Will Grammy virgins dominate top races?

Alternative acts Mumford and Sons, Gotye and Florence + the Machine as well as R&B/hip-hop acts Drake and Frank Ocean are frontrunners for nominations and wins in Grammy’s top races.

All five of these artists have one thing in common: they’ve never won a Grammy. It’s nearly unprecedented for so many Grammy-less acts to go into Grammy season as the undisputed frontrunners for Record, Song and Album of the Year.

You have to go back to 1995 to find a time when Grammy virgins dominated the top races in terms of wins and nominations. Alanis Morrisette (Album of the Year, “Jagged Little Pill”), Seal (Record and Song of the Year, “Kiss from a Rose”) and Hootie and the Blowfish (Best New Artist) won all of the top races. These top races were littered with other nominees — including TLC, Shania Twain, Coolio, Joan Osborne, and Brandy — who had never won Grammys.

In 2010, Mumford and Sons, Drake and Florence + the Machine were all nominated for Best New Artist; Esperanza Spalding won while Justin Bieber was the fifth nominee.

Since then, Mumford and Sons have racked up multiple Grammy nominations. Their 2010 single, “Little Lion Man,” was nominated for Best Rock Song while 2011’s “The Cave” racked up nods for Record and Song of the Year as well as Best Rock Performance and Song honors. This year Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait” could contend for Record, Song and Rock Song honors while their album “Babel” will surely reap bids for Album of the Year and Alternative Album.

Drake’s nine Grammy nominations include numerous ones for solo rap performances, collaborations and a Best Rap Album bid for “Thank Me Later.” His sophomore album, “Take Care,” is the frontrunner to win Best Rap Album and may vie for Album of the Year honors. Best Rap Performance and Rap/Sung collaboration nods are likely.

Florence + the Machine haven’t received any nominations since their Best New Artist bid. However, their critically acclaimed sophomore disc, “Ceremonials,” could find itself in the running for Album of the Year and Best Pop or Alternative Album. “Shake it Out,” one of the album’s most prominent singles, might compete for Record and Song as well as Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

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Ocean and Gotye have never been nominated for Grammys, but that is sure to change this year. Both are frontrunners for Best New Artist nominations.

Gotye’s number one hit, “Somebody I Used to Know,” features Kimbra and is sure to be nominated for Record, Song and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Gotye’s “Making Mirrors” may contend for Album of the Year and Alternative Album.

And Ocean is this year’s most buzzed-about new act. His single “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You” may land bids for Record, Song, R&B Performance and R&B Song. And his debut offering, “Channel Orange,” is one of the year’s most acclaimed albums. Look for him in Album of the Year and R&B Album, too.

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