Music's biggest night is days away. At the 2015 Grammy Awards this Sunday, February 8, Beyoncé, Iggy, Taylor, and Pharrell will compete for trophies and primetime airtime inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the dance world will once again be relegated to an early afternoon pre-telecast, this year called "The Premiere." In two categories, Best Dance Recording and Best Dance/Electronic Album, the scene's biggest and brightest stars will vie for rare recognition of dance music's quality and impact by the mainstream music industry. A third category, Best Remixed Recording—a technical award that has been adopted by DJs as their own—will honor a unique slate of producers who take pop hits and indie faves to the clubs.
In 2014, Daft Punk ruled the night. Before that, Skrillex took home all three dance trophies two years in a row. By contrast, 2015 has the most diverse selection of nominees in years. From stalwarts like Aphex Twin and Tiësto to new faces like Zhu and Mat Zo, the spectrum of music fans actually listen to is represented in these categories like never before. Only three will take home a gold gramophone. Here's who will win and why.
BEST DANCE RECORDING
Since 1998, the Best Dance Recording has honored a unique list of tracks, many of which could arguably be more pop (Kylie's "Come Into My World," Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," Rihanna's "Only Girl") than dance. Since Skrillex won for "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" in 2012 (and Al Walser elbowed his way onto the shortlist in 2013), Recording Academy voters have become far more dance-focused in their nominations. While it's somewhat absurd that there is only one Grammy given to a song in the dance field when the genre at large is driven by the thousands upon thousands of single releases in a given year, this award is still a cherished prize for victors and nominees alike.
Basement Jaxx, "Never Say Never" [Atlantic Jaxx/PIAS]
It had been a long five years since the Basement Jaxx's album before 2014's Junto, so as a comeback single, "Never Say Never" was embraced on dancefloors the world over. The Jaxx previously won a Grammy for their 2004 LP, Kish Kash, the first recipient of the Best Dance/Electronica Album award. Voters' sentiment for that alone may push them over the edge of victory with this record, even though they won't be in attendance if it does.
Odds of winning: Prepare a victory speech for your surrogate just in case.
Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne, "Rather Be" [Big Beat/Atlantic]
Many academy members have radios, which is a good thing for Clean Bandit, whose ubiquitous "Rather Be" still racks up airplay a year after its release. By far the most pop-leaning track on the band's album, it's a bit surprising it wasn't pushed into the pop field. Luckily for them it didn't, as its odds here are much better, but still possibly not enough to overtake the stiff competition.
Odds of winning: Open bar at the afterparty makes everybody a winner!
Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige, "F For You" [Cherrytree/Interscope]
With nine awards to her name, it's clear that Grammy voters love the Queen of Hip-Hip Soul. For this reason alone, Disclosure is a front-runner here, but they're also deserving. While "F For You" may not have had the resonance of "Latch" or "White Noise" (both released too early for eligibility this year), this single endcapped the Settle moment and established Disclosure as more than just a niche fave, but an artist that someone as established as Mary J. Blige herself can effortlessly collab with.
Odds of winning: Make room on the trophy shelf!
Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones, "I Got U" [Astralwerks]
Two years in a row, Duke Dumont has earned a nom in this category. While "I Got U" didn't set the world ablaze quite like "Need U (100%)," it kept his profile up in a year when an anticipated debut album didn't drop. A Whitney Houston sample is risky but it paid off with this nomination and could help carry him to victory.
Odds of winning: Channel the spirit of Whitney and her Grammy love could be your Grammy love.
Zhu, "Faded" [Mind Of A Genius/TH3RD BRAIN]
The enigmatic artist known as Zhu, we're told, will not be attending the Grammy Award ceremony. That's a shame, because we're also told that being nominated was a dream of this former USC student and fraternity brother. From unknown SoundCloud favorite to Grammy contender in less than a year is a huge feat, yet with heavy hitters in this category, for Zhu, it's an honor just to be nominated.
Odds of winning: It's an honor to be nominated.
BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM
It was only a ten years ago that this award was first handed out (to Basement Jaxx, no less), then known as the Best Dance/Electronica Album. For 2015, the Academy has dropped the "a" from "Electronic," acknowledging, perhaps, that it's been about a decade since anybody really used the word "electronica." Unlike its track counterpart, this album award honors work beyond the dancefloor, including music that is simply made by machines, and thus, electronic.
Aphex Twin, Syro [Warp]
Does Richard James, the mad genius behind the last two decades of Aphex Twin records, care about a thing like a Grammy? Who's to say? But that kind of indifference should have little impact on voters who are smart enough to know Syro was a landmark release of the past year—even if they didn't actually listen to it all the way through.
Odds of winning: Like sidewalk graffiti, this one's a winner!
Deadmau5, while (1<2) [Astralwerks]
This is the third time Deadmau5 has been nominated in this category and unlike the previous two nominations, he's not facing any competition from Skrillex. The only problem is, while (1<2) is not widely regarded as the best album of his career. If the Academy disagrees, it's in deference to his body of work, and that's hard to argue with.
Odds of winning: Rub your lucky rabbit's foot, Joel, this could be it!
Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband [Loma Vista/Republic]
Co-produced by Robin Hannibal of Quadron and Rhye, Little Dragon's fourth album could have been shoved into the alternative or pop fields, but it is most definitely an electronic album and one worthy of recognition at that. On tour in Australia, the band won't be on hand should they win their first-time nomination. Still, it's surely still an honor to be included among such respected fellow nominees.
Odds of winning: A good album is a prize nobody can take away from you.
Röyksopp & Robyn, Do It Again [Cherrytree/Interscope]
At five tracks, the Scandinavian supergroup's much-loved 2014 release just makes the cut for "album" consideration. Robyn has been nominated in this category twice before, for her comeback self-titled album in 2009 and her expansive Body Talk Pt. 3 in 2012. Her credibility is only buoyed by her Röyksopp buddies, but even together, they have an outside shot of winning for an EP that was essentially an excuse to tour together.
Odds of winning: Win or lose, as soon as it's done, just do it again.
Mat Zo, Damage Control [Anjunabeats/Astralwerks]
Released in late 2013, Mat Zo's debut LP could have slipped through the nominations cracks, but thanks to its quality (and powerhouse label) Damage Control has been given a second life. Still, a progressive artist has yet to win this category that typically favors the more pop-leaning releases of the year and that's not likely to change. The nomination is a win in and of itself, Mat Zo!
Odds of winning: It's an honor to be nominated.
BEST REMIXED RECORDING
Even though this award has gone to a DJ or dance music producer every year since its introduction in 1998 (when Frankie Knuckles took home the Grammy for what was then Remixer of the Year), this is not a dance award but a technical one. That explains the few unknowns in the mix—not Al Walsers exactly, but eyebrow-raisers nonetheless, especially amid superstar nominees like Tiësto and Kaskade and radio hits like "Pompeii" and "Waves."
Eddie Amador, "The Rising" (Five Knives) [Red Bull Records]
If you're not familiar with Eddie Amador, you are forgiven. While the LA-based house producer has worked consistently since the late 90s, he's stayed largely behind the scenes, remixing pop acts and logging studio session hours. Glam rock outfit Five Knives aren't exactly global superstars either but one can never underestimate the power of the Red Bull record label.
Odds of winning: Stranger things have happened.
Audien, "Pompeii" (Bastille) [Virgin]
Audien's 2014 ended with a record deal at Astralwerks and this nomination. Unfortunately for him, a bit of Bastille-fatigue has set in across the planet, meaning this otherwise exceptional remix job might not get the Grammy shine it deserves. For a newcomer, there are far-worse positions to be in.
Odds of winning: It's an honor to be nominated.
Kaskade, "Smile" (Galantis) [Big Beat/Atlantic]
Four nominations in three years, Kaskade is now a Grammy fixture and with an expected release in 2015 through his new Warner Brothers deal, he'll likely be in the audience at music's biggest night a year from now too. It would be disingenuous to act like this remix of "Smile" had as big of an impact as the original though, and this nomination serves as a reminder that Galantis was criminally overlooked in other categories. If Kaskade does win, it's well-deserved for him, just not very likely.
Odds of winning: No one should put it past him.
MING, "Falling Out" (Crossfingers featuring Danny Losito) [Big Alliance]
New Yorker and drum and bass producer Aaron Albano, aka MING, has made a career scoring for film and television while also turning out remixes for everyone from Craig David to Kaskade (some official, some not-so-official). Crossfingers are an unknown DJ/production duo who have made their way into the big time with this nomination. Welcome to the music industry, you guys!
Odds of winning: Let's not overdo it here.
Robin Schulz, "Waves" (Mr. Probz) [RCA/Ultra/Sony]
Thanks to Robin Schulz, Mr. Probz's downtempo croon has been the little engine that could over the last year. Even now, this remix is floating around Top 40 radio playlists and generating unexpected interest in Schulz's new single, another remix, "Prayer In C." While both of these artists are European and still unquantifiable entities stateside, the success story of two artists from two different genres is the kind of shit Grammy voters love. If there's a dark horse in this race who can clip Tiësto, it's Schulz.
Odds of winning: Are these "Waves" ready for the perfect storm?
Tiësto, "All of Me" (John Legend) [Columbia]
To say this is Tiësto's year is to imply that the DJ/icon has been overlooked in years past. His only previous Grammy nomination was in 2008 for his album, Elements of Life (he lost to The Chemical Brothers). But the impact of "All of Me" is hard to overstate. The remix of John Legend's record took what could have been a throwaway ballad to pop radio, festival mainstages, and high school dances across America and the world in 2014. With all due respect to the other nominees, if Tijs doesn't take home the trophy on Sunday night, he has being robbed.
Odds of winning: Start popping bottles now!
The 57th Annual Grammy Awards air Sunday, February 8 on CBS with the pre-telecast, "The Premiere," streaming online starting at 1PM PST on grammy.com.
Zel McCarthy will be covering the event live from Los Angeles on Twitter.