On February 8, dozens of artists, producers, songwriters and the like will once again crowd Staples Center in hopes of receiving one of this year’s coveted Grammy Awards. Here’s a rundown of the most popular categories and their contestants.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Summary: This is a strong year for female vocalists competing for Record of the Year, with Sam Smith, the group’s lone male artist, sneaking in with his yearning ballad “Stay With Me.” But gender isn’t the only difference here; Smith’s vocals are backed by simple piano, bass and percussion, while the others’ singles contain heavy instrumentals and production. But that doesn’t mean the others aren’t great. With Iggy Azalea’s beats and rap hooks in “Fancy,” Sia’s myriad of effects and raspy-yet-powerful vocals in “Chandelier,” Taylor Swift’s sassy, sugar-coated hooks in “Shake It Off” and Meghan Trainor’s vintage vocals and instrumentals in “All About That Bass,” it’s no wonder the ladies rule this section.
Prediction: Sia wins with “Chandelier” due to superior production layering and vocal performance.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Summary: As far as artist style goes, this is easily the most diverse category. It is led by a couple of Grammys veterans: Beyonce, with her ever-soulful eponymous album, and with Beck’s “Morning Phase,” a treat of artful indie pop. Ed Sheeran returns to this category with his sophomore album, “X,” a singer-songwriter’s plethora of everything from ballads to raps. But let’s not forget Sam Smith’s beautiful debut, “In the Lonely Hour,” and Pharrell Williams’ groovy R&B collection, “Girl.”
Prediction: Ed Sheeran wins with his second Album of the Year, “X,” which is even more comprehensive and robust than his first.
SONG OF THE YEAR
Summary: There is quite a bit of overlap between this category and Record of the Year–four of the five entries, to be exact. According to the Grammy Awards website, the main difference between this category and the Song of the Year Category is that this category recognizes the songwriter, while the Record of the Year category recognizes the performance of the artist and contributions of the producer, recording engineer, and/or mixer. The only entry in Record of the Year that is not in this category is “Fancy,” by Iggy Azalea. It is replaced by “Take Me to Church,” a powerful, thoughtfully written piano ballad by breakthrough artist Hozier. This single is the oddity of the bunch, for it is the only entry written and arranged solely by the musician.
Prediction: “Take Me to Church” wins with its clever lyrics and impressive arrangement.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Summary: This category has quite the mixed bunch. With dance rockers (Bastille), country crooners (Brandy Clark), soul men (Sam Smith), female rappers (Iggy Azalea) and more dance rockers (Haim), Best New Artist brings a wide variety of talent to choose from. The two clear leaders of this category are Smith (who has been nominated for more Grammys than any other artist) and Azalea (who was on the Billboard Hot 100 longer than any other female rapper).
Prediction: Sam Smith, who has been nominated for more Grammys than any other artist this year, wins the title of Best New Artist.