There isn’t much precedent to consider when predicting Best Rock Performance at the Grammys. The category has only existed in its current form since 2011. Before that, the Grammys divided rock performances between solo artists and duos/groups. And for several years, solo performances were further split between male and female artists.
But despite only three previous years of the consolidated Rock Performance category, there is a past winner in the mix this year: the Black Keys, who won in 2012 for “Lonely Boy” and now contend for their song “Fever.” They also won Rock Duo/Group in 2010 for “Tighten Up,” so we know the recording academy is fond of them, but they might also have another advantage: duos and groups have had a significant advantage in this category against solo artists.
Since the category was created, groups have earned the majority of nominations (15 out of 21) and all three previous victories – Foo Fighters in 2011 (“Walk“), Black Keys in 2012, and Imagine Dragons in 2013 (“Radioactive“). In fact, this year’s race is the first time solo artists outnumber groups.
But when the Black Keys won in 2012, they were also nominated for Record of the Year. So were Imagine Dragons. None of this year’s nominees contend in the top race, so it’s more difficult to determine which song might have the most support from the recording academy.
But there is one artist in this race who contends in the general field: Beck, whose “Morning Phase” is up for Album of the Year. He competes in this category for that album’s lead single, “Blue Moon.” Previously, he earned two Solo Rock Performance nominations and won Male Rock Vocal for “Where It’s At” in 1996. Does his Album of the Year bid indicate greater strength in this race?
They face Grammys darling Jack White, who has won more awards (nine) than all of his competitors combined. He’s nominated for the second year in a row in this category, for “Lazaretto,” the title track from his second solo album. He previously won Best Rock Duo/Group as a member of the White Stripes in 2007 for “Icky Thump.”
The remaining nominees would be first-time Grammy-champs. Ryan Adams (“Gimme Something Good“) has been nominated multiple times without a win, including Male Rock Vocal for “New York, New York” (2001) and Solo Rock Vocal (“Wonderwall,” 2004). The last nominee, the group Arctic Monkeys (“Do I Wanna Know?“), is nominated for the third time.
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