LL Cool J is back for the second year as the host of the 55th Grammy Awards, airing on CBS Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Viewers can expect to be enticed with scheduled performances from Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, Sting, Rihanna, The Black Keys, The Lumineers, Frank Ocean, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley with Miranda Lambert, Jack White, Elton John, Fun., Mumford & Sons, Carrie Underwood, Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake. With so many talented artists in each category, it’s sure to be worth a watch. Here are my predictions:
Album of the Year: El Camino - The Black Keys
Nominees: Some Nights, Fun.; Babel, Mumford & Sons; Channel Orange, Frank Ocean; Blunderbuss, Jack White
This Ohio group is sure to get recognition for their seventh album, El Camino, their second back-to-back chart topping record. The album sold 206,000 copies in its first week of sales and debuted on the Billboard 200 charts at number two. El Camino has since gone Platinum in the U.S. with album sales totaling $1.1 million as of January.
Record of the Year: “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye, featuring Kimbra
Nominees: “We Are Young,” Fun., featuring Janelle Monáe; “Lonely Boy,” The Black Keys; “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Kelly Clarkson; “Thinkin’ Bout You,” Frank Ocean; “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift
As one of the radio’s chart-toppers last year, “Somebody That I Used to Know” is a relatable, catchy and fun song to music listeners. Thanks to Gotye’s past relationship as inspiration for this single, it is one of the best-selling digital singles of all time selling more than 13 million copies worldwide, while topping the charts nationally in 23 countries.
Song of the Year: “We are Young,” Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost and Nate Ruess songwriters, Fun. with Janelle Monáe performers
Nominees: “The A Team,” Ed Sheeran songwriter and performer; “Adorn,” Miguel Pimentel songwriter and performer; “Call Me Maybe,” Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen and Josh Ramsay songwriters, Jepsen performer; “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Jorgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin and Ali Tamposi songwriters, Kelly Clarkson performer. The Song of the Year category goes to the best-written song.
“We are Young” is written best compared to the other contenders. Topping the Billboard Top 100 charts at No. 1 and still being used in a Taco Bell commercial at Super Bowl XLVII, “We are Young” has proven it is a song that will be remembered. Fun.’s song is a track that, 10 to 15 years down the road, will be considered emblematic of the generation.
Best New Artist: Frank Ocean
Nominees: Alabama Shakes, Fun., Hunter Hayes, The Lumineers
My prediction goes to Frank Ocean for taking home the trophy of Best New Artist. Ocean made a controversial statement with his debut studio album Channel Orange, by openly admitting his first love was of the same sex, which is often stigmatized in the hip-hop community. Not only did he surprise the nation but he also received wide-spread support for many of his statements. Ocean’s album reached No. 2 in the weekly U.S. Billboard 200 charts and sold 131,000 copies in its opening week.
Best Pop Solo Performance: “Set Fire to the Rain [Live],” Adele
Nominees: “Set Fire to the Rain (Live),” Adele; “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Kelly Clarkson; “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen; “Wide Awake,” Katy Perry; “Where Have You Been,” Rihanna
Adele’s single was released in December 2011 and quickly set fire to the charts, reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, U.S. Billboard Adult Pop songs and overall U.S. Billboard Pop Songs. By the end of 2012, “Set Fire to the Rain” was still seated at a strong No. 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts. With Adele’s powerful voice, meaningful lyrics and great live performances, “Set Fire to the Rain” has proven itself a top contender in this category.
Best Country Song: “Springsteen,” Eric Church
Nominees: “Blown Away,” Carrie Underwood; “Cost Of Livin’,” Ronnie Dunn; “Even if it Breaks Your Heart,” Eli Young Band; “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore,” Alan Jackson
Eric Church’s single “Springsteen” is my pick for Best Country Song. As of January, “Springsteen” had sold 2 million copies and hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top U.S. Country Songs chart. Church combines genuine country lyrics with references to his idol Bruce Springsteen. Among many good, strong nominees, I believe Church’s single will reign supreme.
Best Country Album: Four the Record, Miranda Lambert
Nominees: Uncaged, Zac Brown Band; Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes; Living For A Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, Jamey Johnson; The Time Jumpers, The Time Jumpers
Miranda Lambert’s fourth album, Four the Record, hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums with a No. 3 debut on the U.S. Billboard 200. In its first week, Four the Record sold 133,000 copies. Lambert wrote or co-wrote six songs which adds to the popularity. Her album continues to show popularity among fans with singles from the album still debuting. The songs from Four the Record vary in topics which aided its growth.
Best Rock Album: Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen
Nominees: El Camino, The Black Keys; Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay; The 2nd Law, Muse
Wrecking Ball was named best album of 2012 by Rolling Stone magazine. The album debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and within its first week had already sold 196,000 albums. President Barack Obama also helped its popularity by using the song “We Take Care of Our Own” as his top campaign song for the 2012 presidential election. Adding Springsteen’s previous talents and popularity together in his new album, it’s a sure win.
Best Rap Album: Life is Good, Nas
Nominees: Take Care, Drake; Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, Lupe Fiasco; Undun, The Roots; God Forgives, I Don’t, Rick Ross; Based on a T.R.U. Story, 2 Chainz
Life is Good has thus far sold 349,000 copies since its debut as No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 in July. Nas’ eleventh studio album greatly reflects on his personal life and hip-hop experience, which helps make it popular and relatable. Life is Good also peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Top Rap albums but was moved to No. 12 for the year overall. The lyrics are personal and mature to complement the themes on the album, which will likely win Nas Best Rap Album.
Best Song Written for Visual Media: “Safe and Sound” (from “The Hunger Games”), Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars
Nominees: “Abraham’s Daughter” (from “The Hunger Games”), Arcade Fire; “Learn Me Right” (from “Brave”), Birdy with Mumford & Sons; “Let Me Be Your Star” (from “Smash”), Katharine McPhee & Megan Hilty; “Man or Muppet” (From “The Muppets”), Jason Segel & Walter
Taylor Swift reveals a completely different side to her than fans are used to seeing. Pairing with The Civil Wars, the song immediately became popular worldwide. “Safe & Sound” sold 136,000 copies in two days. As of December, 1.4 million copies of the song had been sold. The single hit No. 19 on the Billboard Top Digital Songs chart. The Civil Wars-Swift duo deserves to be recognized for its outstanding song in the visual media category.