The New York Times
THE Grammy Awards are so predictable. Except when they’re unpredictable.
On Sunday night, CBS will broadcast the 56th annual Grammys ceremony from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, giving the music business its most valuable annual media platform and fans everywhere a chance to root for their favorites and — almost inevitably — scratch their heads at an upset or two.
Among the big questions this year: Will Macklemore & Ryan Lewis sweep the top prizes, planting a flag for indie, openly liberal rap? Will Grammy voters crown last year’s pop phenomena, like Lorde, Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke and Daft Punk? Or will they follow their mystifying habit of rewarding left-field underdogs, as in 2008, when Herbie Hancock beat Amy Winehouse and Kanye West for album of the year, or in 2011, when Esperanza Spalding — a little-known jazz bassist on her third album — won best new artist, ahead of Justin Bieber and Drake?
This year’s top contenders include two that quickly went from the fringes to stardom through a combination of online virality and old-fashioned Top 40 radio. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, a rapper-producer duo from Seattle, released their album, “The Heist,” independently and promoted it through savvy use of YouTube and a distribution deal with Warner Music. They sold 1.3 million albums and 16.5 million tracks, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and became one of Spotify’s most-streamed acts around the world. The duo’s seven Grammy nominations include album of the year, song of the year (for the marriage equality anthem “Same Love”) and best new artist.
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