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Grammy 2015 Preview: Will-Wins, Should-Wins, Dark Horses

As the 57th Grammy Awards prepare to get underway this weekend, the time has come for us pundits, critics and analysts to weigh in with predictions on the winners. (Because, of course, none of us can wait a mere 2-3 days to find out who find out who actually wins before talking about it. Besides, the Super Bowl is over, people are tired of talking about Katy Perry and her, um, left shark, and we need something to do in the meantime. So let the speculating commence.)

Anyhow, we’ve got our own ideas of who will take home the prestigious gramophone trophies on the music industry’s biggest night—and of course, we’re going to share them with you, because we’re awesome like that. The predictions for the categories below include who we think will win, who should win, and a “dark horse” for the category—that is, someone who could surprise us with an upset win. If you’re like us, and you’re planning to TiVo the premiere of Better Call Saul to watch the Grammys live—as well you should—here are some key award categories to watch for.

 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Nominees:

Beyoncé, Beyoncé
Beck, Morning Phase
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour
Ed Sheeran, x
Pharell Williams, G I R L

Will win: Beyoncé
Should win: Beyoncé
Dark horse: Sam Smith

This is the most undisputed category among the people making predictions. Not only was Beyoncé’s self-titled album a clear standout as a collection in its own right, but the ambitious “visual album” concept (and the stunning surprise release) made a deep mark on the industry and left her peers scrambling all year long to find ways to match it without copying her. The only dark horse we see is Sam Smith, who has achieved a huge amount of momentum in the past few months and who has a fighting chance to become the first artist in years to sweep all four major categories. But to be clear—no one deserves this win more than Bey—and she probably will take it.

 

SONG OF THE YEAR

Nominees:

Hozier, “Take Me To Church”
Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off
Sam Smith, “Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version)
Sia, “Chandelier”
Meghan Trainor, “All About That Bass”

Will win: Sam Smith/Sia (toss-up)
Should win: Sam Smith
Dark horse: Meghan Trainor

Not to be indecisive here, but while Album of the Year is probably the least contended of the top four awards, Song of the Year is the most contended. Sia and Sam Smith are very much neck-and-neck here, but since we think Sam Smith has the better song (despite accidentally “borrowing” from Tom Petty), we’ll lean into that prediction, though we won’t be surprised if Sia takes it. The dark horse here is Meghan Trainor, not because she should win it, but because her single “All About That Bass” combines one of the catchiest hooks of the year with a popular positive-body-image message, thereby making her the underdog everyone likes.

 

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Nominees:

Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX, “Fancy”
Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off
Sam Smith, “Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version)
Sia, “Chandelier”
Meghan Trainor, “All About That Bass”

Will win: Sam Smith
Should win: Taylor Swift
Dark horse: Sia

As a quick aside here, lots of folks get confused about the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year, perhaps even more so this year because four of the five nominees are the same for both categories. The difference is that Song of the Year is about the song itself, which means the award goes to the songwriters, while Record of the Year focuses on the production value of the recording, and is given to the artist, producers and engineers. It just so happens that the four duplicate nominees had great production value and great songs. In this case, Sam Smith’s momentum is likely to get him both awards, but in our view, Taylor Swift’s official shift from country to pop also came with some high-quality production, so she deserves it although she probably won’t get it. Sia is listed as the dark horse, but she’s actually more of a contender than the term suggests in this case. Don’t be surprised if she takes it.

 

BEST NEW ARTIST

Nominees:

Iggy Azalea
Sam Smith
Haim
Brandy Clark
Bastille

Will win: Sam Smith
Should win: Sam Smith
Dark horse: Iggy Azalea
Dark(er) horse: Haim

Sam Smith is highly likely to grab Best New Artist, and being the artist on the list with the most mass appeal and some of the strongest artistry, he definitely deserves it. Iggy Azalea surprised the world this year with a talent level that surpasses the novelty of being a white female rapper with an Aussie accent, but her appeal is less cross-genre than that of Sam Smith; nevertheless, it might be enough to score an upset. Beyond that, even though the pop/rock sisters Haim don’t have the record sales or airplay to match Sam or Iggy, they do have a groundswell of industry support for their performance ability and artistry, which is why we included them as an even “darker” horse for a possible upset win.

 

The 57th Grammy Awards will be broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8 on the CBS network starting at 8:00 EST.


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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

David Tillman is an independent composer/arranger whose primary work involves writing jingles for commercials for radio and television, with several film and television placements to his credit as well. David has a fascination for all things related to the music business and the music industry in general, an obsession which his wife finds to be mildly unhealthy at times. His personal tastes in music are in electronica and industrial rock, and include The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and Nine Inch Nails (he loves that Trent Reznor is writing soundtracks!). When not in his office or in his man-cave, David enjoys skiing, hiking, the occasional game of golf, and sometimes just lounging by the pool. David lives with his wife and three children in Los Angeles, CA.

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