Every year has one: a runaway Grammy nominee who sweeps through the top categories and appears to be the juggernaut to beat. This year is no different. While Kanye West is the top nominee with seven nods, Adele is close behind with six nods, including bids in all of the top categories.
And while we won't know whose name will be called until Sunday night's show, a look at the Record of the Year race is a fine example of why the British songbird might need some help packing her hardware up for the trip back home.
Unless you spent time on another planet this year, and even if you did, chances are you heard Adele's breakthrough hit, "Rolling in the Deep" a dozen or (many) more times. The stirring soul pop gem was the perfect showcase for the singer's powerful, richly textured voice, and its ebb-and-flow dynamic packed a relationship's worth of drama into 3:48. In addition to selling nearly 6 million copies of her album, 21, she also moved nearly 6 million copies of the "Deep" single, earning credit for helping to (slightly) pull the long-moribund U.S. record business out of a decade-long slump.
But she has some formidable opponents in the Record of the Year race, one of the most prestigious awards handed out, which frequently honors the year's most successful or notable songs. That might explain how Best New Artist nominee [artist id="3272445"]Bon Iver[/artist] got into the mix with the ethereal "Holocene." Leader Justin Vernon broke through to the mainstream in 2011 thanks to his own folk-and-AutoTuned compositions, as well as work with West.
If "Rolling in the Deep" was inescapable, then [artist id="3209533"]Mumford & Sons[/artist]' "The Cave" was just a few notches below ubiquitous, but still all over the place. The banjo-picking, foot-stomping ditty from the English folk revivalists helped cement their status as a force to be reckoned with, while serving as a nice follow-up to their salty breakthrough, "Little Lion Man." It also helped keep their multi-platinum debut, Sigh No More, a fixture on the Billboard 200 and iTunes charts throughout the year.
Somewhere in between were two huge hits for [artist id="3274550"]Katy Perry[/artist] and [artist id="3528710"]Bruno Mars[/artist] that put a stranglehold on pop radio for much of the spring and summer. Perry's inspiring "Firework" helped the singer reach elite company on the Billboard charts on her way to landing six top-five hits from a single album, not to mention empowering her young fans to embrace their unique identities.
Any way you slice it, it was also a huge year for Mars, who also garnered six Grammy noms for his Doo-Wops & Hooligans debut as well as his producing/songwriting work on songs by other artists. But it was the sweat and toil he put into the endless love tune "Grenade" that made all that hard work pay off.
"[We] worked extremely hard on 'Grenade.' That was the hardest song on the whole album to finish because we knew we had something, and to get all that emotion out," Mars told MTV News in December. "I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we're really happy that that song is being recognized because that's like our trophy song."
Chaos! Profanity! Wardrobe malfunctions! Don't miss our Grammy red-carpet live stream this Sunday, February 12, for a full three hours of mayhem, starting at 5 p.m. ET on MTV.com. And the fun doesn't end Sunday: MTV News has you covered for all the Grammy red-carpet fashion, Grammy winners and Grammy news until the hangover wears off!