56th GRAMMYs Preview: Album of the Year

A closer look at the releases that earned album of the year nominations for the 56th GRAMMY Awards on Jan. 26, 2014.

These five artistic statements are in the running for the album of the year honor at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday night (Jan. 26).

Jump To: Song of the Year | Record of the Year

"The Blessed Unrest"
Sara Bareilles
Producers: Sara Bareilles, Mark Endert, John O'Mahony
Engineers/mixers: Jeremy Darby, Mark Endert, John O'Mahony
Mastering engineer: Greg Calbi
Label: Epic Records

Bareilles' 2010 album, Kaleidoscope Heart, helped prove she wasn't a pop personality to underestimate. But for the California native's third studio release, The Blessed Unrest, the singer/songwriter decided to start anew by moving to New York and leaning more on co-writers, including fun.'s Jack Antonoff. The lyrically daring and serious-sounding set debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Bareilles is also nominated for best pop performance for the single "Brave," which reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Random Access Memories"
Daft Punk
Producers: Thomas Bangalter, Julian Casablancas, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, DJ Falcon, Todd Edwards
Engineers/mixers: Peter Franco, Mick Guzauski, Florian Lagatta, Guillaume Le Braz, Daniel Lerner
Mastering engineer: Bob Ludwig
Label: Columbia Records

Daft Punk's fourth studio set, Random Access Memories, is the second to be nominated for both album of the year and best dance/electronic album since the latter ­category's inception in 2005. (Lady Gaga did it first.) Recorded almost entirely live and sample-free, the LP -- Daft Punk's first release since 2010's "Tron: Legacy" soundtrack -- earned the French duo its first No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Fueled by the funky, disco-inspired lead single "Get Lucky" (featuring Pharrell Williams), which spent five weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Good Kid, M.A.A.D City"
Kendrick Lamar
Producers: DJ Dahi, Hit-Boy, Skhye Hutch, Just Blaze, Like, Terrace Martin, Dawaun Parker, Pharrell, Rahki, Scoop DeVille, Sounwave, Jack Splash, Tabu, Tha Bizness, T-Minus
Engineers/mixers: Derek Ali, Dee Brown, Dr. Dre, James Hunt, Mauricio "Veto" Iragorri, Mike Larson, Jared Scott, Jack Splash, Andrew Wright
Mastering engineer: Mike Bozzi, Brian "Big Bass" Gardner
Label: TDE/Aftermath/Interscope

Dr. Dre protégé Lamar has been hailed as both the new king of the West Coast and hip-hop's savior. The Compton, Calif., rapper's TDE/Aftermath/Interscope debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, is one of the most-acclaimed albums by a rap rookie in years. The release debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The set produced three top 10 hits on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: lead single "Swimming Pools (Drank)" (No. 3), "Poetic Justice" (No. 8) and "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" (No. 9). Lamar is also nominated for best new artist, as well as scoring five additional nods in the R&B and rap categories.

"The Heist"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Producer: Ryan Lewis
Engineers/mixers: Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis, Amos Miller, Reed Ruddy, Pete Stewart
Mastering engineer: Brian Gardner
Label: Macklemore LLC

Seattle rapper Macklemore and producer Lewis, who met on Myspace in 2005, have built a buzzy movement from the ground up -- without major-label backing. The duo's full-length debut, The Heist, was released independently through Alternative Distribution Alliance and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. On the Billboard Hot 100, the pair made history by becoming the first duo in the chart's 55 years to take its first two chart appearances to No. 1. "Thrift Shop" (featuring Wanz) spent six weeks atop the list, while "Can't Hold Us" (with Ray Dalton) did five.

Taylor Swift
Producers: Jeff Bhasker, Nathan Chapman, Dann Huff, Jacknife Lee, Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift, Butch Walker, Dan Wilson
Engineers/mixers: Joe Baldridge, Sam Bell, Matt Bishop, Chad Carlson, Nathan Chapman, Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Sam Holland, Michael Ilbert, Taylor Johnson, Jacknife Lee, Steve Marcantonio, Manny Marroquin, Justin Niebank, John Rausch, Eric Robinson, Pawel Sek, Jake Sinclair, Mark "Spike" Stent, Andy Thompson
Mastering engineers: Tom Coyne, Hank Williams
Label: Big Machine Records

Swift is no stranger to this Grammy category -- the country superstar took home album of the year in 2009 for her second studio set, Fearless, which has sold 6.8 million, according to SoundScan. The seven-time Grammy winner will again compete for the award with her latest release, Red. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than 1.2 million copies in its first week according to Nielsen SoundScan. It has produced eight top 40 hits on the Hot 100, with "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" reaching No. 1.

Jump To: Song of the Year | Record of the Year