What a difference a year makes. Last year, at this time, we were all ready for the Grammy coronation of Adele, who ended up sweeping all three top categories.
This year? The field is wide open. Adele is not eligible for many awards this time, even though her “21” seems set to repeat as the year's top-seller (a feat that has only happened once — 30 years ago when Michael Jackson's “Thriller” did it in 1982 and 1983) and the year's other major seller, Taylor Swift's platinum-in-a-week “Red,” came out after the Grammys' Sept. 30 cut off date.
So who will dominate the Grammy nominations when they are announced Wednesday night in Nashville? Well, it could still be T. Swizzle. After all, she is co-hosting the nominations show with LL Cool J. The first single from “Red,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” could land Swift nominations for record and song of the year, as well as nods in the pop category, while she could also get nominations for “Ours,” from the deluxe edition of her “Speak Now” album, and “Safe and Sound,” from the soundtrack to “The Hunger Games.”
However, the big surprise may be Frank Ocean, whose stunning major-label debut “Channel Orange” and its single “Thinkin' 'Bout You” could land him nods in all four of the general categories, including best new artist, as well as in the R&B categories. Grammy loves a young artist who nods to the past. For that same reason, don't count out the “We Are Young” band fun., who bring the bombast of Queen to the “Glee” generation.
To gear up for the announcement Wednesday night, we'll take a look at the top four categories in the next few days.
Let's start with the category Ocean should be a shoo-in for — best new artist.
The nominees will likely be:
GOTYE. Come on now. “Somebody That I Used to Know” is one of those rare songs that keeps getting better the first thousand times you hear it. And the Aussie singer's album “Making Mirrors” shows he's no one-trick pony.
HUNTER HAYES. Will the 21-year-old country singer behind “Wanted” be able to rally Nashville voters to land a nomination here? Well, he did win the Country Music Association's best new artist award this year. If Nashville splits between him and “American Idol” Scotty McCreery, though, neither one may get in.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN. Yeah, we just met her. And this is crazy. But her one-two punch of “Call Me Maybe” and “Good Time” with Owl City makes her one of the year's pop success stories and she deserves some notice here.
FRANK OCEAN. Ocean's impressive “Channel Orange” channels the ambitions and the virtuoso range of Prince, while maintaining a timely, street vibe. He is definitely the front-runner.
ONE DIRECTION. Between their two No. 1 albums and their frenzied “Directioners” fans, 1D certainly have youth and popularity on their side, if not necessarily Grammy-beloved artistry. Throw in Simon Cowell and the Sony machinery and they should land a nomination if only to draw in the tween viewership.
ALSO IN THE RUNNING: “American Idols” Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips both have success stories that could translate into Grammy love; Ellie Goulding has her mammoth “Lights” single; Lana Del Ray has blogger buzz; and The Lumineers have that Mumford and Sons vibe going for them.
IF I RULED THE WORLD: Indie rockers Alabama Shakes, and promising rappers Azealia Banks and Kendrick Lamar would land nominations.