Grammys 2013 Preview: Record of the Year

A closer look at the six songs that earned Record of the Year nominations for the 2013 Grammy awards.

These six songs are all vying for Record of the Year at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night (February 10).

Jump To: Album of the Year | Song of the Year | Best New Artist

Grammys 2013: Full Coverage

THE BLACK KEYS"Lonely Boy"
The Black Keys

Producers: The Black Keys, Danger Mouse
Engineers/Mixers: Tom Elmhirst, Kennie Takahashi, Brian Lucey
From: El Camino
Label: Nonesuch

"Lonely Boy" is the lead single from the Black Keys' El Camino, which arrived in December 2011 and is nominated for album of the year. The Akron, Ohio, rock duo's seventh studio album is its third straight full-length collaboration with producer Danger Mouse, who took home the Grammy for producer of the year, non-classical in 2011. After the Keys' punchy blues-rock hit "Tighten Up" snagged an award for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal in 2011, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney tightened their pop hooks and injected a gospel flair into their oeuvre with "Lonely Boy." The track peaked at No. 1 for 14 weeks on the Hot Rock Songs tally.

 

KELLY CLARKSON"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"
Kelly Clarkson

Producer: Greg Kurstin
Engineers/Mixers: Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Greg Kurstin, Jesse Shatkin, Chris Gehringer
From: Stronger
Label: RCA Records/19 Recordings

After Kelly Clarkson led her fifth full-length, Stronger, with the single "Mr. Know It All," the album's second radio offering, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," gained listeners when Clarkson and the song were featured in a Toyota Camry TV spot in November 2011. Three months later, the empowering pop anthem topped the Billboard Hot 100, giving the former "American Idol" champ her third No. 1 after "A Moment Like This" in 2002 and "My Life Would Suck Without You" in 2009. "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," like follow-up single "Dark Side," was produced by Greg Kurstin, who had a busy year helming songs by female pop artists like P!nk, Ke$ha and Sky Ferreira.

 

FUN"We Are Young"
fun. feat. Janelle Monáe

Producer: Jeff Bhasker
Engineers/Mixers: Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dawson, Stuart White, Chris Gehringer
From: Some Nights
Label: Fueled by Ramen

When "We Are Young" climbed to the top spot of the Hot 100 last March, alt-pop trio fun. became the first multimember rock band to rule the chart with its first entry since Nickelback hit No. 1 with "How You Remind Me" in December 2001. Featuring R&B trend-setter Janelle Monáe and an all-encompassing "carpe diem" refrain, "We Are Young" also became the first Hot 100 No. 1 for its label, Fueled by Ramen, which had previously issued hits by bands like Fall Out Boy and Paramore. The song's success was partially due to its placement in a Chevrolet ad that aired during the Super Bowl last February, as well as a cover on "Glee" in a December 2011 episode. fun.'s lead single to its sophomore album, Some Nights, spent six weeks atop the Hot 100.

 

GOTYE"Somebody That I Used To Know"
Gotye feat. Kimbra

Producer: Wally De Backer
Engineers/Mixers: Wally De Backer, Francois Tetaz, William Bowden
From: Making Mirrors
Label: Universal Republic

Who knew that a xylophone was going to make so much noise on top 40 this year? Australian singer/songwriter Wally De Backer, aka Gotye, constructed his idiosyncratic breakup ode to build into a furiously catchy climax, and after a "Saturday Night Live" performance helped guide the song to the top of the Hot 100, the track remained there for eight weeks. Meanwhile, the out-of-nowhere smash helped Gotye's third full-length, Making Mirrors, crash the top 10 of the Billboard 200. The music video for "Somebody That I Used to Know" (which is also nominated for best pop duo/group performance) also made a splash: It features Gotye and New Zealand singer Kimbra being covered in body paint and slowly blending into the background. The clip has notched more than 356 million views on YouTube.

 

FRANK OCEAN"Thinkin Bout You"
Frank Ocean

Producer: Frank Ocean
Engineers/Mixers: Jeff Ellis, Pat Thrall, Marcos Tovar, Vlado Meller
From: Channel Orange
Label: Def Jam

The second track on R&B singer/songwriter Frank Ocean's debut studio set Channel Orange, "Thinkin Bout You," was originally released in July 2011 as a demo version on Ocean's Tumblr. The atmospheric, falsetto-strewn track was rereleased with polished production as a single ahead of Channel Orange's July release, and Ocean subsequently performed the slow jam at the MTV Video Music Awards in September. Although Ocean assumes a more radio-friendly role on the Channel Orange single "Sweet Life," "Thinkin Bout You" has been the 25-year-old New Orleans native's most successful outing thus far, climbing to No. 7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Along with his Channel Orange nominations, Ocean is up for best rap/sung collaboration and best short form music video for "No Church in the Wild," his collaboration with Jay-Z and Kanye West that appears on their 2011 joint album Watch the Throne.

 

TAYLOR SWIFT"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
Taylor Swift

Producers: Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift
Engineers/Mixers: Serban Ghenea, Tom Coyne
From: Red
Label: Big Machine Records

After becoming the youngest artist to win album of the year for sophomore LP Fearless, and notching hits like "You Belong With Me," "Mine" and "Love Story," Taylor Swift finally achieved a long-elusive goal when "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" topped the Hot 100 in August. The lead single to fourth album Red is more of a pop assault for the country artist, who tapped top 40 masterminds Max Martin and Shellback for the single. The tongue-in-cheek breakup ode immediately connected with listeners: In its second week on the Hot 100, the song soared to No. 1 thanks to 623,000 downloads sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But months after Swift's single landed atop the Hot 100, the superstar sustained her momentum: Red debuted with 1.2 million first-week copies, the largest debut frame of 2012 and the biggest sales week in Swift's career.

Jump To: Album of the Year | Song of the Year | Best New Artist

Grammys 2013: Full Coverage

Photo Credits (from top): danny clinch; jill greenberg; lindsey byrnes; gotye promo shot; nabil elderkin; sarah barlow

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