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THE THIRD IN A 10-PART SERIES
By Grammy Whisperer Paul Grein

No, producers aren’t a genre, but the category is always an intriguing one, and we’ve asked Grammy seer Paul Grein to include it in his rundown. Grein began his assignment last week with his takes on
Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. He followed it with a breakdown of the favorites in Comedy & Spoken Word. Moving right along…
 
Now we know what Pharrell Williams keeps under his hat—all his Grammys. Williams, who won for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical earlier this year, may very well be nominated in that category for the second year in a row. Williams’ credits this year include his own album GIRL, Ed Sheeran’s "Sing" and tracks by Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and ScHoolboy Q, among others. This would be his fourth nomination in this category.



Veteran hit-makers Max Martin and Benny Blanco, who have yet to be nominated in the category, may finally make the finals.

Martin’s credits this year include two #1 singles, Katy Perry’s "Dark Horse" (featuring Juicy J) and Taylor Swift’s "Shake It Off," plus three more that cracked the top five: Ariana Grande’s "Problem" (featuring Iggy Azalea), Grande’s "Break Free" (featuring Zedd) and the combustive, all-female collabo "Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Grande & Nicki Minaj.

Blanco’s credits this year include Maroon 5’s "Maps" and Ed Sheeran’s "Don’t" (both Top 10 hits) and tracks by Perry and Lea Michele.

Dr. Luke has been nominated twice in this category, including earlier this year, but the legal mess involving his relationship with one of his top clients, Ke$ha, may hurt his chances this year. His credits this year include two #1 singles, Perry’s "Dark Horse" and Pitbull’s "Timber" (featuring, er, Ke$ha), plus hits by Shakira, Minaj and Becky G. The Grammys may want to steer clear until this mess is resolved.

Nearly 300 producers are entered in this year’s competition. The full voting membership of the Recording Academy votes in the first round. A list of the top 30 vote-getters goes to regional craft committees which meet in November in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. They listen to and judge the producers’ work.  Their votes determine the five producers who end up on the final ballot. The winner is decided by the full voting membership.

The producers with the best chance of making it are those who worked with an impressive number and/or range of artists and who achieved commercial and/or critical success. Sometimes producers are nominated with just one or two credits for the year, but it helps to have been conspicuously busy (and successful).

Here are other producers who have an excellent chance of being nominated this year, based strictly on my judgment. (I have no idea how the voting is going.) Most of these men (and they’re all men, as is usually the case) have been nominated in this category in the past. (Note: All references to a producer’s Grammy track record are based solely on this category.)

 

Greg Kurstin: His credits this year include Sia’s top 10 hit "Chandelier," Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red, Lily Allen’s Sheezus and tracks by Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding. Kurstin has been nominated once, in 2009.

Dan Auerbach: His credits this year include The Black KeysTurn Blue and Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence (both #1 albums), and Ray LaMontagne’s Supernova. Auerbach has been nominated once, in 2012. He won.

Ricky Reed: His credits this year include a pair of Top 5 hits by Jason Derulo and such hits as Pitbull’s "Fireball" (featuring John Ryan), Mary Lambert’s "Secrets" and Fifth Harmony’s "Bo$$." He has yet to be nominated.

Danger Mouse: His credits this year include The Black Keys’ Turn Blue, Broken BellsAfter the Disco and tracks by U2. Danger Mouse has been nominated five times. He won for 2010.

Ryan Tedder: His credits this year include Maroon 5’s "Maps" and tracks by Beyoncé, U2, Ariana Grande and, oh yeah, his own group, OneRepublic. Tedder has been nominated once, in 2011.

Jack White: His credits this year include Neil Young’s A Letter Home and his own #1 album Lazaretto. He has yet to be nominated.

Alex Da Kid: His credits this year include tracks by Imagine Dragons and Eminem. He has yet to be nominated.

Joe Chiccarelli: His credits this year include Morrissey’s World Peace Is None of Your Business and tracks by Spoon, Needtobreathe and The Madden Brothers. He has been nominated once, in 2007.

Jay Joyce:
His credits this year include Eric Church’s #1 album The Outsiders and albums by Amos Lee, Thomas Rhett and Cage the Elephant, among others. He has yet to be nominated.

Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds: His credits this year include Barbra Streisand’s Partners, Aretha Franklin’s Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics and tracks by Ariana Grande and Colbie Caillat. Babyface has been nominated six times, but not since 1997. He has won four times, more than anyone else in the category’s 40-year history.

Here are other producers who have a good chance of being nominated, if any of the presumed front-runners stumbles.

Brendan O’Brien: His credits this year include Seether’s Isolate and Medicate and tracks by Bruce Springsteen. He has been nominated three times. He won for 2009.

Jerome "J Roc" Harmon & Timothy Z. "Timbaland" Mosley: Their credits this year include Michael Jackson’s surprise hit album Xscape and tracks by Beyoncé. Timbaland has been nominated once, in 2007. J Roc has yet to be nominated.

Jimmy Napes and Steve Fitzmaurice (they are entered separately): Their credits this year include just one artist, but he’s a big one—Sam Smith. Each has yet to be nominated.

Adam Messinger: His credits this year include Magic!’s #1 hit "Rude" and tracks by Shakira and Iggy Azalea featuring T.I. He has yet to be nominated.

David Foster: His credits this year include Mary J. Blige’s A Mary Christmas, Andrea Bocelli’s Love in Portofino and Bryan AdamsTracks of My Years. Foster has amassed eight nominations, though none since 1996. He has won three times.

John Hill: His credits this year include "Guts Over Fear" by Eminem featuring Sia and "Can’t Remember to Forget You" by Shakira featuring Rihanna and albums by Bleachers and Phantogram. He has yet to be nominated.

The Monsters & Strangerz:
Their credits this year include tracks by Maroon 5, Kylie Minogue and Bebe Rexha. They have yet to be nominated.

Other producers who will get a look-over this year include Walter Afanasieff, Paul Epworth and Johnny K (all past winners or nominees in this category) as well as Mike Will Made-It, No ID, Scott Hendricks, Buddy Cannon, Beck Hansen, Al Pryor, Salaam Remi and Butch Walker.

Thanks to Sean Riley, the Academy’s Director, Craft Awards, for walking me through the voting process.
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