Last year’s Grammy results seemed like a foregone conclusion. Adele dominated pop culture in 2011, earning rave reviews and blockbuster record sales for her sophomore album, “21,” for which she swept the general field categories, including Record and Song of the Year for “Rolling in the Deep.” She won all six of her nominations, tying the record for the most awards for a female artist in a single year.
This year, such a clear consensus is hard to find. The Recording Academy spread the wealth, with six artists topping the nominations with six bids apiece: Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, Fun., Jay-Z, Mumford and Sons, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West.
Only one of those artists is nominated in all four general field categories — Fun. — who contend for Best New Artist, Album of the Year for “Some Nights,” and Record and Song of the Year for “We Are Young.” They are also nominated for Pop Duo/Group Performance and Pop Album.
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R&B/hip-hop artist Ocean competes against Fun in three categories. His critically hailed debut album, “Channel Orange,” is up for Album of the Year, and his song “Thinkin’ Bout You” is in the running for Record of the Year. He’s also up for Best New Artist, and he would be only the second solo male artist in twenty years to win that category, following John Legend in 2005.
Mumford and Sons were snubbed for Record and Song, but they nevertheless contend for Album of the Year for their second album, “Babel,” and its lead-off single “I Will Wait” is nominated for Rock Performance and Rock Song. Despite six previous nominations, the British folk group has yet to win a Grammy.
The Black Keys are nominated for Album of the Year for “El Camino,” their critically acclaimed seventh album, as well as Record of the Year for their single “Lonely Boy.” The rock duo won a pair of Grammys in 2010, but these are their first nominations in the general field.
Nine-time Grammy winner Jack White (left) is the only Album of the Year nominee who has competed in the category before: for “Elephant” in 2003 as half of the duo the White Stripes. This time around he is nominated for his first solo album, “Blunderbuss.”
This year’s Grammys are distinguished by their welcoming of new blood. Only one of this year’s general-field nominees has ever won a general-field category before: Taylor Swift, who won Album of the Year in 2009 for “Fearless,” is nominated for Record of the Year for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Will any of this year’s top nominees sweep the awards, or will voters evenly distribute prizes among winners as they did with the nominees?