Who will walk away with a Grammy this weekend? Will it be newcomers Carly Rae Jepsen or Miguel? Or familiar favorites Kelly Clarkson or Taylor Swift?
There’s no clear winner in any of the categories, and unlike last year, when Adele swept the ceremony with six awards, there isn’t one stand-out artist or act for the 55th annual gala.
David Bakula, senior vice president of client development and insights at Neilsen, said that last year, with Adele, “it was a pretty safe bet,” adding, “There isn’t one that sweeps the board.” Among Adele’s many wins last year was album of the year.
This year’s album of the year category features The Black Keys (“El Camino”), fun. (“Some Nights”), Mumford & Sons (“Babel”), Frank Ocean (“Channel Orange”) and Jack White (“Blunderbuss”).
George Howard, COO of Daytrotter, Wolfgang’s Vault and Paste magazine, said, “It’s a neat list for album of the year. I’m pulling for Mumford & Sons for album of the year. If I have to guess who’s going to win I think it’s going to be Frank Ocean. I’m going to go out on a limb here and I think he’s going to win album of the year and best new artist.”
The other best new artist nominees are Alabama Shakes, fun., Hunter Hayes and The Lumineers. It’s a pretty exciting category this year, running the gamut from country with Hayes, to blues-rock with Alabama Shakes.
Then there’s record of the year and song of the year, two similar-sounding, but very different categories. Song of the year honors the songwriter, while record of the year recognizes the song’s team, including performer and producer.
Howard says record of the year is more of a predictable category with nominees Kelly Clarkson “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Goyte (“Somebody That I Used to Know”), Frank Ocean (“Thinkin’ About You”), The Black Keys (“Lonely Boy”), fun. (“Some Nights”) and Taylor Swift (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”).
“If I had to bet, I think Taylor Swift will win,” said Howard.
This year’s song of the year nominees are Ed Sheeran (“The A Team”), Miguel (“Adorn”), Carly Rae Jepsen (“Call Me Maybe”), fun. (“We Are Young”) and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You”), performed by Kelly Clarkson and written by a team of songwriters.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if fun. wins [song of the year] just because they’re nominated for a bunch of other stuff, and I don’t think they’re going to win those other categories,” said Howard, who’s also an associate professor at Berklee College of Music.
With a lot of new faces, the Grammys could become a launching pad for some artists. “An artist that wasn’t a household name before may become one after the Grammys,” says Bakula.
One trend we’re seeing is a focus on roots/folk acts such as The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, both up for multiple awards this year.
“Who would have thought—even a year ago—that a bunch of banjo-playing guys that love John Steinbeck would be in the running for album of the year and sell millions of records,” said Howard about Mumford & Sons.
But Howard says the folk revival has been in the making for a bit.
“Things seem to tip suddenly but there’s a lot of buildup before that,” he said. “Even with Bon Iver winning last year—so something was sort of in the air. But it was all supplanted by Adele’s amazingness. If you drop Adele down in any decade, she will win.”
No matter who walks away with an award in 2013, Howard thinks this year’s Grammys features an impressive list of nominees with the likes of White, Mumford & Sons and Frank Ocean.
“I have a feeling that whether they maintain in the public eye as some of the bands are right now, they’re still going to be making music for a long time—and music that matters,” said Howard. “We should revel in that.”
The 55th annual Grammy Awards, hosted by LL Cool J, will be broadcast live from Los Angeles Sunday on KHOU 11/CBS. Performers will include White, Sheeran, Swift, Ocean, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Miguel, The Black Keys, fun., The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Rihanna, Sting, Carrie Underwood, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake.
Among this year’s presenters are Ellen DeGeneres, Kat Dennings, Johnny Depp, John Mayer, Nas, Pitbull, Bonnie Raitt and Kelly Rowland.