The 56th Annual Grammy Awards will be held Sunday night, ready to crown Macklemore, Kendrick Lamar, or Robin Thicke (or someone else completely!) the new emperor of music. So. Who's gonna win?
Zach Schonfeld already covered the Album of the Year situation, so let's move on down the ballot from there:
Record of the Year
"Get Lucky" – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
"Radioactive" – Imagine Dragons
"Royals" – Lorde
"Locked Out of Heaven" – Bruno Mars
"Blurred Lines" – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams
The trend: A mini-streak of country/rootsy winners (Lady Antebellum, Kings of Leon; Alison Krauss) has given way in the last couple years to inescapable pop hits like "Rolling in the Deep" and "Somebody That I Used to Know."
Who's on trend this year: If we're talking inescapable pop hits, it's "Get Lucky" versus "Blurred Lines," with I suppose a Lorde insurgency on the outside rail.
Mitigating Factors: You get the sense that the Grammys would like to be in the Bruno Mars business, especially as his impending Super Bowl halftime performance is about to make him the most famous he's ever been or ever will be. They also might like to get in on what they imagine to be the ground floor of the whole Lorde thing.
The one that seems like it has no chance and thus will probably win: Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" was a giant hit, even if you only heard it when sporting events were going to commercial.
Song of the Year
"Just Give Me a Reason," Pink, Jeff Bhasker and Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink featuring Nate Ruess)
"Locked Out of Heaven," Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, songwriters (Bruno Mars)
"Roar," Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee and Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry)
"Royals," Ella Yelich O'Connor, Joel Little, songwriters (Lorde)
"Same Love," Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert and Curtis Mayfield, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)
The Trend: Four out of the last seven years, Song and Record of the Year have gone to the same tune.
Who's on Trend This Year: Only "Royals" or "Locked Out of Heaven" could pull off that double this year. Which is why a rash of "WTF? Bruno Mars?" headlines on Monday morning is starting to seem more and more plausible.
Mitigating Factors: fun.'s Nate Ruess won this award last year for his band's "We Are Young." A win for his and Pink's duet on "Just Give Me a Reason" would make him the first back-to-back winner in this category ever.
The One That Seems Like It Has No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: The puddle-deep empowerment of Katy Perry's "Roar" would make it a pretty laughable winner. But who are we kidding? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "Same Love" is 100% going to win this.
Best New Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The Trend: Yes, yes. We all know the one-hit-wonder reputation of the Best New Artist category. But actually, in the last ten years (or, okay, since Evanescence won), the category has done a decent job of making itself look good, either by picking artists designed to stay relevant for a while (Carrie Underwood; Adele) or niche enough that a subsequent dearth of hits haven't (or won't) really damage the award's cred (John Legend; Bon Iver; Esperanza Spalding).
Who's on Trend This Year: None of this year's nominees seem any more likely than the others to be flashes in the pan. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, certainly, are subject to all sorts of backlash cycles (and have already been), but they've had so many hits just off of The Heist
Mitigating Factors: Tough to know what to make of the fact that they nominated Ed Sheeran as a new artist a year after giving him a Song of the Year nomination. If they're that eager to recognize him, who's to say he won't win? Also, if voters are looking to split the difference between Macklemore and Kendrick Lamar, thus appeasing the hip-hop community and quelling a controversy that Grammy voters are in no way aware is happening, voting Kendrick here and Macklemore in Album could have an impact.
The One That Seems Like They Have No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: There's no true Esperanza Spalding left-field choice this year, but still, James Blake sure seems like the "happy to be nominated" sort in this group.
Best Pop Solo Performance
"Brave" – Sara Bareilles
"Royals" — Lorde
"When I Was Your Man" — Bruno Mars
"Roar" — Katy Perry
"Mirrors" — Justin Timberlake
The Trend: The trend is basically "Adele," since she won the award both times since the male and female Pop Vocal categories were combined two years ago. That said, Bruno Mars won the Male Vocal award in its last year in existence, and Justin Timberlake has won it twice before.
Who's on Trend This Year: Well, Justin and Bruno, obviously. Also of-the-moment pop divas tend to do very well, which might speak well of Katy Perry, provided these awards were voted on before Beyonce dropped her album and made all other pop divas irrelevant. Also, if Lorde doesn't win any of the major categories, they could give this to her as a consolation prize.
Mitigating Factors: Even more in need of a consolation prize is Timberlake, whose 20/20 Experience was shut out of the major awards.
The One That Seems Like It Has No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: Despite the fact that many good and discerning people like Sara Bareilles's "Brave" and prefer it to sound-alike "Roar," it's the least buzzy of the five nominees.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
"Get Lucky" – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
"Just Give Me a Reason" — Pink featuring Nate Ruess
"Stay" — Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko
"Blurred Lines" — Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams
"Suit & Tie" — Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-Z
The Trend: Basically the worst songs you’ve ever heard, with recent dominance by the likes of Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas, and any number of collaborations between ancient/deceased people.
Who’s on Trend This Year: Ancient collaborator? Unlistenable? Everything seems to be shaping up for “Suit & Tie” to take this one home.
Mitigating Factors: Lots of Record of the Year overlap in this category, and generally, Record of the Year nominees don’t lose to lesser, plebeian songs. So good news for basically everyone but Justin, Jay, and Rihanna.
The One That Seems Like It Has No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: Rihanna and Mikky Ekko’s “Stay” is getting a bit of a second life in the Labor Day TV spots, but it sure seems like it’s running 5th here.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Paradise – Lana Del Rey
Pure Heroine — Lorde
Unorthodox Jukebox — Bruno Mars
Blurred Lines — Robin Thicke
The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience — Justin Timberlake
The Trend: Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger won last year when none of the top-selling albums of the year were nominated. Before that, though, it was the usual suspects and their monster pop hits—21, The Fame Monster, The E.N.D.—so big sellers do well.
Who’s On Trend This Year: Justin Timberlake topped the album charts this year, and Bruno Mars finished in the top five. So basically, if you’re wondering on Monday why all the super cool pop ladies lost to an album no one claims to like and doofy Bruno Mars, don’t say we didn’t give you historical precedent.
Mitigating Factors: Lorde is so very much the flavor of the moment, in terms of young talent expected to be the Big Thing for years to come. The only danger is that she could get her votes leeched from her via the low-energy charms of Lana Del Rey.
The One That Seems Like It Has No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: Lana is the real answer here, but Robin Thicke might have just as good (bad) a chance, since “Blurred Lines” is almost certainly going to be seen as a single phenomenon and not part of a greater artist movement.
Best Rap Performance
"Started from the Bottom" – Drake
"Berzerk" — Eminem
"Tom Ford" — Jay-Z
"Swimming Pools (Drank)" — Kendrick Lamar
"Thrift Shop" – — Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
The Trend: Jay-Z or Eminem has been the trend for over a decade, each of them winning this category four times.
Who’s On Trend This Year: Here’s where you say, “Yeah, but Jay-Z’s album has been the most reluctantly praised of 2013, and Eminem is arguably the least relevant he's ever been!"
Mitigating Factors: Judging by the Album of the Year nominees, the battle for hip hop at the Grammys this year will be fought between Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore. Either this will be a consolation prize for Kendrick not winning any of the big categories, or it'll be a stat-padder for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
The One That Seems Like It Has No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: Well, it's Eminem, honestly. But what does it say that nobody's talking about Drake, last year's winner for Best Rap Album? Maybe we should be.
Best Rap Album
Nothing Was the Same – Drake
Magna Carta... Holy Grail — Jay-Z
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City - Kendrick Lamar
Yeezus – Kanye West
The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The Trend: Not Jay-Z, who's been nominated nine times, but hasn't won since Hard Knock Life in 1999. In that span, Kanye West has won four times (Eminem has won five times, but he's no important right now).
Who's On Trend Right Now: Kanye, and also Drake, who won last year for Take Care. This would be the place were any pockets of Yeezus support would be most likely to show up.
Mitigating Factors: Once again, Macklemore vs. Kendrick Lamar rears its head.
The One That Seems Like It Has No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: There are actually no slouches in this category. When the least likely to win are the defending champion and Jay-Z, it's tough to be truly surprised by anyone as a winner.
Best Song Written for Visual Media
"Atlas," Coldplay (from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
"Silver Lining (Crazy 'Bout You)," Jessie J (from Silver Linings Playbook)
"Skyfall," Adele (from Skyfall)
"We Both Know," Colbie Caillat featuring Gavin DeGraw (from Safe Haven)
"Young and Beautiful," Lana Del Rey (from The Great Gatsby)
"You've Got Time," Regina Spektor (from Orange Is the New Black)
The Trend: Kind of all over the place. In the Grammys' de facto Best Song from a Movie category, the frequency of overlap with the Oscar winner in the same category isn't great.
Who's on Trend Right Now: I guess you could say Coldplay? Since Taylor Swift won last year for her song from The Hunger Games.
Mitigating Factors: This category is really notable because they nominated Lana Del Rey here, where the Oscars snubbed her. Which is great for her! She can enjoy losing to Adele like everybody else.
The One That Seems Like It Has No Chance and Thus Will Probably Win: Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw's song for Safe Haven would be a fantastic choice, if only on an ironic level, because it would mean that straight-up insane Safe Haven would be an award-winner. That said, it's gonna be hard not to root for Regina Spektor's TV theme of the year for Orange Is the New Black.