(Editor's Note: The final nominations for the 56th GRAMMY Awards are not known until Friday, Dec. 6, the evening of "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" Recordings eligible for nominations must have been released between Oct. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2013. The following blog features nominations predictions that do not reflect the opinions of The Recording Academy, GRAMMY.com or Recording Academy voting members. The Academy's voting members, all involved in the creative and technical processes of recording, participate in the nominating process that determines the five finalists in each GRAMMY category; and the final voting process that determines the GRAMMY winners. For more information on the GRAMMY Awards process, visit GRAMMY.org.)
The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards don't air until Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, on CBS, and the final nominations will not be revealed until Dec. 6 at the conclusion of "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" — which will feature performances by Drake, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thicke, and Keith Urban, among others. But that hasn't stopped the pundits from predicting who'll be at Staples Center waiting for their names to be called on Music's Biggest Night.
Of course, I am just as anxious as you are to hear who'll be up for the music industry's biggest honors, and since I have no prior knowledge of the nominations results, the following are educated guesses from my vantage point as a longtime professional observer.
For Album Of The Year honors, it would be tough to discount Justin Timberlake, who released two studio albums in 2013: The 20/20 Experience and its sequel, The 20/20 Experience — 2 Of 2. Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox is a strong possibility. Indie rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist has spawned a trio of hit singles in "Thrift Shop," "Same Love" and "Can't Hold Us." Country contenders include CMA Best New Artist Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park, along with Luke Bryan's Crash My Party. Also in contention are Alicia Keys' Girl On Fire, and three rock veterans: Elton John's T Bone Burnett-produced comeback, The Diving Board, Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails resurrection, Hesitation Marks, and John Fogerty's catalog reboot, Wrote A Song For Everyone.
As far as Record Of The Year goes, Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," (featuring T.I. and Pharrell), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop," Lorde's "Royals," Mars' "Locked Out Of Heaven," and Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" were among the most ubiquitous hits of the year, and all could be candidates in this category. But don't overlook Timberlake's "Mirrors" or Pink's "Just Give Me A Reason" featuring Fun.'s Nate Ruess.
In the Song Of The Year category, an award for songwriters, possibilities include Avicii's genre-bending "Wake Me Up" (co-written with Aloe Blacc, Incubus' Mike Einziger and Ash Pournouri); Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' politically charged defense of gay marriage, "Same Love" (written by the duo with Mary Lambert); Adele's "Skyfall" (Paul Epworth); Rihanna's "Stay" (Mikky Ecco, Justin Parker); Lorde's "Royals" (Lorde); Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (Imagine Dragons, Elof Loelv, Alex Da Kid, Josh Mosser); and Pink's "Just Give Me A Reason" (Pink, Ruess, Jeff Bhasker).
The Best New Artist category looks to be particularly competitive. Candidates include young divas Lorde and Musgraves, sister act Haim, UK neo-rockabilly teen phenom Jake Bugg, crossover DJ Avicii, SoCal rappers Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt, alternative mainstays Alt-J and Tame Impala, Icelandic popsters Of Monsters And Men, and "American Idol" country-folk crooner Phillip Phillips.
The Best Rock Album hopefuls include Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires Of The City, Queens Of The Stone Age's …Like Clockwork and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James' Regions Of Light And Sound Of God. Veterans David Bowie (The Next Day), Fogerty (Wrote A Song for Everyone), John (The Diving Board), Elvis Costello And The Roots (Wise Up Ghost), and John Mayer (Paradise Valley) could also be in the mix.
Musgraves may get her hat in the ring for Best Country Album, as well as Florida Georgia Line (Here's To The Good Times), Taylor Swift (Red), Blake Shelton (Based On A True Story), and Bryan (Crash My Party). Vince Gill & Paul Franklin (Bakersfield), George Strait (Love Is Everything), Darius Rucker (True Believers), and Brad Paisley (Wheelhouse) are also among the possible contenders.
Best Pop Vocal Album may see Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby, Lorde (Pure Heroine), Keys (Girl On Fire), Haim (Days Are Gone), Emeli Sande (Live At Royal Albert Hall), and Thicke (Blurred Lines), among others, jockeying for position.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist, Kanye West's Yeezus, Jay-Z's Magna Carta… Holy Grail, and Drake's Nothing Was the Same are potential nominees in the Best Rap Album field, though newcomers Lamar (good kid, m.A.A.d. city), J. Cole (Born Sinner), Sweatshirt (Doris), and A$AP Rocky (Long Live A$SAP) could also make a showing.
Find out who will be nominated in select categories for the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards by tuning in to "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" on Dec. 6 on CBS from 10–11 p.m. ET/PT. Check GRAMMY.com that evening for a full nominations list and related GRAMMY content.