Alright guys, this is it. With only a few days to go, it’s time to forecast the biggest Gramophone of them all. Who will take the coveted Album of the Year crown at this year’s Grammys? Last year, the category pitted a few pop queens against each other (Adele, Rihanna and Lady Gaga), but quite shockingly, it’s an all-male affair this year. That’s right, no Taylor Swift, no RiRi again (not so surprising this time around), no Fiona Apple. Guess we can chalk the sausage fest up to the Academy throwing another one of its infamous curveballs.
Still, it’s an impressive field and the five LPs they settled on certainly deserve to be in the Best Album Of 2012 discussion. But we’ve broken down the category below and we think there’s one clear favorite.
THOUGHTS ON THE NOMINEES:
If you didn’t notice, it’s a rock-heavy field this year, with Frank Ocean the only one who doesn’t fall under that umbrella (though his album judiciously employed the rock stylings of John Mayer). This could work in Ocean’s favor, as all the rock votes could cancel each other out. At the very least, votes for Grammy vets Jack White and and The Black Keys will cannibalize and knock those two ax-wielders out.
The other thing is that Blunderbuss and El Camino aren’t even the best albums of those respective artists’ careers. And that’s also the case with Mumford & Sons’ sophomore effort. So why would the Academy give any of those three acts the ultimate award for an inferior part of their oeuvre, while Ocean and fun. both offered the best work of their catalogs thus far?
On that point, Some Nights and channel ORANGE are the most musically daring and dynamic releases in the category, which is all the more impressive considering that these are the albums that broke them through to commercial success. Fun. has a clear edge in terms of chart success; compared to channel ORANGE, more people were listening to Some Nights more often, and that is a strong argument for the album defining the year.
But there’s something about Frank. His album was fussed over but it also feels like it all just spewed out of him in a grand epiphany one day. Channel ORANGE stands out from the pack stylistically, yes, but mainly because of scope, ambition and execution.
WHO WILL WIN:
While Blunderbuss appeals to the Grammy cabal’s inner old white guy rockist tendencies, and Some Nights perfected the blend of credibility and mass appeal, channel ORANGE is an achievement that cannot be denied. Frank Ocean’s album sounds timeless, it feels like a classic record. Combine that with the fact that it was the man’s debut, and it’ll be hard to deny it the top honor of the year.
WHO SHOULD WIN:
Frank Ocean is the right choice. With his debut, he transcended genre labels and just turned out Damn Good Music. It was commercially successful, critically adored and a cohesive, multidimensional experience. What more could the Recording Academy want from an album?