The 2012 Grammy Nominations: Thoughts and Predictions

This year the amount of categories at the Grammy Awards has been drastically cut from over 100 to 78, in an effort to restructure the awards. The general consensus is, 78 is still plenty. This year is a great year for Kanye West, who is riding a top of the pile with 7 nominations, and he’s closely followed by Adele, Foo Fighters and Bruno Mars. As per usual with the Grammys, there are some odd choices.

Beyonce, who has 13 Grammys to her name from her solo career alone, has only 2 nominations – one for a collaboration with Andre 3000 and one for a tour DVD; this means her album 4 and its singles ‘Best Thing I Never Had’, ‘Run The World’ and ‘I Was Here’ have all been ignored. It’s worth noting that her first 3 albums all won ‘Best Contemporary R&B Album’, and despite that category being renamed, she hasn’t even been nominated this time. 4 was perhaps Beyonce’s weakest release to date, but surely it deserves a tad more recognition than it has? 

Of the successful pop albums this year, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars fare well (especially considering this is the second year of promotion for Teenage Dreams); but Rihanna is considered only for the highly competitive and prestigious ‘Album of the Year’, with the host of successful singles she released from Loud going unrecognised in the other categories.And then there’s Lady Gaga. It’s only been 6 months since she released Born This Way, calling it ‘the album of a generation’, and her campaign has been tireless, but she’s only received 3 nominations, and they’re in categories so tough, she hasn’t got a strong hold on any of them. Adele, whose promotion this year was mostly done through her performance at the BRIT Awards, is likely to outshine her in all of her nominated categories. However, it could be partly Gaga’s own fault. She’s had strong singles – ‘Born This Way’, ‘Judas’, ‘The Edge Of Glory’, ‘You and I’, ‘Marry The Night’ – but a leaked internet document claimed her record company had only presented ‘Judas’ and ‘You and I’ for consideration in the individual song categories – perhaps to spread the wealth around her less successful tracks. As a result, she has suffered – the only song nominated is ‘You and I’ in the Best Pop Performance category, and she’s unlikely to win that over strong vocal performances by Adele, Bruno Mars, Pink and Katy Perry. Perhaps you should have submitted ‘The Edge Of Glory’ after all Gaga…

Record of the Year

I predict an Adele sweep win this year, and this one will probably go to her whether she wins big or not – ‘Rolling In The Deep’ has had phenomenal success, which far surpasses any of the other tracks. She could have won this category with ‘Someone Like You’ also.

Album of the Year

This is arguably the most coveted prize in music. It’s been given to some classic albums in the past (Thriller, Graceland, Ray Of Light), but it has also been awarded to some strange works (the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, or Herbie Hancock’s cover album of Joni Mitchell songs). It nearly always goes for musical merit as opposed to commercial success – and I’d hazard a guess that because of it’s style, this award would have been Adele’s whether this album had blown up sales-wise or not. I would predict that in the eyes of the judges Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Rihanna are all on a par with one another, with Foo Fighters as an alternative choice, with Adele standing out on her own.


Song of the Year

Whereas ‘Record Of The Year’ is a commercial prize, this one is for the songwriter. All of them have multiple writers, including a Cee-Lo Green credit on ‘Grenade’ – which could be Bruno Mars’ big win, but ultimately I think Adele and Paul Epworth will be sharing this one for ‘Rolling in the Deep’.


Best New Artist

It’s been her year, and she’s one of the freshest acts to hit hip hop and r’n’b for a long time, so this one is almost certain to go to Miss Nicki Minaj.

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

I would almost certainly say that as the follow up to his highly successful first Duets album, and with a little bit of glamour by way of Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, good old Tony Bennett has this one in the bag.

Best Pop Solo Performance

This category is a merger of two awards celebrating male and female pop vocal performances. As a result, it’s possibly one of the strongest categories in the list. 5 of the biggest stars of the year, 5 of the biggest hits of the year, and 5 killer vocal performances. I would imagine that if Adele doesn’t win this (which she probably will), it will go to Bruno Mars or Katy Perry, as both these songs are nominated elsewhere also, and are clearly strong contenders.


Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Coldplay have a strong tradition with this award, and its Rock equivalent; ‘Paradise’ is full of all the choral swoops that made their previous singles prize winners. However, the success of Tony Bennett’s Duets album, and the obvious sentiment attached to this track – Amy Winehouse’s last recording – means this could very well be given as a posthumous honour for her.

Best Pop Vocal Album

I would imagine this is a toss up between Adele and Lady Gaga. Indeed, it’s probably the only one Gaga has a good chance of winning – Adele sits on the fringes of the term pop, bordering on soul, alternative, singer-songwriter and acoustic territory. Pop is Gaga territory. And her vocals aren’t bad either…

Best Rock Performance

Because of their wealth of nominations across the board, it’s likely that Foo Fighters and Mumford & Sons will dominate the rock categories. Despite Coldplay’s modest appearance in the nomination list it is worth noting that their new album ‘Mylo Xyloto’, which has been enjoyed huge critical praise, was released just after the eligibility period – so look out for its arrival at fruition next year.

Best R&B Album

Suffering from a severe lack of Beyonce…or from any hit albums in general. The Best R&B Album category is usually thriving, and shared a lot of cross over with Album of the Year over the past decade. Is this a sign of the current state of R&B, or just a bad year? The winner is anyone’s guess – I doubt this presentation will even make the telecast this year.

Best Rap Album

Both Watch The Throne and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy have been loaded with critical praise this year, and included as favourites by Rolling Stone and TIME, but it’s difficult to tell which will come up trumps. One thing for sure, Kanye should go home happy. And if he doesn’t, you’ll certainly hear about it…

Best Country Album

The country categories sometimes appear unusual to international audiences, but never forget how important this music is to the vast majority of Americans. With 5 million records sold, and no less than 4 Grammys for her last album, this one looks set to go to Taylor Swift.

Best Musical Theater Album

Despite the success of the two revivals, this is likely to go to ‘The Book of Mormon’, a brand new musical written by the creators of South Park, which has still to tour the U.S. and make its West End debut.

***

The 54th Grammy Awards take place on 12th February 2012 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.

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