Grammy Predictions: The Pop/Dance/Traditional Pop Fields

Paul Grein
Stop The Presses!

fun. is likely to win at least one, and quite possibly two, Grammys in the pop field. The New York trio is the clear favorite to win Best Pop Vocal Album and it has a slight edge to take Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “We Are Young,” its smash collabo with Janelle Monae.

The other likely winners in these fields include Kelly Clarkson and Michael Buble.

Here are the nominations in the Pop, Dance/Electronic and Traditional Pop Fields.

Best Pop Vocal Album

The nominees: Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger, Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials, fun.’s Some Nights, Maroon 5’s Overexposed, P!nk’s The Truth About Love.

The discussion: As the only album here that’s nominated for Album of the Year, Some Nights is the front-runner (even though Overexposed, The Truth About Love and Stronger have each sold slightly more copies).

Clarkson is vying to become the first artist to win twice in this category since it was introduced in 1994. She won for 2005’s Breakaway.

The pick: fun.

Best Pop Solo Performance

The nominees: Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain” (Live At The Royal Albert Hall), Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake,” Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been.”

The discussion: All five nominees were top five hits on the Hot 100. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “Call Me Maybe” and “Set Fire To The Rain” are the front-runners. Clarkson’s smash is nominated for both Record and Song of the Year. Jepsen’s monster hit is nominated for Song of the Year. In terms of vocal performance, however, it’s not even close between these two women. Clarkson has real vocal chops (she took Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for 2005’s “Since U Been Gone”). Jepsen’s single was irresistable, but not primarily because of the vocal performance.

Adele won in this category last year with “Rolling In The Deep.” She’s vying to become the first female solo artist to win back-to-back performance Grammys in the pop field since Barbra Streisand took Best Female Pop Vocal Performance three years in a row, from 1963 through 1965. Adele could just pull it off, though Grammy voters may decide that her six-Grammy sweep last year was enough recognition for now. (The Grammy insiders who decided the final nominations in the “Big Four” categories opted not to put “Set Fire To The Rain” in the Record of the Year finals, probably for just that reason.)

The pick: Kelly Clarkson.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

The nominees: Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out,” fun. featuring Janelle Monae’s “We Are Young,” Gotye featuring Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It,” Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa’s “Payphone.”

The discussion: Four of the five nominees were monster hits. (The exception is the theatrical “Shake It Out,” which inexplicably peaked at #72.) “We Are Young” and “Somebody That I Used To Know” are the front-runners. fun.’s song is nominated for both Record and Song of the Year. Gotye’s song is nominated for Record of the Year. (It was ineligible for a Song of the Year nomination because it samples Luiz Bonfa’s 1967 song, “Seville.”) Even though I think “Somebody That I Used To Know” has a slight edge for Record of the Year, the vocal performance on “We Are Young” is more arresting. This could be one of those rare occasions where one act wins Record of the Year and another takes the performance award.

The pick: fun featuring Janelle Monae.

Trivia note: Maroon 5 is vying to become the first group to win three performance Grammys in the pop field. They won twice for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (for 2005’s “This Love” and 2007’s “Makes Me Wonder”). (The Fine Print: Ward Swingle, the mastermind of the Swingle Singers, won three times in the early 1960s.)

Best Pop Instrumental Album

The nominees: Gerald Albright & Norman Brown’s 24/7, Chris Botti’s Impressions, Larry Carlton’s Four Hands & A Heart Volume One, Dave Koz’s Live At The Blue Note Tokyo, Arun Shenoy’s Rumbadoodle.

The discussion: Carlton is vying to become the first three-time winner in this category. He previously won for 2001’s No Substitutions—Live In Osaka (with Steve Lukather) and 2010’s Take Your Pick (with Tak Matsumoto). Brown won for 2002’s Just Chillin.’ But Botti’s album was the best-seller of the five. And after 18 years of recording, the highly-regarded trumpeter is due.

The pick: Chris Botti.

Best Dance/Electronica Album

The nominees: Steve Aoki’s Wonderland, The Chemical BrothersDon’t Think, Deadmau5’s >Album Title Goes Here<, Kaskade’s Fire & Ice, Skrillex’s Bangarang.

The discussion: Skrillex is vying to become the first act to win back-to-back awards in this category, which originated in 2004. He won last year for Crazy Monsters And Nice Sprites. His EP Bangarang is by far the biggest hit of these contenders. The Chemical Brothers are vying to become the first act to win three times in the category. They won for 2005’s Push The Button and 2007’s We Are The Night.

The pick: Skrillex.

Best Dance Recording

The nominees: Avicii’s “Levels,” Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo’s “Let’s Go,” Skrillex featuring Sirah’s “Bangarang,” Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin’s “Don’t You Worry Child,” Al Walser’s “I Can’t Live Without You.”

The discussion: Skrillex is vying to become the second act (following Justin Timberlake) to win twice in this category. He won last year for “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites.” His strongest competitors are probably Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo and Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin. Harris wrote and produced Rihanna’s megahit, “We Found Love. Ne-Yo has won three Grammys. Swedish House Mafia’s record closed in on the top 10 during the voting period.

The pick: Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin.

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

The nominees: Michael Buble’s Christmas, Carole King’s A Holiday Carole, Paul McCartney’s Kisses On The Bottom

The discussion: Buble has won three times in this category, which puts him second only to Tony Bennett, who has amassed 11 wins in the category. But no Christmas album has ever won in this category. And Buble is facing two pop legends. Even so, he’s the hottest artist in the genre.

Trivia note: King is vying to win her first Grammy in competition since she swept the Big Three awards for 1971. Even if she loses here, she’ll go home a winner. She is set to receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. As for McCartney, he’s vying to become the first artist to win Grammys in the pop, rock and traditional pop fields.

The pick: Michael Buble.

To My Readers: I’ll preview the other major musical fields as we count down to the Grammys on Feb. 10.