2015 Grammy Awards: Predictions and Proclamations

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On Sunday night, the 57th Annual Grammy Awards will air on CBS. We’ll have live updates from the ground at the Staples Center and real-time results beginning at 8 p.m. EST, but for now, it’s that time when we look at the nominees in some of the major categories and weigh in with our predictions and proclamations on who will win, who should win and who got snubbed. Take a peek at our thoughts below, and be sure to check back on Sunday for all our live coverage of the ceremony.

Record of the Year
“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX
“Chandelier,” Sia
“Stay With Me,” Sam Smith
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift 
“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor

Who Will Win: Sam Smith
Who Should Win: Sia
Who Got Snubbed: Sylvan Esso, “Hey Mami”

This is actually a pretty stacked category—at least in terms of what Grammy voters typically go for. Any one of these stands a pretty solid chance to win, but ultimately Sam Smith’s soaring sad-guy ballad has everything the Grammy voters love to reward: sales, strong vocals, breakout star power.

Album of the Year
Beck, Morning Phase
Beyoncé, Beyoncé
Ed Sheeran, X
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour
Pharrell Williams, Girl

Who Will Win: Beyonce 
Who Should Win: Beck
Who Got Snubbed: The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream

I wasn’t sure I needed an album like Lost in the Dream until I heard it. Even then, it took a few listens before I could articulate why it scans the way it does: Wistful but not resigned, invigorated but not wide-awake. As its title suggests, Lost in the Dream often trades in gaseous, impressionistic hues, and a cavalry of affected guitar, synth, lap steel, sax, harmonica and piano tracks gel into luminescent aural sunsets at several points throughout the album. These ambient drifts bookend Adam Granduciel’s tender songs, the lyrics of which also tend to reveal themselves in refracted ways. Indeed, it can be difficult to discern more than a handful of lines in succession—Granduciel’s feathery, mostly reserved delivery sees to this, as well as the tonnage of reverb baked into the mix—but listeners can’t miss the sense of melancholy and anxiety woven into nearly every second of Lost’s hour-plus run-time. “Am I alone here, living in darkness?” he asks on “Eyes to the Wind,” his questioning telling all in a handful of words.—Ryan Burleson

Song of the Year
“All About That Bass,” Kevin Kadish & Meghan Trainor, songwriters (Meghan Trainor)
“Chandelier,” Sia Furler & Jesse Shatkin, songwriters (Sia)
“Shake It Off,” Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
“Stay With Me,” James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith, songwriters (Sam Smith)
“Take Me To Church,” Andrew Hozier-Byrne, songwriter (Hozier)

Who Will Win: Megan Trainor
Who Should Win: Sia
Who Got Snubbed: Sylvan Esso, “Hey Mami”

The Song of the Year should be one that makes you remember exactly where you were and how you felt when it first graced your senses. It should conjure up even the smallest details of that original moment. For me, the first time I heard Sylvan Esso’s “Hey Mami” was on a cross-country drive on Highway 10, in that dreary stretch of Texas that has absolutely nothing to look at for eight hours. I popped in a pre-release stream of Sylvan Esso’s self-titled debut and was greeted to singer Amelia Meath’s gentle coo singing “Hey Mami, I know what you want Mami…Hey Mami, I know what you want Mami…” Her comfortably settling vocal intro felt similar to the album’s first single, “Coffee,” but about a minute and a half later, something happened. Producer Nick Sanborn dropped an explosive bass-boom to accompany Meath’s voice, and everything I thought I knew about Sylvan Esso up to that point was thrown out the window as my energy was rattled into motion and elation. These are the beautiful and lasting moments in music; the one’s you don’t expect, yet were everything you ever wanted.—Adrian Spinelli

Best New Artist
Iggy Azalea
Bastille
Brandy Clark
Haim 
Sam Smith

Who Will Win: Sam Smith
Who Should Win: Haim 
Who Got Snubbed: Alvvays

Sam Smith feels like a lock here, but it’d be nice to see Haim take this one home. As Sarah McCarty wrote when we profiled the band in 2013, “They have the soul of R&B and the ethos of a jamband—it’s all about the live show. They play songs live before recording them to get a feel for how they want it to sound. They keep in mind the audience and what it would sound like hearing lyrics sang back to them in concert. They give 100 percent at every show, welcoming fans into their exclusive Gaggle of Gals (the name they gave their group of ‘lady friends and some dudes’ in L.A.). They consider Haim a live band, first and foremost.”

Best Pop Vocal Album
Coldplay, Ghost Stories
Miley Cyrus, Bangerz
Ariana Grande, My Everything
Katy Perry, Prism
Ed Sheeran, X
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

Who Will Win: Ariana Grande
Who Should Win: Sam Smith
Who Got Snubbed: Beyoncé, Beyoncé

Yes, Beyoncé’s album is nominated in the “Urban Contemporary” category (or, more accurately, the “Black Artists Old White Grammy Voters Don’t Know What to Do With” category), but it feels more than a little icky that the world’s biggest pop star be relegated to the smaller category that, since its introduction two years ago, has felt confusing and maybe a little racist. Will we ever see Taylor Swift nominated in the Urban Contemporary category now that she lives in New York and has shifted away from country sounds? Absolutely not, because “urban” is a euphemism, and it’s time to get rid of it and let Queen B reign over the pop categories.

Best Rock Album
Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams
Beck, Morning Phase
The Black Keys, Turn Blue
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye
U2, Songs of Innocence

Who Will Win: U2 
Who Should Win: Beck
Who Got Snubbed: The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream

No one expected Beck to return from a six-year absence from traditional recording with an album that reflected the time of inactivity. In fact, the word is that Beck has a number of albums ready to go. A single Beck album that reflected six years of work would be a monstrosity, that much creative energy too large to foster. As promised by the singer, Morning Phase follows in the footsteps of the classic Sea Change, with Beck embracing heartache and emotional stakes, this time with the light at the end of the tunnel much brighter, much more road-worn. It’s a look that suits him. Morning Phase is a comeback story, that emergence from the water and that first breath taken with the gusto of someone knowing they are truly alive. It is a beautiful record, straddling that line between clean and bare.—Philip Cosores

Best Alternative Music Album
Alt-J, This is All Yours
Arcade Fire, Reflektor
Cage the Elephant, Melophobia
St. Vincent, St. Vincent
Jack White, Lazaretto

Who Will Win: Jack White 
Who Should Win: St. Vincent 
Who Got Snubbed: Sylvan Esso, Sylvan Esso

Though St. Vincent is the adventurous songwriter’s fourth album, posterity and its fickle memory may find a way to boil it down to Clark’s true ascension point. Because this is the first time we’ve seen and heard her so completely fearless, so completely tapped into her potential and so completely set apart from her peers. And she knows that as well as us.The opener “Rattlesnake” lifts off with a lone jittery synth, which gives way to a flange-drenched rhythmic stomp and the warble of fleeting auxiliary noise, ending in a blistering cascade of multi-tracked shredding courtesy of Clark, a self-professed “pedal nerd.” The effect, as with most of the album, is somehow both steely and emotionally rich. Throughout St. Vincent, Clark juggles the two approaches masterfully, teasing the brain with virtuoso acrobatics while glaring straight at the heart with the overall power of the thing.—Ryan Burleson

Best Rap Album
Iggy Azalea, The New Classic
Childish Gambino, Because the Internet
Common, Nobody’s Smiling
Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP2
Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron
Wiz Khalifa, Blacc Hollywood

Who Will Win: Iggy Azalea
Who Should Win: Childish Gambino 
Who Got Snubbed: Rick Ross, Mastermind

This is a tough one because the best rap album of 2014—hell, one of the best albums of 2014, period—Run the Jewels’ RTJ2, was released after this year’s Grammy eligibility period was already over, which means we’ll have to wait until next year to see if Killer Mike and El-P will be honored for their excellent work. But please, please, Academy: just don’t let this one go to Iggy Azalea.

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