Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
Producers: Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo
Engineers/Mixers: Peter Franco, Mick Guzauski, Florian Lagatta, Daniel Lerner
From: Random Access Memories
Label: Daft Life/Columbia
Daft Punk first teased its long-awaited fourth album, "Random Access Memories," by playing snippets of lead single “Get Lucky” on “Saturday Night Live” and at the Coachella festival last spring. When the full single was released April 19, pop fans got to soak in Nile Rodgers’ disco-funk guitar, Pharrell Williams’ sinuous vocal performance and Daft Punk’s delirious robo-breakdown in full -- and “Get Lucky” promptly became one of the year’s most inescapable hits. The mysterious French duo’s groove-filled electronica has been recognized by the Grammy Awards previously, with early singles like “Da Funk” and “Around the World” earning best dance recording nods and the live album Alive 2007 winning best electronic/dance album in 2009. However, Daft Punk’s biggest hit to date -- “Get Lucky” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, with 2.9 million downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan -- garnered the pair’s first record of the year nomination.
Producer: Alex Da Kid
Engineers/Mixers: Manny Marroquin, Josh Mosser
From: Night Visions
After “It’s Time,” the lead single from Imagine Dragons’ 2012 debut "Night Visions," crept up to No. 15 on the Hot 100 (generally uncharted waters for a new rock act), “Radioactive” performed even better, peaking at No. 3. Mixing throttling percussion and dubstep wobbles with an intense rock coda, “Radioactive” stayed at No. 1 on the Hot Rock Songs chart for a record-breaking 23 weeks and ultimately became the genre’s biggest hit of 2013, just three years after Imagine Dragons was covering Led Zeppelin songs in Las Vegas casinos. Like the majority of "Night Visions," “Radioactive” was produced by Alex Da Kid, best-known for his work on hip-hop/pop fusions like B.o.B’s “Airplanes” (featuring Hayley Williams) and Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” (featuring Rihanna), the latter nominated for record of the year at the 2011 Grammys. “Radioactive” is also up for best rock performance.
Producer: Joel Little
Engineer/Mixer: Joel Little
From: Pure Heroine
Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the 17-year-old New Zealander better-known as Lorde, wrote the lyrics to debut single “Royals” in less than an hour, and posted the track for free online in November 2012, expecting little fanfare. A year later, Lorde closed out 2013 by watching “Royals” spend nine consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and then performing the anti-opulence anthem at the “Grammy Nominations Concert Live!!” before earning four nods. The reign of “Royals,” produced by fellow New Zealander Joel Little, extended to Billboard’s Alternative chart, where it spent seven weeks at No. 1 -- a record for the longest period atop the 25-year-old tally by a lead female. "Pure Heroine," Lorde’s debut album, bowed at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 541,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Locked Out of Heaven"
Producers: The Smeezingtons, Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, Mark Ronson
Engineers/Mixers: Alalal, Josh Blair, Wayne Gordon, Ari Levine, Manny Marroquin, Mark Ronson
from: Unorthodox Jukebox
Bruno Mars’ lead "Unorthodox Jukebox" single was a chunk of reggae-inflected rock that invited comparisons to the Police -- and the singer/songwriter embraced those comparisons when Mars and Sting performed the song together at last year’s Grammys. This year, “Locked Out of Heaven” becomes Mars’ third record of the year nominee, after his B.o.B collaboration “Nothin’ on You” received a nod in 2010 and “Grenade” earned one the following year. Although follow-up singles “When I Was Your Man” topped the Hot 100 in April and “Treasure” reached No. 5, “Locked Out of Heaven” has proved to be the biggest hit from "Unorthodox Jukebox" to date, spending six weeks atop the chart and selling 4.4 million downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. If Mars doesn’t perform “Locked Out of Heaven” at consecutive Grammy galas, fans can likely hear it played live when the singer headlines the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show in February.
Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell
Producer: Pharrell Williams
Engineers/Mixers: Andrew Coleman, Tony Maserati
From: Blurred Lines
Label: Star Trak/Interscope
“Blurred Lines” represents the first record of the year nomination for Robin Thicke and T.I., while Pharrell Williams is also nominated this year for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” By spending 12 weeks atop the Hot 100 from June through August, the disco-influenced funk track earned the top spot on Billboard’s Songs of the Summer chart, while also setting the record for the highest weekly audience (228.9 million, according to Nielsen BDS) in the history of the Radio Songs chart. Thicke performed “Blurred Lines” at the MTV Video Music Awards, the iHeartRadio Music Festival and on “The Voice,” and the song’s risqué video has inspired countless online parodies while accruing more than 231 million views on YouTube. Thicke’s sixth studio album, "Blurred Lines," became the 36-year-old’s first No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with 177,000 copies sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.