For the second year in a row, the year’s best-selling song is likely to walk off with the Grammy for Record of the Year. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra is favored to take the prize, which was won last year by Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” “Somebody That I Used To Know,” a classy break-up song which carries echoes of Sting’s best work, topped the Hot 100 for eight weeks.
The Grammy nominations will be announced on a live TV special on Dec. 5. The one-hour show will be co-hosted by LL Cool J and Taylor Swift, whose “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” has an outside shot at nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The awards will be presented on Feb. 10.
The year’s second best-selling song, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” is also likely to be nominated for Record of the Year. The bubbly song is rather teen-oriented for the panel of Grammy insiders that determines the nominations in the top four categories, but the song was the year’s most ubiquitous hit. In addition to ranking #1 for nine weeks, it was widely parodied.
A whopping 831 recordings (singles or tracks) are competing for Record of the Year this year. But only about two dozen or so have a good chance of making the finals.
“Take Care” by Drake featuring Rihanna is one of the best records either artist has released. The classy single reached #7 on the Hot 100. Two previous Rihanna collabos have been nominated for Record of the Year: “Umbrella” (featuring Jay-Z) and Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie,” on which she was featured. (Rihanna has a second hit in the running this year: her top five solo smash “Diamonds.” Her mega-hit “We Found Love,” featuring Calvin Harris, was eligible last year, but wasn’t nominated. It basically fell between the cracks between the two years.)
Adele could receive her third Record of the Year nomination in five years for “Set Fire To The Rain.” The elegant pop song was the third #1 hit from her blockbuster album 21. The song topped the Hot 100 for two weeks. The version that is in contention is from Adele’s best-selling DVD, Live At The Royal Albert Hall. Adele’s first Record of the Year nomination was for “Chasing Pavement” in 2008.
Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care Of Our Own” merely “bubbled under” the Hot 100, peaking at #106. But the spirited and socially aware song gained wide exposure as President Obama’s campaign song. Springsteen introduced the song on last year’s Grammys. Springsteen is slated to receive the Person of the Year award from MusiCares (the Grammys’ official philanthropy) two days before the awards. The Boss has received three Record of the Year nominations through the years, for “Dancing In The Dark,” “Born In The U.S.A.” and “Streets Of Philadelphia.”
(Eric Church’s country hit “Springsteen” is also in the mix, though it’s hard to see that being nominated when the real thing is available.)
“We Are Young” by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, which was #1 for six weeks, is the year’s #3 best-seller. It’s an excellent pop record, but some panelists may dock it for being so reminiscent of Queen’s classic sound.
Phillip Phillips’ “Home” is the best-selling “coronation song” by an American Idol winner in that show’s history. The record, which peaked at #9, would be the first single by an Idol alumnus to receive a Record of the Year nod. But, similar to the situation with .fun, panelists may dock it for sounding a little too much like Mumford & Sons.
Another former Idol champ, Kelly Clarkson, also has a strong candidate in “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” The song was #1 for three weeks. Its positive theme of empowerment will appeal to some panelists (especially women).
Two other key contenders weren’t gigantic hits. Frank Ocean’s “Thinking Bout You” has climbed as high as #39. Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait” peaked at #23. The songs are from this year’s front-runners for Album of the Year: Ocean’s Channel Orange and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. Ocean is also this year’s front-runner for Best New Artist. This would be the second Record of the Year nomination in a row for Mumford & Sons. The British folk revival band was nominated last year for “The Cave.”
Ne-Yo’s classy “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)” is a big crossover hit. It has climbed as high as #9. Ne-Yo’s 2008 album Year Of The Gentleman was an Album of the Year finalist.
“Payphone” by Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa is also a strong candidate. The song was #2 for six weeks. The group is performing on the nominations TV special and at a concert after the show, which demonstrates that they are on the Grammy radar. (I don’t, however, think it means that a Record of the Year nomination is assured.) M5 entered “Payphone” in the competition rather than its chart-topping follow-up, “One More Night.” (The group could have entered both singles, but they would have split the group’s votes. Savvy artists and/or their record labels usually enter what they think is their strongest shot.)
Katy Perry likewise entered her #2 ballad hit “Wide Awake” rather than her #1 up-tempo hit “Part Of Me.” “Wide Awake” is a good record, but it probably isn’t special enough to rate a nomination. Perry was a Record of the Year finalist last year for the exhilarating “Firework.”
Two country hits, one authentically country and one more pop than country, are also strong contenders. Miranda Lambert’s “Over You” reached #1 on the country chart and won a Country Music Assn. award for Song of the Year. Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” recently became her first #1 hit on the Hot 100. Swift was a Record of the Year finalist three years ago for “You Belong With Me.” As noted above, she’s co-hosting the nominations special.
(Little Big Town’s sexy shuffle “Pontoon,” which won the CMA award for Single of the Year, wasn’t entered for Record of the Year. Go figure.)
The Beach Boys’ “That’s Why God Made The Radio” is a throwback to their classic sound. Amazingly, the group never received a Grammy nomination for Record or Song of the Year. Some panelists will want to right that wrong. Others will probably argue that the nominees should reflect the best music of today, not the 1960s.
“Ni**as In Paris,” the frisky collabo by Jay-Z/Kanye West, has an irresistible sound, but the title will make some Grammy panelists nervous. Other singles with a reasonably good chance of making the finals include The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey,” P!nk’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy,” Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out,” Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” and Emeli Sande’s “My Kind Of Love.”