Last year around this time I did an early look at what albums and singles released so far might emerge as contenders for the Grammy Awards. The end of March marks the end of the first half of the Grammy eligibility period.
By this time last year, eventual ROTY nominee "Empire State of Mind" and ROTY winner "Need You Now" had been big chart hits while "Nothin' on You" was becoming one. Among the AOTY nominees, the ladies (Gaga and Antebellum) were out. I was certain Rihanna would be a contender in the major categories, and I should've listened to John who said otherwise.
Last year, I noted that a strong rock contender had not yet emerged and that there always is one. Of course that eventually became the third album by Arcade Fire, which went on to win AOTY. I feel the same way this year, unless The Strokes' new album manages to really gain some traction, so I'm counting on the summer to offer something up.
Here are some potential 2012 Grammy contenders:
Adele. With 21 being an international sensation, Adele, who got some Grammy love in 2008, is the surest bet for both an AOTY nod for 21 and a ROTY nod for "Rolling in the Deep." I'd be pretty surprised if she's not the pop act to beat for next year's awards. Expect her to also dominate Best Pop Vocal Album and Pop Female Vocal Performance.
Kanye West. Even though it hasn't generated any major hits, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was widely heralded as Kanye West's best album yet. Considering that his first three all got AOTY nods, I think his latest has a good shot as well.
Taylor Swift. Swift was the Grammy darling of 2010. Although I don't expect she'll be cleaning up next year like she did last year, her third album, Speak Now, was another pretty big crossover hit and garnered enough acclaim that it should be considered a strong contender. She's less of a lock in ROTY, as the album has so far failed to generate a major crossover hit. For now, I'd say "Back to December" is at least in the running, but probably not for long.
Bruno Mars. Doo Wops & Hooligans is proving to be a major hitmaker, which could make the album a good contender for AOTY. "Just the Way You Are" was submitted for ROTY last year, so don't look for it this year. However, "Grenade" is a possibility. I think he's also a lock for Best New Artist, which he wasn't yet eligible for last year.
Nicki Minaj. She was the talk of last year, but wasn't eligible for Best New Artist since her album hadn't come out yet. I expect her to be duking it out with Bruno Mars in that category next year. She could also be a possibly AOTY contender, although not a strong one.
Pink. She didn't have a new album last year, but the singles from her greatest hits set, "Raise Your Glass" and "Perfect," have both become major hits for her. One or the other could be a potential ROTY contender, a category she's not yet appeared in.
Lady Gaga. We haven't yet heard her third album, but given her profile, I think it's safe to assume it will be a contender unless it isn't very good. Its first single, although a bit polarizing, has spent 6 weeks at #1, so I think it deserves to be considered a contender for now.
Best shots so far:
Album of the Year
Adele - 21
Bruno Mars - Doo Wops & Hooligans
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday
Taylor Swift - Speak Now
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
(A strong rock contender is needed, which would likely bump Minaj or Mars. If Lady Gaga's third album is as good as her first two, it could push in here too)
Record of the Year
Adele - Rolling in the Deep
Lady Gaga - Born This Way
Bruno Mars - Grenade
Pink - Raise Your Glass
Taylor Swift - Back to December
(Whatever emerges this summer will likely knock a few of these off, with Adele being the most safe in my mind.)