Rapper Kendrick Lamar, who is scheduled to perform at the Grammys, is a first-time nominee for several awards. (Christopher Polk / Getty Images)
There’s an infusion of fresh blood at the Grammys this year. In the Album of the Year category, for example, Taylor Swift is the grizzled veteran, while the rest of the nominees are new to the field.
It wasn’t too long ago that artists such as Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (2009), Herbie Hancock (2008) and Ray Charles (2005) were regularly winning the top prize at music’s biggest night. But the Grammys have made a concerted effort in recent years to freshen their image, and it shows again in this year’s pool of nominees.
As in recent years, this year’s Grammy telecast — which airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS — will be more of a concert than an awards show. Swift is set to perform, as are Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Kacey Musgraves, Lorde, Metallica and Robin Thicke. Daft Punk will make a rare appearance, and will share the stage with Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers and Stevie Wonder, while former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are slated to meet up as part of a Beatles tribute.
Only a handful of awards will be handed out on the telecast, with the rest given out during a pre-show ceremony that will be streamed live on the Internet.
Here is a breakdown of some of the night’s top categories and predicted winners:
Album of the Year
Nominees: Sara Bareilles, “The Blessed Unrest”; Daft Punk, “Random Access Memories”; Kendrick Lamar, “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City”; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “The Heist”; Taylor Swift, “Red”
Who will win: Count out Bareilles, the wackiest, most left field Album of the Year nominee in years. That leaves Daft Punk’s love letter to massive studio production and three albums that were released in October 2012. Swift has already won in this category, for “Fearless” in 2010, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis — while they delivered several massive smashes — seem too untested.
So it comes down to Kendrick Lamar’s gorgeous, gritty tale of growing up in Compton and Daft Punk’s sprawling, old-school by way of new-school disco opus. Give it to the robots, and prepare for the most awkward acceptance speech of the night.
Who was snubbed: Kanye West’s demented, enthralling “Yeezus.”
Song of the Year
Nominees: Pink featuring Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me a Reason”; Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”; Katy Perry, “Roar”; Lorde, “Royals”; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert, “Same Love”
Who will win: In a category packed with hits, three of these are just hits, while two went for something bigger. “Royals” came out of nowhere to become one of the year’s biggest anthems, a send-up of hip-hop culture and one percenters by a self-styled voice of the people.
But “Same Love” takes a bold stance on gay marriage that is rare in pop music and even rarer in hip-hop, and a vote for “Same Love” is more than just a vote for “Same Love.” It’s a political stance, and it will likely win this songwriter’s award.
Who was snubbed: Miley Cyrus’ awkward grammar constructions in “We Can’t Stop” may have left her out of this category, but where was “Wrecking Ball?”
Record of the Year
Nominees: Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, “Get Lucky”; Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”; Lorde, “Royals”; Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”; Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Who will win: Superproducer Pharrell Williams is up against himself in this category with two of the year’s biggest juggernauts. “Get Lucky” vs. “Blurred Lines” was a war that raged all year long, with “Blurred Lines” eventually winning out by topping the Billboard chart for 12 weeks in the summertime. But “Get Lucky” could get lucky come Grammy night, since it’s the more respected of the two songs. Don’t completely count out Lorde, whose “Royals” could sneak a victory, but otherwise this one is for Daft Punk — and, of course, Pharrell.
Who was snubbed: Kanye West’s staggering, sparse missive “New Slaves” may have been too confrontational to play ball in this category, but its omission is glaring.
Best New Artist
Nominees: James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran
Who will win: Ed Sheeran performed with Elton John at last year’s Grammy ceremony, so he’s late to his own party. (Why wasn’t he nominated last year?) Blake and Musgraves are respected, but their nomination is their award.
So it comes down to Lamar and the duo of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and while Lamar is almost certain to have the longer, more fruitful career — his wins will come down the road — Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have the edge here.
Who was snubbed: Up-and-comer Ariana Grande, whose “Yours Truly” album (and her showstopping performance at the American Music Awards) hinted at a bright future to come.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Nominees: Lana Del Rey, “Paradise”; Lorde, “Pure Heroine”; Bruno Mars, “Unorthodox Jukebox”; Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”; Justin Timberlake, “The 20/20 Experience — The Complete Experience”
Who will win: Timberlake may have had this one locked, but his nomination comes for both of his 2013 albums, and the poor reception of Vol. 2 may hurt him. Lorde is the young go-getter in the category, but this category is the perfect place to honor Bruno Mars, who was shut out of the Album of the Year category but is perhaps the most promising young artist in music today. Give him his due.
Who was snubbed: Timberlake’s first volume of his “20/20 Experience,” which would have had a better shot on its own.
Best Rock Album
Nominees: Black Sabbath, “13”; David Bowie, “The Next Day”; Kings of Leon, “Mechanical Bull”; Led Zeppelin, “Celebration Day”; Queens of the Stone Age, “... Like Clockwork”; Neil Young with Crazy Horse, “Psychedelic Pill”
Who will win: Sabbath, Zeppelin, Neil Young, Bowie — is this 2014 or 1974? Against those vets, Queens of the Stone Age have no shot, even though its “... Like Clockwork” was one of the mightiest albums of the year. Among the titans, Bowie’s “The Next Day” was the most vital work. Never count out the Thin White Duke.
Who was snubbed: Deftones’ rock steady “Koi No Yokan.”
Best Alternative Music Album
Nominees: Neko Case, “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You”; The National, “Trouble Will Find Me”; Nine Inch Nails, “Hesitation Marks”; Tame Impala, “Lonerism”; Vampire Weekend, “Modern Vampires of the City”
Who will win: Nine Inch Nails returned in a big way with “Hesitation Marks,” but the album really came alive during the band’s phenomenal 2013 tour, not on the album itself. This one deserves to go to Vampire Weekend, whose third album is the most substantial, nuanced and lovely work the band has released to date.
Who was snubbed: Fall Out Boy, who returned from the brink of nothing and delivered a solid effort to “Save Rock and Roll.”
Best Rap Album
Nominees: Drake, “Nothing Was the Same”; Jay Z, “Magna Carta ... Holy Grail”; Kendrick Lamar, “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City”; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “The Heist”; Kanye West, “Yeezus”
Who will win: Since Kendrick is nominated in several big categories but is doubtful to win there, this is the category where he can expect to shine. “Yeezus” is the more daring album, but with “Good Kid” Kendrick delivered a classic his first time at the plate. If Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sneak a win, expect a backlash of angry comments on Twitter.
Who was snubbed: No one. All five nominees deserve to be there.
56th annual Grammy Awards
8 p.m. Sunday
Coming to town
Here’s a look at when some of this year’s Grammy nominees are headed to Detroit in concert (dates are subject to change):
Neko Case(Best Alternative Music Album), Jan. 31, Hill Auditorium
Darius Rucker(Best Country Solo Performance), Jan. 31, Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center
Gary Clark Jr.(Best Rock Song, Best Traditional R&B Performance), Feb. 11, Palace (opening for Kings of Leon)
Kings of Leon(Best Rock Album), Feb. 11, Palace
Robin Thicke(Record of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album), March 12, Fox Theatre
Lorde(Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album), March 16, Fillmore Detroit
Dream Theater(Best Metal Performance), April 4, Fillmore Detroit
Mayer Hawthorne (Best Boxed or Limited Edition Package), June 6, Garden Theater
Bruno Mars(Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album), June 18, Palace of Auburn Hills
Lee Brice(Best Country Solo Performance), June 19, DTE Energy Music Theatre (opening for Luke Bryan)
Tim McGraw(Best Country Duo/Group Performance, Best Country Album), July 18, Faster Horses (at Michigan International Speedway)
Miranda Lambert(Best Country Solo Performance), July 20, Faster Horses (at Michigan International Speedway)
Little Big Town (Best Country Duo/Group Performance), July 18-20, Faster Horses (at Michigan International Speedway)
Keith Urban(Best Country Duo/Group Performance), July 19, Faster Horses (at Michigan International Speedway)
Justin Timberlake(Best Pop Solo Performance, Bets Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best R&B Song, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap Song, Best Music Video), July 28, Palace
Katy Perry(Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance), Aug. 11, Palace
Kacey Musgraves(Best New Artist, Best Country Song, Best Country Album), Aug. 11, Palace (opening for Katy Perry)