The Best Rock Album nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards are quite the mixed bag. You have the AAA-friendly sound of James Bay and Death Cab for Cutie battling against the pure rock of Highly Suspect against the abrasiveness of Slipknot and the high concepts of Muse's Drones. How do you compare five albums that, at the end of the day, could not be any more different from each other?
The difference between these nominees speaks to the ever-evolving world and definition of rock. So, what will the Grammy voters look for? What should they look for?
James Bay, Chaos and the Calm
Death Cab for Cutie, Kitsungi
Highly Suspect, Mister Asylum
Slipknot, .5: The Gray Chapter
WHO SHOULD WIN: Highly Suspect, Mister Asylum
If you're looking for some straightforward rock in this year's Grammys field, look no further than Highly Suspect's Mister Asylum. Though the band may not be as familiar of a name as its fellow nominees, the band had two solid Mainstream Rock radio hits last year with "Lydia" and "Bloodfeather," proving that straightforward guitar rock still has a place in the world in the 2010s. With roaring riffs and drum beats that cut through the air like a knife, Mister Asylum has an energy that is unparalleled among its other nominees.
Mister Asylum is raw, loud and the exact example of what a rock album should be. Though Slipknot's and Muse's albums are abrasive and powerful in their own ways, there's an excitement that resonates throughout Mister Asylum that you just don't get from those other efforts. We've heard these records from Slipknot and Muse before, but Highly Suspect bring something new to the table. Meanwhile, James Bay and Death Cab for Cutie's records are just too sleepy to really feel like a total "rock album." Sorry not sorry.
WHO WILL WIN: James Bay, Chaos and the Calm
James Bay is one of the Grammys voters' favorite artists this year, with three nominations to his name including the illustrious Best New Artist. If this guy is good enough to get a nod in one of the "big four" categories, he's more than good enough to take home the rock categories. And though his music may be (rightfully) perceived as soft for some fans of more traditional or harder rock, the Grammys are not scared of giving this award to a softer record -- Beck's Morning Phase took home Best Rock Album last year.
If Bay somehow manages to not win this album for his AAA radio-friendly sound, Muse's Drones could be the one to upset him. The Brit rockers were nothing if not innovative on their latest record, blending together heartbreak with military technology for a concept album that reveals something new on each listen. Plus, Matt Bellamy is one of the best rock singers in the game today. Muse also has a history of winning this award -- taking home the Grammy for Best Rock Album for The Resistance in 2011.