Most of the acts nominated for Best Rap Performance are household names: Drake, Eminem, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar. But Lacrae is the exception—possibly for his Christian identity—but he cooked up something on par with the A-listers. "All I Need Is You" is an energetic, graphic love jam that suggests someone is in a pretty healthy relationship with a higher power. "All I need is you / By my side, thick and thin," Lecrae sings. "Highs and lows, don't let go / We gon' ride, we gon' win / Don't know how, all I know / All I need is you."
Unless you're hitting those club floors hard, chances are Basement Jaxx's sleeper hit "Never Say Never" hasn't crossed your path. The ass-tastic British banger is up for Best Dance Recording at the GRAMMYS, and for good reason: The song, unlike a few others in the category, has a vintage R&B, soulful feel. A dance track you can sing along to: always welcome.
L.A.'s Steven Zhu (goes by the moniker "ZHU,") had a big dancehall hit last year with "Faded." The title's apt: There's something bouncy and monotonous about it, like the spinning feeling you get when you've been dancing and drinking for a few too many hours. This is the sound of a club at 3 A.M. and the natural high you feel at the end of the night. Unsurprisingly, this bad boy is also up for Best Dance Recording.
Rarely does the same album show up in a single category twice. But that's the case for Best Metal Performance, where two of the nominees are pulled from 2014's Dio tribute album, This is Your Life. They're Tenacious D's rendition of "The Last In Line" and Anthrax's take on "Neon Knights." Our vote is for the latter, where one of the biggest household name in the genre tackles a renowned heavy metal classic.
Possibly the most identifiable track on this list is Luke James' unfortunately overlooked single, "Options." It's a slow and somber tune, up for Best R&B Song. "Options" follows a tumultuous time in a relationship—the moment you realize enough is enough, and holding on isn't good for either party. "I'm a man of simple knowledge / She's a woman prone to violence," James opens the song, "It used to be something beautiful, red flags regardless / Love used to be a vehicle but now there's too much mileage." It gets even bleaker than that, but there's something powerful about celebrating misery and learning from the experience.
It's not all rap, R&B and dance music here, ladies and gentlemen! Those unfamiliar with the Best Country Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY category are really missing out. Our personal favorite is Little Big Town's party anthem, "Day Drinking." What's better than sipping a cold one on a hot summer day? Having a song to sing with your pals while drinking a cold on on a hot summer day.
Get ready to fall in love with Ledisi, your new obsession. The New Orleans singer-songwriter combines down-South blues and jazz with seductive results, making classic sounds feel totally contemporary. "Like This," the lead single from Ledisi's 2014 record The Truth, is up for Best R&B Performance at the 2015 GRAMMYS, and she's got our vote. That voice!
Ledisi leads the pack in new, modern R&B while Kem and crew have the Best Traditional R&B Performance category locked down. "Nobody" has a certain timeless, almost gospel sound to it. "How does it feel to be everything in my world?" Kem sings in the chorus. "Nobody like you." The guy knows how to make a lady feel special.
If you like your traditional R&B to feel more like a transcendent spiritual experience instead of a sultry, steamy seduction, look no further than Marsha Ambrosius and Anthony Hamilton's jam "As." The song is also up for Best Traditional R&B Performance but approaches the style completely differently—much more mom-friendly.
Little Dragon navigate an attractive space between genres: They're very much a pop act, but they're nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Album. And it fits, as Nabuma Rubberband is the sort of outsider-art endeavor that's simultaneously catchy and thoughtful.