Get Ready for the Grammys

Tribune News Service
Taylor Swift performs during her 1989 World Tour at Petco Park on Aug. 29, 2015 in San Diego, Calif. (KC Alfred/Zuma Press/TNS)

Jacob Jardel
Sports Editor
@JJardel_Writing

Music’s biggest night will come alive on the small screens when the 58th Annual Grammy Awards hits CBS on Feb. 15.
Many of the recording industries iconic names are up for nomination in numerous categories. But who will come away with the golden gramophones this year? Here are a few predictions for the Big Four awards.

Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett, James Bay, Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly, Meghan Trainor:
Winning this category is as potentially ominous as it is prestigious, with some candidates like Starland Vocal Band or Paula Cole failing to garner mass fame afterward. This year’s candidates, however, have promising hopes.
Trainor has been riding the pop wave with catchy hits, while Bay is a little bit of Ed Sheeran mixed with the aura of Jack White. However, the real contest comes with country newcomer Hunt, idiosyncratic indie rocker Barnett, and genre fuser Kelly.
If the number of country nominations correlates to country wins, expect Hunt to nab the win. Otherwise, it looks be a tossup between Kelly and Barnett.
Gut feeling says it goes to Courtney Barnett.

Song of the Year
“Really Love”; “Uptown Funk”; “Thinking Out Loud”; “Blank Space”; “Can’t Feel My Face”:
This award goes to the best performance of an individual song, and these tracks are without a doubt some of the biggest this year.
The dark horse for the category is arguably “Really Love,” with the other four tracks receiving abundant airplay since their respective releases. In truth, D’Angelo’s track does well to incorporate smooth guitar into the distinct Black Messiah sound.
But the prevalence of the other four tracks in the cultural forefront may make it hard for the track to win. “Thinking Out Loud” was one of the hallmark tracks from Sheeran’s album “x,” while “Can’t Feel My Face” brought a new pop sound to The Weeknd’s brand of R&B. When it comes down to it, though, the matchup will likely be between the pop mastery of “Blank Space” and the old school “Uptown Funk.”
Nostalgia will probably win out in the form of “Uptown Funk.”

Record of the Year
“Alright”; “Blank Space”; “Girl Crush”; “See You Again”; “Thinking Out Loud”:
Not to be confused with the previous category, this award honors the songwriters and songwriting prowess of the different tracks. Needless to say, this field is pretty deep, with topics running the gamut of anger, mania, longing, sadness and love.
“Thinking Out Loud” has listeners wanting to hold their lovers close, while “Girl Crush” has them longing for the ones who left for somebody new. Both do so very effectively. Meanwhile, “See You Again” focuses on a different sadness that comes with losing a dear friend.
However, the two biggest tracks from this year are arguably the tongue-in-cheek “Blank Space” and the socially conscious “Alright.” Both are excellently written in part by two of music’s brightest stars. It will be a tight heat between the two of them.
In one of the two toughest races of the night, “Blank Space” may just edge out a win.

Album of the Year
“Sound & Color”; “To Pimp a Butterfly”; “Traveller”; “1989”; “Beauty Behind the Madness”:
Of all the award categories, this one is arguably the most prestigious. According to some people, given its recent history, it is also one of the most unpredictable.
Alabama Shakes came out with a strong sophomore effort with their bluesy rock opus “Sound & Color,” while The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” melded his classic R&B sound with hints of pop to make it a formidable competitor.
Chris Stapleton headlines his genre’s banner year with “Traveller,” a seamless mesh of old school and modern country. This album is a dark horse candidate in the group. Following the formula for Best New Artist, if country nomination correlates with win, this one may win.
That said, once again, Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift will likely duke it out in a tight race with the two biggest albums of the year. “To Pimp a Butterfly” is the modern great American hip-hop album. “1989” is the quintessential pop album. Both have garnered mass praise from critics and fans alike.
If the Grammy track record with hip-hop albums is any indicator, “1989” is just barely more likely to get the win.

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