2014 Grammy Predictions

(Photo Credit: www.wisn.com)

It was a huge year for music – but who do we think will come out on top on Sunday?

Well, it’s that time of year again. That time of year where we start talking about which artists are going to win which awards, who should win, who should’ve been nominated, etc, etc. I’ll spare you the endless “should’ve been nominated” part and just cover the who, the will, and the why. Surely, as they do every year, the Grammy’s will disappoint. But at least we can all have our own predictions to revel in and hey, maybe even disapproving of the actual awards can bring us all closer together. So come Sunday, when you all have your drinking games ready and your remote handy to turn off the performances, you can have these predictions ready to know what to expect. Let’s get to the nominees:

1) Record of the Year:

This is a very “meh” category this year, with “Get Lucky,” “Royals,” “Blurred Lines,” “Radioactive” and “Locked Out of Heaven” up. Hopefully the Grammy’s will hear the pushback against Robin Thicke and leave him hanging. Imagine Dragons seem to be a longshot, as less of a name than Daft Punk and less of a hit than Lorde’s. And while “Royals” was the year’s second biggest chart hit, it was her first ever single, so they might hold her out for that alone. I really think this one will come down to two French robots v. Super Bowl halftime darling Bruno Mars.

Will Win/Should Win:

I have to give this one to the robots. “Get Lucky” was the year’s most unforgettable jam – just as sleazy and catchy as “Blurred Lines” without any of the sexual assault implications.

 

2) Song of the Year:

For those wondering what exactly the difference between “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year,” is, sorry, I can’t really help you. It would seem like an excuse to nominate ten songs instead of five, if “Royals” and “Locked Out of Heaven” didn’t show up here too. Other contenders include “Same Love,” “Just Give Me a Reason” and “Roar.” I would almost immediately eliminate “Just Give Me a Reason” from competition, but it’s a bit of a toss-up elsewhere. A lot of people have been gushing over Macklemore this past year, so a win for him would be no surprise. Still, Katy Perry has been overshadowed by Adele every single time she’s been nominated, so this could finally be her chance. Bruno Mars and Lorde are still new, without having quite the cultural impact that Macklemore has, but their songs are also just better.

Will Win/Should Win:

“Roar” is just a great pop song, and the Grammy’s haven’t had a chance to award Perry yet. I think she’ll bring home the award in this tough category. Personally, I’d love to see Lorde win. “Royals” beat out “Roar” on the charts and has mass staying power. I just don’t see the Grammy’s thinking the same way.

 

3) Album of the Year:

This is another packed category. Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sara Bareilles and Taylor Swift are all up for the honor. Bareilles is a serious longshot, but the other four all stand viable chances. Lamar has, in a very short time, proven himself as one of the best and cleverest rappers alive. Daft Punk’s endless disco madness is a record you can never stop spinning, Swift’s “Red” was a serious branching out from country music, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “The Heist” is an impactful and game-changing work of hip-hop. The Grammy’s don’t operate like the Oscars, in that a recent winner’s chances are lessened this year – so the the only reason to rule out “Red” is that it simply isn’t quite as good as the other albums. It’s a tough category – and all but one of the nominees are on the young side.

Will Win/Should Win:

 

I see the Grammy’s going the way of the robots again – their album was the first since 2005, and they came back in a huge way. It’s a phenomenal album, and one that can be enjoyed by any wide range of award voters. Lamar’s album may have been better and even more impressive, but I see the awards going out to seniority on this one.

*Note: I said I was going to leave the “should’ve nominated this” out, but I’d like to mention that the year’s two highest reviewed albums, Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City” and Kanye’s “Yeezus” were both shut out.

 

4) Best New Artist:

James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Kacey Musgreaves, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Ed Sheeran are all squaring off. The Best New Artist is the most notoriously unpredictable category – in 2011, jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding beat Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine, Justin Bieber and Drake. But I think this year will go down to the two hip-hop artists. The Grammy’s might go the way of the more impressive Kendrick Lamar, or the more appealing Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Either way, I think it’ll go the way of rap. Still, I wouldn’t rule out country singer Musgreaves as a dark horse. Her album “Same Trailer, Different Park” received rave reviews.

Will Win/Should Win:

 

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s smash hits and messages of equality have resonated with massive audiences; I think it’s too big of a phenomenon for the awards to pass up. Personally, I’m a big James Blake fan, so to see the underrated and supremely talented alt-electronic musician pull off a surprise victory would be amazing.

 

5) Best Pop Vocal Album:

As far as whole albums are considered, there were a lot of misfires this year. Of these five nominees, there was only one album that was actually worthwhile start to finish, and that’s Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” (have you begun to tell that I’m a fan?). The other nominees include Lana Del Ray’s “Paradise” – a largely ignored EP, Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox,” Robin Thicke’s abysmal “Blurred Lines” album, and Justin Timberlake’s bloated “20/20 Experience.” But even if Lorde’s album was the only stellar one, I see the Grammy’s going the way of ambition – and rightly so.

Will Win/Should Win:

Timberlake’s double album had far too many songs, and nearly every one was too long – but you can’t fault him for at least trying to do something new. It was still pretty momentous, spawned a handful of big hits and sold millions of copies. There simply were not any pop albums this year half as ambitious as this.

 

6) Best Rock Album:

This one is also pretty lifeless this year. There are six nominees instead of five, but four of them are classic rock artists. Kings of Leon and Queens of the Stone Age are lumped in with Neil Young & Crazy Horse, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. The last one is a real head-scratcher. Led Zeppelin broke up ten years before I was even born, and the album is just the live collection from their 2007 one-off show. It’s a shame that I can’t entirely rule it out, with no original material on it. But I don’t think it’ll take home the award. Sabbath’s and Young’s albums, while both great albums, tend to meander through too many songs. Bowie’s comeback album “The Next Day” shocked everyone, and the only Grammy he’s won was in 1985 for a video. But Queens of the Stone Age have never won one, so “…Like Clockwork” could provide their moment as well. And never rule out Kings – no matter how boring their music gets, the Grammy’s still reward them.

Will Win/Should Win:

 

As one of Queens of the Stone Age’s biggest fans, it pains me to say that their win will be undeserved – “…Like Clockwork” wasn’t all that it was built up to be. It was good, but I enjoyed Bowie’s “The Next Day” more. Still, I think QOTSA will be standing there on stage that night, instead of Bowie. Not that he’d be there even if he won.

 

7) Best Rock Performance:

Again, there’s six nominees, but they run a pretty wide gambit this time. David Bowie’s “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” (a 39 year old song), represent classic rock, Jack White’s “I’m Shakin” and Queens of the Stone Age’s “My God is the Sun” represent a younger generation, and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and Alabama Shakes’ “Always Alright” represent the ‘Does this actually count as rock’ votes. I love how broad the category is, but with one song also up for Record of the Year, it’s tough to imagine – sorry – it going any other way.

Will Win/Should Win:

imagine-dragons-made-in-america-2013  qotsa300

It would be an upset if anything besides “Radioactive” won, given it’s appearance at the upper echelon. But Queens of the Stone Age just bleed cool, and “My God is the Sun” was one of the year’s hardest rocking (and best) songs. I wouldn’t totally discredit its chances.

 

8) Best Alternative Album:

The Grammy’s are usually pretty abysmal at picking alternative albums, but this year’s category really has legs. Neko Case’s “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You,” The National’s “Trouble Will Find Me,” Nine Inch Nails comeback “Hesitation Marks,” Tame Impala’s “Lonerism” and Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City” are all competing. Each album marks growth – Case and NIN go deeper internally, the National go deeper externally and VW matured. It’s a high-quality competition, and represent some of the best albums each group has done. But as tough as it is, I can only see one clear winner.

Will Win/Should Win:

Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City” was the best album of the year, simple as that. Any one of it’s competitors could pull an upset and I wouldn’t be overly surprised, but no album deserves it more. It’s unfortunate for the National, who’s near-perfect release would probably win any other year.

 

9) Best Rap Album:

You have to go all the way down the list to finally see Kanye’s “Yeezus,” which is pitted against Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “The Heist” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.” And the latter two are up for Album of the Year, all but ensuring that Kanye is getting shut out. As packed as this category is, with Lamar and Macklemore nominated for higher awards, it’ll almost definitely come down to those two. And as I’ve said before, even though Lamar is more deserving, it’ll probably be the duo accepting the award.

Will Win/Should Win:

 

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will pick up this one. Their all-accepting MO is appealing to the Grammy’s, even if “Yeezus” is the best-reviewed album of the year. Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” is the most well-rounded rap album of the year, and my personal favorite of the nominees.

 

10) Best Rap Song:

There’s four good competitors here – “Thrift Shop,” “Started From the Bottom,” “Fuckin’ Problems” and “New Slaves.” Also, Jay-Z’s “Holy Grail” is nominated for some reason. “Holy Grail” is a ludicrously cheesy collaboration with Timberlake, and one that takes a piss onto Kurt Cobain’s grave and then credits him as a writer. It’s a contender, but I wouldn’t say a strong one. “Fuckin’ Problems” might not be a strong contender either, given that the other nominations have more depth to them. The Grammy’s aren’t being very kind to Kanye this year, so I’d be surprised if “New Slaves” wins. So, just like the last category, I think Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are picking up the win, with Drake being the most deserving.

There’s a lot of big names this year, across all categories, and the Grammy’s are infamously unpredictable. So if your favorite doesn’t get the nomination, then don’t fret, just remember that the Grammy’s have deemed themselves meaningless through years of mistakes. Creed has a bunch of awards, and the Kinks were never once nominated. With tons of all-star performances and awards more competitive than usual, it should at least make for a very interesting show.

Awards incorrectly predicted by: Andrew McNally

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