A Letter From The Academy
A Letter From The Academy

SINGLED OUT
THE RECORDS THAT CAPTURED THE IMAGINATIONS OF US ALL

Album of the Year

"Rolling in the Deep"
Adele

Producer: Paul Epworth
Engineers/mixers: Tom Elmhirst, Mark Rankin
From: 21
Label: XL Recordings/Columbia Records

Perhaps the most inescapable song of 2011, "Rolling in the Deep" spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold more than 5.6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Paul Epworth, a producer primarily known for his work with U.K. electronic acts (Florence & the Machine, Friendly Fires, Sam Sparro) gave the song a punchy, '60s soul vibe. This is Epworth's first record of the year nomination and the second for Adele following a 2010 nod for "Chasing Pavements."

Album of the Year

"Holocene"
Bon Iver

Producer: Justin Vernon
Engineers/mixers: Brian Joseph, Justin Vernon
From: Bon Iver
Label: Jagjaguwar

"Holocene" was the second single from Justin Vernon's band Bon Iver's self-titled second album, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in July. "Holocene," like all of Bon Iver's 10 songs, was written, composed and produced by Vernon. It is also the only record of the year nominee that never charted on the Billboard Hot 100. The track's quiet use of hand claps and drums as occasional rhythmic accompaniment makes it a fitting soundtrack to cold winter days. This is Bon Iver's first record of the year nomination.

Album of the Year

"Grenade"
Bruno Mars

Producers: The Smeezingtons
Engineers/mixers: Ari Levine, Manny Marroquin
From: Doo-Wops & Hooligans
Label: Elektra

Bruno Mars and his production team the Smeezingtons were
everywhere in 2010 and 2011, writing songs for Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans and Cee Lo Green ("F**k You") as well as the singer's collaborations with B.o.B, Bad Meets Evil and Travie McCoy. This hard-hitting ballad topped the Billboard Hot 100 and also became a quick favorite on the singing competition circuit, performed by contestants on "American Idol" and "The Voice." This is Mars and the Smeezingtons' third record of the year nomination, following 2011 nods for "Nothin' on You" and "F**k You."

Album of the Year

"The Cave"
Mumford & Sons

Producer: Markus Dravs
Engineers/mixers: Francois Chevallier, Ruadhri Cushnan
From: Sigh No More
Label: Glassnote Records

Mumford & Sons' breakthrough track has a history with the
Grammys. During last year's ceremony, the band performed the song with Bob Dylan and Brooklyn folk rockers the Avett Brothers. Producer Markus Dravs gives the song a rock drive that meshes with the band's more traditional bluegrass arrangements. "The Cave," which peaked at No. 2 on the Rock Songs chart, No. 3 on Alternative Songs and No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, secures Mumford & Sons' first record of the year nomination. Dravs helped Arcade Fire take home an album of the year Grammy last year for its work on The Suburbs.

Album of the Year

"Firework"
Katy Perry

Producers: Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Sandy Vee
Engineers/mixers: Mikkel S. Eriksen, Phil Tan, Sandy Vee, Miles Walker
From: Teenage Dream
Label: Capitol

Katy Perry began the year at the top of the Hot 100 with "Firework," which was also part of a medley of hits she performed during last year's Grammys. The single was one of two songs produced by Swedish production team Stargate (aka Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen) for Perry's Teenage Dream, and is a departure of sorts from their signature brand of guitar-driven R&B and rhythmic dance. "Firework" also had a life of its own as an empowerment anthem. This is Perry's first record of the year nomination, while Stargate was nominated in 2008 for Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable."

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Photo Credits (from top): lauren dukoff; d.i. anderson; sebastian kim; rebecca miller; lauren dukoff