57th Annual Grammys Scorecard (Take 2…)

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

The official cut-off date for eligibility for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards is September 30, 2014. The end of September is filled with albums that are certainly looking to compete for music’s most prestigious awards. That said, there are also notable albums released after last year’s cutoff date that can’t be written off. From my perspective, here are among the best available albums within a number of Grammy categories. 

Green represents some revisions/things added from the previous post as well as potential nominations who have ‘gained’ grown in my opinion. Red marks nominations that may have lost ground, also in my opinion.

Record of the Year

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

1) “Happy,” Pharrell Williams

2) “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith

3) “Dark Horse,” Katy Perry featuring Juicy J

4) “Fancy,” Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX 

5) “Problem,” Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea

The record of the year category continues to be a tight race each year. With so many big singles released in 2014, it won’t be a surprise that big pop records could dominate this category. “Happy” has lost some steam after a formidable run, but it still could get honored here given its widespread impact.

No changes here for now.  That said, could “Bang Bang” (Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj) make a late push?  What is missing form this category is a big rock record, which has often been victorious here.  

Album of the Year

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour

2) Beyoncé, Beyoncé 

3) Pharrell Williams, G I R L

4) Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence

5) Jack White, Lazaretto 

Much like last year, finding one dominant album that is a shoe-in for the “W” here isn’t easy. Sam Smith has certainly had a big year, but what about the omitted Frozen soundtrack, which was the bestselling album of the year? Beyoncé is considered a ‘veteran’ artist and the upmost entertainer at this point, and her fifth album was a shock to everyone. These five albums could be frontrunners, but then some obscure album could also sneak into this category.  

While I’ve been high on these five albums throughout 2014, there are some x-factors.  Barbra Streisand’s Partners is an album that could earn a nomination in this category by all means – it’s a duets album with a veteran vocalist who continues to allure vocally.  Katy Perry could knock Lana Del Rey and possibly Jack White out of nomination given the hits that Prism has produced with “Roar” and “Dark Horse” especially.  The Black Keys and are Grammy darlings, and could find themselves nominated, even with Turn Blue falling short of the glory of their previous albums. 

Song of the Year

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith 

2) “All of Me,” John Legend 

3) “Happy,” Pharrell Williams

4) “Let It Go,” Idina Menzel 

5) “Sing,” Ed Sheeran

It won’t be surprising to see Pharrell Williams score a nomination (or nod) here for “Happy.” Also, “Let It Go” seems almost too big to at least honor it with a big-time nomination, if not a victory itself. Then again, should Sam Smith lose to Williams in the record of the year category, doesn’t “Stay With Me” have to win? Throw in the possibly ineligible “All of Me” by John Legend and the previously-nominated Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” and the category is another tightly contested battle. The best, most true song here does belong to Legend, hands down, but Smith stands a strong chance.

Again, a lot depends in this category if “All of Me” is eligible… It’s the best available in regards to being a ‘song’ and not a ‘record.’  

Best New Artist

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) Sam Smith 

2) Iggy Azalea

3) Ariana Grande

4) August Alsina

5) 5 Seconds of Summer 

Another stacked category, it is hard to envision anyone else but Sam Smith wins this one. That said, Grande and Azalea both have compelling arguments. So does August Alsina, but with R&B as underrated as it is of late, his chances become slimmer. Sure, 5 Seconds of Summer are crowd pleasers, but they just might be the Justin Bieber type acknowledgement of this year with little chance to win. 

No change. 

Pop Solo Performance

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

1) Pharrell Williams, “Happy”

2) Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”

3) Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”

4) Sia, “Chandelier” 

5) Ed Sheeran, “Sing” 

6) Lana Del Rey, “Ultraviolence” 

Ultimately, “Happy” should probably be nominated in urban categories, but it just might keep others from achieving Grammy glory. Again, it seems that “Stay With Me” will be a huge challenger, not to mention the possibility of a big record like “Wrecking Ball” actually getting some love. Other efforts like “Chandelier,” “Sing,” and “Ultraviolence” should be ignored but have an uphill battle against the top.

No change.  

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Ariana Grande, My Everything © Republic

1) Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, “Bang Bang” 

2) “RUDE,” Magic!

3) Maroon 5, “Maps”

4) Ariana Grande featuring Zedd, “Break Free” 

5) 5 Seconds of Summer, “She Looks So Perfect”

“Bang Bang” is deserved hands down should it be nominated. “Rude”, should it be nominated was a former #1 hit, in addition to being the best part of the band’s debut album, Don’t Kill The Magic. 

No change. 

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Barbra Streisand, Partners © Columbia

1) Barbra Streisand, Partners

2) Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek

3) ???

Barbra Streisand currently leads the charge in the traditional pop category.  

Best Pop Vocal Album

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour

2) Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence

3) Katy Perry, Prism

4) Ed Sheeran, X

5) Ariana Grande, My Everything

We’ll take Pharrell Williams out of this category. Even so, there are no shortage of scenarios for each of the five albums. Grande, who I have placed in 5th place has a compelling argument herself. That said, ultimately, if the nominations fall the way that I have them, Smith wins, even against Katy Perry who has yet to win a Grammy.

It’s hard to imagine Maroon 5 not scoring a nomination for V, but should Ariana Grande‘s My Everything be ignored, given the hits she’s delivered in 2014? Yours Truly received no nominations, but is 21 years old still too young to get some Grammy-love?  

Best Dance/Electronic Album

1) Lady Gaga, ARTPOP

2) Skrillex, RECESS 

3) Porter Robinson, Worlds

Lady Gaga may pick up another Grammy. Then again, she may not.

Best Rock Performance

Jack White, Lazaretto © Columbia

1) Jack White, “Lazaretto” 

2) The Black Keys, “Turn Blue” 

3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “American Dream Plan B” 

4) Bruce Springsteen, “Just Like The Fire Would” 

5) Counting Crows, “Paisley Park” 

Jack White had a bad Grammy night when his first album Blunderbuss was nominated (he won nothing), but he might find himself winning Best Rock Performance. Still, a win won’t come easily.

Can Ryan Adams score a nod here for “Gimme Something Good?” 

Best Rock Album

Jack White, Lazaretto © Columbia

1) Jack White, Lazaretto

2) The Black Keys, Turn Blue

3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye

4) Coldplay, Ghost Stories

5) Bruce Springsteen, High Hopes

Jack White may have lost to The Black Keys in this category last go round, but I can’t see him losing to the Keys again. Both albums were solid, but White may have the edge this time. Coldplay may very well receive a nomination, but they’ve done better… just saying!

Best Alternative Music Album

1) Arcade Fire, Reflektor 

2) Beck, Morning Phase

3) St. Vincent, St. Vincent 

4) Spoon, They Want My Soul 

5) The Gaslight Anthem, Get Hurt 

The Alternative Music album category is always tight, and this year is no different. I’m not convinced that The Gaslight Album will even make the cut, but for now they stick in the fifth spot. Beck’s Morning Phase is a fine album that is deserving of this honor, but I don’t put it past last year’s high-flying double album by Arcade Fire (Reflektor) to ultimately go home with the win.

Some may argue that Arcade Fire’s Reflektor is too dance-oriented for this category.  Still, it’s hard to label Arcade Fire as an dance/electronic act, even for one album, against more tried-and-true electro acts.  I still like them as a frontrunner in this category, which they lost to The Black Keys previously (they’d end up winning the album of the year for The Suburbs though). 

I’d like to see a nomination for Lykke Li potentially for I Never Learn, but I’m not confident she gets a nod in the least… If she does, should she fall into the pop category? Furthermore, would Lykke Li really supplant a nod for a more tried-and-true pop act?  

Best R&B Performance

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Sony

1) Beyoncé, “Partition” 

2) Prince, “BREAKDOWN” 

3) Aloe Blacc, “The Man” 

4) Pharrell Williams, “Marilyn Monroe” 

5) Jhené Aiko, “The Pressure” 

6) Tank, “You’re My Star” 

The top three songs in this category are juggernauts. Likely, Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” will be forgotten after cooling off since its peak, but Beyoncé’s “Partition” will remain fresh. Still, besting “Partition” should be Prince’s “BREAKDOWN,” which just might be the best, most compelling R&B performance of the year.

I’m not sold on the aforementioned songs as there are plenty of worthwhile omissions.  That said, I don’t feel like I even know/understand the R&B categorical nominations as of late.  Still, Ledisi could earn love here (“I Blame You”), Jennifer Hudson (“It’s Your World“), Luke James (“Exit Wounds”), etc.  

Best R&B Song

Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

1) “The Breakdown” (Prince) 

2) “Drunk in Love” (Beyoncé)

3) “The Pressure” (Jhené Aiko) 

4) “Marilyn Monroe” (Pharrell Williams) 

5) “Benediction” (August Alsina) 

6) “You’re My Star” (Tank) 

Who likely wins this – probably Beyoncé for “Drunk in Love.” That said, the best song that could potentially be nominated here is Prince’s awesome “The Breakdown.”

No change. 

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

1) Pharrell Williams, G I R L

2) August Alsina, Testimony

3) Trey Songz, Trigga

4) Jhené Aiko, Souled Out

5) Chris Brown, X 

Pharrell Williams stands a great shot if he is nominated in this category. That said, G I R L could be nominated as a pop album, but would face steeper competition, specifically with Sam Smith. Beyoncé plays spoils if her self-titled album is nominated here instead of Best R&B album. 

No change. 

Best R&B Album

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Sony

1) Beyoncé, Beyoncé


3) Jennifer Hudson, JHUD

4) Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love Marriage & Divorce

5) Michael Jackson, Xscape

5) Kem, Promise To Love 

Predicting the Best R&B Album anymore is almost pointless. You just never know how the vote will sway in recent times. If Beyoncé is nominated in this category, it wins hands down. If not, the door is likely opened. Michael Jackson’s album Xscape has received mixed reactions, so I don’t put much stock into it sticking as a nominee (Michael wasn’t even nominated a couple of years back).  Jennifer Hudson’s JHUD is a terrific album, and even though sales are subpar, this is a category Hudson won in 2008.  Still, bet on Beyoncé or Prince.  

Best Rap Performance

Common, Nobody's Smiling © Def Jam

1) Common featuring Vince Staples, “Kingdom”

2) Nicki Minaj, “Anaconda” 

3) Childish Gambino, “Sweatpants”

4) Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z“Devil Is A Lie” 

5) Jeezy featuring Jay-Z, “Seen It All” 

Honestly, wouldn’t it be nice to see Childish Gambino get recognized for Because The Internet? That said, likely Gambino will have a Kendrick Lamar night and go home empty-handed. Common definitely has a shot. Maybe Nicki Minaj can break her Grammy drought with “Anaconda?”

No change. 

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Sony

1) Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, “Drunk In Love” 

2) Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea, “Problem” 

3) Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX, “Fancy”

4) Iggy Azalea featuring Rita Ora, “Black Widow” 

5) August Alsina featuring Rick Ross, “Benediction”

If this field look liked this, it’s actually sort of tight. That isn’t saying this is the strongest category of Best Rap/Sung collaborations ever, but at least the top three are huge. Still, don’t underestimate the power of the Queen – Beyoncé and her partner in crime Jay-Z that is.

No change. 

Best Rap Song

Iggy Azalea, The New Classic © Virgin EMI Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

1) “Fancy” (Iggy Azalea) 

2) “Kingdom” (Common)

3) “Me OK” (Jeezy) 

4) “Sweatpants” (Childish Gambino) 

5) “Devil Is A Lie” (Rick Ross) 

There have been stronger rap songs in the past. The strongest song is actually “Kingdom,” but doesn’t Iggy Azalea need to be recognized somewhere or somehow for “Fancy?”

No change. 

Best Rap Album

Common, Nobody's Smiling © Def Jam

1) Common, Nobody’s Smiling

2) Childish Gambino, Because The Internet

3) Jeezy, Seen It All: The Autobiography

4) Iggy Azalea, The New Classic

5) Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron

6) The Roots, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 

Rap has not been at the strength it’s been in the past. There was no Kendrick Lamar caliber album this year, and that’s no shade to the genre or the artists who released albums this year. If I had to pick out the best rap effort of the year, it would be a closely contested contest between Common and Childish Gambino. Common is the ‘darling’ of the Grammys, so I’d give his underappreciated Nobody’s Smiling the edge. But then we all all Macklemore & Ryan Lewis stun Kendrick Lamar, and Iggy Azalea has definitely had some kind of year… 

No change. 

Best Country Album

Miranda Lambert, Platinum © RCA Records Label Nashville

1) Miranda Lambert, Platinum

2) Eric Church, The Outsiders

3) Tim McGraw, Sundown Heaven Town

4) Brantley Gilbert, Just As I Am

5) Hunter Hayes, Storyline 

Best Country Album is one of those categories in recent times that has yielded some surprises. One is that for as popular and consistent as Taylor Swift has been, she has only one Best Country album once, and that was for album Fearless which also won album of the year. Last year’s winner was Kacey Musgraves. So, call Best country album a crapshoot of sorts. Any of the nominees listed her could win or lose. Miranda Lambert has had previous success, and Platinum was an exceptional album, so I give her the nod at the moment.

No change. 


2 Comments Add yours

  1. The god says:

    Are you fucking retard these are by far the worst predictions in the world eminem is not nominate in any rap categories.are you on coke, or do you smoke, cause I think you do both

    1. brent80 says:

      Hmm, there have certainly been classier ways to criticize someone you don’t know personally… Profane name-calling and drug accusations – below the belt, particularly considering this is an opinion piece more than anything else. That said, I will gladly address the Eminem omission.

      When This post was written, it had slipped my mind that Eminem was eligible for the 57th Annual Grammys for The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (It was released in November 2013 if memory serves correctly). In a more recent post where I predicted winners before nominations, Eminem was awarded Best Rap album. I didn’t detail any other rap categories in that particular post.

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