It’s nearly Frebruary and yet the Grammy Awards are still nearly 3 weeks away. The latest they have been in the schedule for a long time, it gives me some time to delve into the big nominees and see who is most likely to be smiling once the night arrives. I’ll be listening to some of these songs/albums for the very first time, where in previous years I’ve discovered the likes of Arcade Fire and most notably Lady Antebellum. As there’s lots of crossover in the big song categories, I’ll be tackling these in one article.
Record of the Year
Really Love – D’Angelo and the Vanguard
D’Angelo & Brent Fischer, producers; Russell Elevado, Ben Kane & Rafa Sardina, engineers/mixers; Dave Collins, mastering engineer
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
Jeff Bhasker, Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson, producers; Josh Blair, Riccardo Damian, Serban Ghenea, Wayne Gordon, John Hanes, Inaam Haq, Boo Mitchell, Charles Moniz & Mark Ronson, engineers/mixers; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Jake Gosling, producer; Jake Gosling, Mark ‘Spike’ Stent & Geoff Swan, engineers/mixers; Stuart Hawkes, mastering engineer
Blank Space – Taylor Swift
Max Martin & Shellback, producers; Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Sam Holland & Michael Ilbert, engineers/mixers; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer
Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
Max Martin & Ali Payami, producers; Serban Ghenea, John Hanes & Sam Holland, engineers/mixers; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer
Let’s tackle the elephant in the room first, I don’t think I saw a single person predict Really Love to make it into the Record of the Year category in 2016. I read so many prediction articles and D’Angelo was only mentioned in the discussion for Album of the Year. On first listen, it’s definitely an interesting choice here, the opening 2 minutes of spoken word and strings soon easing into that sweet D’Angelo vocal for the main portion of the song. A Grammy favourite nearly a decade ago, perhaps it’s the fact that this is a true return to form for a classic RnB act that saw it slide into this category. It’s deliciously smooth, yet totally unpredictable. Though I really can’t imagine it competing against the huge records in this category, it’s refreshing to see a big surprise like this in the nominees list.
The other 4 nominees were all potential predictions for me, though of the two that make it into both Record and Song of the year I only included one in my final list. Blank Space and Thinking Out Loud are both career defining records, with both seeing huge longevity across 2014/15 thanks in part to the extensive touring schedule Ed and Taylor had. This is the first Record of the Year nomination for Ed, while it’s Taylor’s 4th in total. I’d say it’s her most likely contender too, Blank Space manages to bring in every kind of Taylor Swift fan, from the pure pop loves to the country defenders, if she doesn’t take home Album of the Year I could see Blank Space picking up this award.
The final 2 nominees are probably too much to compete with though, the two I singled out in my Record of the Year predictions. Can’t Feel My Face is an obvious front runner, a song that changed the entire trajectory of one of the industry’s most exciting talents. The Weeknd had an incredible year and Can’t Feel My Face is the pinnacle of it. That said, I still feel that Uptown Funk has had this award in the bag since I wrote this halftime report last June and since becoming the second longest running #1 of all time I’d say few could deny Ronson and Mars this award on the night. Uptown Funk is a song that we will still be hearing in 10 years time, undoubtedly a Record of the Decade, not just the year.
Song of the Year
Kendrick Duckworth, Kawan Prather, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters (Little Big Town)
See You Again
Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters (Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth)
Thinking Out Loud
Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)
Unlike Record of the Year, the biggest surprise for Song of the Year is that Mark Ronson and The Weeknd didn’t make the cut. I had thought they were the favourites here, so it was a huge shock for me. It does open the field considerably though, where the aforementioned Thinking Out Loud and Blank Space could do very well. Both artists have been featured for Song of the Year before and something tells me Ed Sheeran could win his very first Grammy award here.
Outside of that we have a newcomer Charlie Puth with See You Again his Fast and Furious 7 soundtrack hit with Wiz Khalifa, not a surprising inclusion, but instead of something like Uptown Funk is definitely is. Alright is probably the rap track with the biggest chance here though, gaining a huge amount of buzz in the lead up to the nominations, the standout track on Kendrick’s Album of the Year nominated To Pimp A Butterfly. A triumphantly optimistic, but cutting take the current state of America it would be a more than deserving winner of Song of the Year.
My favourite pick for this award though is Girl Crush from Little Big Town. Not written by anyone from the group, it became the definitive country crossover hit of 2015 thanks to it’s devilish chorus. A country song hasn’t taken top honours at the Grammys since Lady Antebellum won both Record and Song for Need You Now and I could see Girl Crush taking the prize here. If the voters don’t opt for the more obvious choices of Taylor and Ed I’d say Girl Crush could surprise a lot of viewers here.