Last November, the nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance came out. None of them contend in Record of the Year and Song of the Year. But they were the usual suspects except one. I knew Ed Sheeran was getting in because of the massive year he had. Kelly Clarkson is a darling in this genre. Pink still makes hits and outlasted most of her contemporaries. Respect for Lady Gaga shot up in the last few years. The only first time nominee and potential first time winner is Ke$ha. Here is my fearless forecast on how the Best Pop Solo Performance race will unfold.
“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
“Love so Soft” by Kelly Clarkson
“Praying” by Ke$ha
“Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
“What About Us” by Pink
(5) “What About Us” by Pink
Pink had an impressive year. Her seventh studio album managed to debut at #1 in the Billboard Top 200 and “What About Us” reached the top 10 of the pop charts and grabbed the pole position of the adult contemporary and adult top 40 charts.
But why am I not predicting her to take this award home? Even though she has three Grammys under her belt, two of them spring from collaborations she was featured in – one in “Lady Marmalade” and another with Herbie Hancock. The remaining one is for “Trouble” in a category that is now defunct – Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
The Academy loves Pink and it manifests in nominations, not in wins. She has lost this for “Get the Party Started”, “Stupid Girls”, “So What”, “Sober” and “Fuckin Perfect”. She will lose it again.
(4) “Love So Soft” by Kelly Clarkson
None of the nominees can beat Kelly Clarkson’s vocals in this record. It is insane and crazy. If it were simply a question of skill and talent, she might just pull off a victory. It also helps that she is a darling in the pop genre. Imagine, even with the lukewarm reception to “Love So Soft”, she notched a nomination. For reference, Demi Lovato, Sam Smith and Ariana Grande couldn’t break in this year.
I feel though, this is the end of the line. If she were to upset, it would be welcome. But commercially successful singles have generally won and I feel this year is no different.
(3) Million Reasons by Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has a decent shot at winning the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. Her reputation has taken a turnaround in the last few years, amplified by her toned down image and music, great showmanship in award shows, and the delivery of a performance of a lifetime at the Super Bowl. She is adored by the public and her peers.
However, her recent songs have fallen out of the good graces of pop radio. That remains to be the biggest challenge “Million Reasons” is facing. The song has a lot going for it, except being the hit that it can’t seem to become compared to our first and second choices.
(2) “Praying” by Ke$ha
Coming into the ceremony, Ke$ha has the best narrative to take home the award. Years of dispute have crippled her ability to carry on with her music career. There have been allegations of sexual abuse with record producer Dr. Luke. She claimed limited creative license over the sound she was making.
Now, she has broken out, turned it around and is singing about the experience. What better way to conclude the story than with an award celebrating the end of all this drama?
Before Rainbow, everyone listened… except her contemporaries and her critics. Today, we are all ears. No one knows if that is enough for her to prevail in this category. But she has definitely moved forward, from being completely shunned out to having her first two Grammy nominations this year.
(1) Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
Before the nominations came out in November, everyone thought Ed Sheeran would lead the pack and dominate. Instead, he got delegated to only two categories within the pop field. Is that proof the support is limited? Not really. Unlike genre fields, only a committee votes on the general field (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist). If he did get in, he’d likely win and that would not make for good press.
While he was initially viewed as the overrated choice, he has become an underdog. This is the only reward the Academy can give him. Compared to the other four, he also has the biggest hit in this category. To top it all off, he splits the vote with no one.
Some would say this record is the worst among the bunch. Even setting aside commercial performance, I beg to disagree. In my view, this will and should win.
WILL WIN: “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
SHOULD WIN: “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran