Two of this year's Grammy finalists for Producer of the Year, Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder, worked on Adele's 21, which is all but certain to dominate the awards. Epworth produced "Rolling In The Deep" and "I'll Be Waiting." Tedder did the honors on "Rumour Has It." This is the first Producer of the Year nomination for both men.
Epworth also produced several tracks on Foster The People's Torches, which is nominated for Best Alternative Music Album, as well as Cee Lo Green's "No One's Gonna Love You." Tedder produced a broad range of songs, including Gavin DeGraw's "Not Over You," Colbie Caillat's "Brighter Than The Sun," Beyonce's "I Was Here" and Jennifer Hudson's "I Remember Me."
Bruce Vig is nominated for his work on Foo Fighters' Wasting Light, which is a finalist for both Album of the Year and Best Rock Album. Vig, whose past credits include Nirvana's legendary Nevermind and being the drummer in Garbage, is also a first-time nominee in this category.
The Smeezingtons, which consists of Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine, are in the running for the second year in a row. They were nominated on the strength of their work on Mars' album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, as well as such hits as "Lighters" by Bad Meets Evil featuring Mars, "Mirror" by Lil Wayne featuring Mars and "Rocketeer" by Far*East Movement featuring Ryan Tedder.
The Smeezingtons wouldn't be the first Producer of the Year winner in which a major pop star is part of a producing unit with behind-the-scenes people. Bee Gees won in 1978 in tandem with Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson. Other winners who fit this model are Lionel Richie and James Anthony Carmichael (1984) and Phil Collins and Hugh Padgham (1985).
Danger Mouse, who is nominated for the fifth time, won this award last year. He's vying to become the first producer to take this award two years running since Babyface won three years in a row from 1995-1997. Danger Mouse (real name: Brian Burton) didn't have a particularly hot year. His credits included Broken Bells' "Meyrin Fields" and Danger Mouse & Daniele Lupi Present Rome.
The Recording Academy added the Producer of the Year category in 1974. The first winner was Thom Bell, one of the architects of the smooth Philly Soul sound. His hits that year included the Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New" and "Then Came You" by the Spinners and Dionne Warwick (one of the first smash collaborations).
Babyface has won the award four times, more than anyone else. He shared the award for 1992 with his former partner L.A. Reid and won on his own from 1995-1997. Quincy Jones and David Foster have each won three times. Peter Asher, Arif Mardin and Rick Rubin are all two-time winners.
No women have ever won the award, but six have been nominated. Janet Jackson was the first woman to receive a Producer of the Year nomination. She was cited in 1989, along with her partners Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. That was the year of her hit-laden album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814.
Mariah Carey was nominated two years later, along with her partner, Walter Afanasieff. That was the year of her sophomore album, Emotions.
Paula Cole was the first woman to be nominated entirely on her own. She made the finals in 1997, the same year she won as Best New Artist. Cole had big hits that year with "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?" and "I Don't Want To Wait," though she has had been unable to sustain her early success.
Lauryn Hill and Sheryl Crow were both nominated for Producer of the Year in 1998. That marked the only time (to date) that two women have been nominated in the same year. That was the year of Hill's The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill (which won Album of the Year and Best R&B Album) and Crow's The Globe Sessions (which won Best Rock Album).
The sixth (and most recent) woman to make the finals was Lauren Christy, who was nominated in 2003 as a member of The Matrix, which also included Graham Edwards and Scott Spock. Their key credits that year included Liz Phair and Hilary Duff.