dead?” Black Sabbath

The Academy would be crazy not to give something to this historic tune from the well received Sound City documentary. McCartney is scheduled to make an appearance at the ceremony, so expect him to be on stage accepting this award. The dark horse pick would be critically lauded newcomer Gary Clark Jr.

Best Dance/ Electronica Album

Daft Punk Random Access Memories

– vs. –

Calvin Harris 18 Months, Kaskade Atmosphere, Pretty Lights A Color Map of the Sun, and Disclosure Settle

The popular theory is that the most notable or recognizable nominee sweeps this genre. Previous winners include such major names as Skrillex, Lady Gaga, La Roux, and Daft Punk: who are even more famous this year.

Best R&B Performance

Tamar Braxton “Love and War”

– vs. –

Anthony Hamilton “Best of Me”, Miguel feat. Kendrick Lamar “How Many Drinks?”, Hiatus Kaiyote feat. Q-Tip “Nakamarra”, and Snarky Puppy feat. Lalah Hathaway “Something”

In the three years that this award has been revived, the winner has always been the biggest name. As shallow as it sounds, only two of these songs even have a Wikipedia page. Tamar’s hit has the critical respect, but it is also possible that Hamilton will pull off an underdog win.