But whose names will Admiral Cool J call out? There are some sure bets: Justin Timberlake — who essentially [article id="1701709"]kicked off his comeback[/article] at the 55th Grammys — is sure to be a favorite at the 56th, and the same goes for Robin Thicke and his "Blurred Lines" compadre, Pharrell.
Breakout stars like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Lorde seem like shoo-ins for a spate of nominations, too, and thanks to the Grammy eligibility requirements (only albums or singles released between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013 can be nominated), artists who just missed the deadline for the 55th awards should make big splashes this year ... meaning you can expect plenty of nods for the likes of Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar.
Still, you can never underestimate the wiles of Grammy voters, who always seem to champion a dark horse or two. Can Kendrick's critically lauded [article id="1695944"]good kid, m.A.A.d. city[/article] sneak into a crowded Album of the Year field? Can One Direction convince folks over the age of 12 that they deserve a Best New Artist nod? How many TVs will Kanye break if Yeezus gets shut out? Your guess is as good as mine.
Oh, and speaking of, here are my guesses for the nominees in the Grammy's "Big Four" categories. As in [article id="1698353"]previous years[/article], my accuracy is never guaranteed, but my enthusiasm remains as strong as ever. What can I say? I love LL Cool J.
Album of the Year
» Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
» Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
» Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
» Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city
» Taylor Swift, Red
In reality, four of these seem like no-brainers. Timberlake's 20/20 is the kind of commercially successful, classically influenced album Grammy voters love, Red is the best-selling album released during the eligibility period (and Taylor picked up a courtesy [article id="1698416"]Record of the Year[/article] nom for it at the 55th Grammys) and though Unorthodox Jukebox wasn't released until December, it's sold well, and Mars already has one [article id="1675194"]AOTY nod to his name. Random Access Memories[/article] sold well, had a huge single, and was critically loved. My fifth pick is a bit of a wild-card: Kendrick Lamar's good kid, which gives voters a chance at honoring what has come to be recognized as one of the most important hip-hop albums of recent times.
If, for some reason, one of those five don't make it, I wouldn't be surprised if Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist gets a nomination here (and it would definitely replace Kendrick if it does). As for longshots? How about Vampire Weekend's [article id="1707302"]Modern Vampires of the City,[/article] Elton John's The Diving Board or West's [article id="1709191"]Yeezus.[/article] Sorry, Kanye.
Record of the Year
» Adele, "Skyfall"
» Daft Punk, "Get Lucky"
» Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
» Lorde, "Royals"
» Robin Thicke, "Blurred Lines"
The award given to the artist, producer, engineer and/or mixer of a track, this one always tends to honor songs that skew towards "classic" compositions, which probably explains why no hip-hop song has ever won Record of the Year. JT's [article id="1704004"]"Mirrors"[/article] and Thicke's [article id="1709810"]"Blurred Lines"[/article] seem like locks, given both their sentiment and their sensibilities, and Daft Punk will likely ride Nile Rodgers supporters to a nod too. Lorde's [article id="1711967"]"Royals"[/article] fits here, too, if only because voters might be hesitant to shower an artist this young with so may awards. In the fifth slot, I'm taking Adele's "Skyfall," because it's already won a Golden Globe, a Brit and an Oscar (and Adele's [article id="1679279"]got some history[/article] with Grammy voters)
I can't begin to understand the actual release dates behind Macklemore & Lewis' "Thrift Shop" and "Same Love" — they came out in 2012, but were subsequently re-released, and both keep getting mentioned as favorites — so let's just consider them as sneaky picks here, possibly knocking out Adele. It's the Grammys ... it's not supposed to make sense.
Song of the Year
» Bruno Mars, "Locked Out Of Heaven"
» Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
» Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Can't Hold Us"
» Robin Thicke, "Blurred Lines"
» Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"
The award given to the actual songwriter (or songwriters), in recent years, it's become one of the toughest to predict — last year Ed Sheeran's "The A Team" and Miguel's "Adorn" were nominated alongside ubiquitous hits like "Call Me Maybe" and "We Are Young." It's also where voters tend to give some shine to the year's most popular songs, which means #1 hits "Blurred Lines," "Can't Hold Us" (which originally came out in 2011 but was re-released during this year's eligibility period), [article id="1698888"]"I Knew You Were Trouble"[/article] and [article id="1695581"]"Locked Out Of Heaven"[/article] all seem like safe bets. In the fifth slot, I'm taking JT once again, mostly because "Mirrors" just feels like a SOTY nominee.
Of course, don't discount Pink and Nate Ruess' sleeper hit [article id="1700614"]"Just Give Me a Reason"[/article] or Katy Perry's [article id="1712162"]"Roar"[/article] either. Dark horse contenders include Lady Antebellum's "Downtown," or Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness." Or, who knows, perhaps Fun.'s [article id="1696110"]"Carry On"[/article] earns them a second-straight nomination here.
Best New Artist
» Imagine Dragons
» Kacey Musgraves
» Kendrick Lamar
» Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
There are roughly 10 artists who have a legitimate shot at scoring a BNA nom, though Lorde, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick seem to be the consensus faves. For my other two picks, I'm taking the year's biggest (and basically only) rock breakout, Imagine Dragons, and Country upstart Kacey Musgraves, whose Same Trailer Different Park album made plenty of noise in Nashville. Who cares if it's her fourth full-length? As recent winners like Fun. and Bon Iver prove, "New" is a relative term to Grammy voters.
Like I said, the BNA race is plenty deep, and it wouldn't surprise me to see someone like Ariana Grande, Emile Sande, Florida Georgia Line — or even One Direction! — get a nomination. Longer shots include "American Idol" champ Phillip Phillips (hey, Carrie Underwood won this award once upon a time) or even L.A. indie act Haim, who just made the eligibility cut-off with their much-loved debut, Days Are Gone.