On Wednesday night (Dec. 5), the nominations for the 55th annual Grammy Awards will be unveiled during the “Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night,” which means that there are only a few more hours to speculate about the major categories. After Adele and her blockbuster “21” album dominated last year’s ceremony, the 2013 Grammys are a fairly wide-open affair, with a handful of healthy offerings in rock, hip-hop, pop, folk, country, dance and R&B all vying for this year’s top prizes. And of course, there are always a few surprises thrown into the mix — after all, Bon Iver was nominated as a singles artist last year, while Rihanna scored an Album of the Year nod.
So which albums, songs and artists can we expect to have memorable nights on Wednesday? Check out our prognostications for the four major categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist — and let us know what you think will get nominated in the comments section below. Note: these are unofficial predictions, with no prior knowledge of tonight’s results.
Album of the Year
After Adele’s “21” easily topped efforts by Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters and Rihanna at last year’s ceremony, this year’s AOTY category will likely be a more even playing field. Three late 2011 releases are good bets: Drake‘s critically and commercially adored sophomore album “Take Care,” Coldplay‘s epic fifth effort “Mylo Xyloto,” and the Black Keys‘ mainstream coronation “El Camino” were all released too late to compete last year but could snag 2013 nods. Meanwhile, Grammy favorites like Bruce Springsteen (“Wrecking Ball”), Paul McCartney (“Kisses on the Bottom”), Lionel Richie (“Tuskegee”) and Bob Dylan (“Tempest”) all released solid albums before this year’s deadline; out of those legends, Richie might have the best shot for Grammy gold with this country comeback effort. Kelly Clarkson (“Stronger”), P!nk (“The Truth About Love”) and Rihanna (for “Talk That Talk,” not “Unapologetic”) could comprise the pop constituency, and Carrie Underwood has a great chance to carry the country torch with “Blown Away.” But for our money, the safest Album of the Year bet is Mumford & Sons, who scored the second-biggest debut of the year when “Babel” sold 600,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Two years after snagging a Best New Artist nomination and one year after “The Cave” was up for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, look for the Mumfords to receive more Grammy love tonight. Our deep, dark hope? Frank Ocean‘s “Channel Orange” slips in with a surprising nod.
Record of the Year
After ruling the Hot 100 for a combined 15 weeks, Gotye‘s “Somebody That I Used To Know” and fun.‘s “We Are Young” (featuring Kimbra and Janelle Monae, respectively) are critically admired alternative smashes that seem likely to snag Record of the Year nods. The Lumineers‘ “Ho Hey” could represent the Bon Iver/Mumford & Sons folk nominee, while Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” and Usher‘s “Climax” are both immaculate slow jams that could earn top honors. Maroon 5 could land a big nod with “Payphone,” but the safest Record of the Year nomination bet is a smattering of female pop smashes, including Nicki Minaj‘s “Starships,” Kelly Clarkson‘s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Katy Perry‘s “Wide Awake,” and Rihanna’s smash “Where Have You Been.” Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe,” the pop song even your grandmother loves, could sneak its way in as well. And look out for dark-horse candidate “Mercy,” Kanye West‘s GOOD Music summer anthem that everyone could get behind, despite being on the lackluster “Cruel Summer” LP.
Song of the Year
The songwriter’s award (which went to Adele and Paul Epworth last year for “Rolling in the Deep”) always includes some overlap with Record of the Year, with four out of five of last year’s nominees for Record of the Year spilling over into this category. Look for Gotye to score another nod here for “Somebody That I Used To Know,” and perhaps an outlier like Fiona Apple (“Every Single Night”), Bruce Springsteen (“We Take Care of Our Own”), Chris Thompson and Josh Kear (Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away”) and Mumford & Sons (“I Will Wait”) to make it to the big dance.
Best New Artist
One year after Bon Iver uneasily walked away with Grammy gold, this year’s Best New Artist crop is as stacked as ever. Carly Rae Jepsen, the 26-year-old mastermind behind “Call Me Maybe,” issued her album “Kiss” weeks before the Grammy deadline and seems like a lock here. Give a nod as well to Frank Ocean, whose “Channel Orange” is littering year-end critics’ lists all month long, and fun., whose “Some Nights” album is their second LP but could give them their first nomination. The Lumineers could carry their “Ho Hey” success to a nomination, and one (or both) best-selling boy bands, One Direction and The Wanted, could qualify. Want a pair of left-field candidates? How about Alabama Shakes, whose 2012 disc “Boys & Girls” has proven ripe for rock fans, and Emeli Sande, whose “Our Version of Events” album is filled with the kind of spectacular songwriting that Grammy voters adore.
There you have it. What do you think we got right — and way, way wrong? Sound off in the comments section below.