The 2017 Grammy’s may have 84 categories, but one category always stands above the rest: Album of the Year.
The Recording Academy does a fantastic job every year by making sure multiple genres are represented in this category. As a result, all five nominees for this category are genre-changing and wildly different.
Adele’s 25 and Beyoncé’s Lemonade are the true competitors this year, with 14 nominations between the two of them. Both women have had a remarkable year, which makes the competition between the two albums tight. However, all of these albums earned their spots in this category for different reasons, showing how diverse the music world really is.
Last year, Adele took over pop radio with a simple greeting, “Hello.” “Hello” took the world by storm, making 25 one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2015. Lyrically, Adele shows her relatability to her loyal listeners, with most songs on the album addressing heartbreak in one way or another. “Send My Love” is a beautiful ballad about the newfound confidence without her former lover and how she can be strong without a romantic relationship.
Other songs such as “Water Under The Bridge” and “When We Were Young” showcase Adele’s emotions, conveyed through her voice and lyrics. 25 is not a typical post, but that is what Adele is known for. Unfortunately, 25, being Adele’s third album, doesn’t show much growth for her as a singer or lyricist. Adele’s strong lyrics and powerhouse vocals earn her a 3.5 out of 5-star rating.
Drake has always shown his Views of his world and has always had a skill of turning his innermost feelings into lyrics. His woes have turned into pop classics like “Best I Ever Had” and “The Motto,” both from past albums. He is known in the hip-hop world as a mogul and is loved by his adoring fans.
As for the Grammys, this is Drake’s first time being nominated for Album of the Year. His fourth album, Views, was not received well by critics or fans, but overall it did fine on the Billboard charts. Some hits have come from this record, such as “Hotline Bling” and “One Dance,” giving Drake the chart recognition he is not used to having from other records. Many songs on Views are about past relationships (like his records), which unfortunately does not show much lyrical development. However, songs with romantic tension like “U With Me?” and “Still Here” show his progression from past albums. After learning about “his views from the 6”, Views overall earns a 2.5 out of 5-star rating.
The Grammy’s throws a curveball in the Album of the Year category every year with an unexpected artist being nominated. For the 2017 nominees, that album is A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill Simpson.
Simpson is considered a part of the country world but has his own twist. With A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, it is clear that “country” is a loose title to his music. “Breakers Roar” and “Oh Sarah” show the country roots, but “Brace For Impact” and “In Bloom” tell the listeners that he is a songwriter at heart. With music that has a spin on what is traditionally known in the country music world, Simpson’s appeal is clear. A Sailor’s Guide To Earth earns a 3.5 out of a 5-star rating between the originality and lyrical genius.
About a decade into his pop career, Justin Bieber has been a staple in the world of pop music and teenage hearts everywhere. Bieber has had his moments in the TMZ spotlight, and Purpose is his comeback to prove his resurgence into the pop world. This is Bieber’s first Album of the Year nomination and three other Grammy nominations for the 2017 awards. Purpose has had over 3.1 million album sales worldwide (as of December 7), making it his sixth number one album to date.
With mid-tempo R&B vocals, Purpose is unlike Bieber’s past albums. EDM help from Skrillex and Diplo makes it one-of-a-kind for Bieber’s discography. The album has emotional tracks like “Mark My Words” and “Purpose” but also shows his new style with songs such as “Company,” “No Sense,” and “We Are.” Hits like “Sorry” and “What Do You Mean?” have become spotlight-worthy songs, setting records for streaming and single sales for the artist and worldwide. Purpose surpasses all expectations with different beats and evolution of past style, giving the album 4 out of 5 stars.
Last but not least, Lemonade is no longer worth just 25 cents at a local neighborhood stand. With over a million album sales and a visual film under the same name, Beyoncé’s Lemonade has become one of the most groundbreaking albums of 2016 and the decade. Between the “Formation World Tour” and a new album, Beyoncé has reinvented herself in the world of R&B and pop.
With Lemonade, Knowles has covered high-profile topics such as police brutality, black feminism, and black culture. The album is a story of pain, heartbreak, redemption, and self-acceptance, teaching young women to identify with feminism and shine a light on others before themselves. “Freedom” teaches to never quit on the listener’s dreams. “Sorry” is a self-empowering track about abusive relationships and how they will get better. “Formation” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself” speak to the younger black girls out there to love their hair and themselves no matter what anyone tells them.
Beyoncé has outdone herself with this masterpiece of empowering songs and stunning visual film that captures the wonderful essence of the album. Lemonade has become a certified record breaker with catchy and topical songs giving the album a whopping 5 out of 5 stars.
No matter who wins the respectable Album of the Year title, it will be well deserved. All five albums bring something different to the table, making it interesting to see who the Recording Academy deems the most worthy of the award. With different genres such as country and R&B represented, it isn’t easy to see what album will shine above the rest in the Academy’s eyes. The 59th Annual Grammy Awards, hosted by James Corden, will be held on February 17, 2017, at 8/7c on CBS.