The Pop field have four categories that award the best in pop music. And not exclusively pop but also crossover hits from artists from other genres such as rock, dance, R&B, alternative and sometimes country.
Best Pop Solo Performance
- Taylor Swift — “Blank Space”
- Ed Sheeran — “Thinking Out Loud”
- The Weeknd — “Can’t Feel My Face”
- Ellie Goulding — “Love Me Like You Do”
- Kelly Clarkson — “Heartbeat Song”
Three of the nominees in the Pop Solo category are also competing for Record of the Year: Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd. The winner for this award must be among them.
The most likely choice seems to be Taylor Swift for “Blank Space”. First because female singers have the advantage. Secondly, she dominates the field. However, keep in mind that Taylor is yet to win an award in pop. She was nominated in this very same category last year and lost to “Happy”. In 2010, she lost the now defunct Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category against Beyoncé.
The second favourite to win here is Ed Sheeran for his bluesy-ballad “Thinking Out Loud”. Some experts and forum posters claim that Sheeran is overdue for a GRAMMY and since he had lesser chances in the general field, this category could be his reward.
The Weeknd, on the other hand, is being underrated. Let’s not forget that “Can’t Feel My Face” was also one of the top-selling singles of the year and this category incline towards the biggest hits.
- Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars — “Uptown Funk!”
- Taylor Swift & Kendrick Lamar — “Bad Blood”
- Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth — “See You Again”
- Florence + the Machine — “Ship to Wreck”
- Maroon 5 — “Sugar”
Since the Pop Duo/Group Performance was created, the category had been dominated by collaborations. A group is yet to win, and despite there is a good balance between groups and collaborations this year. There’s a strong possibility that a collaboration will win again.
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are the unquestionable winners for “Uptown Funk”. They are also the safest bet for Record of the Year but there they have stiffer competition. Here, they don’t have much. Both of them are two former GRAMMY-winners with the best selling-song of the year.
If there is any other act that could dethrone “Uptown Funk” is the remix of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” with Kendrick Lamar. The Academy might want to award a single-win to the most talked-about artist at this year’s show but, they have better chances at Best Music Video. Also, pop songs featuring rap verses are yet to win this category.
Even in the previous Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category the only pop/rap song to win was Gorillaz and De La Soul ten years ago. That’s what also hurts Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s chances for the Furious 7 song “See You Again”, nominated for Song of the Year.
The only two groups in this category are not expected to win. However, if either of them do then the winner could be Florence + the Machine with “Ship to Wreck”, as they are contending another three categories. Maroon 5 hadn’t win a GRAMMY since 2008.
Best Pop Vocal Album
- Taylor Swift — 1989
- Kelly Clarkson — Piece by Piece
- Florence + the Machine — How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
- Mark Ronson — Uptown Special
- James Taylor — Before this World
If there is one category guaranteed for Taylor Swift, that is Best Pop Vocal Album for her blockbuster 1989. Swift did not win any GRAMMYs for Red but that was because the album was half country and half pop. 1989 is a better elaborated album and it is officially pop. Swift’s rivals here form an interesting group.
Kelly Clarkson is the only multiple winner in this 21 year-old category, but Piece by Piece did not produce the same buzz or hits that her previous winning-albums, Breakaway (2006) and Stronger (2013), had. She lost this category once in 2010.
Following Clarkson there is another former nominee, Florence + the Machine for the critically-acclaimed How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The only group in a category that is dominated by solo artists. The English band was also nominated in 2013 for Ceremonials losing to Clarkson.
The last two are the only male nominees and also former winners: Mark Ronson and James Taylor. They have hardly any chance at winning but, there are always surprises.
Ronson won the award as the producer for Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black in 2008. Multiple retro-sounding albums have won such as Steely Dan (2001), Amy Winehouse (2008), Duffy (2009) and Bruno Mars (2014). James Taylor won the award in 1998. His own Hourglass was the last folk-pop album to win this category.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
- Bob Dylan — Shadows in the Night
- Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap — The Silver Linning: The Songs of Jerome Kem
- Barry Manilow and various artists — My Dream Duets
- Josh Groban — Stages
- Seth McFarlane — No One Ever Tells You
There is not much discussion about this category. Some are overestimating Tony Bennett’s chances to win since he holds the record of twelve wins in this category. However Bennett had lost twice, too —ironically to the same person, Michael Bublé—. These two loses also come from albums that did not created a heavy impact such as Cheek to Cheek with Lady Gaga (2015) or his MTV Unplugged, the Album of the Year winner in 1995.
That being said, I am going to bet on Bob Dylan for Shadows in the Night. First because it celebrates Frank Sinatra —the Academy celebrated Sinatra 100 last December—, and second because it was also one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of the year.
What do you think? What are the winners going to be like for the pop field?