With “Music’s Biggest Night” just around the corner, it’s time to lock in our final predictions for the Grammy Awards. Some big questions remain:
- Does the night belong to Sam Smith, or will an upset or two keep him from a sweep?
- Will Iggy Azalea or Eminem become the second white artist in a row to win Best Rap Album?
- Will Madonna’s performance make her relevant again, or will she fall flat?
Let’s look at the “Big Four” categories:
Album of the Year:
BEYONCE by Beyoncé
In the Lonely Hour by Sam Smith
Morning Phase by Beck
x by Ed Sheeran
G I R L by Pharrell
A win for anyone but Beyoncé would be a travesty. The pop diva put out the year’s most relevant, inventive, and ambitious mainstream album, representing what will probably be a career peak for the Grammy veteran. BEYONCE deserves to be recognized with the night’s biggest prize, and, if the star’s history with the awards are any indication, it will. After all, this is the same woman who was nominated two years in a row in the same category for the same exact song. (Come on, Grammys, you didn’t fool anyone.)
Unfortunately, there’s someone standing in her way: Sam Smith. The Grammys love a good sweep, and awarding Sam Smith for all six of his nominations makes for a good story. It would make him only the second artist to win all of the Big Four categories (after the nearly-forgotten Christopher Cross), and could offer him an Adele-sized sales boost. Whether the Academy will go for the better story or the better album remains to be seen, but my money’s on BEYONCE.
Record of the Year:
“Stay with Me” by Sam Smith
“Chandelier” by Sia
“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea
“Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
“All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor
For those of you who still don’t know, Record of the Year is a production award: it’s given to the performers and producers of a track. Song of the Year is a songwriting award, given only to the writers.
No need to get into all that Sam Smith stuff again; he’s got this. His voice is gold, the song is dreamy, and the Grammys love ballads. The end.
Song of the Year:
“Stay With Me” by Sam Smith
“Chandelier” by Sia
“Take Me To Church” by Hozier
“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea
“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
How will Tom Petty’s newly-minted writing credit on “Stay With Me” affect Smith’s SOTY chances? Odds are that it won’t. The Grammys love giving Record and Song of the Year to the same track, anyway. Sia’s “Chandelier” may be the spoiler, but you can count on Smith for this one.
Best New Artist:
This is Sam Smith’s easiest category to win. Sweeps can be boring, but he’s at least going 3 for 4. Brandy Clark might have a shot; it’s been five years since the last country winner (Zac Brown Band), so it’s about time for one. It’s also been four years since the last winner that no one’s ever heard of: Esperanza Spalding.
Best Pop Vocal Album: In the Lonely Hour, Sam Smith (Spoiler: Ed Sheeran, x)
Best Pop Solo Performance: “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith (Spoiler: Sia, Chandelier)
That’s right; we’re predicting that Sam Smith will win 5 of his 6 nominations.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: “Fancy,” Iggy Azalea feat. Charlie XCX (Spoiler: “Say Something,” A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera)
If anything but “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry and Juicy J wins, it will represent Perry’s 13th non-winning nomination. The record? Brian McKnight, with 16 nominations and 0 wins. Good luck, Katy.
Best Comedy Album: Mandatory Fun, “Weird Al” Yankovic
Yankovic has been nominated an astounding 10 times, winning in 1985 for Eat It and 2004 for Poodle Hat. His stiffest competition is the red-hot Louis CK, who beat Weird Al in the category in 2012. Al’s edge is the all-out media blitz that surrounded Mandatory Fun, which included eight music videos. It doesn’t hurt that Fun is one of Al’s best albums to date.
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Max Martin
Max Martin has written 51 top 10 hits, and yet has been passed over as a nominee for Producer of the Year for his entire career. It was a banner year for him, with “Bang Bang,” “Break Free,” “Dark Horse,” “Problem,” “Shake It Off,” and “Unconditionally” adding on to his remarkable streak of hits. Having his name attached to one of the hugest albums in recent memory, Taylor Swift’s 1989, certainly helps.
Best Country Album: The Outsiders, Eric Church
Best Rap Album: The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem
All hell will break loose if Iggy Azalea wins, and she has a real chance. Childish Gambino put out the best rap album this year, but Grammy voters aren’t exactly rap lovers, and they’ll go with the most obvious choice.
Best Urban Contemporary Album: BEYONCE, Beyoncé
Of Beyoncé six nominations (as a performer, writer, and producer, no less), this is the only category where a win is more or less guaranteed.
Best Alternative Music Album: Lazaretto, Jack White
St. Vincent’s self-titled album was more critically-beloved, but Lazaretto, with its commercial success and accessible eccentricity, screams Grammy. If St. Vincent did win, though, she’d technically be the first woman to do willingly. Sinéad O’Connor, the 1991 winner, refused to accept her nominations and award.
Best Song Written for Visual Media: “Let it Go,” Frozen
Co-writer Robert Lopez already has three Tonys, two Daytime Emmys, one Academy award, and a Grammy, but the inescapable “Let it Go” will certainly add to his trophy shelf.
Remember to watch the Grammys on CBS on February 8 at 8pm EST!