Last year, making Grammy predictions was ridiculously easy: just pick Adele in any category in which she was nominated. This year, the exercise is a little more challenging. There's no clear front-runner, though several artists, including Kanye West, Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean, fun., The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Jay-Z, received six nominations each. Expect no one artist to sweep this year. As you'll see with my predictions, it looks like the artists will share the wealth on Sunday night. The Grammys air at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Sunday night’s Grammy Awards could throw next week’s Billboard 200 album chart into disarray should a surprise winner emerge, but with two days to go until the chart week ends, Josh Groban’s “All That Echoes” looks like a lock for No. 1 with sales of up to 145,000. Read Hitfix’s interview with Groban here.
The baritone leads the four new titles in next week’s Top 10: coming in at No. 2 will likely be Tim McGraw with “Two Lanes of Freedom,” his first album on Big Machine after switching from Curb Records. The set, which will top Billboard’s Country Album chart next week, will sell up to 105,000 copies. “Now That’s What I Call Music 45” looks good for No. 45 with 90,000 units, according to Hits Daily Double.
Christian contemporary act Red’s fourth album, “Release The Panic” looks good for No. 10. The Nashville-based group’s previous album, “Until We Have Faces” bowed at No. 2.
No. 4 will likely belong to Grammy album of the year nominee “Babel” from Mumford & Sons. Though most of the Grammy winners won’t see big jumps until the chart after this, if “Babel” wins several Grammys, expect it to possibly move higher than No. 4. Similarly, best new artist nominee The Lumineers could also see its self-titled set climb higher than No. 5, as it is now projected to land.
This week’s No. 1, “Believe Acoustic” from Justin Bieber, likely falls to No. 6. Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and Taylor Swift’s “Red” are in tie for No. 7, with each targeted to sell 40,000-45,000 copies.
As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at the biggest award of them all, Album of the Year.
Album of the Year nominees
“El Camino,” The Black Keys
“Some Nights,” fun.
“Babel,” Mumford & Sons
“Channel Orange,” Frank Ocean
“Blunderbuss,” Jack White
WHO’S MISSING: Oh, how about anyone with a two X chromosomes? Though women made some of the most interesting albums of the year, artists like Fiona Apple, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson and Pink were ignored in this category (Don’t worry, Taylor Swift’s “Red” come out too late for eligibility this year; it was be a 2014 contender)
THE PLAYERS: Grammy voters usually include at least one veteran or heritage (read: geezer) act in this category, whether it be Neil Young, Steely Dan or Tony Bennett. Not this year. This year, the Grammys were current and accurate, picking the best of today’s crop of hit makers.
THE ODDS: The chances of Jack White or The Black Keys pulling an Arcade Fire-like upset that occurred in 2011 are slight (Fun fact: Arcade Fire is the only act to have its only Grammy--so far-- be album of the year). Frank Ocean put out the most critically acclaimed album of 2012, but fun. and Mumford & Sons had greater mainstream success and sales, which will count since all members can vote in this category. Ocean’s “Channel Orange” feels like the most “important” record and that may make it a close race, but it may not have enough wind beneath its wings to lift it over “Babel.” Regardless of who wins, “Channel Orange” will be the record people will be calling a landmark album 20 years from now.
THE WINNER: “Babel,” Mumford & Sons
Best Dance Recording
Record of the Year
Best Urban Contemporary Album
Song of the Year
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Best Rock Song
Best R&B Performance
Best Pop Vocal Album
Best New Artist
“When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there,” Dawes lead singer Taylor Goldsmith sings on the Southern California band’s bouncy “From A Window Seat,” the first single from the Jacquire King-produced “Stories Don’t End,” out April 9.
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As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at Best Dance Recording.
Best Dance Recording nominees:
“Let’s Go,” Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo
“Don’t Your Worry Child,” Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin
“I Can’t Live Without You,” Al Walser
WHO’S MISSING: Anything by David Guetta. The dance screening committee may now consider him too pop for inclusion in this category, which is pretty hard core, despite some of the songs having expanded beyond their initial dance home.
THE PLAYERS: You can be forgiven if you saw Al Walser’s name and went, “Huh?” Like last year when an unknown named Linda Chorney was nominated in the Americana category, Walser, an EDM producer from Liechtenstein, simply knew how to game the system by lobbying Grammy voters through Grammy’s in-house social network, Grammy365. Otherwise, this is a very solid slate.
THE ODDS: Swedish House Mafia has been at this longer than Avicii, Calvin Harris and Skrillex, but that may not count for anything in an industry that wants to reward the new innovators. Plus, “Don’t You Worry Child” probably became a pop hit a little too late in the voting process to affect dance dilettantes voting in this category. “Levels” was massive for Avicii from colleges to clubs to radio, but Skrillex seemed omnipresent this year and was the face of dubstep.
THE WINNER: “Bangarang,” Skrillex
We’ve really come a long way since Cole Porter wrote “a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking” for “Anything Goes.”
Now we live in a world where CBS has to send out an official memo to any talent —presenters and performers— appearing on air during the 55th Annual Grammy Awards telecast on Feb. 10.
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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis continue their stay atop the Billboard Hot 100 as “Thrift Shop,” featuring Wanz, spends its third week at No. 1.
Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” holds at No. 2, while will.i.am and Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout” reaches a new high, climbing two places to No. 3.
“Scream” pushes the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” down 3-4, which, in turn, moves Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” 4-5, according to Billboard.
In a fairly static chart, Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” featuring John Martin stays at No. 6, while Justin Bieber’s “Beauty And A Beat” featuring Nicki Minaj remains at No. 7.
A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin Problems” has nothing to complain about as it moves 10-8. There are two new entries into the Top 10: Pink’s “Try”climbs 11-9, making it her 13th Top 10. Scottish DJ Calvin Harris logs his first Hot 100 Top 10 as a lead artist as “Sweet Nothing” featuring Florence Welch rises 14-10.
As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at one of the top four awards, Record of the Year.
Record of the Year nominees:
“Lonely Boy,” The Black Keys (The Black Keys & Danger Mouse, producers)
“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You,” Kelly Clarkson (Greg Kurstin, producer)
“We Are Young,” fun. featuring Janelle Monae (Jeff Bhasker, producer)
“Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye featuring Kimbra (Wally de Backer, producer)
“Thinkin’ ‘Bout You,” Frank Ocean (Frank Ocean, producer)
“We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift (Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift, producers)
WHO’S MISSING: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is a much better record than song (see the explanation below) and it would have fared better in this category than in Song of the Year. Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait” continued what “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave” started, which is strong acoustic guitar and banjo playing brought to the forefront in the mix, which isn’t something you hear every day on pop radio.
THE PLAYERS: Unlike Song of the Year, which goes to the songwriter, Record of the Year is an award for the artist and the other people involved in the sound of the record, including the producer and engineer. All of the selections here offer interesting productions, but “We Are Young” and “Somebody That I Used To Know” were especially noteworthy for their non-traditional, innovative productions. Clever arrangements made both songs stand out like beacons in the cluttered radio landscape. They sounded like nothing else coming out of the speakers and they both helped usher in a new era of pop music that is smart as it is accessible.
THE ODDS: Fun. has more nominations than Gotye overall and that can sometimes sway voters. Both “We Are Young” and “Somebody That I Used to Know” were massive hits. In fact, four of the six songs nominated here were Billboard Hot 100 chart toppers.
THE WINNER: “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Gotye (by a nose)
While a Josh Groban album may be the last place one would expect “Kashmir”-like strings and guitars, on “All That Echoes,” the classical crossover singer veers momentarily into Led Zeppelin territory on the lushly atmospheric “Hollow Talk.”
If the detour surprises his fans, that’s just fine with the multi-platinum singer. “I feel like we’ve done something really special, hopefully they will too,” he says. “Most importantly, if it’s honest, they’ll get that, but I always enjoy giving people what they didn’t know they wanted.”
“All That Echoes,” which came out Tuesday (Feb. 5), and quickly topped iTunes albums chart, features the famous baritone singing seven songs he co-wrote. Groban’s songs stand side-by-side with five others by such noted songwriters/artists as Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Webb, and Glen Hansard.
Produced by Rob Cavallo, Groban’s sixth studio album aims to capture the vibrant feel of his live shows. To facilitate that energy, Cavallo, best known for producing acts like Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, and My Chemical Romance, collected a who’s who of rock musicians to play on the set, including drummers Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam) and Abe Laboriel Jr. (Paul McCartney), as well as bassist Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), guitarist Tim Pierce (Dave Matthews) and keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac (Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac). The rockers played alongside a harpist, violinist and cellist.
“They balanced each other out in such an amazing way to see every day,” Groban says. “The rock guys brought an energy to the orchestral players and the orchestral players brought a fluidity and a musicality and kind of more of a restraint, if you will, to the guys that were coming form the rock side...When we’re in [the studio], we’re just thinking about making really exciting things come out of the speakers. It doesn’t become more complicated than that.”
While the album falls well within the boundaries that Groban’s longtime popera fans expect, he’s also eager to go against any perceived stereotyping he’s experienced.
“Anybody in the public eye at any level in any part of the entertainment or sports world feels expectations from their fans and feels a certain amount of pigeonholing from their fans. I don’t think I’m any exception to that,” he says. “At the same time, it’s a delicate balance when you’re in the studio and kind of siloed in your own little world and you’re battling between what you’re inspired by everyday and what the expectations of the fans are and what your main goal is, which is to be a communicator of music to make people feel good or to feel the music fully. Ultimately if you’re having the time of your life but people aren’t connecting to your sound, then, to a certain extent, you’ve kind of missed the cause.”
One of more striking songs on the album is “Below the Line,” which Groban wrote after volunteering with “Live Below The Line,” a non-profit that raises funds for people living in extreme poverty. It also spreads awareness by asking people to live on $2 a day, the amount that 1.3 billion people living in poverty subsist on.
“I just happened to be exploring that particular charity and going through the fasting period on a day I had to write and so while the song itself is not specifically about that organization, it triggered a lyrical message that we ran with and that we felt was a good universal, humanist kind of message. That song was written within two or three hours... and I was really hungry. That message [is] if we’re not helping others and not seeing the bigger picture of what’s happening in the world, then we’re truly not helping ourselves.”
Groban, who will appear on “CSI: New York” as himself on Valentine’s Day, co-hosted “Live with Kelly” a number of times and was rumored to be in the running to become the permanent co-host before Michael Strahan got the job. Groban stresses he could have never handled full-time hosting duties with his busy music schedule, but adds he loved interviewing people and it gave him a new sympathy for journalists.
“You’re trying to fill many roles when you’re interviewing. On a show like that, you’re genuinely curious about things that are going on with them, but you have about 30 seconds to get the answer and then you have to make sure, of course, that you’re making them look good and that you get it all in before commercial,” he says. “You’ve got a million things going on around you while you’re trying to have the conversation.”
The singer, who has also acted on "The Office," and "Crazy,Stupid, Love," among other shows, recently told Reuters that he hopes to take a hiatus from making music in the next few years to do theater.
The prodigious (and often hilarious) Tweeter will hit the road to support “All That Echoes” in April. On the schedule are three shows at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. Sure to be in attendance are his most fervent fans, dubbed Grobanites. Some of his fans feel such ardor towards the singer that they go so far as to get tattoos os his signature.
Though flattered by his fans’ passion, Groban says he has no one’s name he’d like permanently etched on his body. “You know, if I were going to get a tattoo, i probably would have gotten one by now,” he says. “No, I think that I try to keep my tattoos ingrained in my brain.”
As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Best Urban Contemporary Album nominees:
“Fortune,” Chris Brown
“Kaleidoscope Dream,” Miguel
“Channel Orange,” Frank Ocean
WHO’S MISSING: Lots of folks. Usher's“Looking 4 Myself,” for one. At this point, you may be asking yourself why are there only three nominees? According to Recording Academy rules, a category must receive at least 40 entries for five recordings to receive nominations. If the category receives between 25-39, then only three recordings receive nominations. Maybe the labels applying were as confused about the difference between Best Urban Contemporary Album, a new category this year, and Best R&B Album as I am. For example, Anthony Hamilton’s “Back to Love” and R. Kelly’s “Write Me Back” are up for Best R&B Album. To complicate matters, Chris Brown won Best R&B Album two years ago. According to the description, Best Urban Contemporary Album goes to a work that “includes more contemporary elements of R&B” and may also elements of other musical forms.
THE PLAYERS: In case you missed it, two of the nominees, Chris Brown and Frank Ocean got in a little dust-up at a Los Angeles recording studio last week, so this has now turned into a bit of a grudge match. Brown, who last won in 2011 for “F.A.M.E.,” didn’t have as much success with “Fortune,” whereas Miguel’s single, “Adorn,” from “Kaleidoscope Dreams,” has spent 20 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
THE ODDS: In a just world, this is a race between Miguel and Ocean’s albums, both of which are far superior to Brown’s “Fortune.” Both “Kaleidoscope Dream” and “Channel Orange” are career-making albums and creative tours de force, but Ocean has the greater awareness across multiple genres.
THE WINNER: “Channel Orange,” Frank Ocean