The 2014 Grammy Awards are just days away, and before music’s biggest night, Wetpaint is taking a look at the four major categories and sizing up the competition. Today, we’re focusing on the night’s top prize: Album of the Year.
The nominees for this category include: Taylor Swift’s Red, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s The Heist, and Sara Bareilles’s The Blessed Unrest. Now, this may seem like a no-brainer — as commercial juggernauts Taylor Swift and Daft Punk seem poised to go head-to-head in this category — but Grammy first timers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar, and outlier Sara Bareilles, can hold their own, too.
Taylor took home Album of the Year in 2010 for Fearless, and the Recording Academy is notoriously stingy at awarding out repeat AOTY winners. So while Red has all the makings of a near-perfect Album of the Year candidate — the album sales, the industry notoriety, the good buzz — it most likely won’t take home the top prize.
And then there are the Grammy newbies, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar. The Academy hasn’t awarded the Grammy’s top prize to a rap act since OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below took home Album of the Year in 2004. Out of these two nominees, only one has a shot at matching OutKast’s Grammy success — and no, it’s not Kendrick Lamar, whose debut album was heralded as one of the best albums of the year. Kendrick is a little too real and gritty for the Academy, which makes Macklemore & Ryan Lewis the feel-good frontrunners in this rap battle. For the most part, Macklemore’s rhymes are harmless and inspiring. However, it’s also likely that these two rap acts with cancel themselves out, leaving the door wide open for Sara Bareilles.
Yes, The Blessed Unrest scoring a nomination for Album of the Year was this year’s biggest surprise, but it wasn’t unprecedented. Sara is an industry veteran at this point, and this makes her fifth Grammy nomination. Sure, The Blessed Unrest wasn’t a commercial or critical success, but if previous winners can tell us anything, it’s that low-key, contemporary acts like Herbie Hancock, Adele, and Ray Charles win big in this category. Out of all the nominees, Sara fits this bill the best.
But, let’s be real: if there’s one act destined to take home Album of the Year, it two-time Grammy winners Daft Punk. Random Access Memories was the soundtrack to 2013, and a vote for this album is both progressive and nostalgic, as Daft Punk managed to intertwine EDM beats with 70s funk. (Also, can you imagine how epic their acceptance speech would be?)
Who will win Album of the Year? Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Duh.
Who should win Album of the Year? Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Kendrick released the best album of the year, and win for the 26-year-old rapper would be historic — and not just because it’s been 10 years since OutKast took home the Grammy for Album of the Year, but because Kendrick will have accomplished something that his predecessors (Kanye West, Jay Z, Eminem) have not. If the Grammys truly want to be progressive and stay ahead of the time, it should give Kendrick his due.
Who do you think will win Album of the Year? Sound off in the comments with your predictions!
Don't forget to tune in to music's biggest night — aka the 2014 Grammy Awards — on January 26, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.