When it comes to Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, it’s Frank Ocean’s world and the rest of the nominees are just swimming in it.
With six nominations for his album Channel Orange total, the neo-soul sensation will go head-to-head with what are essentially four rock acts for album of the year.
But none of them rocked Channel Orange‘s artistic vision, with its intricately woven soundscapes and storytelling.
Ocean is even more of a no-brainer for best new artist, a category that’s missing some worthy competition from the likes of Gotye and Ed Sheeran. Stealing their spot is bluesy rock band Alabama Shakes in the biggest surprise of the bunch.
Here’s who should win big at the Grammy Awards:
• Album of the Year Channel Orange, Frank Ocean
• Best New Artist: Frank Ocean
• Record of the Year: “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye (featuring Kimbra)
Even with six contenders – instead of the usual five for this coveted prize, there are some notable absences, including “Take Care,” Drake’s mesmerizing trance dance with Rihanna (which would have gotten my vote), and the ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe.” While each single here has its merits, for me it comes down to a battle between Fun’s and Gotye’s No. 1’s. I’d be happy to see either win, but the creepy-cool slink of Gotye’s breakup song edges out Fun’s power-pop anthem.
• Song of the Year: “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen
Usually there is more overlap between record of the year and this category, which is a songwriting award. Aside from Kelly Clarkson, each of these artists had a hand in penning their tune. But nothing captured the pop zeitgeist in 2012 like “Call Me Maybe” – all giddy innocence in troubled times. Some kind of magic.
• Best Pop Vocal Album: I wouldn’t mind seeing the under-nominated Pink take this home for The Truth About Love but Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials is the glory of a goddess.
• Best Rock Performance: In a toss-up, I’d give it to Mumford & Sons (“I Will Wait”) over the Black Keys (“Lonely Boy”) for making the banjo rock.
• Best Country Album: With Four the Record Miranda Lambert slays the country-boy competition (Zac Brown Band, Hunter Hayes)
• Best R&B Song: Although Ocean is strangely missing in this category, even he would have been trumped by the rapturous romance of Miguel’s “Adorn.”
• Best Rap Album: I was pulling for Drake to get an album of the year nod for Take Care, so surely he deserves this over Nas, the Roots et al.
• Best Dance Recording: The club-kid catharsis of “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia (featuring John Martin) beats out Calvin Harris and Skrillex tracks.
The 55th annual Grammys will air Sunday, Feb. 10, on CBS at 8 p.m.ET/PT (7 p.m. CT) from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.