If you’ve been counting down the days until Taylor Swift, Elton John, and Rick Ross are in the same room, your dreadful wait is almost over. Almost. Now that the
Beyoncé Super Bowl has come and gone–taking much of New Orleans’ electricity along with it–it is time for us music nerds to prognosticate on which of our favorite acts will take home something big and shiny at the 2013 Grammy Awards this weekend… and who will be adding trophies to their bookshelf.
While many of this year’s races are extremely close and surprisingly on par with our personal playlists, the field of Best New Artist is one we have the toughest time figuring out. Will it be the cute and super talented country star, who can play just about any instrument AND has received invites to high school prom as a result? Or how about the guys who inspired us all to enjoy our nights out a little bit more? Here’s a short but sweet argument for each of the five nominees, in case you need a little help deciding who to root for, as well as a poll for YOU to weigh in with your vote as to who should be this year’s Best New Artist.
“Cool” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The Southern slow-burn of these Alabama-bred rockers gets taken up a notch, thanks to the incredible lead vocals and guitar of Brittany Howard (a woman we want to be when we grow up). Her voice adds an explosive ferocity to an sprawling, casual sound, punctuated by an audible twang our best attempts at a passable “y’all” will never create. There’s little sense of urgency; instead, the band invites you to kick back and stay awhile as music washes over you.
Buzzworthy since the release of his free mixtape nostalgia ULTRA in 2011, Ocean’s highly anticipated major label debut, channel ORANGE, did not disappoint. “Pyramids” is a sprawling and dramatic masterpiece centered around a strip club, while “Thinkin Bout You” remains a beautiful love song flowered in falsetto and hope. With past songwriting credits for Justin Bieber and Beyoncé, Ocean seems to be on everyone’s studio wishlist these days. And in a world of extreme behavior, his honesty and observed maturity continues to make loved by all.
Getting a major kick from Glee and a few well-placed commercials, the threesome’s brand of pop-rock has left a significant mark on the music world. Lead signer’s Nate Ruess’ voice is fiery and unpredictable, sticking with you after the fact. Singles like “We Are Young” taught us to live in the moment, helping to further fuel Drake’s ongoing movement, while “Some Nights” proved that we are ready for a second-coming of Yes.
The 21-year-old country star wrote every song on his self-titled debut and played all 30 of the instruments heard, including piano, guitar, banjo, drums, and accordion. Singles like “Wanted” are the perfect score to weddings or grand, romantic gestures, and his thoughtful songwriting suggests there’s plenty more material to make your heart melt where that came from.
It was hard not to hear the sweet sounds of our You Oughta Know alum’s smash, “Ho Hey,” anywhere over the past 12 months. Even J.C. Chasez has made it his own! The Denver-based folk trio found a winning formula with their back-to-basics approach, which relies heavily on strings to create a warm framework for lead singer Wesley Schultz’s haunting voice.
While the winners and losers will be left up to the Academy to decide, we want to hear from YOU! Whose music made 2012 that much better? Which songs could you not live without? And most importantly, who is “going places,” as they say in the biz (or at our grandmother’s house)? Let us know!
[Photos: Getty Images]