"I'm shocked Hozier got left out of Best New Artist. I just don't understand," says Joseph Ortiz-Luis (screen name Cerulean), who wins $100 predicting our 2015 Grammy nominations contest. Ortiz-Luis was one of three users to reap 85% accuracy predicting this event at Gold Derby, though he broke the tie with his high 13,350 point score thanks to using his special 500 point bet wisely. Since Ortiz-Luis is eligible, as per our contest rules, he takes home our prize of a $100 Amazon gift certificate. (See our report on the Grammy bids right here.)
Ortiz-Luis hails from Houston, Texas where he is a full-time graduate student. He's been a Gold Derby member since 2012, but this is his first contest victory. "I'm a huge Gold Derby and award show fan, particularly the music award shows," he explains.
This reader's winning percentage accuracy and point total is the result of predicting 16 correct nominations across four categories. By placing his 500 point bet on Album of the Year and predicting all five nominees correctly — "1989" (Taylor Swift), "Beauty Behind the Madness" (The Weeknd), "To Pimp a Butterfly" (Kendrick Lamar), "Sound and Color" (Alabama Shakes) and "Traveller" (Chris Stapleton) — Ortiz-Luis earned a whopping 10,250 points in this category alone. That's why it's important to always rank the contenders in order of likelihood of winning in Gold Derby's prediction contests.
We sat down with Ortiz-Luis to get a feel for how he did so well at making his Grammy predictions this year and what he thought of the nominees and the snubs. Here are his juicy secrets:
"I have always believed the CMA Awards in early November are the best indicator for potential country Grammy nominations. If it seems like the country community is putting an overwhelming amount of support behind a certain artist or song, I feel like they usually find a way to sneak them into a general category. For instance, 'The House That Built Me' getting into Song of the Year along with 'Need You Now' for the 2011 Grammys. And of course, Taylor Swift had the entire country voting block behind her coming up to the 2010 Grammys, considering she swept the CMAs in 2009. That theory doesn't always work out, because 'If I Die Young' would've gotten into a general category a few years ago with the support it had. And of course we all know that country almost always gets a nominee in Best New Artist, and that's usually all country can muster sometimes, but other times they get lucky.
"I follow country pretty closely, so I'm usually good at noticing when the country block gets really excited about something. Sam Hunt was a no-brainer pick for the country slot in Best New Artist. 'Girl Crush' swept Single and Song at the CMAs and its semi-controversy with country radio just made it even more attractive of a pick (take a look at the country nominations; there's a big shift away from country radio hits towards more traditional country which lacks radio support). As for Chris Stapleton's 'Traveller,' I was completely floored by the support it got at the CMAs. Also, it has overwhelming critical acclaim and it falls perfectly in line with the big shift happening in country music. And I think the album is just the kind of thing the Grammys eat up. So I had an inkling 'Traveller' might get in.
"Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd have always been locks for album nominations. The combination of acclaim and popularity for each of their albums couldn't be ignored. I've considered Alabama Shakes Grammy darlings from the very start and their album had pretty good critical buzz. I don't know how anyone could leave out Ed Sheeran. 'Thinking Out Loud' was without a doubt going to get into both Record and Song. They love Sheeran and that song was a monster hit and everything the Grammys love.
"I have a lot of regret leaving Tori Kelly out because it seems obvious to me now, and I gave a little too much credit to 'Walk the Moon.' I'm very happy about the unexpected number of nominations for Florence + the Machine. The country, pop, American roots and music for visual media fields for my tastes are nearly perfect. Also, I'm loving the female insurgence in rock. And I do like Carly Rae Jepsen, but every time her name comes up for nominations, I facepalm. It's just so unrealistic at this point."
Make your Grammy predictions beginning with Album of the Year to the right or below. You can also predict the new artist, record, and song categories with many more to be added soon. Just log into your Gold Derby account (or you can register for a free account via Facebook, Twitter or Google) and then start casting your votes.
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it's important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts, just click "Save Predictions" when you've settled on your choice.
Hozier photo credit: Jonathan Hordle/REX
Grammy Award photo credit: CBS
Taylor Swift photo credit: Cindy Barrymore/REX