2015 Grammy Awards: Best Rock Album nominees
• Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams
• Morning Phase, Beck
• Turn Blue, the Black Keys
• Hypnotic Eye, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
• Songs of Innocence, U2
Every year at the Grammy Awards, the most interesting and innovative rock artists usually end up in the Best Alternative Album category rather than Best Rock Album. This year is no exception, with St. Vincent, Arcade Fire, Cage the Elephant and Alt-J all appearing in the Alternative field. The absence of those acclaimed artists means that Best Rock Album tends to be a collection of veteran rock acts, often ones who aren't making great music anymore. In typical fashion, the 2015 lineup of nominees for Best Rock Album features four artists who began recording in the previous millennium and one, the Black Keys, who formed in 2001.
Despite the lack of new blood in the category, some of the nominees are still doing their best work, particularly Beck and the Black Keys. Beck's Morning Phase was a massive critical success, with Mojo, Guardian, and other outlets declaring it one of the 10 best albums of 2014. The record was warmly received by fans, even if its quiet tone meant that it didn't produce any hit singles.
Since Beck is also nominated for Album of the Year, he has to be considered the frontrunner here. But it's never a smart idea to bet against the Black Keys at the Grammys. The duo has won six awards, including Best Rock Album two years ago for El Camino. Turn Blue debuted at No. 1 on Billboard, but it only produced one major hit in “Fever,” so it's very possible that the Recording Academy will decide to overlook the Keys this time around.
The same could be said for U2, who have won a ridiculous 22 career Grammy Awards, but none since 2006. Songs of Innocence had some high points, including a track dedicated to Joey Ramone and another featuring Lykke Li, but many observers considered the album a disappointment. The lack of a radio hit and the controversy surrounding the album's forced placement into every iTunes user's library will probably keep U2 from winning again.
Tom Petty is an interesting contender. He's only won three Grammys, but Hypnotic Eye was the first No. 1 album of his 40-year career, and Grammy voters love to reward legendary acts who haven't been sufficiently rewarded in the past. If voters decide Beck's record was too much of a snooze, they just may vote for the old rocker instead.
The final nominee, Ryan Adams, doesn't figure to have much chance. His last nomination in this category came in 2002, when his album Gold lost to U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind.
Ultimately, this is a neck and neck race between Beck and the Black Keys. We predict that Beck's Album of the Year nomination and critical acclaim will be just enough to earn him his fourth career Grammy Award.
Should win: Turn Blue, the Black Keys
Will win: Morning Phase, Beck
Should have been nominated: Stockholm, Chrissie Hynde