In case you've forgotten, the 57th Grammy Awards are happening this Sunday night, Feb 8, at 8/7c (on CBS). I think it's safe to say that every single band or musician dreams of one day winning a Grammy. But for those of us who lack the gift of musical talent, we can still enjoy watching the event on TV. Here are some important things that you should probably know about this year's biggest music night (you can impress your friends with all of your new knowledge too) ::
1. The 57th Grammy Awards considers releases between October 1, 2013 - Sept 30, 2014.
This explains why T. Swift's album 1989 (Oct. 27, 2014) isn't nominated for Album Of The Year (but "Shake It Off" (Aug. 18, 2014) sneaked it's way in there a few times). And why "Say Something" by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera is nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (Nov.4, 2013) . Doesn't that song feel like a lifetime ago?
This type of back-dating is also confusing because the year of the award (ie, 2013 Album of the Year) corresponds to the year in which the award was presented (but for works released in the previous year). So all of the winners on Sunday night are winning the "2015 XYZ Grammy Award", but really, it's for their work done in 2014. Clear as mud?
2. But what's the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year?
According to the Grammys FAQ, Record of the Year "recognizes the artist's performancera as well as the overall contributions of the producer(s), recording engineer(s), and/or mixer(s)", while Song of the Year "recognizes the songwriter(s)".
And in general, a "record" is what you'd otherwise call a "song" - not an actual record/vinyl. So don't confuse Record of the Year (single) with Album of the Year (entire album) either!
3. There's a category called "Best Spoken Word Album".
This includes poetry, audiobooks, and storytelling albums. Nominees include James Franco, Jimmy Carter, Joan Rivers, Gloria Gaynor, John Waters, and Elizabeth Warren. In case you were wondering what that's all about.
4. The Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category has some pretty serious contenders.
Frozen - Christopher Beck. Gone Girl - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. The Grand Budapest Hotel - Alexandre Desplat. Gravity - Steven Price. Saving Mr. Banks - Thomas Newman.
Note: The Reznor/Ross team won this category in 2013 for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Their work on The Social Network (2010) was also incredible, in my opinion (but didn't get nominated).
Again - I wish the score by Hans Zimmer for Interstellar would have made the cutoff. Also amazing. Hopefully it will still be remembered for next year!
5. "And the Grammy for Best Surround Sound Album goes to..."
Yes, this is a category. It's been around since 2005 and is awarded not to the artist (obviously) but to the surround mix and mastering engineers and/or surround producers. Beyonce's album Beyonce is nominated. And even more surprising, Queen Bey herself is credited as the surround producer. Interesting.
6. There is a Best Music Video Grammy award.
Nominees include "Turn Down For What" and "Happy". But I'm pretty sure we're all in agreement that Sia's video for "Chandelier" will win.
#TBT: the 2000 Grammy Award winner was Korn's video for "Freak On A Leash". That video will forever be ingrained in my mind, as it battled Nsync for #1 on TRL for like, 20 weeks at least. (Don't you miss TRL? Me too.)
7. Pop music had a great year - and the nominees for Best Pop Vocal Album reflect it well.
Coldplay - Ghost Stories. Miley Cyrus - Bangerz. Ariana Grande - My Everything. Katy Perry - Prism. Ed Sheeran - X. Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour.
Pretty much sums up every U.S. radio station's 10-song, repeating playlist for 2014. And actually, I don't see much of a variation for 2015 either. Except there's more Taylor Swift in 2015.
8. Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - two tough categories this year.
Best Rap Performance nominees include Childish Gambino, Drake, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Lecrae. I actually really like Lecrae - he's a drug-dealer-turned-Christian rapper who writes meaningful and powerful lyrics.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration song nominees include "Blak Majik", "The Monster", "Tuesday", "Studio", and "Bound 2". But I'm partial to "Tuesday" by I Love Makonnen ft Drake :-)
9. Enough about the awards. WHO WILL BE PERFORMING?
Announced today, Katy Perry was the last artist added to the performance line-up. Sadly, she's ditching those dancing sharks and beach balls, and robotic lion/tiger for a more intimate performance of her song "By The Grace of God".
There's a massive list of other performers, but some of the notables include Beck, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Juanes, Madonna, Beyonce, Eric Church, Ariana Grande, Hozier, Adam Levine, Paul McCartney, Common, Rihanna, Sia, Sam Smith, Kanye West....shall I go on? Read them here.
[LL Cool J is hosting, by the way.]
10. Sam Smith and the "Big Four"
Not to be confused with public accounting's "Big Four" (ha), this is the Grammy nickname for the four General Field categories which are not restricted by genre or other criterion :: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.
Sam Smith is only the 10th artist to receive nominations in all four categories - and he's only 22! Mariah Carey was 20 when she had her "Big Four" moment, and Amy Winehouse is the only other foreign-born artist to be similarly nominated. Christopher Cross is the only musician to have actually won all four awards.
Some others in "Big Four" company include Cyndi Lauper, Tracy Chapman, Paula Cole, India.Arie, and Fun.
11. The Lifetime Achievement Award
There are a number of deserving musicians receiving this award this year. Buddy Guy had a widespread influence on a variety of genres and artists, from Hendrix to Clapton to Page, but he is most loved for his contributions to the Chicago Blues scene in the 1960s (alongside Muddy Waters and Chess Records). Jeff Beck will be performing in tribute to the legendary guitarist.
George Harrison is also receiving the award - and if you don't know who he is, shame on you. Fun fact about Harrison that I just learned is that he was later in a supergroup called The Travelling Wilburys, which included Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. Not too shabby.
The Bee Gees are also on the list. The three brothers, Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb, started as a rock act but became key parts of the disco era in the 1970s, with their hits "Jive Talkin'" (1975), "Stayin' Alive" (1977), and "Night Fever" (1978). And let's not forget "How Deep Is Your Love" (1977). Sadly, two of the three brothers have passed away, with Barry being the sole survivor.
12. Who are these Best New Artist nominees?
Iggy Azalea - 24-year-old Australian rapper. Biggest hits include "Fancy" ft Charli XCX, "Black Widow" ft Rita Ora, and "Problem" ft Ariana Grande.
Bastille - four-piece English rock band. Biggest hits include "Pompeii", "Of The Night", and "Oblivion".
Brandy Clark - 38-year-old country music songwriter who has recently turned singer. Biggest hits include "Stripes", "Get High", and "Hungover".
Haim - four-piece indie rock girl band from LA. Biggest hits include "The Wire", "Falling", and "If I Could Change Your Mind". [Just announced that they'll be touring with T.Swift, which is gonna be huge for them.]
Sam Smith - 22-year-old British singer-songwriter. Biggest hits include "Lay Me Down", "I'm Not The Only One", "Stay With Me", and "Latch" ft Disclosure.
>> I wouldn't exactly call these artists "new" anymore (pretty sure they have no problem selling out arenas on their world tours), but I suppose they were breaking their way onto the charts back in 2014. Who do you think will (or should) win?
So there you have it - 12 things about the Grammys that will prevent you from saying, "Wait, what? Who is that?" out loud to your TV. Of course, most people only care about who's wearing what and how elaborate the live performances are. But now that you're such a Grammy expert, you will hopefully take interest in some of the actual Award categories as well. Here's the full list of categories and nominees >> Who do you think deserves to win??