Tonight, LL Cool J will return to host the 57th Annual Grammy Awards for the fourth time. Although the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will give out over 80 awards, four main categories keep most of the nation’s attention.
1. Song of the Year
Sia’s “Chandelier” seems the most promising, but all the contenders are plausible winners. T-Swift’s “Shake it Off” was nothing if not infectious, and the same goes for “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. “Take Me to Church,” Hozier’s only nomination, sticks out from the rest of the pack. Although “Stay with Me” was everywhere this year, it would be a surprising winner after the recent press about its similarities to Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
2. Record of the Year
The Grammys can seem repetitive and confusing if you don’t understand the subtle differences between categories. Record of the Year is for one single or track from an album. It differs from Song of the Year in that the award is meant to recognize the performer, not the songwriter.
The nominees for Record of the Year are almost identical to those for Song of the Year, except that Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX’s “Fancy” replaces “Take Me to Church.” All good tracks, Sam Smith looks like he has a chance at this one.
3. Album of the Year
Album of the Year is one of the few major Grammys not yet in Beyoncé’s large collection. Beyoncé was one of the most game-changing albums of the year, but she’s far from a shoe-in. Sam Smith and Pharrell tied Queen Bey for most nominations this year, each with six, and both have a chance at taking this one home.
4. Best New Artist
This category always seems kind of funny because music moves so quickly that by the time the award is given out, many of the artists are far from new. The eligibility period for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards was October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014, so a lot of what you’re listening to now is probably not going to be up for nomination until next year.
Pandora predicts Iggy Azalea will take this one home, but Sam Smith definitely still has a horse in this race. The nominees also include new country music star Brandy Clark, Bastille of “Pompeii” fame, and the sister rock band HAIM.
Beyond awards, Sunday’s Grammys will also be full of live performances, including Sia, Hozier, Ed Sheeran, Miranda Lambert and Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney’s “FourFiveSeconds.”