Lorde's "Royals"is the leading candidate for Record of the Year, with Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" close behind.
And we're headed for one of the most competitive Best New Artist races in years. Lorde and Imagine Dragons are likely to square off against Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves, and Florida Georgia Line.
The eligibility year closed on Sept. 30. The awards will be presented on Jan. 26 at Staples Center.
Let's take a closer look at the "Big Four" categories.
Album of the Year
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's debut, The Heist, is also a strong contender, on the strength of two #1 singles and the heartfelt and timely "Same Love."
Bruno Mars's sophomore album, Unorthodox Jukebox, alsohas a good shot. Mars's debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, was nominated in this category two years ago.
The strongest alternates include Kacey Musgraves's Same Trailer Different Park, Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Lorde's Pure Heroine, Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, Florida Georgia Line's Here’s to the Good Times, Blake Shelton's Based on a True Story,Jay Z's Magna Carta…Holy Grail,HAIM's Days Are Gone, and the Civil Wars' eponymous sophomore album.
Record of the Year
The genial "Thrift Shop"by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz is a hip-hop hit with universal appeal.
The exquisitely tailored “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink featuring Nate Ruess embodies the Grammy sound so completely that it could have been designed in a Grammy lab. I think all three will make it.
Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise," which was voted Single of the Year at the CMAs, is also a strong contender. (I think it would have had a better shot if the remix featuring Nelly had been eligible. That genre-blending aspect would have given it a little extra import.)
Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors," the biggest hit from The 20/20 Experience, is very strong. But it will be forced to compete with Jay Z's "Holy Grail," which features Timberlake. They may split JT's votes.
"Get Lucky" by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams is an irresistible throwback to the mirror-ball era, but the panelists may decide that it's a little retro for the top prize.
You can never rule out Adele, whose "Skyfall" won an Oscar. But the panelists may decide to give her a year off. She's a new mom and all.
Other possibilities include Katy Perry's "Roar," “Stay” by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko, Taylor Swift's, "I Knew You Were Trouble," Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball," Lady Gaga's "Applause," Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel," and Drake's "Started from the Bottom."
Song of the Year
But Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will be represented by "Same Love" instead of "Thrift Shop" (which wasn't entered for Song of the Year). "Same Love," which the duo co-wrote with Mary Lambert (who is also featured on the record) puts a personal spin on the hot-button issue of gay marriage equality.
"Mirrors" (Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, James Fauntleroy & Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon) may make it here, even if it comes up short for Record of the Year. Timberlake won't have to compete with himself in this category: "Holy Grail" wasn't eligible because it contains a sample.
Other strong candidates include "Cruise" (Florida Georgia Line & Joey Moi, Chase Rice & Jesse Rice), "Wake Me Up" (Avicii, Aloe Blacc, Mike Eizinger & Ash Pournouri), "Locked Out of Heaven" (Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence & Ari Levine), "Stay" (Mikky Ekko & Justin Parker), "Get Lucky" (Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers & Pharrell Williams), "Blurred Lines" (Robin Thicke & Pharrell Williams), "Hold On, We're Going Home" (Drake, P. Jefferies, Majid Al Maskati, Noah Shebib & Jordan Ullman),"Wrecking Ball" (Lukasz Gottwald, Stephan Moccio, Maureen "Mozella" McDonald, Sacha Skarbek & Henry Walter), "I Drive Your Truck" (Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington & Jimmy Yeary) and "Skyfall" (Adele & Paul Epworth).
Best New Artist
I already told you who I think the final five will be. Top runners-up include Ed Sheeran (he was nominated for Song of the Year last year for "The A Team"), HAIM (their sales have yet to match their tremendous press), Emeli Sande (again, sales haven't matched the buzz), Kendrick Lamar (the Grammys need rap cred), Of Monsters and Men, and Phillip Phillips.
Other possibilities include the Neighborhood, Ariana Grande, Tamar Braxton, Bastille, Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Rocky, and the Weeknd.
Note: In coming days, we'll take a closer look at the likely nominees in the most popular fields: Pop, Dance/Electronica and Traditional Pop; Rock/Alternative; R&B; Rap; and Country.
Who and what do you think will be nominated? Weigh in below.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Justin Timberlake
- Imagine Dragons
- Ryan Lewis
- Florida Georgia Line