The rock field has always been unpredictable when it comes to nominees. However, things also seem to be quite tricky to predict the winners. As this year, all the rock categories are filled with veterans. Hence, it is uncertain which one the academy loves best. Will it be Led Zeppelin for their 2007 reunion concert? The comeback albums by David Bowie? and Black Sabbath? Rolling Stones’ latest song? Or Paul McCartney’s own Nirvana moment?
Best Rock Performance: The category is highly competitive this time. The safest berth, whatsoever, seem to be Led Zeppelin; for the live rendition of their 1975 song “Kashmir”. The iconic English rock band –disbanded since 1980– is actually looking for their very first competitive GRAMMY. They previously received a Lifetime Achievement Award back in 2005. Believe it or not, it is only their second nomination as a group; after contending the Best New Artist prize way back in 1969. However, former member Robert Plant holds 7 GRAMMYs (most of them coming from his Album of the Year-win, Raising Sand with Alisson Krauss); also in 1998, Plant shared the Best Hard Rock Performance award with former bandmate Jimmy Page.
The other likely winners here are Imagine Dragons; mainly due to their Record of the Year-nod. However, it is uncertain if the Las Vegas-band is considered to be ‘rock’ enough to get the prize. Also in contention is another English legend; David Bowie, a 1-time GRAMMY winner, who is up for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” from his comeback album The Next Day. The category is wrapped up with Queens of the Stone Age for “My God is the Sun”; Jack White for “I’m Shakin'”; and Alabama Shakes for “Always Alright”.
Best Metal Performance: From this year on, this category will no longer accept ‘hard rock’ recordings. Instead, only pure heavy metal performances may compete. Whether this was a good or bad idea; it’s debatable. As expected, only veteran bands made the line-up. Without a doubt, Black Sabbath can be tasting their second GRAMMY for “God is Dead?” from their comeback album 13 –their first in 18 years–. American band, Anthrax, who are present for the fourth time; might sneak in. The rest of the nominees are just fillers: Killswitch Engage for “In Due Time”, nominated for the second time; and first-timers Dream Theater with “The Enemy Inside”, and Volbeat featuring King Diamond for “Room 24”.
Best Rock Song: While this award usually goes hand-in-hand with the performance. None of this year’s nod, surprisingly enough, are present at Best Rock Performance. Anyhow, we know how much NARAS love Paul McCartney; hence he should not have any problem getting the songwriter’s award for “Cut Me Some Slack” along with the former Nirvana line-up; Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear. Another important nominee to look at are Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for “Doom and Gloom”, the latest song by the legendary band Rolling Stones. On the other hand, if Black Sabbath wins for “God is Dead?”; they will become the first metal winners for this category. In fact, the last time a metal song got nominated was in 1992; when the category was first awarded. Darkhorses here are “Panic Station” written by Matthew Bellamy –Muse’s frontman– and “Ain’t Messin ‘Round” by the Texas blues singer, Gary Clark Jr.
Best Rock Album: This is the second most competitive category of the year, right after the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Any of these 5-star pure rock albums may win. David Bowie’s The Next Day, however, seem to be the frontrunner. Based on critics, it was the best rock album of the year. Other critics’ love are; Queens of the Stone Age for …Like Clockwork, and 13 by Black Sabbath. On the other hand, based on GRAMMY history, 4-time winners Kings of Leon might take home the gramophone for Mechanical Bull. Ironically, they are the youngest band in contention yet they hold the highest amount of wins. Led Zeppelin is also up for their 2007 concert reunion album –released in November 2012–, Celebration Day. Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s album Psychedelic Pill –their first album together in 10 years– came up as a surprise.
Now we move onto the (underrated) Alternative field. Despite alternative music have grown to form a genre of its own; and the Academy is restricting the rock field to actual ‘rock’ tracks. This field still only have one single category.
Best Alternative Music Album: This is an easy bet. Vampire Weekend for Modern Vampires of the City. Possibly, this year’s most critically-acclaimed record; also considered a major contender for Album of the Year but, eventually getting snubbed. However, don’t get too surprised if you see Nine Inch Nails winning the prize for Hesitation Marks. First, they are performing at the ceremony. Secondly, this category is highly unpredictable (remember The Black Keys beating Arcade Fire in 2010). An outsider could be Neko Case, with The Worst Things Get…, who holds 2 previous GRAMMY nods. Trouble Will Find Me by The National and (my personal favourite) Lonerism by Tame Impala don’t stand a chance. Both bands are first-time nominees.