Last weekend’s American Music Awards kicked off the soft opening of awards season, which goes into full effect on Monday when the nominations for the 2016 Grammy Awards are revealed. As like every year, I will make my predictions for the Big 4 categories, Album, Record, Song and Best New Artist of the Year.
I said it last year and I’m saying it again now. This year’s predictions might be the toughest yet because the days of certain songs and albums being “Grammy bait” seem to be behind us. While there is almost always a surprise or two in the Album of the Year category, for example, there hasn’t been a so-called ‘heritage act’ among the nominees since Robert Plant in 2009, and with the Grammys as a whole shifting heavier toward popular mainstream artists, it has actually made it harder to pinpoint which of the year’s most successful acts will get Grammy attention.
This year, the attention seems to be on Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd. Taylor’s last two albums received Album of the Year noms (Fearless won) and she’s been twice nominated for Song of the Year and three times for Record of the Year. Ed Sheeran got the surprise Song of the Year nomination with The A Team in 2012 and his album X was nominated last year for Album of the Year. Meanwhile, The Weeknd has had a great year and if any newish artist can be considered an instant Grammy darling, it would be him.
So here are my predictions for who will be named in the Big 4 categories on Monday.
Album of the Year
1989 is the obvious pick, as the year’s top album (eligible for nomination. Remember that Adele‘s new music came out after deadline) that also got a fair share of critical praise for a pop album. After that, it’s less clear. The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness has been mentioned a lot, and if the Grammy committee has any sense at all, they’ll list Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp A Butterfly in there as well, though that may hurt Drake‘s chances for If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
On the country music front, Sam Hunt has gotten a lot of attention with Montevallo, while Chris Stapleton‘s recent Album of the Year win from the Country Music Awards might carry over as well. Personally, I’d like to see Kacey Musgraves get in there for Pageant Material as well.
Skimming over other predictions, I’ve seen Don Henley pop up a lot, but I’m doubtful that will happen since, as I mentioned before, the Grammys have given less love to long-time-established artists in recent years. If the world was just, Carly Rae Jepsen‘s Emotion would be the surprise nom.
My Predictions: Alabama Shakes (Sound & Color); Chris Stapleton (Traveller); Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp A Butterfly); Taylor Swift (1989); The Weeknd (Beauty Behind The Madness)
Record of the Year
This category is all about the hits. It’s an easier guess than the Album category, but only because these are some of the biggest hits of the year that would realistically make this category.
Ed Sheeran (Thinking Out Loud); Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars (Uptown Funk); Taylor Swift (Blank Space); The Weeknd (Can’t Feel My Face); Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth (See You Again)
Song of the Year
Last year, the Song and Record of the Year categories shared four of the five options. Fancy got the remaining Record slot while Take Me To Church was the other Song nom. The year before, only two songs were nominated for both. So it could go either way. This year, I would lean toward an almost full repeat between the two categories with a few possible exceptions. The Song of the Year category tends to be more adventurous in nominating songs that aren’t unanimous hits across-the-board. That makes room for songs like Girl Crush by Little Big Town, Alright by Kendrick Lamar or Budapest by George Ezra.
Predictions: Blank Space (Taylor Swift); Can’t Feel My Face (The Weeknd); Girl Crush (Little Big Town); See You Again (Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth); Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
Best New Artist
This category is always my poorest for predicting (though last year I got 3/5!) and I’m sure this year will be no exception as there are a lot of potential names to consider. You have the newcomers with hits, Meghan Trainer, Tove Lo, Fetty Wap, Elle King and Hozier – who is eligible despite his Song of the Year nomination last year. Though I’m doubtful he’ll make it in this category. Then you have the lesser-known but still possible George Ezra, James Bay and twenty one pilots, while Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton round out the country end. And then there’s the most logical choice, Leon Bridges. This is a complete shot in the dark prediction.
Predictions: Fetty Wap; James Bay; Leon Bridges; Meghan Trainer; Sam Hunt
Once the nominations are announced on Monday, I’ll check back in to see how I did. Feel free to add your predictions below!