Over 6 months into the eligibility period for the 57th Grammy Awards I thought it was time take an early look at the songs, albums and artists that are looking likely to make an appearance in the nominations list.
Song/Record Of The Year
Let’s not beat around the bush here, there are two songs that will definitely make an appearance in at least one of these categories come December. Pharrell Williams’ Happy and Indina Menzel’s Let It Go. From the Despicable Me 2 and Frozen soundtrack respectively and both nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Song (Let It Go picking up that award) they are the songs to beat so far.
Pharrell dominated last year’s awards, winning Producer Of The Year as well as winning Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year for his work with Daft Punk on Get Lucky and Random Access Memories respectively. No one thought he could have a bigger hit than Get Lucky, but Blurred Lines soon followed and then Happy turned things up another notch. The song itself is, wait who am I kidding, I don’t need to explain the appeal of Happy everyone reading this has had it in their head for the last 6 months. You love to hate it, or hate to love it, but when a song is this damn catchy it’s pointless trying to feel either way. Happy will definitely be nominated for both Record and Song Of The Year and at this point little else can contend with it.
The other song in contention? The song that helped to make Frozen the biggest animated film of all time of course. Unlike Pharrell’s song which broke out of its ‘movie soundtrack’ roots pretty quickly, the success of Let It Go and Frozen are bound together. The writers knew that Let It Go had the potential to be huge, so rewrote most of the film around its lyrics and themes. Idina Menzel delivers a performance that’s more than worthy of comparison to that other role she originated. Defying Gravity 2 is pretty much the best description of Let It Go, a huge compliment indeed. It made Menzel the first Tony winner to reach the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has become a worldwide hit. Surely the front runner for Pop Vocal Performance, Let It Go will definitely make it into one of these categories.
What does that leave then? Other big contenders include Katy Perry’s Dark Horse, which could follow suit from last year’s Song nominee Roar, and Jason Derulo’s Talk Dirty which might sneak into the Record Of The Year category. A Great Big World’s breakout hit Say Something may have been released back in September of 2013, but thanks to version featuring Christina Aguilera a few months later it remains eligible here. I’d expect to see that in at least two Pop categories, perhaps even making an appearance in one of Record or Song. Other songs I could see contending for the top prizes? Clean Bandit’s Rather Be could have a chance, despite not being as successful in the US as it has been in the UK, while Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Drunk In Love seems like a safe bet to give the most awarded couple in Grammy history a few more trophies for their collection. Lorde’s Team and The Man by Aloe Blacc could also be some unexpected choices here too.
Album Of The Year
Soundtrack albums haven’t been as popular with Grammy voters in recent years, in fact the last soundtrack to be nominated for Album Of The Year was back in 2002. That said, the O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack ended up taking home the main prize, so it can be done. The Frozen soundtrack remains at #1 on the Billboard 200 as of this article, breaking records for the longest stay at number 1 week after week. It’s managed to improve in sales in recent weeks too, meaning it will surely end up as the biggest seller of 2014. I’d be surprised if the Frozen soundtrack doesn’t score a nomination for Album Of The Year.
The other album I’d say has the best chance for a nomination is from someone else I mentioned earlier. Beyoncé coined a term when she ‘did a Beyoncé‘ and released her self titled album with no warning to iTunes. Beyoncé was an event album, something the Grammy voters seem to appreciate. The most surprising thing for many fans, other than the fact that a Beyoncé album even made it to stores in 2013, was that the album was actually quite good, some of her most interesting and cohesive work yet. A huge success on the Billboard 200, the only thing going against it is the lack of commercial singles. Her previous Album Of The Year nominee, I Am…Sasha Fierce was home to hits like Halo, Single Ladies and If I Were A Boy, Beyoncé has Drunk In Love and little else. That said, given that Daft Punk managed to win off the back of just one hit single I’d say she’s still the most obvious choice right now.
Other albums that could make the cut include Grammy favourite Eminem with The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and Pharrell Williams with GIRL, though it would probably need to sell a fair few more copies to stand out. I don’t expect we’ll be seeing Lady GaGa’s Artpop anywhere near the Album Of The Year nominees, despite Gaga receiving 3 prior nominations in this category. Katy Perry on the other hand could make the cut with her album Prism as could 2011 winners Arcade Fire with Reflektor.
Future albums that could stand a chance? Never rule out Coldplay, I’d expect them to receive a few nominations for their forthcoming Ghost Stories album. The Black Keys and Lana Del Rey have new albums due out and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ed Sheeran earn a few more nods for his X album. The rest will depend on which late Q3 releases make the cut. Adele is said to be launching an album before the end of 2014, but I reckon the label would be aiming for 2015 to be the year that album properly takes off. If Adele did make the cut she would surely be a shoo-in for the main prize, at this point she could release a Hip Hop covers album and she’d sell 12 million copies.
It really will depend on which albums dominate the remainder of 2014. As it stands Frozen is way out in front of the competition, both in sales numbers and in cultural impact. The eligibility period ends on September 30th, so expect to hear my final predictions for the Big Four categories alongside the rest of the awards after that date.