Mumford, Frank Ocean, Bob Dylan lead Grammy album of the year contenders
Did you hear that sound Sunday night? It was the door slamming on eligibility for the 2012 Grammy Awards.
The Grammy year runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30, so Sunday at midnight marked the last moment that artists could release albums for consideration. The Grammy nominations will be announced Dec. 5 during a CBS special. The 55th annual Grammy Awards will take place Feb. 10, 2013.
In July, we looked at early contenders for album of the year with the caveat that September would see a rush of contenders. The past two months have given a little perspective on some earlier selections. For example, I would not expect Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel...” to still be a front-runner.
Here are my predictions for the ten albums most likely to get an Album of the Year nod. There will be five titles in contention, six if there is a tie among Grammy voters. I listed them alphabetically, but I’d put Mumford & Sons and Frank Ocean under sure bets.
The Black Keys, “El Camino”: This album seems to have garnered less excitement than “Brothers,” but it’s a very solid effort that continues to expand on Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney’s musical exploration that combines rock and blues in a way that appeals to both the mainstream audience and purists.
Bob Dylan, “Tempest”: Dylan devotees love this album, calling it his best and most cohesive in years. This year also marks the 50th anniversary since he released his first album. He’s won this award before in 1998 for “Time Out Of Mind.” Voters may be aware that time to honor our greatest living singer/songwriter could be running out.
Florence + The Machine: “Ceremonials”: Flo and friends’ second album didn’t have the massive mainsteam hit like “Dog Days Are Over.” It has something better: a breadth of cuts that keep springing forth from the set, making the album far more consistent than “Lungs.” There seemed to be a new video every month and the act spent a lot of time touring here, which got them in front of lots of eyeballs, as well as ears.
Maroon 5, “Overexposed”: It’s not a likely choice, to be sure, but it is a pop album that delivered this year: two top 10 hits and counting, and helped continue bring back Maroor 5 on the back of “Moves Like Jagger.”
John Mayer, “Born & Raised”: John Mayer’s latest suffered greatly due to his inability to promote it properly because of his vocal issues. It’s a shame because it is a beautiful album, full of nuanced guitar playing and songs from a singer who has grown up in front of us and is finally acting like a man.
Mumford & Sons, “Babel”: While the British folk-rock group isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, even people who don’t love their furious acoustic tunes, admire their musicianship and the emphasis they put on live instrumentation. They’ve been nominated before and were good enough to play with Dylan, for goodness’s sake.
Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”: Released to universally strong reviews, “Channel Orange” is an exceptionally intimate, interesting R&B album that appeals to a wide audience. Plus, Ocean’s story is a compelling one that complements, instead of overshadows, the music. If he can keep momentum going, he’s the closest thing to a sure bet for a nomination.??
Bonnie Raitt, “Slipstream”: Grammy favorite Raitt’s first album in seven years showcases her seemingly effortless guitar work as well as her always touching, raspy vocals. Every year, the Grammys look to honor veteran artist and she could fall into that slot, although even suggesting that she’s in any way a token nominee denigrates her great work on “Slipstream.”
Bruce Springsteen, “Wrecking Ball”: As he did with “The Rising," The Boss taps into these troubled times and crafts an album full of what we need to hear, even if we don’t want to. Plus, the strength of a number of cuts, including “Rocky Ground,” “Jack of All Trades,” and “We Take Care of Our Own” are undeniable, even if the album as a whole is not consistently great. ??
Usher, “Looking 4 Myself”: Seven studio albums in, Usher released a tour de force that displayed a new maturity, without sacrificing his famous playful or sexy sides. He fearlessly incorporated other styles in a way that never felt forced or contrived, but instead seemed to be a natural evolution. The set hasn’t sold particularly well, so lack of commercial success could hamper its chances. ?
Dr. John, “Locked Down”
Gotye, “Making Mirrors”
Norah Jones, “Little Broken Hearts”
Lionel Richie, “Tuskegee”
Rihanna, “Talk That Talk”
Jack White, “Blunderbuss”
Who do you think will be nominated on for Album of the Year?