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Inside Imagine Dragons' Biggest Hits: Dan Reynolds Details How "Believer," "Radioactive" & More Came To Be
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons performs at the NOS Alive festival in Lisbon, Portugal, in July 2022.

Photo: Pedro Gomes/Redferns

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Inside Imagine Dragons' Biggest Hits: Dan Reynolds Details How "Believer," "Radioactive" & More Came To Be

On the heels of Imagine Dragons' sixth album, 'Mercury - Act 1 & 2,' frontman Dan Reynolds reveals the backstories behind smash songs like "Thunder," and "Enemy."

GRAMMYs/Aug 5, 2022 - 05:35 pm

Since Imagine Dragons debuted 10 years ago, billion has become their default number. Four of the hitmaking group's singles — "Radioactive," "Believer," "Demons," and "Thunder" — each have more than a billion views on YouTube and a billion streams on Spotify.

Clearly those aren't the only songs that have made Imagine Dragons one of the most commercially successful rock bands of the 2010s. Combined, the group's streams top 100 billion, thanks to other hits like "Whatever It Takes" and "Enemy." The latter track is part of the group's sixth LP (and first compilation album), Mercury - Acts 1 & 2, and became their latest top 5 single on the Billboard Hot 100 — proving that they're not done making hits.

Behind each one of Imagine Dragons' songs is frontman Dan Reynolds, the group's principal songwriter. While the band has only been active in the mainstream for a decade, 35-year-old Reynolds is going on 25 years of making music.

"I started writing when I was 12, and I have recorded a song almost every day since then," Reynolds tells GRAMMY.com. "I have thousands and thousands of recorded songs with lyrics and melody that never saw the light of day."

Luckily for Imagine Dragons and their fans, plenty of songs have emerged from Reynolds' daily songwriting — and it's taken him and his band around the world. The group kicked off their 72-date Mercury World Tour in Miami in February, and they return to North America on Aug. 5 after a stretch of shows in Europe. (They had to cancel shows in Ukraine and Russia due to the countries' ongoing conflict, but Imagine Dragons showed their support for Ukraine by becoming ambassadors for United24, the organization launched by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that collects charitable donations for his country.)  

During a brief break from performing, Reynolds reminisced with GRAMMY.com about some of his group's most recognizable hits to date.

"It's Time" — Night Visions, 2012

The major-label debut single from Imagine Dragons cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, also finding its way onto multiple screens thanks to Gossip Girl, Perks of Being a Wallflower and Glee.

Ten years later, it's still the song with which Imagine Dragons open the majority of their live shows. For Reynolds, "It's Time" serves as perhaps the most full-circle song in their catalog. "I wrote 'It's Time' in my dorm room the week I was dropping out of college to pursue music," he recalls. "The stomp clap is me hitting my desk."

After moving back to his hometown of Las Vegas, Reynolds recorded the song with the rest of the band at The Studio at the Palms. "We added the group's stomps and claps, but we kept the slaps and claps I had done in the dorm room," he says. "There is something about the youthfulness of that song. It took us from obscurity into alternative radio. It paved the way for 'Radioactive' and is still, to this day, one of my favorite songs."

"Radioactive" — Night Visions, 2012

Imagine Dragons' highest-charting single on the Hot 100, the No. 3-peaking "Radioactive" was the band's first top 5 single. It also gave Imagine Dragons another big first: their first GRAMMY.  "Radioactive" won Best Rock Performance at the 56th GRAMMYs, where it was also nominated for Record Of The Year (and where the group performed the song with Kendrick Lamar).

"My first memories of 'Radioactive' are me living in a studio apartment at the Villa Carlotta in L.A. with my wife and first child," recalls Reynolds. "My wife and I were both struggling musicians. She was the singer of a band called Nico Vega who were signed to MySpace. Imagine Dragons was unsigned. We played at the Viper Room and Alex da Kid's assistant attended our show, bought our EP and gave it to Alex. [Alex] emailed saying 'I like your songwriting. Would you like to come in and do some songwriting sessions?'"

"Radioactive" was one of the first songs they wrote, with Reynolds writing the lyrics and melodies and Alex da Kid creating the dubstep beat. With the addition of Wayne Sermon's guitar parts, Ben McKee's bass and Daniel Platzman's drums, the song became, "More and more strange," laughs Reynolds. "Combining EDM and dubstep and five rock instruments was weird. But we wanted to keep listening to it. That was promising."

But when they brought "Radioactive" to their newly minted team at Interscope — their label home since 2011 — Reynolds remembers being told "This can never play on Top 40 radio." Nonetheless, "It forced its way on the radio," he asserts. "It was a monster. One of those songs that just wanted a life of its own and took on a life of its own."

"Demons" — Night Visions, 2012

Imagine Dragons' second Top 10 single "Demons" was "written in two hours," says Reynolds, during those same early songwriting sessions with Alex da Kid. Reynolds would write from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day, and present what he had to Alex da Kid at the end of the day.

"Alex is usually very reserved and not reactive," says Reynolds. "I remember specifically when I played 'Demons' he was like, 'This is really special,' which is a lot for him. When we brought in the band, it took even more life. Same as 'Radioactive,' where adding real instrumentation took something that was electronic and brought more live emotion to it, it made the song feel magical.

"We were an unsigned band at this time," Reynolds continues. "Even though these songs feel special, we had no understanding or idea that they would go on to be massive. In a perfect world, we wanted to maybe get enough fans to be able to do a club tour around America and play in front of 150 people in every city. The dream was to be able to sustain ourselves as indie artists. We had no understanding of what the songs would actually end up doing."

Last year, "Demons" was Diamond-certified, making Imagine Dragons the first band to have three Diamond-certified singles at the time; "Thunder" hit that milestone certification this July, adding to their record-breaking RIAA legacy.

"Believer" — Evolve, 2017

"Believer" marked the start of Reynolds working with Swedish songwriting/production duo Mattman & Robin, as well as hit-making songwriter Justin Tranter — collaborators who Reynolds says helped Imagine Dragons get back on track.

"We self-produced our second record, Smoke & Mirrors, which is one of my favorite records that we've done," says Reynolds. "But its biggest weakness is, it was way over-produced. When it's four people producing, it's easy to overthink and keep adding, so it's a huge wall of sound on every song." 

With that in mind, Reynolds says the band took "a really minimalistic view" when approaching Evolve. "Mattman and Robin, that's what they do: very few sounds, but really intelligent and well thought out. We were in a room with [Tranter] and 'Believer' came really quick. It was one of those songs that was waiting to be written."

"Believer" spent 29 weeks topping the Hot Rock & Alternative chart — their longest run on the tally to date. Additionally, "Believer" is the only song in Imagine Dragons' catalog to have more than 2 billion streams on Spotify and 2 billion views on YouTube. 

"Thunder" — Evolve, 2017

Imagine Dragons' fourth Diamond-certified single was nominated for Best Pop/Duo/Group Performance at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The song spent 24 weeks in the No. 1 position on the Hot Rock and Alternative Songs chart and seven weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

"It was recorded at my computer in my front entry room," recalls Reynolds. "If you listen really closely, you can hear a couple of my kids screaming in the background. There was nothing professional about it. It wasn't in a studio. It's not recorded in a vocal booth. I recorded it in one evening, sent it back to Alex, he said, 'I love this, let's get the band on it.'"

"Whatever It Takes" — Evolve, 2017

"Whatever It Takes" is Imagine Dragons' unintentional sports anthem. The third Hot Rock & Alternative Songs No. 1 — in a row — from Evolve was the official theme song for WWE's Battleground 2017 as well as featured on Madden NFL 18.

"We lived with that song for months," remembers Reynolds. "We kept feeling like the chorus sounded too familiar. Nobody could put their finger on it. We finally realized it sounded too close to Gary Glitter's 'Rock 'n' Roll.' It wasn't the same melody, but it was close enough that it made you think of it. We got rid of the chorus. I rewrote and re-recorded the chorus at my house in the same front lobby that I recorded 'Thunder.' I wanted that kind of redemptive chorus and I tried to stay in that zone when I was creating it."

Says Reynolds of the GRAMMY-nominated Evolve, "It's a big record for us, which is crazy because we felt Night Visions was one of those things that we were never going to replicate and that it was all downhill from there."

"Natural" — Origins, 2018

Also an unintentional sports anthem, "Natural" was the hype song for ESPN's 2018 college football season. Reynolds wrote "Natural" during the same sessions as "Believer," but held on to the song for a strategic reason.

"When you put out an album, you're lucky in this day and age, if maybe you get two big singles," he says. "You don't get three or four singles. It just doesn't happen that way. We knew 'Natural' was going to be a big song, but we didn't want to put it on Evolve, because it would get buried with 'Thunder' and 'Whatever It Takes' and 'Believer.'"

So, they put it on Origins, which Reynolds calls "the sister album" to Evolve. "I'm really glad we did that, because I don't think it would have ever been released as a single or seen the light of day otherwise."

"Enemy (with JID)" — Mercury - Act 1/Arcane League of Legends Soundtrack, 2021

When the video game company Riot Games presented Arcane: League of Legends to Imagine Dragons to tap them for a theme song, Reynolds felt "Enemy" was a good fit for the Netflix animated series.

"We had the whole song complete," remembers Reynolds. "But we thought it'd be cool to have a guest appearance on it. We took out my vocals on the bridge. I really love JID and suggested him. What he added to it really brought it up a level."

It was four years from the time "Enemy" was written to when it was released with Arcane. But it was worth the wait for Imagine Dragons: "Enemy" earned them their first top 5 hit on the Hot 100 in five years.

"Bones" — Mercury - Acts 1&2, 2022

The lead single from Mercury - Act 2, "Bones," earned Imagine Dragons their 22nd Top 10 hit on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. Reynolds says his writing for Mercury - Acts 1&2 revolved around the concept of finality — and "Bones" exemplifies that idea.

"I was really hyper focused on death," says Reynolds. "That sounds so morbid, but that was the theme of the record. My goal was to write a song about death that was not sad. It's the first time we've ever made a dance song. When we play 'Bones' live, everybody's dancing. It's not typical for Imagine Dragons. That's not the rhythm that we go for. It's usually more angsty.

"'Bones' is supposed to be self-aware and a little bit ironic. But also, it was part of my lifelong obsession about, 'What is life? Why are we here? Where are we going? What happens when we die?' And also about not wanting to recognize death because it's such a scary thing to talk about. Why not just sing about it and make light of it?"

As "Bones" continues to rack up the streams and views and Imagine Dragons hit the road again, one thing remains clear: They're showing no signs of stepping down from their place as one of the biggest rock bands of their generation. 

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Jay Z Tops 56th GRAMMY Nominations With Nine

Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams earn seven nods each; other top nominees include Daft Punk, Drake, Lorde, Bruno Mars, and Taylor Swift

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Nominations for the 56th GRAMMY Awards were announced tonight by The Recording Academy and reflected one of the most diverse years with the Album Of The Year category alone representing the rap, pop, country and dance/electronica genres, as determined by the voting members of The Academy. Once again, nominations in select categories for the annual GRAMMY Awards were announced on primetime television as part of "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night," a one-hour CBS entertainment special broadcast live from Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

Jay Z tops the nominations with nine; Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams each garner seven nods; Drake and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig are up for five awards.

"This year's nominations reflect the talented community of music makers who represent some of the highest levels of excellence and artistry of the year in their respective fields," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "Once again, The Academy's awards process and its voting membership have produced an impressive list of nominations across various genres promising music fans a spectacular show filled with stellar performances and unique 'GRAMMY Moments.' We are off to a great start and look forward to GRAMMY Sunday as Music's Biggest Night takes the stage."

Following are the nominations in the General Field categories: 

Album Of The Year:
The Blessed Unrest — Sara Bareilles
Random Access Memories — Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City — Kendrick Lamar
The Heist — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red — Taylor Swift

Record Of The Year:
"Get Lucky" — Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
"Radioactive" — Imagine Dragons
"Royals" — Lorde
"Locked Out Of Heaven" — Bruno Mars
"Blurred Lines" — Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Song Of The Year:
"Just Give Me A Reason" — Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink Featuring Nate Ruess)
"Locked Out Of Heaven" — Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Bruno Mars)
"Roar" — Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry)
"Royals" — Joel Little & Ella Yelich O'Connor, songwriters (Lorde)
"Same Love" — Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert)

Best New Artist:
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Following is a sampling of nominations in the GRAMMY Awards' other 29 Fields:

For Best Pop Solo Performance, the nominees are "Brave" by Sara Bareilles; "Royals" by Lorde; "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars; "Roar" by Katy Perry; and "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake.

The nominees for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance are "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams; "Just Give Me A Reason" by Pink Featuring Nate Ruess; "Stay" by Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko; "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams; and "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake & Jay Z.

For Best Dance/Electronica Album, the nominees are Random Access Memories by Daft Punk; Settle by Disclosure; 18 Months by Calvin Harris; Atmosphere by Kaskade; and A Color Map Of The Sun by Pretty Lights.

The Best Rock Performance nominees are "Always Alright" by Alabama Shakes; "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" by David Bowie; "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons; "Kashmir (Live)" by Led Zeppelin; "My God Is The Sun" by Queens Of The Stone Age; and "I'm Shakin'" by Jack White.

For Best Alternative Music Album, the nominees are The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You by Neko Case; Trouble Will Find Me by The National; Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch Nails; Lonerism by Tame Impala; Modern Vampires Of The City by Vampire Weekend.

The nominees for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration are "Power Trip" by J.Cole Featuring Miguel; "Part II (On The Run)" by Jay Z Featuring Beyoncé; "Holy Grail" by Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake; "Now Or Never" by Kendrick Lamar Featuring Mary J. Blige; and "Remember You" by Wiz Khalifa Featuring The Weeknd.

For Best Rap Album, the nominees are Nothing Was The Same by Drake; Magna Carta…Holy Grail by Jay Z; Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar; The Heist by Macklemore  & Ryan Lewis; and Yeezus by Kanye West.

The Best Country Album nominees are Night Train by Jason Aldean; Two Lanes Of Freedom by Tim McGraw; Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves; Based On A True Story by Blake Shelton; and Red by Taylor Swift.

The nominees for Best Americana Album are Old Yellow Moon by Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell; Love Has Come For You by Steve Martin & Edie Brickell; Buddy And Jim by Buddy Miller And Jim Lauderdale; One True Vine by Mavis Staples; and Songbook by Allen Toussaint.

This year's Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominations go to Rob Cavallo, Dr. Luke, Ariel Rechtshaid, Jeff Tweedy, and Pharrell Williams.

This year's GRAMMY Awards process registered more than 22,000 submissions over a 12-month eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2012 – Sept. 30, 2013). GRAMMY ballots for the final round of voting will be mailed on Dec. 11 to the voting members of The Recording Academy. They are due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte by Jan. 8, 2014, when they will be tabulated and the results kept secret until the 56th GRAMMY telecast.

The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held Jan. 26, 2014, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and once again will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich is executive producer, and Louis J. Horvitz is director.

For updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook

Map It: Where Are Bruno Mars, Drake, And Adele Popular?

Drake

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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Map It: Where Are Bruno Mars, Drake, And Adele Popular?

Find out where in the U.S. your favorite GRAMMY-winning artists are most popular

GRAMMYs/Aug 7, 2017 - 11:30 pm

Ever wonder where in the United States Beyoncé is most popular? How about Drake or Imagine Dragons?

Thanks to The New York Times, you no longer have to guess. In an Aug. 7 feature, they "set out to map the contours of music fandom and culture in the United States."

The Times first looked to Billboard's Top 100 chart to choose the artists they would track. From there, they narrowed the list down to the top 50 artists based on YouTube views. Using YouTube's geocoded streaming data, they compiled a map for each of the 50 artists, which shows the locations where artists have the highest concentration of fans.

The result is a fascinating set of data. For example, GRAMMY winners such as Beyoncé and Rihanna are most popular in the South. Imagine Dragons and Twenty One Pilots fans appear highly concentrated in the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber has a large fanbase in Las Vegas. The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Adele, Kendrick Lamar, and Taylor Swift are popular in the West, while Drake's fans seem to live in the Southwest.

Want to know more? Take a look at your favorite artist's map, and while browsing, you can even set a personalized playlist based on your zip code.

Read More: Rihanna To Beyoncé: Scholarships For School

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Set List Bonus: 2013 Made In America Festival

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Tirsa Lori
Philadelphia

It seems fitting that a two-day music festival aimed at bringing together people from various walks of life to enjoy live music would be held in the City of Brotherly Love.

The second annual Budweiser Made In America Festival, co-founded by GRAMMY winner Jay-Z, took place in Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway from Aug. 31–Sept. 1. With a diverse lineup that consisted of 40-plus acts performing on four different stages, there was music for everyone, spanning hip-hop, dance/electronica, rock, and R&B. The temperature was in the high 80s to low 90s throughout the weekend, with humidity levels hovering around 75 percent, but the heat didn't deter festivalgoers from lining up early to snag a good spot to catch their favorite band.

It was hard to contain my excitement as I made my way through the festival gates, only stopping briefly, as many others did, to snap a picture of the festival signage. Day one featured performances by artists such as 2 Chainz, Porter Robinson, Imagine Dragons, and Queen Bey, aka Beyoncé. 2 Chainz did not disappoint on the Liberty Stage as he engaged the crowd throughout his set, rapping along to hits such as "Birthday Song" and "R.I.P." From there, I maneuvered through picnicking fans and hightailed it to the Rocky Stage to catch Las Vegas alt-rock group Imagine Dragons, who soared through tracks off their debut album, 2012's Night Visions, including their Top 5 hit "Radioactive." Lead vocalist Dan Reynolds proved he's also a skilled percussionist as he pounded on large drums throughout the set.

After dancing to Robinson's set at the Freedom Stage, I headed back to the Rocky Stage to catch GRAMMY winners Phoenix and Beyoncé. The crowd pleaser of the night for Phoenix was their performance of "1901," which sent the crowd into a fit of cheers and screams. Shortly after, EDM star Deadmau5 rocked the house at Liberty Stage to a sea of Mau5heads. Fans were treated to glimpses of Jay-Z onscreen during Deadmau5's performance, which led many to believe there might be a special appearance by Mr. Carter. But Beyoncé later put those rumors to rest when she reminded us during her performance that we were "now at the Mrs. Carter show." Her set featured short films, costume changes and performances of hits including "Crazy In Love" and "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)."

The second and final day of the festival was also full of highlights. Wiz Khalifa brought his wife, Amber Rose, onstage and serenaded her while performing "Roll Up." During Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' set, Macklemore expressed how he's not always "proud to be an American" before advocating for equality and segueing into "Same Love." Queens Of The Stone Age proved they weren't sorry for party rocking as frontman Josh Homme noted his disdain for rules, and even gave security a piece of his mind after they forced one fan to dismount her boyfriend's shoulders.

Adding some humor to the day, GRAMMY winner Miguel — following his performance of "How Many Drinks?" — asked the ladies in the crowd how many drinks it would take for one of them to leave with him. Many screamed back, "None!" Calvin Harris' set was one big dance party aided by songs such as "Sweet Nothing" and "Feel So Close." Nine Inch Nails closed the weekend with a 90-minute set that opened with a performance of "Copy Of A," a track from their new album Hesitation Marks, and closed with a stunning performance of "Hurt."

After two full days of music, Jay-Z proved once again that he knows how to throw a party.

(Tirsa Lori is a Senior Accounts Payable Coordinator for The Recording Academy. In the past, she has planned different events at the University of Southern California, working with artists such as Bruno Mars and Omarion.)

 

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The 56th GRAMMY Awards: The Guessing Game

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

(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.