Grammy Awards: Does Lorde have a prayer?

By Chris Schulz

Our world-conquering pop star is up for four Grammy awards next week. Chris Schulz looks at her odds of winning.

Lorde faces one of the biggest nights of her short career as she heads to this year's Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Monday (NZ time).

With the runaway success of Royals and album Pure Heroine in America, she's leapt straight into the Grammy major leagues where's she's up against some very big names like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Pink and some very big songs like Daft Punk's Get Lucky and Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines.

All of which could make her the outsider - given her youth, nationality, and unconventional approach to stardom.

But then again, she has some advantages - Royals became a US hit in the latter part of 2013 and Pure Heroine was released on September 30, the last day to qualify for Grammy consideration. That could mean her ubiquitous hit still might have been fresh in the minds of 12,000 Grammy voters' minds as they cast their votes in recent weeks.

So, how might Lorde - and producer Joel Little - fare in each category? Here's how they stack up...

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Who's up for it?
Get Lucky - Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams
Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
Royals - Lorde
Locked Out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke featuring TI and Pharrell

What the award means
It's one of the biggest Grammy Awards an artist can get, and is typically dished out to "commercially released singles or tracks of new vocal or instrumental recordings". It's not based on chart success, but all of these songs were hugely successful: Get Lucky spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Dance/Electronica charts in the US, Blurred Lines 12 weeks, Royals nine weeks and Locked Out of Heaven six weeks, while Radioactive spent an entire year in the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Can Lorde win it?
The fact that Kimbra won last year can't be a bad thing in a paving-the-path kind of way. But there are some top songs here: Get Lucky has to be odds on favourite thanks to its superstar guest roster and the fact that it was an incredible comeback for Daft Punk who had been AWOL for quite some time, while Blurred Lines and Locked Out of Heaven are both canny earworm candy. Though Thicke's Pharrell collaboration has been accused of both plagiarism (for its tune) and sexism (for its video). Imagine Dragons' Radioactive already sounds dated and surely doesn't have a show. Helping Lorde's case is that the award has a long history of being won by solo females: Adele, Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse and Celine Dion have all won the award in recent years.

Who won it last year?
Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know, featuring Kimbra.


SONG OF THE YEAR

Who's up for it?
Just Give Me a Reason - Jeff Bhasker, Pink and Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink featuring Nate Ruess)
Locked Out of Heaven - Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Bruno Mars, songwriters (Bruno Mars)
Roar - Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry and Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry)
Royals - Joel Little and Ella Yelich-O'Connor, songwriters (Lorde)
Same Love - Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert and Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)

What the award means
This one honours the composers of a song, which means it could be Lorde producer/co-writer Joel Little's chance to shine. He helmed every track on Lorde's Pure Heroine with a minimalist take on contemporary electronica trends, and deserves to receive as many accolades as the singer.

Can Lorde win it?
This is probably Lorde's best bet. The story of the song's success - recorded on a shoestring in a simple Morningside studio with no expectations and a relatively unknown producer, then released online for free before becoming a worldwide smash - is surely too good for voters to pass up. Also helping Lorde's chances are allegations of plagiarism - Katy Perry was accused of appropriating the hook from Sara Bareilles' Brave. Macklemore's Same Love - a song that struck a chord thanks to its honest and emotional tackling of the US same-sex marriage debate - might be Lorde's biggest threat. But if she and Joel are practising their thank yous, it should probably be for this one.

Who won it last year?
Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost and Nate Ruess for Fun's We Are Young.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

Who's up for it?
Brave - Sara Bareilles
Royals - Lorde
When I Was Your Man - Bruno Mars
Roar - Katy Perry
Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

What the award means
This one was introduced in 2012 to combine several categories and shorten the number of awards given out. It has been won both times by Adele, for Someone Like You (in 2012) and Set Fire to the Rain (in 2013).

Can lorde win it?
It's interesting that both Katy Perry's Roar and the song she's accused of borrowing from, Sara Bareilles' Brave, have been nominated. If they cancel each other out, the competition comes in the form of Bruno Mars' huge piano ballad When I Was Your Man, and Justin Timberlake's Mirrors, which was the best song from his two 20/20 Experience albums. But considering Lorde hadn't even played a live show this time last year, you'd have to rate her chances on the low side.

Who won it last year?
Bizarrely, Adele won it for a live performance of Set Fire to the Rain, taken from her DVD Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Who's up for it?
Paradise - Lana Del Rey
Pure Heroine - Lorde
Unorthodox Jukebox - Bruno Mars
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke
The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience - Justin Timberlake

What the award means
This is a confusing one. The award's official definition is that it's given to albums containing at least "51 per cent of playing time of newly recorded pop vocal tracks" and its name has changed over the years. It seems to be given to those with good pipes and have the right music to show them off.

Can Lorde win it?
Female artists feature in the winners lists for this one regularly, with Adele, Lady Gaga, Duffy, Amy Winehouse and Kelly Clarkson all recent winners. That means it could be between Lorde and mystical pop chanteuse Lana Del Rey, but counting against her could be the fact that Paradise is really only an eight-track EP. Keep your fingers crossed.

Who won it last year?
Kelly Clarkson for Stronger. She is the only artist to win the category more than once.

WHERE TO WATCH IT

Lorde's admitted to suffering pre-show nerves before, but she's never faced an audience this big.

As well as hearing her name read out in the four categories she's nominated in, she is also scheduled to perform her hit Royals to a television audience that, if it's anything like last year, should hover somewhere just under the 30 million mark.

Not bad for an artist who less than a year ago hadn't performed a single live show.

Bowing to public pressure, TVNZ is now screening the Grammys live on TV2 from 2pm.

For those heading along to Laneway - where Lorde was originally booked to play - there's another chance for you to catch the show with an encore screening on TV One from 9.15pm.

Lorde will share a Grammy stage with a staggeringly varied number of artists. That includes Daft Punk with Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney with Ringo Starr, Metallica with classical pianist Lang Lang, and Jay-Z in a duet with Beyonce.

Also playing will be nominees such as Katy Perry, Pink, Robin Thicke, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The awards will be hosted for the second year in a row by rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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