Two Billboard critics survey the field, from Lamar vs. Swift to Dylan vs. Manilow, with a wary eye on the "Beck factor."

Jody Rosen: Is this Kendrick Lamar's year? The stars seem to be aligned for Lamar, who has a near-record 11 ­nominations. To Pimp a Butterfly was the year's most acclaimed album. It's contemporary, but its mix of vintage sources nods in the direction of the "real music" hallowed by the core Grammys voting bloc. A vote for Lamar will also redress the awards' ­historical neglect of hip-hop and make up for his snubbing at the 2014 Grammys. Lamar has spent several weeks on an old-fashioned Grammy lobbying campaign.

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