icons and upstarts get loud, ambitious, and experimental


El Camino
The Black Keys

Label: Nonesuch
Producers: Danger Mouse, the Black Keys
Engineer: Kennie Takahashi
Mixers: Tchad Blake, Tom Elmhirst

The Black Keys took home the best alternative album Grammy in 2010 for their breakthrough release Brothers. The blues-rock duo-guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney-hopes to repeat that success for best rock album this year with its seventh studio set, El Camino. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 1 million copies. It also spent five weeks at No. 1 on Top Rock Albums. Meanwhile, Auerbach is competing for producer of the year, non-classical for his work on albums by Dr. John and Hacienda.

Mylo Xyloto

Label: Capitol
Producers: Markus Dravs, Daniel Green, Rik Simpson
Engineers: Robyn Baynton, Markus Dravs, Rik Simpson
Mixers: Mark "Spike" Stent, Rik Simpson, Daniel Green, Michael Brauer

Coldplay's fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, arrived at a critical juncture for a band entering its second decade. The set, which followed 2008's acclaimed Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, didn't disappoint. Mylo Xyloto debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spawned such hits as "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" (No. 5 on Hot Rock Songs), "Paradise" (No. 1 on Alternative) and "Princess of China" featuring Rihanna (No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100). Coldplay has received 26 Grammy nominations and won six during its career.

The 2nd Law

Label: Warner Bros.
Producer: Muse
Engineers: Adrian Bushby, Tommaso Colliva
Mixers: Chris Lord-Alge, Mark "Spike" Stent, Rich Costey, Nero, Matthew Bellamy, Tommaso Colliva

English rock band Muse's sixth studio album, The 2nd Law, received significant global exposure after the song "Survival" was adopted as the official song of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The set debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and Top Rock Albums. First single "Madness"-nominated this year for best rock song-became the act's second to spend at least 10 weeks at No. 1 on Alternative and reached No. 3 on Hot Rock Songs. In 2010, Muse won a best rock album Grammy for The Resistance.

Wrecking Ball
Bruce Springsteen

Label: Columbia Records
Producers: Ron Aniello, Bruce Springsteen
Engineers: Ron Aniello, Clif Norrell, Ross Petersen, Toby Scott
Mixers: Bob Clearmountain, Rich Costey, Chris Lord-Alge, Mark "Spike" Stent

The last-and only-time Bruce Springsteen took home the best rock album Grammy was in 2002 for The Rising. But the Boss will attempt to win the Grammy in this category once again with his ambitious 17th studio album, Wrecking Ball, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spent two weeks at No. 1 on Top Rock Albums. The set features the patriotic track "We Take Care of Our Own," up this year for best rock performance and best rock song.

Jack White
Label: Columbia Records/Third Man Records
Producer: Jack White
EngineerS: Vance Powell, Jack White
Mixer: Vance Powell

In addition to debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and peaking at No. 1 on Top Rock Albums, Blunderbuss-Jack White's first solo album-produced three top 25 singles on the Alternative chart: "Love Interruption" (No. 13), "Sixteen Saltines" (No. 12) and "Freedom at 21" (No. 22). The set has sold 416,000 copies. Blunderbuss is also up for album of the year, and "Freedom at 21" is vying for best rock song.



The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Fiona Apple

Label: Epic/Clean Slate
Producer: Feedy
Engineers: Eddison Sainsbury, John Would
Mixer: Dave Way

With perhaps the longest album title of 2012, The Idler Wheel . . . is Fiona Apple's fourth album and first since 2005's Extraordinary Machine. Despite being out of the public eye for some time, The Idler Wheel . . . debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, giving the 35-year-old singer/songwriter her highest-charting album yet. The set also spent one week at No. 1 on Alternative Albums.


Label: One Little Indian/Nonesuch
Mixers: Björk, Sveinn Kjartansson, David Bracey

Biophilia was released as an iPad app suite that invited the listener to tinker with its sonic palette through touch-screen technology. "I've always been aware that vinyl or CDs are not the only way [to release music]," Björk told Billboard last year. "Both are very short-lived formats if you look at how long music has been around." The 10-track set peaked at No. 5 on Alternative Albums and has sold 51,000 copies.

Making Mirrors

Label: Republic Records
Producer: Wally De Backer
Engineers: Wally De Backer, Francois Tetaz
Mixer: Francois Tetaz

Gotye's third studio album, Making Mirrors, is best-known for spawning the massive hit "Somebody That I Used to Know," featuring Kimbra. The song, which is nominated for record of the year and best pop duo/group performance, spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Making Mirrors debuted at No. 133 on the Billboard 200 in January and peaked at No. 6 in July following the success of the single. The album, which has sold 701,000 copies, also spent three weeks at No. 1 on Alternative Albums.

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Label: Mute
Producers: Anthony Gonzalez, Justin Meldal-Johnsen
Engineers: Todd Burke, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Mike Schuppan
Mixers: Antoine Gaillet, Tony Hoffer

"I've been dreaming of doing a double-album since I was a teenager," Anthony Gonzalez, the French songwriter/producer/musician behind M83, told Billboard in October 2011. "It was just the right moment. I'm more confident with myself and my music. And I had the songs-a crazy amount of songs. We had enough to pick from." Adored by critics, the two-volume, 22-track Hurry Up, We're Dreaming peaked at No. 4 on Alternative Albums and has sold 187,000 copies.

Bad As Me
Tom Waits
Label: Anti- Records
Producers: Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan
Engineer: Karl Derfler
Mixer: Karl Derfler

Tom Waits netted his first top 10 album-and highest-charting album ever-when his 17th studio album, Bad As Me, bowed at No. 6 on the Billboard 200. The album, his first set of new studio recordings since 2004's Real Gone, also scored his best sales week since SoundScan launched in 1991. Bad As Me peaked at No. 2 on Top Rock Albums and has sold 190,000 copies. Waits won a best alternative music album Grammy in 1992 for B one Machine.



"I'm Alive"

From: Worship Music
Label: Megaforce

"I'm Alive" is from veteran metal act Anthrax's 10th album, Worship Music, its first studio release since 2003's We've Come for You All. "I had lost all hope of ever being nominated for another Grammy, but I guess I was wrong," Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante wrote on the band's website. "We put so much hard work into Worship Music and I am so honored to be nominated with a group of bands that have also sustained the test of time." Worship Music peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hard Rock -Albums chart.

"Love Bites (So Do I)"

From: The Strange Case Of . . .
Label: Atlantic

"I slither like a viper and get you by the neck/I know a thousand ways to help you forget about her/That bitch can eat her heart out," Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale growls on "Love Bites (So Do I)," the aggressive first single from the hard rock group's sophomore album, The Strange Case Of . . . The set reached the No. 1 spot on the Hard Rock Albums chart and has sold 146,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. This is Halestorm's first Grammy nomination.

"Blood Brothers"
Iron Maiden

From: En Vivo!
Label: Universal Music Entertainment

Recorded during the Round the World in 66 Days leg of its Final Frontier world tour, "Blood Brothers" is featured on English heavy metal band Iron Maiden's latest live release, En Vivo! The CD/DVD was filmed April 10, 2011, at Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile, in front of more than 50,000 fans. During the tour, Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson dedicated the track to the late Ronnie James Dio. The song first appeared on Iron Maiden's 2000 album Brave New World. The veteran group nabbed the 2010 Grammy in this category for "El Dorado," from its 15th studio album, The Final Frontier.

"Ghost Walking"
Lamb of God

From: Resolution
Label: Epic

A Czech Republic court has charged Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe in the death of a fan following a 2010 Prague concert, but Blythe and the band still soldier on. Amid its troubles, Lamb of God received a bit of good news in early December: a Grammy nomination for "Ghost Walking," the lead single from its seventh release, Resolution. Released in January, the album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at No. 1 on Hard Rock Albums. It has sold 132,000 copies.

"No Reflection"
Marilyn Manson
From: Born Villain
Label: Cooking Vinyl

In "No Reflection," the brooding first single from Marilyn Manson's eighth studio album, Born Villain, the shock-rocker wails over a crunchy guitar riff, "I don't know which me to love, got no reflection." Indeed, Manson has worn many faces-literally-during his controversial career, but whether he's singing about himself or a fictional character in "No Reflection" remains unknown. Later in the track, he warns, "You don't even want to know what I'm gonna do to you." A win in this category would earn Manson his first Grammy.

"Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)"
From: Th1rt3en
Label: Roadrunner Records
With 14 nominations during its 30-year career, Megadeth will again vie for its first Grammy win with "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)." It's the third song from the band's appropriately titled 13th album, Th1rt3en, to be nominated for a Grammy in this category; "Sudden Death" received a nod two years ago, and "Public Enemy No. 1" was nominated in 2011. Th1rt3en debuted and peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and reached No. 1 on Hard Rock Albums. The set has sold 119,000 copies.