Album of the Year is the most coveted prize at the Grammy Awards. The genre categories are a great indicator as to who is likely to be the night’s big winner. So let’s take a closer look at this year’s five leading contenders for Best Pop Vocal Album, all of which are strong possibilities for nominations in the general field as well.
There is probably no safer pick than predicting Adele’s “25” to be nominated both here and for Album of the Year. After all, Adele dominated Grammys 2011 with “21,” winning Album, Record, and Song of the Year (plus both pop performance and vocal album). Her current disc broke the all-time first-week sales record, selling 3.3 million copies in its first 7 days, and it was recently certified diamond by the RIAA for shipments of a whopping 10 million albums overall. To put that in perspective, the best-selling 2016 release, Drake’s “Views,” has sold 1.5 million copies in nearly six months. Adele’s astronomical commercial success combined with continued acclaim and general public goodwill makes her an absolute lock in this category.
Another pop commercial juggernaut is “Purpose” by Justin Bieber. This album marked his transition from teen idol to sophisticated pop star. Three massive number-one singles, “Purpose” re-wrote the narrative of his troubled career after a couple years testing his limits with his fans and the law. Aside from two nominations in 2010 and a win last year for Best Dance Recording as a featured artist, Bieber has gone unnoticed by the recording academy. But the undeniable success of this late-2015 release will likely change that.
More than 15 years into their career, Coldplay remain firmly on the recording academy’s radar. They released “A Head Full of Dreams” last December and have enjoyed impressive longevity on the project, mostly thanks to the success of singles “Adventure of a Lifetime” and “Hymn for the Weekend,” as well headlining the Super Bowl halftime show. Over the course of their career they have won Best Alternative Music Album twice (“Parachutes” in 2001, “A Rush of Blood to the Head” in 2002) and Best Rock Album once (“Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends”” in 2008). They competed in pop field in 2014 for “Ghost Stories,” but Sam Smith won for “In the Lonely Hour.” Can they finally add Best Pop Album to their expanding list of genre awards?
The 1975 were the first pop act to emerge in the new year with a Grammy contender. Their sophomore effort, “I Like it When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It,” steers them toward funk, dance and straight-on pop and away from the indie-rock style of their debut album. They debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200 and gave a buzzed-about “SNL” performance last winter, raising their profile and broadening their reach. Their mix of experimental and commercial material could make them a left-field choice in this year’s pop field.
One of the most unlikely pop stars of the last five years has been Sia. After a fruitful run throughout the 2000s as a left-of-center indie act she retreated from the spotlight and started cranking out massive hits as a songwriter (and occasionally as a featured artist). She re-emerged in full in 2014 with the breakout hit, “Chandelier.” Refusing to show her face, Sia incorporates unique choreography and performers into her music videos and live performances. Her offbeat presentation has paid off – “Chandelier” got four Grammy nominations and her 2016 release “This is Acting” spawned a number-one single in “Cheap Thrills.” With an upcoming deluxe set due for release later this fall, Sia has strong momentum heading into Grammy season.
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