All eyes on British newcomer Sam Smith at Grammy Awards

Recording artist Sam Smith performs onstage during the Pre-Grammy Gala and Salute To Industry Icons honoring Martin Bandier at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday in Beverly Hills, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Recording artist Sam Smith performs onstage during the Pre-Grammy Gala and Salute To Industry Icons honoring Martin Bandier at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday in Beverly Hills, California. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - In a sea of pop music's leading ladies at Sunday's Grammy Awards, all eyes are on British newcomer Sam Smith with six nominations amid speculation that he could emulate Adele's 2012 sweep at the ceremony.

"I don't think it takes a massive crystal ball to think that it's going to be Sam Smith's night," said Lyndsey Parker, editor of Yahoo Music.

Much like Adele, who swept the Grammys with six wins, Smith, 22, is nominated in the night's top three categories for record, album and song of the year, after his debut album In The Lonely Hour stormed the U.S. charts last year, led by his soulful song Stay With Me.

Smith faces competition from some of pop's biggest names, namely R&B singer-producer Pharrell, who also has six nods including three for album of the year that includes his production work on Beyonce and Ed Sheeran's records.

But it's not all about the winners at the Grammy awards, as much of the show is dedicated to delivering high-octane and high-profile performances.

Smith and Pharrell will perform alongside a slew of chart-topping female singers including Ariana Grande and Rihanna, who will perform with Paul McCartney and Kanye West.

Grammy executive producer Ken Erhlich, credited with creating the concept of television divas through his work with singers such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, said music since the mid-1990s has become "a man's world".

But the tide may be changing.

"Now we have a new generation that's taking it even further, building on what the base of what that was and the popularity and reaching an even more enlightened audience of both men and women, but they're doing it on their own terms," Erhlich said.

After hosting a mass wedding on stage last year for straight and gay couples as rappers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed the pro-gay rights song Same Love, this year's show will spotlight the problem of sexual abuse.

Singer Katy Perry, fresh off her Super Bowl performance last week where she flew across the stadium on a firework prop, will be toning things down to sing By the Grace of God on Sunday with a survivor of sexual abuse joining her on stage.

"These are not necessarily our agendas, but we feel a part of what a performer is, and what a performer has to say is more than just words and music," Erhlich said.