AudioFrost’s 2014 Grammy Predictions

56sgrammysThe 56th Annual Grammy Awards air this Sunday on CBS, hosted by LL Cool J for the third consecutive year. While many argue that the Grammys is a popularity contest, (Katy Perry’s radio-friendly but not exactly critically acclaimed Teenage Dream was one of the five nominees for Album of the Year in 2011; Jay-Z’s mixed-reviewed Magna Carta Holy Grail is nominated for Best Rap Album this year; and Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, which topped several best of 2013 lists, only garnered a Best Alternative Album nomination) it is always interesting to see who takes home the more coveted awards.  There are a total of 82 categories this year, but this article is only going to cover some of the more popular ones. We apologize in advance to everyone that was hoping to see speculation on the Best Surround Sound Album award.

Record of the Year
“Get Lucky” – Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams
“Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons
“Royals” – Lorde
“Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Predicted Winner: “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams
Simply put, this song was far too big in 2013 to not win this category. It topped the charts for 12 consecutive weeks, broke the record for most radio plays in a single week, and was the year’s number one download.

What Should Win: “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams
No other song this year was easier to dance to, sing along with, and learn the lyrics of. “Get Lucky” took us back to the ’70s for the four minutes the radio edit played in between hip hop or pop tracks, depending on what station you dialed to. Let’s also not forget how incredibly infectious Nile Rodger’s guitar riff is either. This song is the most fun any radio hit has been in quite some time, besides, perhaps, “Blurred Lines.”

Album of the Year
The Blessed Unrest – Sara Bareilles
Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City – Kendrick Lamar
The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red – Taylor Swift

Predicted Winner: Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
This is the first time Daft Punk has been up for Album of the Year in their illustrious career. Considering how it completely surprised everyone with the direction it went, bending genres and melding them together with electronic fuzz or simply letting them coast alone, along with how much everyone in the music industry respects Daft Punk, this album should gain the most votes.

What Should Win: Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s first major label album blew the masses away when it was first released in October 2012. It had a few radio hits, the main one being “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, and finished near the top of several Best of 2012 lists. The creativity found in this album is some of the best in the past ten years of hip hop. Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City is filled with phenomenal lyricism while telling a narrative story of inner-city disparity across twelve tracks. The finished product is a novel packaged as a CD. I just don’t think this album stands a chance though, considering Kendrick isn’t up for much else and he already lost to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist at the American Music Awards. Then again, it’s been a full decade since Speakerboxxx/The Love Below won Best Album, and 15 years since The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill won, so maybe it’s time for another deserving hip hop album to take it home.

Song of the Year
“Just Give Me a Reason” – P!nk, Jeff Bhasker and Nate Reuss (songwriters) Performed by P!nk
“Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine (songwriters) Performed by Bruno Mars
“Roar” – Katy Perry, Lukasz Gotwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, and Henry Walter (songwriters) Performed by Katy Perry
“Royals” – Ella Yelich O’Connor, Joel Little (songwriters) Performed by Lorde
“Same Love” – Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert and Curtis Mayfield (songwriters) Performed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert

Predicted Winner: “Same Love” – Performed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert
In a category based more on the writing of a song than the recording itself, “Same Love” has the most weight to it out of all the nominees. It’s a well thought out message and brought something different to hip hop, even if it wasn’t really played on hip hop stations. However, P!nk collaborated with the lead singer of Fun for “Just Give Me a Reason”, which could help it gain an edge with the category’s voters based on how well Fun did at last year’s Grammy Awards (Winners of two out of the six categories they were nominated for).

What Should Win: “Same Love” – Performed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert
Based on the other nominations, this song is seemingly the best choice. Considering “Roar” and Royals” have more chorus than verse, “Locked Out of Heaven” is more memorable for its feel than its lyrics and “Just Give Me a Reason” doesn’t necessarily stand out from all the other “we’ve still got a chance at love” songs.

Best New Artist
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Predicted Winner: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The fact of the matter is Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are nominated for multiple high-profile awards, and the next couple of albums the two collaborate on will probably have a few mainstream radio hits, which is what typically matters the most at The Grammy Awards. While there are occasional upsets in this category (Esperanza Spalding over Drake, Mumford & Sons, Justin Bieber, and Florence + The Machine in 2011), we find it hard to see someone else winning this year.

Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is already looked at as one of the best in the current rap game after only releasing one major label album. He is of a rare breed of artist that truly seems to have been conceived with the notion that his life was going to be dedicated to the art of rapping (Could you tell I watched Man of Steel for the first time last night?). It would be interesting to see James Blake win, because he definitely has potential to release an album that changes the music industry, but Kendrick deserves it at this point. He arguably gave us this decade’s Illmatic.

Best Pop Vocal Album
Paradise – Lana Del Rey
Pure Heroine – Lorde
Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience – Justin Timberlake

Prediction: The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience – Justin Timberlake
Even though Part Two wasn’t very good, Part One gained him four nominations alone this year. 2013 was a big year for Justin Timberlake, considering we didn’t even expect anything from him at the start of it. We think the Grammy’s will acknowledge his efforts.

Best Alternative Music Album
The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – Neko Case
Trouble Will Find Me – The National
Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails
Lonerism – Tame Impala
Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend

Prediction: Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend
This one’s kind of a no-brainer, even though Lonerism is also a very deserving album.

Best Rap Performance
Started From the Bottom – Drake
Berzerk – Eminem
Tom Ford – Jay-Z
Swimming Pools (Drank) – Kendrick Lamar
Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz

Prediction: Swimming Pools (Drank) – Kendrick Lamar
The song was incredibly popular for a while, and it’s the opposite of what most college party-goers thought it was. The full version of the song makes it even better, with a dream-like “shenanigans”-induced intermission, followed by a harsher beat while Kendrick drops a rapidly spit verse narrating the state his character’s in because of peer pressure.

Best Rap Song
“F***in’ Problems” – performed by A$AP Rocky feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
“Holy Grail” – performed by Jay-Z feat. Justin Timberlake
“New Slaves” – performed by Kanye West
“Started From the Bottom” – performed by Drake
“Thrift Shop” – performed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz

Prediction: “Holy Grail” – performed by Jay-Z feat. Justin Timberlake
Is it the best song in the category? Not by any means. But Jay-Z amassed the most Grammy nominations out of any performer this year, and he’s bound to win an award or two. While “Holy Grail” wasn’t as commercially successful as “Thrift Shop”, it’s hard to believe that the people voting on this category will  choose Macklemore over Jay-Z.

As far as the rest of the awards that will be given on Sunday night, expect the nominees for Album of the Year to win their respective “Best _____ Album” categories, besides Sara Bareilles, who interestingly isn’t up for Best Pop Vocal Album. If The Heist beats out Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City for Best Rap Album (which would also put it over Yeezus and Nothing Was the Same), then we can call it a night for Kendrick at that point. Let’s just hope Chris Brown approves of the winners this year.

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