Grammy Awards preview: Inside track on 18 top races

Beyonce, Pharrell Williams, and newcomer Sam Smith lead this year’s Grammy Awards with six nominations each. All three contend for Album of the Year, along with Beck (“Morning Phase“) and Ed Sheeran (“X“). Which artist will win top honors when these top musical honors are handed out on Sunday, Feb. 8?

Beyonce shocked the music industry in late 2013 when she released her self-titled fifth album suddenly and without advance promotion. It was a hit with critics and audiences and is now only her second album to earn a bid in the Grammys’ top race; she lost in 2009 with “I Am … Sasha Fierce” to Taylor Swift (“Fearless”).  

Meanwhile, Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour” makes him only the 10th artist in the awards’ history to earn bids in all four general-field races in one year – he’s also up for New Artist as well as both Record and Song of the Year for “Stay With Me.” News that he has been required to extend co-writing credit on that tune to Tom Petty for his similar-sounding 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down” broke after Grammy voting ended on Jan. 16

Pharrell Williams is nominated three times for Album of the Year, for his own disc “GIRL” and as a producer on both “Beyonce (album)” and “X.”

Ed Sheeran’s bid for “X” is his first in the category, while the most veteran artist in the race, Beck, contends for the third time in his career.

Click on the links below for our complete analysis of Album of the Year along with 17 other hotly contested Grammy races.

GENERAL FIELD

Album of the Year
Will Beyonce finally add Album of the Year to her massive Grammys collection?

Record of the Year
How Taylor Swift could upset Sam Smith and Sia for Record of the Year at Grammys

Song of the Year
Will Sia win Grammy for Song of the Year after years writing hits for other artists?

Best New Artist
Sam Smith is Grammys frontrunner for New Artist, but watch out for Iggy Azalea

GENRE CATEGORIES

Best Pop Solo Performance
Will Sam Smith be first male artist to win Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance?

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Artist collaborations dominate Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Best Pop Album
Grammy for Pop Album will surely go to Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith, right? Maybe not

Best Traditional Pop Album
Will Lady Gaga help Tony Bennett to another Trad. Pop Grammy against overdue Barbra Streisand?

Best Rock Album
Beck in Grammys battle against U2 and Black Keys for Best Rock Album

Best Alternative Album
Arcade Fire looks for Grammys redemption in Alternative Album race

Best R&B Album
Can Toni Braxton and Babyface win Grammy for R&B Album for the first time?

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Beyonce vs. Pharrell Williams in Grammys showdown for Urban Contemporary Album

Best Country Album
Will Miranda Lambert get overdue Grammys love for Best Country Album?

Best Comedy Album
Louis C.K. vs. chart-topper Weird Al Yankovic for Comedy Album Grammy?

Best Spoken Word Album
‘Mad Diva’ Joan Rivers could win posthumous Grammy for Spoken Word Album

Best Musical Theater Album
Neil Patricks Harris may get closer to EGOT with Grammy for Musical Theater Album

Best Visual Media Compilation
Can ‘Frozen’ hold off James Brown in Grammys race for Visual Media Compilation?

Best Rap Album
Iggy Azalea and Eminem could both make Grammy history with Rap Album win

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