We'll admit one thing off the bat: We can't say for sure who'll top the Grammy nominations heap when the 2015 Grammy nominees are announced. Will it be Beyoncé's big year... um, again? (Because remember 2004 when she won FIVE Grammys? No? See below. And remember how she has 17 Grammys to her name already?)
Will Sam Smith steal her thunder?
Or will Eminem add to the baker's dozen on his mantel?
What we do know is that we'll have to wait until Friday, December 5 to find out who the nominees are because, in a twist on tradition, this year, the Recording Academy is replacing its usual nominations special with a one-hour "A Very GRAMMY Christmas" special, with performances by Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams and Ariana Grande in addition to the big nominee reveal.
In the meantime, we've been crunching the numbers and flipping through our playlists to try to crystal ball who'll dominate the 57th annual Grammy Awards, which will unfold on Feb. 8, 2015. There are always plenty of Grammy surprises and snubs, but the one thing you can almost guarantee is that, thanks to her format-smashing surprise album, Beyoncé's name will be likely called a number of times.
As we await the official word on 2015 Grammy nominees, my fellow MTV News Grammy expert Gil Kaufman and I will be giving you our he-said/she-said take on who might make the short list for the Big Four categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.
Album of the Year Grammy Nominees
It's usually a detriment to your chances to release a major album late in the year, because that gives Grammy voters nine months to forget you. But it's going to be hard to overlook Beyoncé's shock "visual" album.
That said, Grammy darling Eminem's massive-selling The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is a threat thanks to his longevity and commercial appeal, as is newcomer Sam Smith's soulful In The Lonely Hour, Grammy magnet. And seven-time Grammy winner Pharrell's GIRL, Ed Sheeran's commercial and artistic triumph X and Jack White's musically adventurous second solo album, Lazaretto. -- Gil Kaufman
She was the lady that launched a thousand memes. Her name has become synonymous with the surprise album release. There's really no way Beyoncé's self-titled surprise record won't be repeated infinitely at the Grammy nominations and Grammy night. Also, it contains more jams than a particularly zealous elderly woman's pantry.
Speaking of kick-ass women, Grammy folks always like to surprise us with one or two less-than-mainstream nominations, and I think this might be St. Vincent's year to shine with her self-titled effort. Her singular voice and Nirvana-worthy guitar skills earned her everything from a guest spot with the Seattle band at 2014's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to a slot on "Saturday Night Live" -- a Grammy nomination would round those honors out nicely.
As for the boys, I'm feeling like Sam Smith's name will be all over this year's awards, starting with a Best Album nod for In The Lonely Hour, and Eminem will hit the stage again for his Mathers LP 2. And there are a lot of rock bands who could potentially nab that final spot on the ballot -- including The Black Keys, who we'll get to later -- but I'm going to go with Jack White's out-there Lazaretto for my last pick. The special edition vinyl did include a hologram, after all. -- Brenna Ehrlich
Record of the Year Grammy Nominees
The Grammy for the performer, producer and engineer on a song usually goes pretty middle-of-the-road, so there's virtually no way Idina Menzel's "Frozen" smash "Let It Go" won't get a Grammy nod (and probably the win). Sam Smith is almost a lock for his big emotional breakthrough hit, "Stay With Me" and Beyoncé is also a likely contender for her hookup hit "Drunk In Love" with hubby (and partner in crime) Jay Z.
If Pharrell doesn't sneak in there with his super-smash "Happy," it'll be a major upset. And though she doesn't play the fame game at all, Sia's "Chandelier" is the kind of big, booming song Grammy voters eat up. In which case, nice job Bastille -- "Pompeii" is probably gonna be on the list too. -- Kaufman
Since "Frozen" should obviously land on somewhere on the list -- given its domination of the charts and the hearts of children the world over -- I'll give my first spot on the Record of the Year list to Menzel's "Let It Go." (Perhaps if it takes home a Grammy we can all stop making parody videos? One can dream.)
Next up, I'm going to give a nod to Sia's "Chandelier," the song that officially brought the prolific songwriter into the mainstream light -- even if she continues to hide her face. And, given that this has been the year that the ladies officially took over the charts, I'm going to throw a curveball in there next and predict that Charli XCX's "The Fault In Our Stars" hit, "Boom Clap," will also get a mention -- but, then, I'm expecting still more great things from her soon-to-be-released Sucker and could be biased.
As for the dudes, like I said, Sam Smith is basically a Grammy in human form, so I'm guessing he'll get a mention for weep fest "Stay With Me," standing in sharp contrast to Pharrell's infectious "Happy." -- Ehrlich
Song of the Year Grammy Nominees
The songwriter (or songwriters) award is typically one of the few places where Grammy voters can get a bit weird, but Beyoncé's "Drunk In Love," Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," "Chandelier" and Ed Sheeran's "Sing" will probably land on the list.
Who might spoil on this one? Don't be surprised if the sentimental "Say Something" by A Great Big World (featuring Christina Aguilera) is on the list, along with Vance Joy's folky "Riptide." And even though Taylor Swift's 1989 was released too late for eligibility, "Shake It Off" squeaked in just in time, so that might be your winner. -- Kaufman
Like Gil, I'm predicting a few crossovers when it comes to Best Song and Best Record -- namely Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" (start dusting off on your mantel, sir) and Sia's "Chandelier." It's also about time that Beyoncé came back to play, and, in this case, I'm wagering she'll get a bid for her powerful feminist-tinged track "***Flawless." (Would that mean Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whom she sampled, would get a mention, too?)
As for newer stock, I'm guessing the Black Keys will get more than a few noms for their record Turn Blue, perhaps for the trippy track "Fever" (although I'm guessing that said fever won't be cured with a shiny trophy this time around). And, just to keep it interesting, I'll round it out with Against Me!'s powerful, critically acclaimed track "Transgender Dysphoria Blues." -- Ehrlich
Best New Artist Grammy Nominees
Who's a lock this year? Sam Smith, Ariana Grande (because her second album broke things huge), Charli XCX, Iggy Azalea and, for the youths, 5 Seconds of Summer. Who could surprise you? "Rude" reggae-popsters MAGIC!, who have a thin resume, but the kind of huge success Grammy voters eat up. And, maybe, just maybe, Black Hippy spitter Schoolboy Q. -- Kaufman
Let's start with the annual wildcard. Who will be this year's Bon Iver (aka the talented act that doesn't quite fit in and is sure to confuse viewers the world over)? I'm going to a hazard a guess with the fiercely talented -- yet decidedly offbeat -- FKA Twigs, who released her stellar debut LP 1 this year.
Charli XCX and Bleachers could also be included, which could make it a satisfyingly successful year for alt-tinged pop rock. As for the more "known" acts -- I'm guessing it will be a battle to the death between Ariana Grande and, wait for it... Sam Smith. -- Ehrlich
Who do you think will earn 2015 Grammy nominees? Let us know in the comments below!