It’s challenging to determine a frontrunner in this year’s Grammy race for Best Rock Album. Only one nominee has ever contended in this category before, and only two have ever won any Grammys at all. So who has the advantage?
None of these five nominees has a corresponding Album of the Year nomination, which usually indicates strength in the genre fields. However, Muse has been in this race before. The British band won this category for “The Resistance” in 2010 and were nominated for “The 2nd Law” in 2012. This time they contend for “Drones,” their seventh studio album. But this marks their only nomination this year.
They face another veteran group, the heavy metal band Slipknot. They’re nominated for their fifth studio album, “.5: The Gray Chapter.” Despite one past bid for Best Hard Rock Performance and an impressive eight for Best Metal Performance (they won that in 2005 for “Before I Forget”), this is their first nomination for Best Rock Album.
Death Cab for Cutie are also nominated for the first time in this category — for their eighth album “Kintsugi” — but that’s because they used to compete in a different race. They’ve earned four nominations for Best Alternative Album, but they have yet to win in any category. Like Muse, this is their only nomination this year.
Those three groups are up against a pair of newcomers, the more prominent of whom is James Bay. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter is the most nominated artist in this race, with three bids in all including Best New Artist and Best Rock Song (“Hold Back the River“). His general-field nomination may indicate that he has more support than his competitors, but of course his veteran rivals weren’t eligible for Best New Artist.
However, Highly Suspect were. They’re nominated here for their first full-length album, “Mister Asylum,” which was released in July 2015. But even though they weren’t nominated in the top four categories, they do also contend against Bay for Best Rock Song for their single “Lydia.”
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James Bay photo credit: Will Ireland/Future Publishing/REX
Matt Bellamy of Muse photo credit: RMV/REX
Corey Taylor of Slipknot photo credit: MediaPunch/REX