Graham: Adele, Beyoncé, Bowie lead Grammy contenders
The eligibility window is closed, and these are the albums most likely to show up when nominations are announced
Friday marked the cutoff for eligibility for this year’s Grammy Awards, meaning anything released between now and February’s ceremony won’t be considered until the following year’s show.
Putting aside the inanity of the Grammy timeline — who else counts years as starting in October and ending in September? — here are the albums that will figure heavily into the mix in the Album of the Year field when nominations are announced in December:
Adele, “25” — A no-brainer nominee for the Album of the Year contention. Adele’s third album was a record-smashing blockbuster, selling 3.38 million copies its first week in stores, shattering the previous record for one-week sales by nearly a million copies, and was recently certified as 10-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Those types of numbers don’t go unnoticed, and you can bet the farm Adele will be in the mix for the night’s top prize come Grammy night.
Beyoncé, “Lemonade” — Another slam dunk contender. Queen Bey’s sixth album, surprise-released in April, lit up the internet upon its release with fans theorizing about the album’s origins and its subject matter, which delves deeply into rumored extramarital affairs in the Beyoncé-Jay Z partnership. There are alternate theories (it’s all fiction, it’s about Beyoncé’s father), but whichever narrative you choose, the album is a stunning, cohesive work of art which could become her first album to be crowned Album of the Year, a category she’s been nominated in twice before (for “I Am ... Sasha Fierce,” which didn’t deserve to win, and “Beyoncé,” which did).
David Bowie, “Blackstar” — The biggest roadblock in Beyoncé’s path to Album of the Year supremacy is Bowie, whose 25th and final album was released just two days before his shocking death in January. The album became his first to reach the No. 1 spot in the U.S., and a big win on Grammy night could help shore up the Grammys’ oversights with regard to Bowie while he was alive (he won just one Grammy statue, for Best Short Form Music Video). The last artist to win a posthumous Album of the Year Grammy was Ray Charles for 2004’s duets set “Genius Loves Company,” which was released two months after his death. That win was strictly an honorarium; in Bowie’s case, the stark, heavily jazz-based “Blackstar” actually deserves its recognition.
Chance the Rapper, “Coloring Book” — The Grammys revised their eligibility rules to allow streaming-only projects to be nominated specifically for this set, which could make for a great Grammy underdog story.
Sia, “This is Acting” — The Aussie singer-songwriter has written a lot of hits for a lot of artists — from Kelly Clarkson to Rihanna to Beyoncé — which counts for a lot among voters.
Bon Iver, “22, A Million” — The 2012 Best New Artist winner’s first album in five years — released Friday, just under the Grammy deadline — is a knotty, experimental, deeply rewarding listen.
Frank Ocean, “Blonde” — His second album is more challenging than his previous set, 2012’s Album of the Year-nominated “Channel Orange,” but it’s a deep, progressive work by a boundary-breaking artist, which carries weight in Grammy circles.
Drake, “Views” — The Canadian rapper has garnered just one win in 27 nominations at the Grammys. He could find himself in the running this year, but “Views” isn’t strong enough to net him the big prize.
Kanye West, “The Life of Pablo” — The 21-time Grammy winner has never won in the Album of the Year category; a “Pablo” nod would be his first in the category since 2008’s “Graduation.”
Rihanna, “Anti” — The superstar has only been nominated for Album of the Year once before, for 2010’s “Loud,” but her stirring “Anti” could put her back in the mix.
Radiohead, “A Moon Shaped Pool”; Coldplay, “A Head Full of Dreams” — Need a British rock band in the mix? Either of these will do.
Justin Bieber, “Purpose” — The Canadian pop superstar has earned just three Grammy nominations to date and is still seen as an outsider by Grammy voters. “Purpose” could change that.
Paul Simon, “Stranger to Stranger” — Simon has been nominated for Album of the Year five times, and is one of just five artists to win more than one trophy in the category. Never count him out.