The Grammys are tonight and that means it’s time to familiarise yourself with some artists.
Here are a few need-to-know artists who are going up against the venerable Beyoncé, the popular Taylor Swift, and the ubiquitous Pharrell. Some of these artists are viable competitors!
What he’s nominated for: Song of The Year
What you should know: The Irish singer is responsible what might be the best song of the year, “Take Me To Church.” The song was actually released in 2013, and the video made waves for its depiction of sexuality and its open critique of those who condemn homosexuality. In an excellent interview with The Cut, Hozier (full name: Andrew Hozier-Byrne) clarified what the song was about. He said:
“Take Me to Church” is essentially about sex, but it’s a tongue-in-cheek attack at organisations that would … well, it’s about sex and it’s about humanity, and obviously sex and humanity are incredibly tied. Sexuality, and sexual orientation — regardless of orientation — is just natural. An act of sex is one of the most human things. But an organisation like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation — that it is sinful, or that it offends God. The song is about asserting yourself and reclaiming your humanity through an act of love. Turning your back on the theoretical thing, something that’s not tangible, and choosing to worship or love something that is tangible and real — something that can be experienced.
Hozier has also recently made viral waves for a video which features him covering Ariana Grande’s “Problem.”
What she’s nominated for: Record of The Year, Song of The Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Music Video
What you should know: “Chandelier” was played all over the radio this summer, and its corresponding video wowed audiences, but Sia didn’t emerge from out of nowhere. In fact, the songerwriter, who often is credited as Sia Furler, has written scores of hit pop songs for Beyonce, Rihanna, and more. 2014 was the year she took center stage, and it could pay off — Billboard reported Spotify predicts “Chandelier” will take home some of the top prizes.
3. Childish Gambino
What he’s nominated for: Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Album
What you should know: If he looks familiar to you, there’s a reason — Childish Gambino is actor and comedian Donald Glover, who you probably know from “Community.” He has gained significant success and popularity as a rapper. He revealed some of his fears about his career, relationships, and this very album on Instagram in late 2013. Mic also took the time to point out that the comedian’s way with words transfers to his lyrics — his rhymes are chock full of wordplay.
What they’re nominated for: Best New Artist
What you should know: The band actually gained attention in 2013 — people started taking notice of this indie-pop girl group after the women performed on Saturday Night Live. The band is composed of three sisters, and Rolling Stone profiled their meteoric rise at the end of 2013. SPIN called the band’s debut album, “Days Are Gone,” “one of the most ruthlessly proficient pieces of music to come out this year.”
5. Sam Smith
What he’s nominated for: Record of The Year, Album of The Year, Song of The Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album
What you should know: Smith is pegged to take home plenty of awards. It’s like you’re familar with his massive hit, “Stay With Me,” and his excellent and emotional album, “In The Lonely Hour.” Smith recently received some attention from the media when word surfaced that he has to pay Tom Petty royalties for “Stay With Me,” since it sounds so much like Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
6. Ed Sheeran
What he’s nominated for: Album of The Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Song Written for Visual Media
What you should know: “I See Fire” gained popularity with “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” but Sheeran became a star in his own right this year.” Sheeran is also friends with fellow-nominee Taylor Swift.
7. Meghan Trainor
What she’s nominated for: Record of The Year, Song of The Year
What you should know: You heard “All About That Bass” all summer long, and Trainor is the woman behind the body acceptance anthem. The song prompted a bevy of thinkpieces, criticism, parodies, and more, but its catchy tune landed her two major nominations. But can the rest of Trainor’s music — including the similarly-sounding “Lips Are Movin” — gain the success that “All About That Bass” did?
What they’re nominated for: Best New Artist
What you should know: That song that played all year wasn’t called “If You Close Your Eyes” — it’s actually called “Pompeii.” In fact, it was released in 2013.
9. Brandy Clark
What she’s nominated for: Best New Artist, Best Country Album
What you should know: She’s the only contender in the Best Country Album category who’s also nominated for a Best New Artist award. That might because she’s not so new to the country game. Even though her album, “12 Stories,” marks her debut a solo artist, she’s a seasoned pro when it comes to writing country songs. In fact, similarly to pop music’s hitmaker-turned-solo artist, Sia, Clark has written songs for other artists, such as Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Sheryl Crow, Darius Rucker, and more.
10. St. Vincent
What she’s nominated for: Best Alternative Music Album
What you should know: This is St. Vincent’s first Grammy nomination, even though her debut album, “Marry Me,” was released in 2007. St. Vincent (real name: Annie Clark) was dubbed “Our David Bowie” by GQ Magazine for her massive guitar-playing talents and proclivity for writing unique songs.
What they’re nominated for: Best Alternative Music Album
What you should know: Rolling Sonte noted that the British band counts Miley Cyrus as one of its fans (it helps that the band sampled one of her tracks on their recent album, “This Is All Yours”). The band is known for blending a wide variety of musical styles in their tracks.
12. ScHoolboy Q
What he’s nominated for: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap Album
What you should know: ScHoolboy Q has been around for a few years, but now he’s getting some more attention. When Pitchfork’s Craig Jenkins reviewed Schoolboy Q’s now-nominated album, “Oxymoron,” he wrote:
ScHoolboy Q specialises in hairpin turns from cautionary street tales and remorseful reflection into wanton bacchanal, and Oxymoron is essentially a volleyball match between his warring proclivities … Oxymoron is a victory in that Q’s sound has made the jump to the majors fully intact in an era where major label debuts often take a chop shop approach to assembly.
DJ Premier commented that ScHoolboy Q should take the prize for Best Rap Album over rap-pop star, Iggy Azalea.
What she’s nominated for: Best R&B Performance
What you should know: Ledisi is up against Beyonce, Usher, Chris Brown, and Jennifer Hudson, which is huge competition. Her nominated song, “Like This,” only has just over 100,000 views on YouTube. But even though the 42-year-old songstress may not be as mainstream as her competition is, she still has received ample praise. NPR noted that her performance at the Essence Music Festival “stopped the whole thing dead.”
14. Jhené Aiko
What she’s nominated for: Best R&B Song, Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
What you should know: Aiko has been singing for a while, but many took notice when she sang alongside Drake during his “Saturday Night Live” performance in January 2014. Billboard celebrated her debut studio album with plenty of accolades:
On Aiko’s major label debut, “Souled Out,” the cuts run deep, searing with spite and indifference. Often, she’s calling a love interest out on his missteps. Even more, she looks inward, chronicling her wearisome romantic history. The bulk of the 12-song set is delivered in a quiet fashion, in the way the emotionless speak when their well’s run dry. […] “Souled Out” is an insular album, not meant to spill from nightclub speakers or queued up on playlists at house parties. It’s ‘party of one’ music to overthink with and lines to quote when angry at a significant other–the soundtrack for hard times.
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