As the exhaustive list of Grammy nominations – there are a bum-numbing 83 categories in total – are slowly trickled out via an awkward press conference and the medium of Twitter, it’s clear already that the evening of 8 February 2015 will likely be a successful one for British balladeer Sam Smith.
Smith, as well as being nominated for the prestigious record of the year for his ubiquitous Stay With Me, also got a nod for the accompanying album In the Lonely Hour. The third-biggest-selling album of 2014 in the US, it is up for best pop vocal album, while Smith is also in the running for best new artist (alongside fellow UK act Bastille) and best pop solo performance. A gambler would probably say he was a shoo-in for best new artist, and the generally risk-adverse Grammy panel will likely see fit to give him an album of the year nod, a category to be announced at a concert tonight.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the list of Grammy nominations, in any year, is the distinct lack of surprises. More so than the UK equivalent the Brits, the Grammys are a direct reflection of what’s happening on the charts, which may explain the lack of nominations so far for Lady Gaga’s Artpop. This phenomenon is shown most clearly in the record of the year category, which mirrors the recent female dominance of the Billboard top five with nominations – alongside Smith – for Iggy and Charli’s Fancy (No 1 for seven weeks), Sia’s Chandelier, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off (No 1 for three weeks), and Meghan Trainor’s novelty ode to the larger bottom, All About That Bass (No 1 for eight weeks).
Nominations are all well and good, but it’s obviously nice to actually walk off with a nice new book-end, and this new batch of nominations gives hope to two pop stars yet to adorn their mantlepieces with a replica gold gramophone. So while Miley Cyrus’s nomination for best pop vocal album for Bangerz represents her first nod, she’ll be up against a fairly desperate Katy Perry, who has so far failed to hear her name called despite 11 previous nominations. Mind you, world-dominating acoustic troubadour and all-round good egg Ed Sheeran is also in that category, so they likely don’t stand a chance.
It will be interesting to see how 17-time Grammy winner Beyoncé fares as the list of nominations is slowly and painfully revealed. So far she’s bagged herself one nomination for her self-titled stealth release (she’s up for best urban contemporary album), and while it dominated the early part of 2014, it might have faded from memory just enough to lose out on some of the bigger awards still remaining.
One person who has dominated the last few months is Taylor Swift. While her 1989 album is ineligible for any nominations this year (it was released after the 30 September deadline, so expect it to do quite well at the 2016 awards), she has already bagged herself two nominations for the un-killable Shake it Off. So far, when it comes to pop, there are no alarms and no surprises, but the undeniable sense that Sam Smith’s career is about to go properly interstellar.
This article was written by Michael Cragg, for theguardian.com on Friday 5th December 2014 16.51 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010