(A side note to begin this blog post, this week saw the leak of the submissions list for the upcoming Grammy nominations. In it, songs like All Of Me and Happy were revealed as ineligible for the main prizes, both submitted as Live versions. It ruins just about everything I wrote in the previous articles, but going back and changing my predictions feels a lot like cheating. From this point onwards I’ll be picking from the list of submissions to give myself even a small chance.)
Beyoncé – Beyoncé
Ed Sheeran – x
Eric Church – The Outsiders
Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
Various Artists – Frozen Official Soundtrack
Alternatives: Arcade Fire – Reflektor, Sia – 1000 Forms Of Fear, U2 – Songs Of Innocence
This time last year I was under the impression that my predictions for Album of The Year were pretty much right. I didn’t expect 2 of my 100% certain choices to miss out, replaced with the well deserved Kendrick Lamar and the huge surprise of Sara Bareilles for nominations. I was so certain that Justin and Bruno would make the cut, so I’m attempting to be more conservative with my nominations this year.
Starting off we have the two British men I’ve mentioned so much so far already. Sam Smith looks set to be this year’s multi nominee in the main categories, his album In the Lonely Hour managing to achieve huge success across the world. It’s an impressive feat given how recently he made his debut on the charts, which is why I tipped him for the Best New Artist prize. In The Lonely Hour is by no means a ground-breaking album, it’s actually quite boring in places, lead single Money On My Mind being one of the few up tempo tracks. Smith sounds much better on songs like La La La and Latch, which would feel way out of place on In the Lonely Hour. Despite this, the album is sure to be lapped up by Grammy voters, who love honest and emotive albums by upcoming artists. I don’t think Sam Smith will walk away with the big prize on the night, but a nomination here is pretty likely.
As I’ve mentioned before, Ed Sheeran just about missed out on a nomination here for his debut album +, which would have been drowned in the sea of trophies that Adele won that year anyway. x impacted the US on a much bigger scale, helped in large by the extended and ongoing promotion he experienced last year for the Taylor Swift tour support slot. x is a bigger album in just abut every way too, with contributions from Pharrell Williams, including lead single Sing, making this a slight departure from +. It’s more personal too, Thinking Out Loud is about as soppy as Ed can get, while Don’t is his way of dealing with all that dirty laundry, explaining every little detail of a prior relationship and breakup. x achieved what it set out to in 2014, supporting the artist that Sheeran had become and helping to launch his worldwide career to another level. Ed’s probably my early favourite for the prize here.
Next we have the odd one out in the bunch above. It may not be the only album I’ve included to miss #1 on the Billboard 200, that would be Sam Smith, but Eric Church may be seen as the outsider (Not sorry at all for that pun) for the Album Of The Year category. The critical praise that The Outsiders received on release back in February was unusual for a country act, this is a special album. Managing to merge the lines between rock, pop and country to create an inventive, but recognisable sound gave Church the edge over his country peers. Country albums like The Outsiders don’t come along too often and I expect both the album and big single Give Me Back My Hometown will make waves in the nominations this year.
The final two are the albums I discussed back in April, but they remain the two most likely choices for the winner. The Frozen soundtrack is by far the biggest selling album of the last 12 months, part of the global domination of the movie that went on to become the biggest animated film of all time. The deluxe version of the soundtrack contains both the 9 original songs that make up the musical alongside the entire musical score. The inclusion of both sides of the music is important given the album’s submissions in both Pop and Classical categories, where I can honestly see wins in both. It has been a very long time since a musical took hold of the world like Frozen did, cultural impact meaning just as much as quality at the Grammys. I’d say that the Frozen soundtrack is a sure bet for Album Of The Year and would in fact be a very deserving winner considering the last 12 months.
But of course we have to save the best for last, even though best doesn’t quite cover it when it comes to Beyoncé. Her self titled 5th album was a statement, a musical and visual bomb that was dropped onto the world with no one seeing it coming. As far as event albums, Beyoncé created an new standard for the concept of ‘dropping an album’, very few people, even those like Ryan Tedder who worked on the album, even knew it was being released; Beyoncé was one of the landmark moments of the last 12 months. Some may disagree that it is her best album yet, it’s definitely her most consistent release, but the impact it has had on the industry is undeniable. I’d say that Queen Bey has this year’s main award on lockdown; it would take a serious surprise among the nominees to beat her.
Outside picks? Other than U2’s own ‘Beyoncé’d’ release Songs Of Innocence could be popular with the voters. Previous winners Arcade Fire may be a less likely choice, but Reflektor is well deserving of inclusion here. If there’s to be another surprise among the nominees this year, like Sara Bareilles last year, my bets are on Sia with 1000 Forms Of Fear. A strong and successful release alongside a major hit single in the form of Chandelier, it’s the most likely of my alternatives.
With the Big 4 awards predictions out of the way, it’s time to move onto the genre specific section of Grammys 2015.