Don't get us wrong; we'll certainly be pulling for the likes of Fun. and Frank Ocean when the awards are handed out on February 10, but it's never too early to begin thinking about next year's Grammys — the 56th — set for February 2014. Blame it on Twitter or something, but our attention spans are just that short these days.
So while you digest (and debate) this year's list of nominees, we're already handicapping the field for the 56th Grammys ... some released after September 30 of this year (the cut-off date for eligibility at the 55th awards), others with no firm release date to speak of. Because, hey, we figured we'd get a jump on things. Mayan Apocalypse notwithstanding, here's who we see having a very big night ... 14 months from now.
Alicia Keys, Girl on Fire: It's currently the #1 album in the country and Keys is certainly no stranger to Grammy victories (she's already got 14 golden gramophones at home), but Fire didn't exactly set critics or fans ablaze. Still, with her pedigree, it's hard to think Keys won't be up for some hardware next year.
Beyonce's Untitled Fifth Album: Okay, we don't know a whole lot about it (but according to the-Dream, we might be getting a taste of it by February), and, as you are probably aware, Bey has long been a favorite amongst Grammy voters — with her biggest triumph to date coming in 2009, when she won Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)." At the very least, given her total dominance of the category, Beyonce's a shoo-in for some R&B nods at the 2014 show.
The Black Keys' Untitled Eighth Studio Album: Their El Camino just nabbed an Album of the Year nod, and first single "Lonely Boy" is up for Record of the Year. They might not win any of those awards, but there's definitely the feeling that voters are finally rewarding them for a decade spent slogging it out in the trenches. Will their next album (which they're already working on) be the one to put them over the top?
Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox: The album on which Mars positively goes for it, and given that he's already proven to be a favorite amongst Academy voters (he racked up six nominations last year, including nods for Album, Record and Song of the Year) he could be richly awarded at the 56th Grammys. A lot of that depends on Jukebox's commercial appeal, but if first single "Locked Out Of Heaven" is any indication, he's well on his way already.
Eminem's Untitled Eighth Studio Album: He announced it was coming with a baseball cap, and Em is reportedly working feverishly to finish the follow-up to 2010's Recovery. That disc earned him yet another Album of the Year nomination, and though he's yet to win in the category, he does have 13 Grammys to his credit. And surely, this one will only add to his collection, if not in AOTY, then in the Rap categories for certain.
Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city: It missed the deadline for this Grammy cycle, but Lamar's universally acclaimed major-label debut seems on track to join the likes of Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, Kanye West's College Dropout and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill at next year's Grammys as other hip-hop bows to earn Album of the Year nominations. The only thing standing in its way is whether or not Lamar can keep the momentum going for a calendar year.
Lady Gaga, ARTPOP: In a lot of ways, it's shaping up to be a make-or-break album for Gaga, and given early reports that she might make it a double-volume affair, voters could reward her ambition with a slew of nominations ... meaning that ARTPOP could finally be the one to bring the Mother Monster the award for Album of the Year. And given that she's working with DJ/producers like Zedd, noms in the Dance and Pop categories seem like certainties too.
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter V: The third installment of his Carter series made him the most-nominated artist going in to the 51st Grammy awards, earning eight total nods (including one for Album of the Year). He's spent much of the time since adrift (or in prison), but there's a growing feeling that Tha Carter V might be a triumphant return to form ... especially since Weezy himself is already touting it as his "last" album. Could it surpass III's Grammy haul? Only time will tell.
Natalie Maines' Solo Debut: The most outspoken member of the Dixie Chicks finally got to silence her critics when the band took home five awards (including Album of the Year) in 2007 at the 49th Grammy Awards. She's currently prepping her solo bow for a March release, and, well, let's just say she probably won't leave the 56th Grammy Awards emptyhanded.
One Direction, Take Me Home: Sure, they got the shaft at this year's Grammys, but with their second #1 debut and a surge of momentum behind them, the 2014 awards could belong to 1D. The main criticism against them seems to be they're merely a flash in the pan, but if they prove otherwise over the next 12 months, nominations in the Pop categories seem like a foregone conclusion. Less likely, though not beyond the realm of impossibility, a nod for Record or Song of the Year.
Rihanna, Unapologetic: Her first #1 debut, it also posted the best first-week numbers of her career ... and let's not forget that Unapologetic's first single, "Diamonds" has already been to the top of the Hot 100 (and we're willing to bet subsequent singles will do the same). Loud earned Rih her first Album of the Year nod, and given the presence of lightning rod songs like "Nobody's Business," Unapologetic could do the same. She's also probably a lock for a Record or Song of the Year nod, too.
Taylor Swift, Red: Forget about Album, Record and Song of the Year nominations, Taylor's got those in the bag. About the only drama surrounding her march to the 56th Grammy Awards seems to be whether or not Harry Styles will be joining her on the red carpet when she arrives
Tony Bennett, Viva Duets: It is a Tony Bennett album. Your argument is invalid.
U2's Untitled 13th Studio Album: Thirteen hasn't exactly been lucky for U2, who have been toiling away on the follow up to No Line on the Horizon for a few years now, reportedly with folks like Danger Mouse and Alex da Kid. Little is known about the progress they've made (the album is supposedly due next year), but when it comes to the Grammys, here's all you need to be aware of: They've won 22 of them, and if they can deliver the goods this time out, they'll certainly only add to that haul.
Anything we missed in our picks? Let us know in the comments below.