When the Album of the Year Grammy nominations were announced at the Grammy 2014 Nominations Concert Friday night, everything was going status quo. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist and Taylor Swift's Red were all basically shoe-ins. And everyone probably thought Kendrick Lamar's beloved Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City was the wrench in the machine... until Sara Bareilles' A Blessed Unrest was announced.
Casual music fans might have heard the pop singer-songwriter's name come up this year soon after Katy Perry's first Prism single "Roar" was released—Sara mega fans were claiming that "Roar" was almost an exact rip-off of Bareilles' lesser known A Blessed Unrest single, "Brave" (which was nominated this year for Best Pop Solo Performance.) The hashtag #KatyVsSara even trended on Twitter. Despite the songs' similar qualities—listen to a side-by-side comparison and decide for yourself—the two ladies both went on record saying there were no hard feelings.
But Sara's been making music long before we even knew Katy Perry's name. (She was Katy Hudson back then.)
Sara first release, Careful Confessions, dropped in 2004, but she later re-recorded six of those tracks for her first official full-length album, 2007's Little Voice. It was that album that earned Sara her first Grammy nomination—the debut single "Love Song" scored the singer a Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance nomination. The song was also certified three times Platinum.
Sara had a massive hit on her hands with "Love Song," and coming back from that is so daunting that a lot of artists tend to fall off the radar. But Sara stuck around. She released her critically acclaimed album Kaleidoscope Heart in 2010, and it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The album also nabbed Sara her third Grammy nomination. The debut single, "King of Anything," was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, but she lost out to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." (Which was kind of a futile battle.)
When Bareilles released her third full-length studio album, A Blessed Unrest, earlier this year, she found chart success again. It debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 behind Jay Z's Magna Carta... Holy Grail. But let's not forget he had that whole "will it or won't it go Platinum" Samsung pre-order thing going on. (No shade to Jay.)
Still, no one was really expecting to hear Sara Bareilles' name during the Album of the Year category. Even Sara herself couldn't believe it. After she got news of her nomination, she tweeted, "I never in a billion million years thought I'd be nominated for Album of the Year. I'm literally shaking."
But Sara Bareilles has been recording and releasing music (good music!) for the last 10 years, and she's received a Grammy nod (or two) for every full-length she's released thus far—an Album of the Year nomination was coming sooner or later.