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Mumford & Sons paved the way for the current folkie revival, which has boosted such varied artists as The Lumineers and Phillip Phillips. Also, the band has yet to win a Grammy, so it’s overdue.
GRAMMY & SONS
Once Again, Paul Grein Offers His Expert Opinion on the Likely Winners and Losers
in the Music Biz’s Annual Celebration

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 ceremony on Feb. 10. But, despite critical acclaim and media buzz, Frank Ocean may well be shut out in the marquee categories.

Record of the Year

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 Clarkson, fun., Gotye and Swift singles were all #1 hits, which gives them an edge in terms of familiarity.

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 feisty smash has strong feminist appeal. And Clarkson’s surprising nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMA Awards shows how broad her support is. But I still believe 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.

Prediction:
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.

Album of the Year

Nominees: The Black KeysEl Camino, fun.’s Some Nights, Mumford & SonsBabel, Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, Jack White’s Blunderbuss.

Mumford & Sons paved the way for the current folkie revival, which has boosted such varied artists as The Lumineers and Phillip Phillips. Also, the band has yet to win a Grammy, so it’s overdue.

I initially thought Ocean might win here, but his record sales haven't kept pace with his critical acclaim.

Prediction:
Mumford & Sons.

Song of the Year

Nominees: Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team” (which he wrote), Miguel’s “Adorn” (which he wrote), Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” (which she co-wrote with Tavish Crowe and Josh Ramsay), Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” (which was written by Jorgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi) and fun.’s “We Are Young” (which the trio co-wrote with their producer, Jeff Bhasker).

The awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year often go to the same work, but Gotye’s song was ruled ineligible to compete for Song of the Year because it contains a sample.

The Jepsen, Clarkson and fun. songs were all #1 smashes. The Miguel and Sheeran songs made the Top 20, but have yet to crack the Top 10. Miguel’s soulful hit echoes classic Marvin Gaye. The other four nominees are all pop songs. This makes Miguel stand out, which could work in his favor.

I originally thought that Jepsen’s song would win here. “Call Me Maybe” was the most ubiquitous and widely parodied song of the year, similar to such past winners as Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” But Grammy voters rarely embrace teen pop. (Though Jepsen is 27, on this smash, she sounds like a giddy 16-year old.)

Clarkson’s empowering song has a positive message, similar to such past winners as Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.” It could easily win. But I think the safest bet would be to go with my runner-up in the Record of the Year contest.

Prediction:
“We Are Young.”

Trivia note:
Here’s an oddity: Sheeran, Miguel and Jepsen were all passed over for a nomination as Best New Artist. Go figure.

Best New Artist

Nominees: Alabama Shakes, fun., Hunter Hayes, The Lumineers, Frank Ocean.
fun. is nominated for all four of the top awards. Ocean is nominated for three of the four. That. almost by definition, makes these two artists the front-runners here. fun. is the ninth artist in Grammy history to receive nominations in all four of the top categories in one year. Seven of the first eight artists to do this (Bobbie Gentry, Christopher Cross, Cyndi Lauper, Tracy Chapman, Mariah Carey, Paula Cole and Amy Winehouse) went on to win as Best New Artist. Only one of the eight (India.Arie) came up short in the New Artist category. Bottom line: You can bet against fun., but you’re defying Grammy history. (And you never want to defy Grammy history.)

Prediction:
fun.

Here are quick predictions in other top categories.
Best Pop Vocal Album: fun.’s Some Nights
Best Dance/Electronica Album: Skrillex’s Bangarang
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Michael Buble’s Christmas
Best Rock Album: The Black KeysEl Camino (with Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball a strong rival)
Best Alternative Music Album: Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel Is Wiser… (but watch out for Gotye’s Making Mirrors )
Best Urban Contemporary Album: Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange
Best R&B Album: Robert Glaspar Experiment ’s Black Radio
Best Rap Album: Drake’s Take Care (with Nas' Life is Good a possible spoiler) 
Best Country Album: Miranda Lambert’s Four the Record (but keep an eye on Hunter HayesHunter Hayes)
Best Americana Album: Mumford & SonsBabel

Grein, a veteran Grammy watcher, writes the
Chart Watch blog for Yahoo.com.


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