Grammys 2015 Preview: Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor & More on Their Record of the Year-Nominated Songs

Courtesy
Taylor Swift "Shake It Off" single cover

Check out the five tracks nominated for the Record of the Year Grammy.

"All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
Producer: Kevin Kadish
Engineer/Mixer: Kevin Kadish
Mastering Engineer: Dave Kutch
Label: Epic

"My producer [Kadish] had the title and said that none of his prior co-writers could figure out what to relate that to," recalls Trainor. "So I said, 'What about a booty? Let's talk about that!'" In a year when it seemed the posterior was the focus of pop culture conversation (and countless music videos), the 20-year-old Massachusetts singer-songwriter, who now lives in Nashville, placed a good bet: Her debut single picked up two Grammy nominations and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for eight weeks, breaking the mark for the longest-leading No. 1 single in Epic Records history (beating out Michael Jackson's 1983 "Billie Jean" and 1991 "Black or White"). The hip-hop-meets-doo-wop single (reminiscent of Amy Winehouse in places) is the first single from Trainor's debut full-length, Title, due Jan. 13.

Billboard Cover: Meghan Trainor on Frank Sinatra, Her Rap Skills and the Rise of 'All About That Bass'

"Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
Producers: Max Martin, Shellback
Engineer/Mixer: Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Sam Holland, Michael Ilbert
Mastering Engineer: Tom Coyne
From: 1989
Label: Big Machine Records

To introduce her move away from country-pop toward a more pure pop sound with the 1989 album, Taylor Swift, 25, chose "Shake It Off" as the first single both for its music -- a saxophone-breakbeat blend that recalls the party anthems of the album's titular year -- and its message. "That song is essentially written about an important lesson I learned, that really changed how I live my life," she says. "I wanted it to be a song that made people get up and dance at a wedding reception from the first drum beat, but also a song that could help someone get through something really terrible, if they focus on the lyrics." With super-producers Max Martin and Shellback, Swift got her wish: It debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 with the year's biggest first-week sales, and helped 1989 become the best-selling album released in 2014.

Billboard Woman of the Year Taylor Swift on Writing Her Own Rules, Not Becoming a Cliche and the Hurdle of Going Pop

"Stay With Me" (Darkchild Version) - Sam Smith
Producers: Steve Fitzmaurice, Rodney Jerkins, Jimmy Napes
Engineer/Mixer: Steve Fitzmaurice, Jimmy Napes, Steve Price
Mastering Engineer: Miles Showell
From: In the Lonely Hour
Label: Capitol Records

The sadness on Smith's debut album came from a very real place. "After writing the album, I felt I'd given everything out," says the 22-year-old, "And I'm willing to keep doing that with my music for the rest of my life." Nowhere was this emotion expressed stronger than on his breakthrough smash "Stay With Me." Wondering why the Grammys recognized the "Darkchild version"? A few months after the single's initial release in the United States and the United Kingdom, the song was launched worldwide with a remix by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins that added hand claps and replaced strings with a gospel-feeling organ; the video subbed in this mix. So don't worry: The nominated version is likely the one you know.

Billboard Cover: Sam Smith on 'Stay With Me,' 'SNL' Jitters and 'Striving to Be a Career Artist'

"Chandelier" - Sia
Producers: Greg Kurstin, Jesse Shatkin
Engineer/Mixer: Greg Kurstin, Manny Marroquin, Jesse Shatkin
Mastering Engineer: Emily Lazar
From: 1000 Forms of Fear
Label: RCA Records/Monkey Puzzle Records

After releasing five albums, Sia Furler, 39, stepped back from the spotlight in 2010 and began writing songs for stars like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Flo Rida and David Guetta. After she returned to the studio for her own music, the first single from her resulting 1000 Forms of Fear sounded like an unlikely choice for a hit -- a moody ballad with hip-hop beats and a touch of reggae, expressing the sadness of an over-the-hill party girl. Yet "Chandelier" became one of the year's most memorable songs, propelled by a video featuring the dancing of young Maddie Ziegler from Dance Moms in a blonde Sia wig. The clip was parodied by Jimmy Kimmel and Jim Carrey, and when the reclusive Sia appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers-- her face obscured from the camera, as usual -- Lena Dunham danced the routine.

Sia: The Billboard Cover Story

"Fancy" - Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX
Producers: The Arcade, The Invisible Men
Engineer/Mixer: Anthony Kilhofler, Eric Weaver
Mastering Engineer: Miles Showell
From: The New Classic
Label: Def Jam Recordings

"Fancy" was everywhere in 2014: at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, covered by The Killers and Kasabian, spoofed by "Weird Al" Yankovic and given the Neil Young treatment by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, complete with backing vocals by Crosby, Stills & Nash. Between the earworm hook sung by Charli XCX and the canny Clueless-themed music video, it was clear that the 24-year-old Azalea, rap's breakout of the year, wasn't afraid to shoot for the stars. "One critic was like, 'Why didn't you talk about more Australian things?'" she says. "I don't understand why I'm supposed to write a song about living in the outback and riding a kangaroo to be authentic." The results made Azalea, 24, the first female Australian artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 since 1981, when Olivia Newton-John hit No. 1 with "Physical."

This story first appeared in the Dec. 26 issue of Billboard.

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