It's Grammy-guessing time with Friday night's Grammy Nominations Concert Live! happening on CBS with performances by Toronto rapper Drake, Seattle rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Canadian-American R&B crooner Robin Thicke, country star Keith Urban, and country-pop crossover star Taylor Swift, the latter beaming in from Sydney, Australia.
The final nominations in all 82 categories will be unveiled at the conclusion of the televised show and recordings eligible for nods must have been released between Oct. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2013.
The 56th Annual Grammy awards air Jan. 26 on CBS and City.
Here are my picks in the four top categories:
Album Of The Year:
Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience is the biggest selling album of 2013, plus he released a companion second album, The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2, on Sept. 27 just meeting the deadline. However, you can also expect Swift's mega-selling Red (released Oct. 22, 2012) to be his biggest competition and Drake's Nothing Was the Same, which had the third highest first week sales in 2013 after Timberlake's and Eminem's albums (the latter not eligible this year.) There's also rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist (Oct. 9, 2012), which has spawned a trio of hit singles in Thrift Shop, Same Love and Can't Hold Us, acclaimed country star Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park, Grammy fave Alicia Keys' Girl On Fire, industrial rocker Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails comeback record Hesitation Marks and pop singer Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox. CANADIAN LONGSHOT: Michael Buble's To Be Loved.
Record Of The Year:
There were a string of summer songs - Parisian electro duo Daft Punk's Get Lucky, Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, (featuring T.I. and Pharrell), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' Thrift Shop, Las Vegas pop-rock act Imagine Dragons' Radioactive and New Zealander Lorde's Royals - that seem to be contenders. But don't discount pop's reigning divas either. Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball and Katy Perry's Roar were both released in August of this year or Pink's Just Give Me A Reason featuring Fun.'s Nate Ruess and Mars' Locked Out Of Heaven. CANADIAN LONGSHOTS: Drake's Started From the Bottom; Buble's It's A Beautiful Day.
Song Of The Year:
I think Lorde's Royals, Perry's Roar or Cyrus' Wrecking Ball are frontrunners here in this award for songwriters. Other possibilities include crossover DJ Avicii's Wake Me Up, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' gay marriage supporting Same Love, Imagine Dragons' Radioactive and Pink's Just Give Me A Reason. CANADIAN LONGSHOT: Arcade Fire's Relektor with David Bowie on backing vocals (released Sept. 9, 2013), Celine Dion's Loved Me Back To Life (released Sept. 3, 2013).
Best New Artist:
I'm thinking this one is a lock for Lorde. But other candidates could include Musgraves, old-sounding but young American diva-in-the-making Ariana Grande, L.A. sister act Haim, Swedish crossover DJ Avicii, SoCal rapper Kendrick Lamar, and Aussie alt rockers Tame Impala. CANADIAN LONGSHOT: Toronto's alt-R&B singer The Weeknd.