By MESFIN FEKADU and Nekesa Mumbi Moody
AP Music Writers
Will Beyonce reign as queen of the Grammys, or will the pop diva be dethroned by newcomer Sam Smith?
The AP makes educated guesses at who will dominate music’s biggest night tonight, when Smith, Beyonce and Pharrell are the top contenders with six nominations apiece.
The Grammy Awards will air live on CBS at 8 p.m. Here’s how we think the night will go:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
“Morning Phase,” Beck; “Beyonce,” Beyonce; “X,” Ed Sheeran; “In the Lonely Hour,” Sam Smith; “G I R L,” Pharrell.
Fekadu: We all thought “Beyonce” was a shoo-in for this award because of its epic release and because Adele didn’t drop an album. But then enters Adele’s baby brother: soulful British crooner Sam Smith, singing his big ballad, sad love songs, releasing back-to-back radio hits and going platinum. Smith may share some of Beyonce’s fans now, but come Sunday, the Beyhive will turn on him.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX; “Chandelier,” Sia; “Stay With Me [Darkchild Version],” Sam Smith; “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift; “All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor.
Moody: “Fancy” and “All About That Bass” seem to be the obligatory “yes we’re in touch with the Snapchat generation” nomination — nice nod to the kids, but they won’t win. It’s between Taylor, Sia and Sam; Sia’s song didn’t resonate with as many people and Taylor’s may be too catchy for her own good. Look for Sam to grab this category, too: It’s a smoldering performance too hot not to reward.
SONG OF THE YEAR (songwriter’s award)
“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor and Kevin Kadish; “Chandelier,” Sia and Jesse Shatkin; “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback; “Stay With Me [Darkchild Version],” Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips; “Take Me to Church,” Hozier.
Fekadu: Tay Tay and Trainor’s songs seem too playful to win this award. Hozier’s hit may be too new for voters, leaving Sia and Sam. Sia deserves this award, not only for “Chandelier,” but for writing songs for female pop stars from Rihanna to Beyonce to Kylie Minogue. Good thing she’s not into showing her face these days because Smith will take the win here.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Iggy Azalea; Bastille; Brandy Clark; Haim; Sam Smith (right).
Moody: I mean, is this even a competition? Sam Smith.
POP SOLO PERFORMANCE
“All of Me [Live],” John Legend; “Chandelier,” Sia; “Stay With Me [Darkchild Version],” Sam Smith; “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift; “Happy [Live],” Pharrell.
Fekadu: Pharrell’s No. 1 hit was released too early for eligibility and voters didn’t care enough to nominate its live version for record of the year. There’s no way he’s losing this honor, though.
“Ryan Adams,” Ryan Adams; “Morning Phase,” Beck; “Turn Blue,” The Black Keys; “Hypnotic Eye,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; “Songs of Innocence,” U2.
Moody: I’m guessing Grammy voters are iTunes users and perhaps didn’t appreciate that free U2 gift of music, either. But I also think they love all things Beck, and Beck — who won’t win in the mainstream category — gets his trophy here.
“Drunk In Love,” Beyonce featuring Jay Z; “New Flame” Chris Brown featuring Usher and Rick Ross; “It’s Your World,” Jennifer Hudson featuring R. Kelly; “Like This,” Ledisi; “Good Kisser,” Usher.
Fekadu: Yonce all on his mouth like liquor.
“Anaconda,” Nicki Minaj; “Bound 2,” Kanye West featuring Charlie Wilson; “i,” Kendrick Lamar; “We Dem Boyz,” Wiz Khalifa; “0 to 100 / The Catch Up,” Drake.
Moody: Kanye West’s rants against the Grammys probably won’t help him here, and voters probably won’t want to reward the song best remembered for him simulating sex with wifey Kim Kardashian on a motorcycle. Kendrick Lamar, on the other hand, has an uplifting song and Grammy voters probably remember how he got robbed last year when Macklemore inexplicably won over him. They’ll make it up to him this year.
“Riser,” Dierks Bentley; “The Outsiders,” Eric Church; “12 Stories,” Brandy Clark; “Platinum,” Miranda Lambert; “The Way I’m Livin’,” Lee Ann Womack.
Fekadu: Women have it tough in country music, so it’s great to see the Recording Academy acknowledge three wonderful female voices in this category. Lambert, though, has dominated all of the country awards shows — and there are plenty of them (too many, actually) — and she will do the same at the Grammys. It is shame “Platinum” wasn’t nominated for album of the year.