Arts & Entertainment

The 57th Annual Grammy Awards

When February arrives, so does awards season. It is a time to celebrate achievements in arts and performance and a time to gawk over celebrities.

One of the biggest awards shows during this time is the Grammys, which recognize the year’s most excellent music. The awards are given to recording artists/musicians for a large number of categories such as Best New Artist and Album of the Year. The show is also usually filled with performances by the biggest artists of that year.

The nominees this year weren’t too controversial in terms of surprises and snubs. Most of the nominations, which include the soulful British artist Sam Smith and the superstar Beyoncé, were well-deserved given critics’ responses to those artists during the year.

Smith, Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams lead the pack with six nominations each. All three are nominated for Album of the Year, but only Smith is also nominated in other major categories including  Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist.

Though Beyoncé and Pharrell have been nominated in the past (Beyoncé for a variety of categories including Best R&B Song, Pharrell for numerous categories including Record of the Year), this is Smith’s first time.

Along with those top-three artists, Taylor Swift and Jay-Z also have multiple nominations each. Swift is nominated for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Jay-Z is nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song, both for “Drunk in Love.” Both have received Grammys in the past.

 

The four Grammy categories that seem to draw the most attention in the media each year are Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.

This year, some categories such as Song of the Year are a toss up due to the number of great nominees like Sam Smith and Sia, but in categories such as  Album of the Year, there is a lot less competition with nominees such as Beyoncé.

 

Record of the Year nominees

“Fancy”- Iggy Azaliea ft. Charli XCX

“Chandelier”- Sia

“Stay With Me”- Sam Smith

“Shake It Off”- Taylor Swift

“All About That Bass”- Meghan Trainor

There is always confusion as to what exactly the difference is between the Song of the Year award and the Record of the Year award — so much confusion that the official Grammy website lists it as a question in its FAQ.

To clarify, Record of the Year recognizes the performance by the artist as well as the work done by the producer(s), recording engineer(s) and/or mixer(s). Song of the Year recognizes the songwriter(s).

All of the nominated songs have slick production that don’t contain overdone sounds. They also feature strong vocal performances from all of the nominees.

Ultimately, it is soulful pop artist Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” that will nab the Grammy because of it’s gospel-tinged production, which won over a lot of critics. Smith is already bound to win many awards this year due to his popularity with critics and audiences in 2014.

 

Not only did he top song and album charts all over the world, but he also topped many “Best of 2014” lists including those done by Yahoo!, MTV and Billboard.

The Grammy voters also seem to be particularly fond of Smith, giving him nominations in all four big categories. Smith is only the second male solo artist in Grammy history to be nominated in all four categories, following singer-songwriter Christopher Cross in 1980.

 

Song of the Year nominees

“Take Me To Church”- Hozier

“Chandelier”- Sia and Jesse Shatkin

“Stay With Me”- Sam Smith, James Napier and  William Phillips

“Shake it Off”- Max Martin, Shellback and Taylor Swift

“All About That Bass”- Kevin Kadish and Meghan Trainor

 

This category is a toss up with strong contenders that include Sam Smith, Australian pop artist Sia and Irish singer-songwriter Hozier. With the song’s emotional lyrics discussing heartbreak, “Stay With Me” will probably get the win.

However, Sia’s uplifting “Chandelier” or Hozier’s moving “Take Me To Church” could also take the cake thanks to their meaningful lyrics. The other two songs, “All About That Bass” and “Shake It Off,” don’t seem likely to win because both feature mindless lyrics over a catchy beat.

While Taylor Swift’s 1989 is a superb album overall with a sleek sound and a strong performance from Swift, “Shake It Off” is not the strongest song from the album. Other songs such as “Welcome to New York” and “Style” have better lyrics and more emotion. However, “Shake It Off” was the only track from 1989 eligible for the 2015 Grammys.

 

 

The eligibility period for the 2015 Grammys were Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014. “Shake It Off” was released on Aug. 18, 2014 so while it is eligible, the rest of 1989 — which wasn’t released until Oct. 27, 2014 — is not.

“All About That Bass” seems like it was nominated in large part because of its popularity. Selling more than 6 million copies worldwide, the song has topped charts in 58 countries and spent eight weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. But it won’t win because the lyrics are too dull, offering nothing more than a catchy pop tune.

 

 

Best New Artist nominees:

Iggy Azalea

Bastille

Brandy Clark

Haim

Sam Smith

This category will be no contest. Sam Smith will nab this win. Here’s why:  The other nominees are all talented artists, but none quite had the year that Sam Smith had. His debut album, In the Lonely Hour, has gone platinum in the United States and four times platinum in the United Kingdom.

Billboard and Huffington Post both list the album as one of the best of 2014. His single “Stay With Me” was a worldwide hit going right to No. 1 in the United Kingdom and it hit top 10 in 10 other countries including the United States (where it was actually No. 2). Smith has also received a lot of praise for his phenomenal vocal ability.

For him not to win Best New Artist would be unusual given how well his music has performed on the charts and how talented he is.

 

Album of the Year nominees:

Morning Phase, Beck

Beyoncé, Beyoncé

X, Ed Sheeran

In the Lonely Hour, Sam Smith

GIRL, Pharrell Williams

This category is stacked with great options. After listening to the albums, Beyoncé’s stood out with phenomenal music and an overload of talent.

This album broke industry standards from the very beginning. First, there was the great marketing scheme of having no promotion and just releasing the album as a surprise. On Dec. 13, 2013, Beyoncé posted to social media that the album had dropped on iTunes. This was done without having ever released promotional singles earlier in the year or even mentioning a release date for the album.

Then there is the fact that it was a visual album, as every song was paired with a music video (which were all also very well done).

After its release, the album went on to receive immense praise from critics, averaging 85 out of 100 on Metacritic, which is equivalent to “universal acclaim.”

The album also pleased audiences, selling 550,000 copies in two days after its release and going double platinum in the United States.

Given the unconventional release of the album and the following commercial/critical success, there is no denying that Beyoncé had one of the more influential albums in recent years. The singer has also been a Grammy favorite for a  long time, having won 17 Grammys in her career. This would be her first Album of the Year win. After all of the attention and praise the album received, it would definitely be a massive snub if Beyoncé doesn’t receive the  Album of the  Year award.

The Grammys are always a good time because of all of the performances even if your favorite artists aren’t nominated. This year’s show will be broadcast Feb. 8 on CBS at 7 p.m. and features performances by AC/DC, Eric Church, Common, Ariana Grande, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Madonna, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Usher and Pharrell Williams with more performers to be announced soon.

 

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