Campus Vinyl's Grammy Predictions
Justin P: Award: Best Alternative Music Album
Nominations: Sound & Color, Vulnicura, The Waterfall, Currents, Star Wars
Your (my?) Pick: Currents by Tame Impala
Rationale: Tame Impala expanded its reach while delivering one of the most refreshing and successful pop/rock albums of the year. The long-awaited successor to the psychedelic magnum opus Lonerism has given us a taste of the band’s continually-evolving sound while leaving us wanting more.
Award: Best Dance/Electronic Album
Nominations: Our Love, Born in the Echoes, Caracal, In Colour, Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U
My Pick: Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U
Rationale: Inarguably, Skrillex and Diplo took the 2015 musical landscape and made it their own. Individually, both these DJs have proven their musical prowess - Skrillex as a longstanding pioneer of both dubstep and electronica, Diplo as an international symbol for dance music. Together, they have made waves, established by their debut album, which featured hits like “Where Are U Now” featuring Justin Bieber and “To U” featuring AlunaGeorge. Their sound is unlike anything the charts have heard before, combining the unique sounds of two of the most influential figures in music today.
Award: Song of the Year
Nominations: Alright, Blank Space, Girl Crush, See You Again, Thinking Out Loud
My Pick: Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
Rationale: This song, written by Amy Wadge and Ed Sheeran is the perfect storm: romantic lyrics, a beautiful melody, simple instrumentation -- all the pieces of this song combine to create a pure and light masterpiece. In comparison with the other nominees, Thinking Out Loud is an easy winner; Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Little Big Town, and Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth all created intricate and dynamic songs, in their own right, but none compare to the musicality, lyricism, and overall artistry of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud.
Award: Best New Artist
Nominations: Courtney Barnett, James Bay, Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly, Meghan Trainor
My Pick: Tori Kelly
Rationale: Tori Kelly has come out of nowhere in the past year, emerging from a crowd of YouTube music hopefuls as one of the strongest voices in music we’ve come to hear throughout the year. After gaining a massive following from her videos, her debut album Unbreakable Smile peaked at the #2 spot on the Billboard 200 Chart and has released undeniably impressive singles like “Should’ve Been Us” and “Nobody Love” that demonstrate masterful vocal control and an artistic, genuine sensibility for the modern world. Tori Kelly also has the most versatility in floating between genre labeling while all of the other artists have been more or less categorized, i.e. Sam Hunt is a country artist and Meghan Trainor is a pop artist. Tori Kelly even took home Billboard’s Women in Music Breakthrough Artist Award on Dec. 11, 2015. We may not have seen it coming before this year but we will certainly be hearing much more from Tori Kelly in the future, especially if she has already made this big of a splash in the industry in only a year’s time.
Award: Best Rock Song
Nominations: Don’t Wanna Fight (Alabama Shakes), Ex’s & Oh’s (Elle King), Hold Back The River (James Bay), Lydia (Highly Suspect), What Kind Of Man (Florence and the Machine)
Your Pick: What Kind Of Man (Florence and the Machine)
Rationale: While I predict Alabama Shakes will take home best rock performance for the band’s classic sound of soulful blues, Florence Welch’s knack for songwriting leads me to believe they will take home best rock song.
Award: Best Reggae Album
Nominations: Branches Of The Same Tree (Rocky Dawuni), The Cure (Jah Cure), Acousticalevy (Barrington Levy), Zion Awake (Luciano), Strictly Roots (Morgan Heritage)
Your Pick: Acousticalevy (Barrington Levy)
Rationale: An all acoustic compilation of Levy’s hits, Acousticalevy is a powerful and soulful album filled with sonically seamless vocal performances and passionate, perfectly-mixed guitar accompaniment. This album, although containing no new songs, contains editions of Levy’s classics in new form. This album brings reggae back to its core values of tribal rhythm and spirituality, and merits the award of Best Reggae Album.
Award: Album of the Year
Nominations: Sound & Color (Alabama Shakes), To Pimp a Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar), Traveller (Chris Stapleton), 1989 (Taylor Swift), Beauty Behind the Madness (The Weeknd)
My Pick: To Pimp A Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar)
Rationale: The follow-up to 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, To Pimp a Butterfly stands as Kendrick Lamar’s most recent sprawling rap masterpiece (with a duration of 80 minutes, this album isn’t for the faint of heart). Lamar’s album has produced some of the most critically-acclaimed singles of the year (including “King Kunta”, lead single “i”, and “Alright”, named Pitchfork’s Song of the Year); furthermore, the cultural relevance of this album in the ongoing discourse on race and identity are difficult to ignore. Having seen most of these tracks performed live, it is evident that the artistry of this album extends beyond the tracks. Although all albums nominated possess stylistic control and artistic skill, Lamar’s latest effort surpasses the rest.
Award: Best Rock Album
Nominations: Chaos and the Calm (James Bay), Kintsugi (Death Cab For Cutie), Mister Asylum (Highly Suspect), Drones (Muse), .5: The Gray Chapter (Slipknot)
My Pick: Drones (Muse)
Rationale: With their seventh studio album Drones, Muse has made a sweet and powerful comeback by returning to their roots in alternative rock. While their past two albums have spawned many hits that have strayed from their usual style, this new album brings new guitar riffs and lyrical genius into the limelight yet again. In addition to the high quality of the music in this album, its general theme surrounding PTSD and the true violence of warfare is a very important topic in our society today and must be discussed, in this case it is through music.
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