Which five tunes will receive coveted song of the year nods when the Grammy nominations are announced Dec. 5?
Song of the year, along with best new artist, record of the year, and album of the year, compose The Big Four. The entire Grammy voting body can vote on these awards and that can tend to skew the results in favor of the most mainstream entries.
The winner for song of the year and all the other awards will be announced at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Feb. 10 on CBS.
To be eligible a song must have been released between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012. People often, understandably, confuse record of the year with song of the year. Record of the year goes to the artist, producer, recording engineer and/or mixer, whereas song of the year’s sole recipient is the songwriter. Therefore, when thinking about the song of the year contenders, I usually think about how the song would sound if it were performed only on a piano or an acoustic guitar with no other embellishment.
In recent years, there’s been great overlap between the song of the year and record of the year nominees. For example, this February, four of the five nominees were the same in both categories. In 2011, three out of the five were the same.
My predictions, listed in alphabetical order, have some duplication, but I also included songs that I thought met my sniff test above but wouldn't necessarily be record of the year contenders.
“Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen: This piece of pop culture led to so many imitators and most of them held up. That’s a sign of s strong, well constructed song. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s not simplistic.
“Gold On the Ceiling,” The Black Keys: It may not be quite as catchy as “Tighten Up” but it’s still a retro, blues stomp that stands out from everything else on the radio.
“I Will Wait,” Mumford & Sons: Grammy favorites M & S craft songs that sound so good live, whether they are fully embellished or stripped down and “I Will Wait” is no exception. The banjo-led melody and the “I Will Wait” refrain create an instantly-memorable tune.
“I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz: No, it’s not as jaunty as former nominee “I’m Yours,” but this plaintive love song has staying power at radio. It also one of those tunes that doesn’t seem to have that much going for it at first, but repeated listenings reveal a hidden depth.
“Locked Out Of Heaven,” Bruno Mars: The Grammys love him and this song, without the stuttering, high-gloss production, would work as a stirring ballad.
“Payphone,” Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa: Sure, it may be a little lightweight as a song, but it is so catchy that it could make it as a song of the year contender. Plus, the chorus was one of this year’s mightiest earworms.
“Spectrum,” Florence & The Machine: The song, co-written by Florence Welch and Adele’s producer/co-writer Paul Epworth, is grand and sweeping, growing from a shudder to a howl. Nothing else sounded like it this year.
“Thinkin’ Bout You,” Frank Ocean: Beautiful, provocative and sexy. Never a bad combination.
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift: Not only did Swift try something new with the alternative pop melody, but the lyrics are some of her cleverest, even if she does seem like she’s 15.
“We Take Care Of Our Own,” Bruce Springsteen: In this election year, this song stood out as a statement about our country. We may feel divided, but when the chips are down, such as with Super Storm Sandy, we’ve proved over and over again that we do, indeed, take care of our own. And Springsteen’s song, which is an appeal to our higher selves says it beautifully.
Which songs do you think will be nominated on Dec. 5?