As Sunday (November 18) night’s 2012 American Music Awards ceremony fast approaches, anticipation is riding high to find out who will take some of the most coveted awards of the year. With big performances expected from Pink, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, Usher, No Doubt, Justin Bieber and Ke$ha (we’re mopping our brows over here), viewers can also expect big wins when the show broadcasts on ABC live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. ET on November 18.
But the win for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, which sees One Direction, Maroon 5, Minaj and Bieber nominated for their respective albums, is anyone’s guess, with all four nominees delivering compelling releases. Who will win? Head after the jump to see our analysis of their prospects.
FAVORITE POP/ROCK ALBUM NOMINEES:
Justin Bieber — Believe
Maroon 5 — Overexposed
Nicki Minaj — Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
One Direction — Up All Night
THOUGHTS ON THE NOMINEES:
This award pits artists with some of the most passionate fanbases in the business against each other — and the competition could get pretty heated. Beliebers vs. Directioners vs. Barbs? We wouldn’t want to see that fight.
Ironically, Maroon 5 is the act nominated with the least devoted stans, even though their recent stranglehold on the charts is unmatched by the likes of any of the other nominees. But their LP, Overexposed, was less consistent than some of the other entrants, with a slick pop-rock sheen that resonated as calculated to fans of their more organic sound, and while it spawned several standout singles, it ultimately lacked cohesion and underwhelmed as a whole.
Then again, the great-singles-but-inconsistent complaint could be lobbed at any of the albums nominated here: Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is schizophrenically tangled, veering wildly from pop ballads (“Marilyn Monroe”) to ultra-aggressive rap (“Come On a Cone”) with little consideration for making a cogent artistic statement.
Bieber’s Believe was better-received than his peers, demonstrating an evolution from the sugary pop of his earlier albums, but those strides — like on the excellent “As Long As You Love Me” — weren’t representative of the album as a cohesive product, as pop pablum still infiltrated (see: “Beauty and a Beat”).
Ultimately, it’s breakout superstars One Direction who had the strongest LP in its entirety, a powerful statement of intent that announced their arrival as one of the biggest acts in the pop game. Delivering an album with virtually no misfires, 1D had clear highlights on Up All Night (“What Makes You Beautiful” and “One Thing,” namely), but its filler was a cut above most pop debuts.
Bieber’s album showed too much growth for fans or critics to ignore, even if it wasn’t an altogether gangbusters release. He remains pop’s number one golden boy, and accordingly, it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking that award.
After already breaking big in their native UK, One Direction’s Up All Night made them superstars in the own right with a smartly produced, searingly effective teen pop release. It wasn’t necessarily as splashy as Believe, but it was probably a better album as a whole. That doesn’t mean it will be recognized as such.