Grammy Predictions: The Big Four
Unlike last year, when Adele swept the “Big Three” Grammy Awards, this year the top prizes are likely to be spread around. Mumford & Sons, Gotye and fun. all have reason for optimism heading into the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10. But, despite critical acclaim and media buzz, Frank Ocean may be shut out in the marquee categories.
Let’s take a closer look at the “Big Four” Grammy races. (To answer to a common question, Record of the Year honors a particular recording of a song, while Song of the Year honors the song itself.)
Record of the Year
The nominees: The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” fun. featuring Janelle Monae’s “We Are Young,” Gotye featuring Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You,” Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
The discussion: The Clarkson, fun., Gotye and Swift singles were all #1 hits on the Hot 100, which gives them an edge in terms of familiarity. Ocean’s song has climbed as high as #32. The Black Keys’ song peaked at #64.
Swift has won six Grammys. The Black Keys and Clarkson have each won two. Swift was nominated in this category three years ago with “You Belong With Me.”
Swift’s song, while engaging, is a little slight to win this award. (And everybody knows that it was just the first single from her album Red, which will be vying for an Album of the Year nomination next year.) Clarkson’s smash has strong feminist appeal. It’s the first hit by an American Idol alumnus to receive a Record of the Year nomination. And Clarkson’s surprising nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMA Awards shows how broad her support is. But I think the two front-runners are “Somebody That I Used To Know” and “We Are Young.” The Gotye record has the classy sound of old hits by Sting—who is a 16-time Grammy winner. The fun. record has the grandeur of old hits by Queen—which never won a Grammy.
The pick: Gotye featuring Kimbra. This would mark the second year in a row that the year’s best-selling song has walked off with Record of the Year. Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” earned both distinctions last year.
Trivia note: This marks only the second time in Grammy history that there have been six nominees (instead of the usual five) in this category. It previously happened in 1962.