Two past winners of the now-defunct Male Pop Performance prize face off against three women who have never won Grammys in the gender-neutral Pop Solo Performance category.
Justin Timberlake won Best Male Pop Performance for “Cry Me a River” in 2003 and for “What Goes Around … Comes Around” in 2007. Both of those songs came from albums that contended for both Album of the Year and Best Pop Album. This year, he is nominated in the now gender-merged category for “Mirrors” from “The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience.” While he reaped seven Grammy nominations including Best Pop Album, he was snubbed for Album of the Year despite the first installment of “The 20/20 Experience” being the top selling disc of 2013. He is the only nominee without a General Field nomination for Album, Record or Song.
Bruno Mars won Best Male Pop Performance for “Just The Way You Are” in 2010. He returned in 2011 to contend in the newly-merged category in 2011 for his song “Grenade” but lost to Adele with “Someone Like You.” He has four nominations this year including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Locked Out of Heaven” and Best Pop Album for “Unorthodox Jukebox.” His Pop Solo nomination is for his ballad “When I Was Your Man.” Mars is a good bet but not a clear winner.
While Sara Bareilles surprised the music world with an unexpected Album of the Year nomination for her third studio release “The Blessed Unrest,” it is not in contention for Best Pop Album. This is her third bid in this category after “Love Song” in 2008 and “King of Anything” in 2010. She returns this time for her anthem “Brave” and may just surprise us with a first Grammy win.
Likewise, Katy Perry has never won a Grammy. She has received 11 Grammy nominations in total, including six in a row in this race. This year she contends with “Roar” from her third album “Prism. “Roar” is also nominated for Song of the Year. With no clear frontrunner to win this year, she may finally win a Grammy.
Lorde is the only first-time contender in this category. Although untested, she is also nominated for both Record and Song of the Year for “Royals” and Best Pop Album for “Pure Heroine.” She goes head-to-head with Mars for all four of her nominations. “Royals” ranked at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks and is still in the top 10. This gives Lorde an advantage of being fresher in the minds of the Grammy voters.
This is one of the most competitive categories this year and a case could be made for any of the five nominees. Who do you think will win? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu.