Lorde's "Royals," which logged nine weeks at #1 last fall, is the frontrunner to win Grammys for both Record and Song of the Year. Lorde, 17, would become the youngest winner ever in both of these categories.
The last three newcomers to take home both Record and Song of the Year (Christopher Cross, Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse) also won as Best New Artist. But Lorde, inexplicably, wasn't nominated for that award. With Lorde out of contention, Best New Artist will probably go to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The Seattle-based duo would become the third hip-hop act to win in that category, following Arrested Development and Lauryn Hill.
Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" and Taylor Swift's "Red" are locked in a tight race for Album of the Year. "Random Access Memories" has a slight edge. It would be the second dance music album to win. The first was Bee Gees' "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, which won for 1978.
Here's a closer look at the Big Four categories.
Record of the Year
Lorde's "Royals" and Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" are the leading candidates. "Royals" has the classy, adult-alternative sound of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," which took the award two years ago. "Radioactive" has the broad pop-rock appeal of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody," which won four years ago.
A third nominee, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. + Pharrell, was the year's #1 best-seller. Pharrell Williams is also featured on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." This marks the first time that an artist has been credited on two nominees in this category in the same year. (The Recording Academy also gave Nile Rodgers a featured credit on "Get Lucky," even though he didn't have one on the single.)
Bruno Mars's "Locked Out Of Heaven," which echoes the Police's pop-reggae sound, is the fifth nominee.
Album of the Year
Here are two reasons that Daft Punk may have an edge here: The duo is this year's only act to receive nominations for both Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Also, "Random Access Memories" is the only Album of the Year finalist that was nominated for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
Swift won four years ago for "Fearless." If she wins again this year, she'll become the youngest artist to win two Album of the Year awards. She'll be 24 and one month old on Grammy night (Jan. 26). Stevie Wonder was 24 and nine months old in March 1975 when he won his second Album of the Year award for "Fulfillingness' First Finale."
Two other finalists, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "The Heist" and Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city," will probably split the hip-hop vote.
The fifth nominee, Sara Bareilles's "The Blessed Unrest," was lucky just to be nominated.
Song of the Year
Lorde co-wrote "Royals" with Joel Little. Their strongest rival is the break-up ballad "Just Give Me A Reason," which P!nk and Nate Ruess co-wrote with Jeff Bhasker.
Many voters will be drawn to "Same Love," a poignant call for gay marriage equality. It was written by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert.
Also nominated: Bruno Mars's "Locked Out Of Heaven" (which he co-wrote with Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine) and Katy Perry's inspirational "Roar" (which she co-wrote with Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee and Henry Walter).
Best New Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, which is nominated in two other Big Four categories, has an edge here. Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran are or were nominated in one other Big Four category. (Sheeran was nominated for Song of the Year last year for "The A Team.")
The other finalists, Kacey Musgraves and James Blake, aren't nominated in any other Big Four categories.