It’s that time of year again! The Recording Academy once again is rounding up music’s biggest stars out of their penthouse apartments to celebrate the year’s biggest musical accomplishments in a room barely big enough to fit all of that money and flagrant narcissism (sorry, Kanye). This year featured many surprises when the nominations were announced. For example, is that Beyoncé we see nominated in the Rock category? Yes, yes it is. Who’s Sturgill Simpson? Personally, I haven’t listened to his music, but whenever someone is added to the big categories that no one seems to have heard of before, it’s because voters have to remind the general public who tune in that it’s about the music, not the commercial viability that wins you an award. Well, not always.

Also, the nominations this year feature one of the most diverse palates of taste seen in many years. R&B and rap artists dominated this year, lead full steam ahead by Beyoncé and Chance the Rapper. Rock in it’s own way came out swinging this year as a whole, lead by Twenty One Pilots and the late great David Bowie, with TØP scoring their first nominations and Bowie’s last album before his death, Blackstar, getting recognized. And Pop can’t be discredited, as Adele is being pitted against Bey at every turn. So, the competition is tight, there can be no denying. But who will win? Well, I’m not a gambling man, mostly because luck is not my friend and frankly, any money I have is locked away because there ain’t much of it. But I’ve decided to look at all of the nominations and make my own predictions for some of the bigger categories. Let me know if you agree with me, and come February, let’s see if I’m right!

 

Album of the Year

25 — Adele
Lemonade — Beyoncé
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Views — Drake
A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson

Will Win: Beyoncé

Should Win: Beyoncé

Runner Up: Adele

This pains me to say, since I’m a die-hard Adele fan, but as I said in the opening paragraph, the Grammy’s are about musical achievement, which doesn’t always calculate to commercial success. You can’t give out the award simply based on which album sold the most copies. So, just because Adele’s monster of an album 25, ruled the end of 2015, and all of 2016 when it came to album sales, that doesn’t mean that it necessarily deserves the award as an overall album. Though it’s fantastic, incredibly moving, well produced, and emotionally gripping, it’s hard to pit that against Lemonade. In my personal opinion, the purpose of an album is to tell a story, and though Adele’s 25 made us all remember that she’s got the best voice in the industry, it’s not telling a concise story the whole way through, like 21 was so hailed for (and I hate to do that. I hate to say “it’s not going to win because it’s not 21“). However, the entire world was consumed by the story told by Lemonade, whether or not it was real. It’s creative, genre-breaking, and incredibly unique. Do I like the fact that it’s writing credits include over 50 producers? No. Because I think a quality story can and HAS been told by far less than that many people. However, the end product was the album of the year by far.

 

Record of the Year

“Hello” — Adele
“Formation” — Beyoncé
“7 Years” — Lukas Graham
“Work” — Rihanna Featuring Drake
“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots

Will Win: Adele

Should Win: Adele

Runner Up: Twenty One Pilots

I know, my runner up choice is quite bold, but yup, I’m going there. Let me start by defending my choice. In the same vein as my choice for Album of the Year, the record of the year can’t be chosen solely on commercial success. However, “Hello” was overall a much bigger song than any other on this list in all respects. Yes, “Formation” is incredibly provocative and lead to an album that is even more so in all the right ways, but “Hello” was the heavier hitter. At times, it’s more lyrically diverse, and I think more people related to the organic musical feel of it than the synths of “Formation”. And I say TøP came in as runner up because “Stressed Out” blew up, it brought the band to the forefront of listeners’ minds, and it was so artistically different than most other big songs this year.

 

Song of the Year

“Formation” — Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“Hello” — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
“I Took A Pill In Ibiza” — Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)
“7 Years” — Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)

Will Win: Adele

Should Win: Adele

Runner Up: Beyoncé

For mostly the same reasons as before, I say this one also goes to Adele, and this has nothing to do with my personal preferences. And to be honest, that could be attributed to the fact that in my opinion, “Formation” isn’t even the strongest song on Lemonade. Lemonade was a strong player because as an album, the whole thing worked cohesively. But no one song stuck out as much over the others. With 25, it’s singles were the big hooks that sucked people into it, and “Hello” spearheaded that. Whereas there were two songs on 25 I could have done without (that in my opinion would have been better replaced by the bonus tracks), Lemonade needed all of it’s songs to work as an album, which is why it collectively gets the prize. But when it comes to the individual songs? Adele has this locked down.

**Also, let it be said how encouraging it is to see that every performer listed here had a hand in writing their own songs. It’s so great to see that!**

 

Best New Artist:

Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance The Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak

Will Win: Chance the Rapper/The Chainsmokers

Should Win: Chance the Rapper

Runner Up: Anderson .Paak

I know, my prediction is skewed all the over the place. I only put the Chainsmokers as possible winners because we all saw last year with Meghan Trainor winning over James Bay and Tori Kelly, the other true contenders in that category, that sometimes, it’s unpredictable. However, I think the Chainsmokers not being nominated in any of the other big categories with the heft of the songs they had this year says that the voters were impressed by their commercial success but not by the quality of the songs (sorry not sorry). That is also why I put Anderson .Paak in there, because the Academy loves to reward artists that bring something new to the table, .Paak is innovative and inventive. However, Chance the Rapper? No one had a bigger year or overall impact in this category than he did. They changed their rules just so he could be nominated. He’s got this one in the bag in my opinion.

**I have to say, this category, while everyone included is deserving, snubbed quite a good number of artists, like Alessia Cara and Shawn Mendes, among others. While this category only has so many slots, I felt like they could have been filled a little differently.**

 

Best Pop Vocal Album

25 — Adele
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Dangerous Woman — Ariana Grande
Confident — Demi Lovato
This Is Acting — Sia

Will Win: Adele

Should Win: DEBATABLE

Runner Up: DEBATABLE

Having talked about this with so many people, I can’t confidently answer the question about who deserves to win this award in particular. This award is meant to be based on vocal prowess… I know, all of these nominees are insane. In the end, I think Adele has it. However, all of the nominees are deserving in my opinion. Demi Lovato, though I don’t think this was her strongest album, showed amazing chops consistently throughout the year, and I’m so glad she’s getting recognized for them (and again, even though her album wasn’t the best as a whole, though “Stone Cold” was unbelievable, we’re talking about the vocal performance, and she blows it out of the water every time). Sia and Ariana have the same thing going. Neither have won a Grammy (how Sia hasn’t won one yet straight up boggles my mind), and both showed off their incredible voices this year with their efforts, though Ariana’s in my opinion being the more solid work as an album. And Justin is a solid vocalist too, with Purpose being a major surprise to me as to how much I liked it. But I have a feeling the ladies are going to shut him out on this one. This one is going to be tough, but talk about the nominations being on point.

 

Best Pop Solo Performance:

“Hello” — Adele
“Hold Up” — Beyonce
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber
“Piece By Piece (Idol Version)” — Kelly Clarkson
“Dangerous Woman” — Ariana Grande

Will Win: Adele

Should Win: Adele

Runner Up: Ariana Grande

Once again, this isn’t an easy decision. I go with Adele again, because like I said, “Hello” itself was a force to be reckoned with. And once again, I say ‘no’ to Beyoncé, something I don’t recommend because I’m honestly scared that I’m going to feel retribution for that at some point later this year, because “Hold Up” isn’t Lemonade‘s strongest offering either (if you’re wondering where I’m going with that, I personally think it was either “Sorry” or “Don’t Hurt Yourself”). While “Love Yourself” was inescapable, and “Piece By Piece” had everyone, and I mean EVERYONE crying, they can’t match “Hello”. I say Ariana gets the runner up because she took the reins this year of her sound and impressed everyone, and if Adele doesn’t win, than she should definitely get recognized for her work this year.

 

Best Rock Performance:

“Joe (Live From Austin City Limits)” — Alabama Shakes
“Don’t Hurt Yourself” — Beyoncé Featuring Jack White
“Blackstar” — David Bowie
“The Sound Of Silence” — Disturbed
“Heathens” — Twenty One Pilots

Will Win: Bowie

Should Win: DEBATABLE

Runner Up: DEBATABLE

I confess, I’m not as much into rock as I am alternative and indie, but I have been watching the Grammy’s for years and I have listened to all of the songs in this category so I’m not going into this like I’m poking around in a pitch black room with a stick. This category is tough to predict for so many reasons. I give the win to Bowie because till the very end, Bowie was showing that originality we loved from him that made him a star and “Blackstar” was no exception. It wasn’t “Space Oddity”, but it was still inventive and uniquely Bowie. And seeing as he was shut out of the major categories, I think voters will want to honor him in some way. However, “Heathens” was a major player this year, riding the line of alternative, pop and rock, which is the same reason Beyoncé is anywhere near this category as well. Those two were both impressive, that can’t be denied. Alabama Shakes are also sonically unique, like Bowie, and the Academy voters LOVE them, so they’re major contenders (and when it comes to Performance categories, live performances get an extra push). And Disturbed’s rendition of “The Sound of Silence” was inescapable even for me, who doesn’t delve that deep into this genre, and is quite a bold and incredibly respectable tribute to the original version. So it’s a toss up for this one, I have to say, though I think Bowie has the edge.

 

Best Rock Song:

“Blackstar” — David Bowie, songwriter (David Bowie)
“Burn the Witch”  —Radiohead, songwriters (Radiohead)
“Hardwired” — James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich, songwriters (Metallica)
“Heathens” — Tyler Joseph, songwriter (Twenty One Pilots)
“My Name Is Human” — Rich Meyer, Ryan Meyer & Johnny Stevens, songwriters (Highly Suspect)

Will Win: Bowie

Should Win: Bowie/Radiohead/TØP

Runner Up: Radiohead

Once again, this one is likely to go to Bowie because of his lack of big nominations. This one is a little easier to narrow down though. Radiohead’s “Burn The Witch” was explosive on it’s release, and like I said, “Heathens” showed rock listeners that the genre can bend just like pop has been doing since it’s conception. So I also think Bowie has the edge on this, but Radiohead and TØP both have serious chances in this category to take something home.

 

Best Alternative Music Album:

22, A Million — Bon Iver
Blackstar — David Bowie
The Hope Six Demolition Project — PJ Harvey
Post Pop Depression — Iggy Pop
A Moon Shaped Pool — Radiohead

Will Win: Bon Iver

Should Win: Bon Iver

Runner Up: Bowie/Radiohead

As I said before, the Grammy’s are based on artistic achievement, and every person who I’ve spoken to that has listened to 22, A Million this year, including myself, have been blown away. It’s not something I’ve ever heard before, and I’m surprised that it wasn’t more recognized this year in other categories. However, it is most definitely the frontrunner and most deserving in this category for sure to take home the award.

 

Best Rap Album:
Coloring Book — Chance The Rapper
And the Anonymous Nobody — De La Soul
Major Key — DJ Khaled
Views — Drake
Blank Face LP — ScHoolboy Q
The Life of Pablo — Kanye West

Will Win: Chance The Rapper

Should Win: Chance The Rapper/Kanye

Runner Up: Kanye

Once again, this is a little hard to figure out, but I have a feeling I’m going to be right on this one. Chance’s Coloring Book  was incredible this year, so much so that the Academy had to take notice of the album which was only released on streaming services, and change their guidelines accordingly so that it could included in the nominations for this year’s award ceremony. Truly, it’s only competition in this category is Kanye’s TLOP, which was a much better return to classic Kanye than Yeezus. However, Chance has the edge I think, due to a couple of things. One, Kanye has been going off constantly for a while now about how the whole Recording Academy is a scheme, that none of the voting is done right, it’s rigged, blah blah blah. I don’t know about you, but if I were a member of the voting community for the Academy, I wouldn’t be voting for the guy basically telling me I’m helping a fraudulent front. But I think second, and more important, that TLOP was released in various forms, with quite a large space of time between when it was released to when it was revamped, and then again, and then again, which I think will make voters second guess settling on it as their choice in this category since it felt like a final product was hardly ever sent out, giving it to Chance. I liked Views, but I just don’t think as an album it has any edge whatsoever over any other record in this category. It’s singles were strong, but compared to Coloring Book, I don’t see it winning out.

 

Best Rap Performance:

“No Problem” — Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
“Panda” —Desiigner
“Pop Style” — Drake Featuring The Throne
“All The Way Up” — Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared
“That Part” — ScHoolboy Q Featuring Kanye West

Will Win: Chance/Desiigner

Should Win: Chance

Runner Up: Desiigner

Once again, I don’t think the streaming rule change would have been put in place if Chance was meant to be going home with nothing, and “No Problem” was a pretty big staple on Coloring Book that made it what it was. It details how little he needs a label, which is one of the things that has people perplexed by him. The only competition I think he has in this category is “Panda” which I hope to God doesn’t win. I never got into the song, I still to this day don’t get the hype about the song, and I don’t understand how it got nominated, but like I said, it was huge, so you never know.

 

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

Lemonade — Beyoncé
Ology — Gallant
We Are King — KING
Malibu — Anderson .Paak
Anti — Rihanna

Will Win: Beyoncé

Should Win: Beyoncé

Runner Up: Anderson .Paak

Like I said, Lemonade is a huge album, and you can bet that if Adele isn’t in the category with Bey that it’s going to be swayed way more towards her no matter who else is nominated there. I think .Paak’s Malibu has a slight edge as runner up over Rihanna because it was, I think, an overall stronger effort than the kind of scattered nature of Anti. Rihanna fell victim to an album with strong songs mixed with weak ones, and with everyone pretty much agreeing that every song felt shorter than it should have, it seemed with all of the reworkings behind the scenes plagued it’s final product than helped it. However, it’s singles were titanic, no dispute there. This is about the album in it’s entirety, though, and I see it being easily beat.

 

Best R&B Performance:

“Turnin’ Me Up” — BJ The Chicago Kid
“Permission” — Ro James
“I Do” — Musiq Soulchild
“Needed Me” — Rihanna
“Cranes in the Sky” — Solange

Will Win: Rihanna/Solange

Should Win: Rihanna/Solange

Runner Up: Rihanna/Solange (whichever doesn’t win)

Like Chance and Kanye when it comes to Best Rap Album, I think it’s going to come down to these two ladies. Rihanna’s “Needed Me” was a strong player this year, getting plenty of airplay on radio and charting her another #1 on the Billboard Dance charts. Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” also made quite an impression this year out of her critically acclaimed album, A Seat At The Table, and though it wasn’t given the same radio play as Ri, voters could believably go either way with this one.

 

That’s all I got, y’all. This year’s show will be very interesting to see, when it comes to winners and this year’s performances (I can’t wait to see what collaborative pairs might get put together this year. I still can’t get over that they had Tori Kelly and James Bay duet last year which was insane). Hopefully, we won’t have technical issues that dragged Adele down last year, and yes, I’m still salty about that, but that’s neither here nor there. Let me know it you guys agree with my predictions, and look out for my review of the show, which goes down on Sunday, February 12th on CBS.

 

 

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