After all three debates, see who our analysts say emerged victorious

Grammys 2015: Pop & Hiss picks, and industry insiders' ballots

Beyonce, Sam Smith lead Pop & Hiss Grammy picks.

Will Sam Smith own the night? Can Beyonce’s surprise album beat out record buyers' favorite Ed Sheeran for album of the year? And how did voters vote in other key rap, jazz and R&B races?

These questions won’t be answered until the 57th annual Grammys kick off later Sunday and, as always, who comes out on top by the end of the evening is anyone’s guess.

Earlier this week The Times' staff of pop music writers, critics and editors were asked to vote in the big four categories (album, record, song, new artist). We also asked a couple of Recording Academy voters/industry insiders how they voted this year in a number of races.

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The results? All over the map. See for yourself below.

L.A. Times' staffers picks:


“Morning Phase,” Beck

“Beyonce,” Beyonce

“X,” Ed Sheeran

“G I R L,” Pharrell Williams

Beyonce’s surprise album, dropped in the dead of night with no advance warning, is still buzz-worthy more than a year later -- and it was a landslide favorite. Williams’ funky, R&B-dance-pop comeback “G I R L” was picked on one ballot.  


“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX

“Chandelier,” Sia

“Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” Sam Smith

“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift

“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor

Swift’s first real foray into pop waters made us dance to her “sick beat” as summer wound down, but the record had major competition in Smith’s brokenhearted stunner. “Chandelier” was also a favorite.


“Take Me to Church,” Hozier

“Chandelier,” Sia

“Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” Sam Smith

“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift

“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor

Smith’s breakout ballad scored the most ballots. However, he was second behind Hozier’s meaty “Take Me To Church.”

GRAMMYS 2015: Complete list | Ballot | Top nominees | Guide | Timeline


Iggy Azalea


Brandy Clark


Sam Smith

Ties are a rarity in Grammy voting but among the staff, there were split votes between British breakout Smith, who had a massive year, and hometown heroes Haim.


Recording Academy voters (under anonymity, of course).

From a songwriter who has penned smashes for Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera:

Record (“Chandelier,” Sia): I think “Chandelier” is where music is going. I think we’re going back to singer-singer stuff. Dynamic songs where you really have to sing. It reminds me, in a strange way, of Pat Benatar. Its catchy, but it has a deep meaning and it kicks your ass.

Song (“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor): For songwriting, it took a long time since something so fresh had been on radio. It has been the best written song of the year. And there’s no fluffin it.

Album (“X,” Ed Sheeran): I actually didn’t think any of them were album of the year. I voted for Ed Sheeran. It’s the most cohesive of them. Beyonce had the greatest videos of the year, but not the best album. It’s hard to not make it a popularity contest; you want to go for the people you know and love and it worries me that you have to pick the person you like the most and not the most deserving.

New artist (Sam Smith): Simply because he brought back classical singer-songwriter. It’s the definition of a new artist; he’s going to have a career that we pay attention to for a long time, not just someone who is hot right now.

Pop solo (“All Of Me,” John Legend): It was definitely the best vocal. John Legend is the most tasteful … and that song is undeniable. He nailed it 100%.

Pop duo/group (“Say Something,” A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera): This one was hard. It’s another one like album of the year. “Say Something” wasn’t my favorite song. It was good casting. It was interesting -- a new artist paired with Christina. It was a well-thought-out duet and not a political play.

R&B album (“Love, Marriage & Divorce,” Toni Braxton & Babyface): [“Where Did We Go Wrong”] got snubbed. When I bought it I was convinced it was going to sweep the R&B categories, but that was before the Beyonce surprise album. This album is impeccable. R&B heads were waiting on Toni to get back with Babyface forever. And when they did it was incredible.

From a well-known West Coast rapper who has produced and played alongside some of the genre’s recent breakout emcees:

Rap album (“Oxymoron,” Schoolboy Q): I wanted to vote for anything other than Iggy. These Grammys are powerful. Young kids look at these and this controls how they are looking at last year. I don’t want to be part of the cancer. Plus I really like Schoolboy, he’s a good guy.

Jazz instrumental album (“All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller,” Jason Moran): I know all the musicians who participated and I know they are really embedded in the arts. I feel like maybe if I vote for the homies they can change the current situation. I was [upset] I wasn’t in any of these categories.

R&B album (“Black Radio 2,” Robert Glasper Experiment): If my people can get to a certain place – meaning those who have true voices and can really play, then maybe people will look at these awards differently. And I produced on that album.

Producer of the year non-classical (Greg Kurstin): He’s a badass pianist from L.A. He’s been like a mentor to me, and he’s one of the most amazing songwriters and musicians in the whole ... world. Period. 

The Grammys are determined by about 13,000 voting members. The eligibility period for nominated recordings was Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014. The 57th awards are being held at Staples Center and telecast on CBS-TV. They are broadcast live except for viewers on the West Coast.

The latest headlines and any breaking news will be posted here on Pop & Hiss.  

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