Going into the 55th annual Grammy Awards this Sunday night, the only thing that's certain is uncertainty. Unlike last year, when Adele was nominated in every category and it was a foregone conclusion that she'd sweep them all, this year's potential winners are much less obvious.
This year, there are six different acts who've received six nods each -- Jay-Z and Kanye West, Frank Ocean, the band fun., Dan Auerbach of alternative rockers The Black Keys and British folk rockers Mumford & Sons -- so the field is sort of wide open. That's why ABC News Radio turned to some experts to predict what they think will happen come Sunday night in the major Grammy categories.
Record of the Year
Frank Ocean gained new fans when he performed his Channel Orange single "Thinkin Bout You" at the MTV Video Music Awards. The song got major radio play, so it's not surprising that the single is up for Record of the Year.
Still People music critic Chuck Arnold isn't convinced that Ocean's song "Thinkin' Bout You" will be the winner in that category. "I don't think that song was heard by enough people. It didn't really cross over outside of R&B and it wasn't even a huge R&B hit. So, I would be surprised if it won Record of the Year."
Best New Artist
Yahoo! Music's Paul Grein says in this category, where the nominees include Frank Ocean, fun., country star Hunter Hayes, folk rock act The Lumineers and alternative rockers Alabama Shakes, he thinks one act has the edge, thanks to their chart success and their many nominations in the most prestigious Grammy categories.
"I think fun. is probably the frontrunner just by virtue of the fact that it's nominated in all four of the big four categories," Grein says, referring to Record, Song and Album of the Year and Best New Artist. "Frank Ocean's nominated for three of the four. It's between those two. But I think fun. just had such a huge year, they're probably the act to beat here."
Album of the Year
One of the most critically-acclaimed albums of the year has been Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, but Grein says he's no longer convinced that it's the frontrunner for the Album of the Year category. "I initially, thought that Frank Ocean would have a good chance, and he has some chance, but his record sales haven't really kept pace with his critical acclaim," Grein predicts.
He adds that, "I thought that Frank Ocean might even sweep the Grammys when we first got wind of the nominations, but his album sales haven't yet really kicked in. The album did well when it first came out, then it sort of subsided."
But People's Arnold won't count Frank out just yet. "Because of the rock votes possibly splitting on the other four nominees there, I really think he has a great shot at Album of the Year."
Best Rap Album
Nas' Life Is Good is a strong contender for Best Rap Album, Yahoo!'s Grein says, but he adds that things are looking even better for Drake's Take Care. Grein expects Drizzy's sophomore album to beat out selections from Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross, The Roots, 2 Chainz and Nas.
There are a lot of people who are betting on Drake to come out on top, and Grein says, "Yeah, I also think Drake'll win. He's never won a Grammy, and you know, I think he's a little bit overdue. And he's just been crushing the competition for a few years. I think that Drake should win, and will win."
Best Pop Solo Performance
This is a competitive category, with Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Katy Perry, and Carly Rae Jepsen all fighting it out for the win. Common sense would dictate that Adele, who's up for a live version of "Set Fire to the Rain," would win, because, well, she won everything last year and the Grammy voters love her. But Grein says that's no guarantee of future wins.
"Often, the year after you sweep, you don't win again because people think, 'Enough, Enough already. Let's wait 'til her next album,'" he points out, predicting, "I'm going to go with Kelly, even acknowledging how strong Adele is." Why? Grein says that "everybody loves Kelly," and everyone can relate to the message of empowerment of the song she's nominated for: "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)."
Performances vs. Wins
The Grammys telecast will feature 19 different musical performances, and only a fraction of the actual awards being handed out on camera. That's because when it comes to the bottom line, performing on the show can guarantee an artist a better return than simply taking home a trophy.
Grein says Frank's Grammy performance could breathe new life into sales of Channel Orange. "I think it'll go right back up the charts after the Grammys, and that, it might even wind up selling more copies after the Grammys than it has to date, because finally the country is going to see him in action and cement that impression."
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