Grammys 2015: Who Will Win Album Of The Year?
This is often the most nonsensical and unpredictable category at the Grammys. If you’re trying to see where genres and trends in popular music are heading, the Album of the Year winners’ list is one of the last places you’d look. For instance, did you know that Steely Dan won the award in this century? Or that Ray Charles won 10 years ago, and Herbie Hancock and Robert Plant have also won it within the last decade?
Thankfully, this year’s field disposed of any legacy acts, but there’s still the feeling that a few big names were able to slide in simply because 2014 was such a disappointing year. Let’s try to predict how it’ll shake out below.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Morning Phase — Beck
Beyoncé — Beyoncé
x — Ed Sheeran
In The Lonely Hour — Sam Smith
GIRL — Pharrell Williams
THOUGHTS ON THE NOMINEES: The Grammys generally play it safe on their biggest award of the night, and there’s a whole lot of safe plays with this roster. The conservative choice in terms of basic appeal would be either Sam Smith or Pharrell. In The Lonely Hour was 2014’s third-highest selling album, and ably filled that extravagantly sad, exquisitely sung pop void left by Adele, and we know Grammy voters dig that.
As for Pharrell, when we look back on his 2013-14 renaissance, we’ll remember “Happy,” “Blurred Lines” and his performance with Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder at last year’s Grammys. Two of those three things had nothing to do with GIRL, so how can it be deserving of the year’s top trophy?
The safe pick in terms of showing the Grammys are “on board” with this whole “streaming” thing is Ed Sheeran, since x was Spotify’s most-streamed album of 2014. But if Justin Timberlake didn’t win AOTY with FutureSex/LoveSounds, then Sheeran’s Pharrell-assisted, JT-influenced swaggy rebranding certainly shouldn’t get the honor.
The safe pick for carrying on the once-proud tradition of guitar music would be Beck. And if you read the intro up top, you know it’s possible to win AOTY despite having a minimal cultural footprint. But c’mon, in the year 2015 are we really giving the highest honor to an (admittedly lush) exercise in ’70s California singer-songwriter sprawl?
That leaves us with Beyoncé, which is arguably the least safe pick despite being the favorite. The album’s unconventional release took decades of marketing and promotion practices and tossed them aside, improbably thwarting the leak market and shaking up the industry. That cannot be ignored. Plus, it did all that while putting the visual elements up on a pedestal with the music and offering up the most confrontational lyrics of Beyoncé’s career. It was her most forward-thinking release, and one of the most daring albums of the 2010s. If that’s not enough to win this silly award, then it’s just a silly award.
WHO WILL WIN: Beyoncé. She so obviously had the best and most important album of this bunch that even the Grammys can’t screw this up. But if they do deliver a patented WTF moment, let’s hope it goes to Sam Smith, who said he’d give the trophy to its rightful owner.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Beyoncé! She probably dropped her self-titled LP after the 2014 Grammy cutoff specifically because she knew it would get an Album of the Year win in 2015, leading it to again dominate the conversation (and charts) some 14 months later. That would be some Game of Thrones shit, proving she’s the queen for a reason.