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Grammys Preview: Sam Smith Could Steal Spotlight from Beyonce, Taylor Swift

As the music industry began to pour into L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles for a day of Grammy Awards festivities on Sunday, one question was on everyone’s lips: Can Sam Smith pull off a four-category perfecta this evening.

The 22-year-old English singer is nominated in all four of the Recording Academy’s so-called general categories, a rare feat in itself. He is largely considered a shoo-in as best new artist, and his debut Capitol collection “In the Lonely Hour” is a strong contender for album of the year honors. His first big Stateside hit “Stay With Me,” in Rodney Jerkins’ so-called “Darkchild version,” is up for song and record of the year. “In the Lonely Hour” has been on the U.S. chart for 33 weeks, and has sold in excess of 1 million copies.

Should Smith prevail in all four slots, he will become only the second performer to sweep the major categories in one year. At the 1981 ceremony, Christopher Cross took all four awards, winning for his self-titled album and his hit single “Sailing” while collecting best new artist kudos.

Before Smith’s tally is announced to the public on CBS’ evening telecast (out live at 8 p.m. ET and delayed on the West Coast), approximately 70 awards (out of 83 total categories) will be presented at the 12:30 p.m. pre-telecast show, now dubbed the Premiere Ceremony and held at the Nokia Theatre, adjacent to Staples Center, site of the broadcast show.

Hosted by country singer Hunter Hayes, the Premiere Ceremony will unveil pop, R&B and country winners, as well as kudos in niche genres – American roots music, world music, jazz, gospel and contemporary Christian, classical, children’s music, spoken word, Latin and new age. As it has in recent years, the show will stream live on the Recording Academy’s website, grammy.com.

At the evening show, Smith will face challenges in the big categories from other contemporary hitmakers. Beyonce – holder of 17 Grammys and a six-trophy winner in 2010 alone – could unseat him in the album of the year category with her self-titled album, which made a huge late-2013 splash when it was released online without any advance publicity.

Other potential spoilers include mega-selling country/pop star Taylor Swift, whose late-2014 single “Shake It Off” is angling for song and record of the year; songwriter-performer Meghan Trainor, competing in the same categories with her bootie anthem “All About That Bass”; and Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea, tabbed for best new artist and up for record of the year with “Fancy.”

Visit Variety.com for more Grammy news and a complete list of winners.

 

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