Grammy Awards 2016 Record Of the Year Nominees

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The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"

The Weeknd Can't Feel My Face
The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face". Courtesy Republic

Record of the Year is often considered one of four top honors given out annually at the Grammy Awards. Four of the five nominees for the 2016 Record of the Year Award were major pop hits.  Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, and Mark Ronson have previously been nominees in this category. Only Mark Ronson, for production work, has a Record of the Year win. 

Since his release of three mixtapes in 2011, the reputation of Canada's Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, has been buzzing in the music industry. Early in 2015 his song "Earned It" from the soundtrack to the film Fifty Shades of Grey became a major pop hit. When "Can't Feel My Face" was used to help promote the debut of Apple Music last summer, The Weeknd soared to pop stardom.

"Can't Feel My Face" has been lauded for its Michael Jackson influence. Rolling Stone named it the best song of 2015 and it topped the Billboard Hot 100. Record of the Year is one of The Weeknd's seven Grammy nominations this year. Among the others are Album of the Year for Beauty Behind the Madness and Best R&B Song for "Earned It."

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Taylor Swift - "Blank Space"

Taylor Swift - Blank Space
Taylor Swift - "Blank Space". Courtesy Big Machine

This is the second consecutive year that Taylor Swift has received a Record of the Year nomination for a release from her 1989 album. That feat puts her in the company of Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, and U2 who also reached the milestone. Along with "Can't Feel My Face," "Blank Space" is one of two Record of the Year nominees co-produced by Max Martin. He is not nominated for Producer of the Year this year, but he won in 2015.

"Blank Space" is a clever satire on the media image of Taylor Swift's dating life. She insists the commentary is not true in real life. The song became the second #1 hit from the album 1989 and spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It has already won Best Pop Video from the MTV Video Music Awards and Song of the Year from the American Music Awards. "Blank Space" is nominated for Song of the Year in addition to Record of the Year by the Grammys, and those are two of seven total nominations for Taylor Swift. This is Taylor Swift's fourth nomination for Record of the Year. She has been nominated in three of the last four years but has not yet won the award.

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D'Angelo and The Vanguard - "Really Love"

D'Angelo and the Vanguard Black Messiah
D'Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah. Courtesy RCA

R&B artist D'Angelo's nomination for Record of the Year is one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 Grammy Awards. However, before this year he had received 11 Grammy Award nominations while having released only two studio albums. That is an impressive number. Record of the Year is one of three nominations for his latest work from the album Black Messiah. All three D'Angelo albums were nominated for Best R&B Album. He won the award in 2001 for Voodoo.

The song "Really Love" contains a sample from the song "We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue" by R&B legend Curtis Mayfield. Upon official release, it became a minor chart hit peaking at #43 on the R&B chart. This is D'Angelo's first Record of the Year nomination.

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Mark Ronson - "Uptown Funk!" featuring Bruno Mars

Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk feat. Bruno Mars
Mark Ronson - "Uptown Funk" feat. Bruno Mars. Courtesy Columbia

British producer Mark Ronson helped write and produce Bruno Mars' #1 smash hit "Locked Out Of Heaven." For the lead single from Mark Ronson's Uptown Special album, Bruno Mars returned the favor. The result was a massive worldwide pop hit. It spent 14 weeks at the top of the chart in the US. The song draws strong inspiration from 80s funk and the Minneapolis Sound. In fact the similarities are so strong that members of the Gap Band won a settlement to be included as co-songwriters on the record.

"Locked Out of Heaven," the previous Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars collaboration, was nominated for Record of the Year. Mark Ronson received a Grammy for his production work on Amy Winehouse's 2008 Record of the Year "Rehab." This is Bruno Mars' fifth nomination for Record of the Year, but he has not yet won. 

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Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud"

Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud
Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud". Courtesy Atlantic

In 2015 Ed Sheeran received an Album of the Year nomination for his album x. This year the single "Thinking Out Loud" from that album is nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Reportedly Ed Sheeran wrote the song in the middle of the night with Welsh singer-songwriter Amy Wadge. She has been a musical inspiration for Ed Sheeran much of his life. The result of the collaboration was a #2 hit for eight weeks in the US and a #1 smash at home in the UK that spent an entire year in the top 40.

This is Ed Sheeran's first nomination for Record of the Year. He was nominated for Song of the Year for his first hit "The A Team," and Best New Artist in 2014.

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