Campus Vinyl's Predictions for the 57th Grammy Awards

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This Sunday, February 8th, the 57th Annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Check out the Campus Vinyl staff's predictions for the event and tune in to CBS at 8pm EST to see how we match up to the winners. Besides, who doesn't want to see Rapper LL Cool J host the show for the fourth consecutive time.  

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

Nominees: This is All Yours by Alt-j, Reflektor by Arcade Fire, Melophobia by Cage the Elephant, St. Vincent by St. Vincent,  Lazaretto, by Jack White

Louise’s Prediction: This is All Yours by Alt-j

I’m hoping that Alt-j will take home this Grammy as This is All Yours was easily my favorite album of the year. Alt-j, recently dubbed a “New Radiohead,” has taken the indie world by storm with their weird, electronic folkiness. Joe Newman’s unique vocals are actually pleasant to listen to, almost reminiscent of a 60’s folk rocker than an artist from the 21st century. Although St. Vincent and Cage the Elephant present some significant contenders, I think Alt-j’s unusual quirkiness with a slight nod to the pop genre with this album makes it a winner. Check out what Jake thought about the album in his review in October.

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BEST DANCE RECORDING

Nominees: "Never Say Never" by Basement Jaxx, "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne, "F for You" by Disclosure ft. Mary J Blige, "I Got You" by Duke Dumont ft. Jax Jones, "Faded" by Zhu.

Laura’s Prediction: "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne

While nominees like "Faded" and "I Got You" were incorporated into countless party-playlists throughout the year, it’s hard to deny the success and ubiquity that Clean Bandit’s "Rather Be" found in 2014.  In a word, the song is uplifting.  It opens with a catchy violin melody, which is complemented by rich piano and cello instrumentals as well as - for lack of a better description - the sound of bubbles bouncing.  Jess Glynn’s raspy yet soothing vocals give the song its character.  She warms the track with her voice, making it all the better to sing, hum, and/or dance along to.  In my opinion, "Rather Be" makes practically any situation feel a little bit brighter.  Whether you’re washing the dishes or pregaming with some friends, this tune really makes you feel like there’s ~no place you’d rather be~

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ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Nominees: Morning Phase by Beck, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, X by Ed Sheeran, In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith, Girl by Pharrell Williams

Ian’s prediction: Beyoncé by Beyoncé

While the argument “because Beyoncé” could be used to explain my prediction, I think her surprise visual album accomplished something beyond media sensation and typical displays of Beyoncé’s tour de force performances. I’m not a Beyoncé enthusiast, but I have to admire the work that must have gone into this. It offers glimpses into the lives of two of pop culture's most influential figures right now (arguably three, if you count baby Blue). Not since Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy have we seen such an honest portrayal of the celebrity life. Of course, Byoncé’s account is more beautiful, and less dark-twisted… Note, that if I had my way, the award would go to Beck for Morning Phase.

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BEST RAP ALBUM

Nominees: The New Classic by Iggy Azalea, Because The Internet by Childish Gambino, Nobody’s Smiling by Common, The Marshall Mathers LP2 by Eminem, Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q, Blacc Hollywood by Wiz Khalifa

Connor’s Prediction: Because The Internet by Childish Gambino

While I think Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP II will win because of name recognition, I think Childish Gambino had easily the best rap album of the year and deserves a win because of its depth as a project and its relevance to modern anxieties revolving around digital technology. Not only does Gambino spit fire throughout the entire album, splitting time between introspective mind games and candid humor, but his production is off the charts (see “Earth: The Oldest Computer”). Gambino also wrote a movie script to accompany the album and crafted an elaborate hunt on Reddit to decipher the alternate version to hit single “3005.” Because The Internet is an emotional journey throughout, and is meant to be listened to as an album, rather than being based off hits, something unusual to the rap genre. While the album may ultimately not win because of its lack of singles, the project’s concept and execution goes beyond anything else that was nominated, and for that reason I think it should win a Grammy.

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BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

Nominees: “All of Me (Live)” by John Legend, “Chandelier” by Sia, “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith, “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Jen’s Prediction: "All of Me (Live)" by John Legend. While T.Swift is definitely a top contender with "Shake It Off," Legend’s critically-acclaimed vocals and piano skills are truly recognizable as pure, unmatched talent. The song became even more widespread when the sensual and passionate music video went online. Plus, the song was remixed and instantly became a radio hit. "Chandelier" and "Stay with Me" were definitely popular (especially with Sia’s interesting music video…) but I really think that John Legend’s music stands the test of time and outweighs all the “fads” in terms of the pop music industry.

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BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE

Nominees: “Gimme Something Good” by Ryan Adams, “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys, “Blue Moon” by Beck, “Fever” by The Black Keys, “Lazaretto” by Jack White

Avid’s Prediction: “Lazaretto” by Jack White

Unfortunately, the track that I think deserves to win deviates from the one I feel will probably win. One safe pick is Beck—he is featured in every Rock category except “Best Metal Performance” (for obvious reasons), and the internet seems to maintain him as their overall frontrunner. If not Beck, I could see The Black Keys taking it. Granted, I think “Fever” was an overall sellout of a song, but the 2013 winners of Best Rock Performance seem to have a substantial support base. I, on the other hand, feel like Jack White’s “Lazaretto” deserves the award. When you get into the technicalities of each song in this category, Lazaretto is a clear frontrunner in my mind. Impeccable guitar riffs manifesting White’s passion; a catchy, underlying synth beat; piercing vocals; and a violin solo to close it out are enough to persuade me of White’s worthiness.

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Jake’s Prediction: “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys

Beck’s latest release was definitely a chart-topper, Ryan Adam’s hit single happens to be extremely catchy, and “Fever” was a typical Black Keys immediate hit upon release; however, the Arctic Monkeys are back and hotter than ever. After destroying the festival scene this past year with raw, phenomenal, full-energy sets at Bonnaroo (which I witnessed), Life is Beautiful Festival in Vegas and Leeds Festival in the UK, they are finally back to the critically acclaimed status they deserve. I was a huge fan of their debut album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006),” which featured raw alternative-rock guitars with ballads supporting catchy choruses. Between then and their latest release “AM (2013)”, they went more in the alternative direction and struggled to find their unique sound; this album brings them back to their roots and I hope to see them take the award this weekend.

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BEST MUSIC VIDEO

Nominees: “We Exist” by Arcade Fire, “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon, “Chandelier” by Sia, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “The Golden Age” by Woodkid feat. Max Richter

Morgan K’s Prediction:  “The Golden Age” by Woodkid featuring Max Richter is my pick to win the 2015 Grammy for Best Music Video.  “Chandelier” by Sia is a close runner up.  But the expressiveness and texture of “The Golden Age” really sealed the deal for the position.  The song itself is relatively minimalist in lyrics and arrangement and this beautiful film accompaniment complements the delicacy of the song exquisitely.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWMMdX6KYGM

 

BEST RAP SONG

Nominees: “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj, “Bound 2” by Kanye West and Charlie Wilson, “I” by Kendrick Lamar, “We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa, “0 to 100 / The Catch Up” by Drake

Adam’s Prediction: “Bound 2” by Kanye West will most likely win this year if past trends continue. Since the category's debut in 2004, Mr. West has won the category six out of the nine times he’s been nominated. Take into account the weak competition he’s going up against, and it’s hard not to imagine that stat being bumped up to seven out of ten. Mr. West’s “Bound 2” is the most creative and stand-out song within the nominees, which is why it deserves to win. Plus, he actually produced it himself instead of just laying a rap over a beat and calling it a day. All in all, the grammies historically have been known to favorite Mr. West in the past, so I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win again this year.

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BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

Nominees: Sail Out by Jhené Aiko, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, by Chris Brown, Mali Is… by Mali Music, Girl by Pharrell Williams

Marcus’ Prediction: The amount of talent in this category is insane, but I have to pick Jhené Aiko over all the rest. While Beyoncé is Beyoncé and Beyoncé is a great album and definitely one for the books, Aiko brings a wildly different vibe with hauntingly smooth vocals and killer collaborations with the likes of Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few. She even has a freestyle track to close out the album that fits in seamlessly and I think that’s pretty bold and amazing. Hopefully, the breadth of styles that Aiko can embody and her ingenuity with Sail Out will be rewarded appropriately, especially if there’s a trophy case to come along with the Grammy.

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BEST NEW ARTIST

Nominees: Iggy Azalea, Bastille, Brandy Clark, Haim, Sam Smith

Staci’s Prediction: There are a lot of great contenders for this category, but I think that Sam Smith takes the cake.  Smith’s album has clearly made its mark, being represented in four other categories this year including record of the year, album of the year, best pop solo performance and best pop vocal album.  “In The Lonely Hour” reaches the largest multitude of audiences: old, young, male, female and everyone in between.  Smith’s ability to wow listeners with his brilliant falsetto and more upbeat synth-driven tracks are reason enough for him to walk away with multiple, well-deserved grammys.

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BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Nominees: Ghost Stories by Coldplay, Bangerz by Miley Cyrus, My Everything by Ariana Grande, Prism by Katy Perry, by Ed Sheeran, In the Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Brianna’s prediction: x by Ed Sheeran

While 2014 was arguably the year of Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran’s x deserves Grammy attention.  Ed Sheeran, nominated for three Grammy’s in total, produced one of the strongest albums of the year and successfully showcased his varied style and evolved sound.  His sophomore album moves from the expected with sensitive acoustic love songs to the very unexpected with everything from soulful jams to witty rap.  x is both lyrically and instrumentally rich and stands alone as one of the only examples of singer-songwriter production among the Best Pop Vocal Album contenders. Ed’s original creativity stands out in a category featuring mostly traditional pop acts.  More mainstream competition may challenge x for the Grammy but hopefully Ed will be rewarded for his truly unique musical efforts.

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BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE

Nominees: “Give Me Back My Hometown” by Eric Church, “Invisible” by Hunter Hayes, “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert, “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood, “Cop Car” by Keith Urban

Justin’s prediction: “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood

Without a doubt, Carried Underwood has been an indomitable presence in the country music scene for almost a decade now. Her hauntingly beautiful voice takes her music up a level that most other country performers cannot easily match so seemingly effortlessly as she does. The opening track and single release off of her newest album, Greatest Hits: Decade 1, “Something in the Water” is the epitome of everything I love about Carrie. The track is composed nearly perfectly, characterized by a slow, steady, and huge build-up progression throughout the song, and a chorus accompaniment that pairs so well with her vocals. The song broke radio airplay records during the first week of its release and was Underwood’s 14th career chart-topping song on Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs.” Personally, I think Carrie Underwood is undoubtedly deserving of winning this grammy!

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SONG OF THE YEAR

Nominees: "All About That Bass" by Kevin Kadish & Meghan Trainor, "Chandelier" by Sia Furler & Jesse Shatkin, "Shake It Off" by Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, "Stay With Me (Darkshild Version)" by James Napier, William Philips & Sam Smith, "Take Me To Church" by Andrew Hozier-Byrne

Caroline’s prediction: "Chandelier" by Sia Furler & Jesse Shatkin

Unlike the Record of the Year, the Song of the Year categories is judged on the actual craft of writing a song and is awarded to the songwriters. To me, "All About That Bass" and "Shake It Off" seem too playful and unoriginal to win the award. Hozier’s "Take Me to Church" is an example of impressive songwriting. Its rare that such a raw song reaches the top of the charts, and much of this is based off the unorthodox but still catchy structure of the song itself. However compared to the other mega-hits on the list, the song’s lesser commercial success makes it an unlikely front-runner, although I would argue that if the Grammys were based solely on music content rather than commercial success, this song should come out with the win. That leaves Smith’s "Stay With Me" and Sia’s "Chandelier." "Stay With Me" is certainly an example of good songwriting. The lyrics and meaning of the song match up perfectly with gradual ebbs and flows of the gospel-type sound. However, because "Chandelier" is filled with such overpowering emotion, I think it will take home to award. The song conveys raw, vulnerable emotion with lyrics like its opening line: “Party girls don't get hurt, Can't feel anything, when will I learn, I push it down, push it down.” And the big, almost crying note at the start of the chorus is chilling. While some say this song is a hit more based off its music video than the song itself, Sia deserves the award considering she’s proven herself as a gifted songwriter in the past (she’s written songs for female pop stars from Rihanna to Beyonce). And the recent news that "Stay With Me" is apparently a Tom Petty rip-off should put "Chandelier" over the edge.

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BEST REMIXED RECORDING, NON-CLASSICAL

Nominees: "All of Me (Tiesto’s Birthday Treatment Remix)" by remixer: Tijs Michiel Verwest, "Falling Out (Ming Remix)" - remixer: MING, "Pompeii (Audien Remix)" by remixer: Audien, "The Rising (Eddie Amador Remix)" by remixer: Eddie Amador, "Smile (Kaskade Edit)" by remixer: Ryan Raddon, "Waves (Robin Schultz Remix)" by remixer: Robin Schulz

Morgan B.’s Prediction: "All of Me (Tiesto’s Birthday Treatment Remix)" by remixer: Tijs Michiel Verwest (John Legend)

The original, unremixed version of Legend’s "All of Me" has also gotten a nomination for the best pop solo performance, and rightfully so. Tijs Michiel Verwest, also more known as Tiesto, managed to up the recognition of this song with his energizing, electronic take on the song. This song quickly took over most Top 100 lists and became a constant radio pick. Robin Schultz's "Waves" remix, originally by Mr.Probz, is a close second pick in my opinion and definitely has gotten some deserved attention over the past few months. Remixes do not often get a lot of credit in the big music industry but big names, like Kaskade, are well into their way of create an industry of their own. However, the fact that Tiesto’s remix has been such a hit and gained such a following speaks to its quality. This award is aimed to recognize an artist who is able to create a new and unique sound to previously recorded material. With this criteria, I think Tiesto will follow artists such as David Guetta, Justice and Skrillex in taking home a grammy.

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BEST R&B SONG

Nominees: "Drunk In Love" by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, "Good Kisser" by Usher, "New Flame" by Chris Brown featuring Usher & Rick Ross, "Options (Wolfjames Version)" by Luke James, "The Worst" by Jhené Aiko

Zac’s Prediction: "Drunk In Love" by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z

As much as I’d like to see Chris Brown win with "New Flame" (that song is such an awesome throwback to his younger years), this award will almost undoubtedly go to The Queen.  With the drop of her literally self-titled album Beyoncé, she has absolutely owned this year.  “Drunk In Love” was at the top of the charts for 5 weeks straight, and was featured on every college student’s pregame playlist for an average of 12 weeks straight.  On top of that, it features the second half of the greatest couple of all time, and Jay-Z has rocked the music industry for over a decade.  I’ll be surprised if Beyoncé doesn’t take both this category AND the category of Best R&B Performance.

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[Images sourced from Wikipedia.com and tiestoblogs.com]