September 30 marks the end of the eligibility for the upcoming 2014 GRAMMY Awards, so, being that it’s the day after, I think it’s time to make some predictions for the big show, yes? Though it isn’t until January 26 of next year and a special nominations special doesn’t air until December 6, here are some of my early favorites, and let me know what you think below! For now, it’s just the Big Four — and maybe a few extra thoughts when it’s all over. Let’s get to those magic predictions:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience
Taylor Swift, Red
The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars
All five of these albums went to #1 and the majority of them have been certified (or are at the point where they can be.) It’s definitely going to be another pop heavy year overall. Mars’s late 2012 release has given us smashes like “Locked Out Of Heaven” and “When I Was Your Man”, plus with his upcoming Super Bowl appearance, he may just lead the nominations. Luck was on Daft Punk‘s side this year as “Get Lucky” took a ride up to #2 on the Hot 100, while their album delivered the band’s best sales frame by far. Timberlake, an early winner for this category, had the biggest opening of the year with the first half of this collection and will once again debut at the top with the second half. Why RCA chose to submit both albums as one entry instead of two, we shall never know. Both Swift and The Civil Wars are GRAMMY favorites having been nominated separately and together and should likely gain a vote or two.
Drake, Nothing Was The Same – The rapper’s album was just issued last week and the numbers on it are looking huge. His connection was multiple format audiences will obviously help him; I’d think this would be the rap release to get a nomination if there is one.
Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady – Expect to see this one on a lot of year-end lists. The futuristic neo soul singer has a lot of people buzzing about her latest release, but with low radio airplay and only decent sales, this will get cut along the way.
Jay Z, Magna Carta… Holy Grail – He’s an industry heavyweight and his most recent album was one of the most hyped of the year. With a hit single in “Holy Grail”, his name is out there once again, but reception’s been mixed and others are favored.
Kanye West, Yeezus – It’s raw, it’s minimalist and ultimately, it won over both fans and critics when it was released this summer. That being said, I don’t think those on the GRAMMY panel will “get it.” Expect a tantrum or two from West if it’s looked over.
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires Of The City – Some people seem to think that this could pull off a nomination because of high critical scores. This era gave them their biggest hit yet on the Alternative survey, “Diane Young”, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to get this in.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Bruno Mars, “When I Was Your Man”
Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Katy Perry, “Roar”
Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I., “Blurred Lines”
The Civil Wars, “The One That Got Away”
Both Record and Song Of The Year are going to be tough this year, but 2013 has been a spectacular and diverse year for music. Since ROTY listed six nominations last year, I’ll be predicting the same this year. Summer smashes “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky” will no doubt be in there, which is huge for producer, writer and singer Pharrell Williams. Many people seem to think that both Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake are a lock for ROTY; I’m putting “Man” here over “Locked Out Of Heaven” and “Mirrors” over “Suit & Tie”, but it could go either way. “Roar”, like Taylor Swift‘s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” last year, will be the last-minute nomination of the bunch. Finally, there’s The Civil Wars; based on the buzz this song registered on my blog well as the prior GRAMMY love for the duo, I think they hold a strong chance of being here.
Drake featuring Majid Jordan, “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – With a smooth 80’s feel and a simple lyric, the song’s hot and a hit. I think this will only be shut out due to the similar throwback feel of entries like Thicke’s, which was also much bigger commercially.
Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive” – 2013 was a breakout year for this Las Vegas band and their dubstep meets rock production took over the charts a few months ago. Unfortunately, the burn factor with this one will ultimately cost it some votes in the long run.
Kanye West, “New Slaves” – With Yeezus probably missing a chance at AOTY, this would be West’s next best option. The industrial sounding song will too probably not make the category, but it’s worth a shot. He’ll pick up a few nods in the Rap sub-categories.
Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble” – Swift has a better shot in the AOTY category. I’m not sure the Academy voters will respond positively to this song, despite the fact that it was a significant hit, given the harder electronic elements of it. Cue the goats!
SONG OF THE YEAR
Bruno Mars, “When I Was Your Man”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert, “Same Love”
Passenger, “Let Her Go”
Pink featuring Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me A Reason”
As it was last year, Song Of The Year should be vastly different from ROTY, and since this is a songwriter’s award, let’s get into the lyrical love. Mars may be the only repeat in this category; his tender love song “Man” resonated with more than a few people this year. Lorde‘s anthem about the lifestyles of the rich and famous may have a minimal production, but stands out lyrically as biting and powerful. “Love” from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert carries a heavy tone, but is also a game changer when it comes to same-sex marriage support. Passenger‘s “Go” may be the dark horse in this race, but with a similar label strategy to Ed Sheeran‘s “The A Team”, this will continue to be a slow burner into next year. Last year, the duet between Pink and Ruess has such a classic feel that I would be shocked if “Reason” is snubbed in any of the major categories.
Emeli Sandé, “Next To Me” – Though this was only a moderate success on the charts, Sandé is long overdue for some form of nomination after the song initially went to radio last year. Perhaps a nod in the BNA category below will serve her better.
Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko, “Stay” – This big ballad from the singer’s Unapologetic album was a nice change of pace at the time. The multi-format smash will likely be on the minds of the voters; it’s going to be a very close one.
Sara Bareilles, “Brave” – You may think it sounds like Katy Perry‘s “Roar”, and once the GRAMMY nominations actually come out, “Roar” will likely take all the glory. Still, “Brave” has a great lyric and Bareilles is certainly worthy of the Award.
The Band Perry, “Better Dig Two” – It’s another morbid musical number from these guys, but it was huge on the Country airwaves. It’s one of the best from the genre this year, but it may fall short of the nominations due to the competition.
The Civil Wars, “The One That Got Away” – I pegged this as a nominee for ROTY, but this still has a promising chance in this category to a lesser extent. I’m hoping for an excellent performance from the duo on the live telecast.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
This category should be largely predictable, save for maybe an entry or two. Sandé, who was expected to be on last year’s ballot, should make it on this year after the success of “Next To Me”, current single “My Kind Of Love”, and her “Beneath Your Beautiful” duet with Labrinth. Las Vegas quartet Imagine Dragons are an easy sell with their crossover-friendly hits like “It’s Time” and “Radioactive”. Lamar’s debut album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, recently went Platinum and he’s also all over the Urban airwaves in addition to his feature on Robin Thicke‘s “Give It 2 U”. New Zealand’s Lorde is also expected to place in the category thanks to the immense, yet sudden success of her “Royals” single, a recent #1 on the Alternative chart. Finally, there’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, likely the favorite to win, with three big hit singles in a row including the novelty hit “Thrift Shop” and the socially conscious “Same Love”.
Ariana Grande – Young diva Grande has some major chops and a major fan base. 2013 marked her first top ten single, “The Way”, and her first #1 album, Yours Truly. However, with so many R&B acts in the bunch, she may not find a “way” into the five finalists.
Florida Georgia Line – The Southern duo has accumulated three big #1 singles on Country radio and scored one of the biggest Country crossovers of the year with the Nelly assisted “Cruise”, but will they skew too young for the panel? Perhaps.
Kacey Musgraves – Musgraves debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 with her first major label release; however, she’s been recording over ten years and issuing albums independently since 2002. The committee may see that as a reason to leave her out of this one.
Passenger – See Musgraves. He faces a similar problem in that he’s released several albums independently since 2009, as well as one with the band form of Passenger in 2007. Hey, Ed Sheeran and Gotye didn’t make it into BNA last year either.
Phillip Phillips – The American Idol winner from 2012 could be a strong candidate with a Platinum album and two memorable singles, yet it seems that most of his initial hype is gone. “Home” would have been a better choice for last year’s Awards.
As for some of the genre-specific categories, look out for a few more Pink and Taylor Swift nods in the Pop categories, as well as fun. and Maroon 5. Avicii, Martin Garrix and Zedd could compete together for the Best Dance Recording, while the Country categories should be dominated by Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry. Oh, and in the Jazz categories, my friend Kurt Trowbridge would say that Etienne Charles‘s chances of being nominated for Creole Soul are “killin’ breh.” I just hope he doesn’t have to kill anyone to get his nods. That would just be bad.
Once again, let me know you think below or find PGTC on social media by clicking the “Get Social!” tab.