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?
We’re polling nine Expert journalists for their picks, and six of them say it will be “Drones” by past champs Muse, giving them leading 8/13 odds: Tim Gray (Variety), Edna Gundersen, Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo Music), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby) and Chris Willman.
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. “Drones” is their seventh studio album, but this marks their only nomination this year.
The 25-year-old Bay 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 veterans like Muse weren’t eligible for Best New Artist.
This is the first nomination in this contest for Death Cab, but they’ve earned four previous nominations for Best Alternative Album. However, they have yet to win in any category, and like Muse, this is their only nomination this year.
Meanwhile, our Editors, we who cover awards year-round for Gold Derby, and our Top 24 Users, who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Grammy winners, are evenly divided. Three editors (Marcus Dixon, O’Neil and Sheehan) and 11 top users pick Muse, while the other three editors (Chris Beachum, Rob Licuria and I) and 10 top users forecast James Bay, so it looks like this may come down to the wire.
None of our experts, editors or top users are predicting the remaining two nominees in this category: “.5: The Gray Chapter” by Slipknot or “Mister Asylum” by Highly Suspect. This is the first nomination in this category for both artists, though while Highly Suspect are newcomers, this is actually Slipknot’s fifth album. But Slipknot do have one past Grammy win: Best Metal Performance in 2005 for “Before I Forget.” That means that, besides Muse, they’re the only past Grammy champs in this contest.
Who do you think will win?
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James Bay photo credit: Will Ireland/Future Publishing/REX
Matt Bellamy of Muse photo credit: RMV/REX