My 2016 Grammy Predictions

GrammyMusic’s Biggest Night™ is Monday and the list of potential winners isn’t as clear cut as they may seem, judging by predictions made by online publications posted within the past few days, and the lack of an Adele-like force to make for an obvious result. As per tradition, I’ll predict how some key categories will go and whether I think the right choice is being made. Last year, I predicted for 13 categories and got 7 correct – not a personal best. On award night, we’ll see how well I did.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
• Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
• Chris Stapleton – Traveller
• Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
• Taylor Swift – 1989
• The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

This category seems to be the one that could go almost any way. Taylor Swift was the early front-runner as far back as when 1989 was released. Since the nominees came out, Alabama Shakes has been namedropped as a likely winner a la “the Beck effect.” Most cite Kendrick Lamar as a deserving winner but unlikely due to the Grammys tendency to not award rap in this category. I think this year they will, due both to mending past mis-votes and because any self-respecting self-proclaimed expert in music can’t ignore the perfection of To Pimp A Butterfly.

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar
Will Win: Kendrick Lamar


RECORD OF THE YEAR
• D’Angelo And The Vanguard – Really Love
• Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
• Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
• Taylor Swift – Blank Space
• The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

This is a tough award this year because there isn’t an obvious winner. The Grammys didn’t used to award the biggest hit by default, if it did, Uptown Funk would be the one. It seems to be between that and Blank Space, but I think Taylor’s immense success over an extended period of time and the age of her album and its singles might work against her.

Should Win: Taylor Swift
Will Win: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars


SONG OF THE YEAR
• Kendrick Duckworth, Kawan Prather, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters – Alright (Kendrick Lamar)
• Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters – Blank Space (Taylor Swift)
• Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters – Girl Crush (Little Big Town)
• Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters – See You Again (Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth)
• Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters – Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)

Ed Sheeran has the benefit of being a Grammy darling with quintessential Grammy bait, but the cultural significance of Alright might have caught attention of the voters. I’d like to see Girl Crush capture this award, but Alright is more deserving. Blank Space winning would be anticlimactic and See You Again shouldn’t even be here anyway.

Should Win: Girl Crush (or Alright)
Will Win: Thinking Out Loud


BEST NEW ARTIST
• Courtney Barnett
• James Bay
• Meghan Trainor
• Sam Hunt
• Tori Kelly

Meghan Trainor has the most name recognition but there’s also been a lot of question as to why she was nominated despite being previously nominated last year for Record and Song of the Year. Ed Sheeran got in on the same technicality the year he was nominated (and lost), so it’s possible that despite her success in 2015, her 2014 emergence might work against her too. My personal pick would be James Bay, but Courtney Barnett is now on my radar.

Should Win: James Bay
Will Win: Sam Hunt


BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE
• Kelly Clarkson – Heartbeat Song
• Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do
• Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
• Taylor Swift – Blank Space
• The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

I’d like to see Ellie Goulding get this award but I think Taylor might be a more appropriate win. It’s between her and Ed.

Should Win: Taylor Swift
Will Win: Taylor Swift


BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE
• Florence & The Machine – Ship To Wreck
• Maroon 5 – Sugar
• Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
• Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
• Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth – See You Again

Florence & The Machine are a sore thumb in this category, but Ship To Wreck is my pick of the choices, even if I wouldn’t necessarily qualify it as a “pop” song. With that said, the Taylor/Kendrick pairing or Uptown Funk will get it.

Should Win: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
Will Win: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars


BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
• Kelly Clarkson – Piece By Piece
• Florence & The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
• Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
• Taylor Swift – 1989
• James Taylor – Before This World

It has been noted that Mark Ronson is nominated for an award with “vocal” in the title despite not being a vocalist. With that out of the way, I think this is Taylor’s award to win.

Should Win: Taylor Swift
Will Win: Taylor Swift


BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE
• Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight
• Florence & The Machine – What Kind Of Man
• Foo Fighters – Something From Nothing
• Elle King – Ex’s & Oh’s
• Wolf Alice – Moaning Lisa Smile

The Foo Fighters have been nominated for this category (or equivalent) four times, winning for the first time in 2012. They could be the Grammy favourite but Alabama Shakes have more buzz and two previous category nominations and no win might lead to it.

Should Win: Alabama Shakes
Will Win: Alabama Shakes


BEST ROCK SONG
• Alabama Shakes, songwriters – Don’t Wanna Fight (Alabama Shakes)
• Dave Bassett & Elle King, songwriters – Ex’s & Oh’s (Elle King)
• Iain Archer & James Bay, songwriters – Hold Back The River (James Bay)
• Richard Meyer, Ryan Meyer & Johnny Stevens, songwriters – Lydia (Highly Suspect)
• John Hill, Tom Hull & Florence Welch, songwriters – What Kind Of Man (Florence & The Machine)

Alabama Shakes.

Should Win: Florence & The Machine
Will Win: Alabama Shakes


BEST ROCK ALBUM
• James Bay – Chaos And The Calm
• Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi
• Highly Suspect – Mister Asylum
• Muse – Drones
• Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter

It’s not a particularly strong category this year, even compared to recent years. Muse seem to be the best option as far as rock goes.

Should Win: Muse
Will Win: Muse


BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
• Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
• Björk – Vulnicura
• My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
• Tame Impala – Currents
• Wilco – Star Wars

Looks like it’ll be a good night for Alabama Shakes. Note that Bjork has yet to win a Grammy.

Should Win: Alabama Shakes
Will Win: Alabama Shakes


BEST RAP PERFORMANCE
• J. Cole – Apparently
• Drake – Back To Back
• Fetty Wap – Trap Queen
• Kendrick Lamar – Alright
• Nicki Minaj featuring Drake & Lil Wayne – Truffle Butter
• Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney – All Day

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar
Will Win: Kendrick Lamar


BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION
• Big Sean featuring Kanye West & John Legend – One Man Can Change The World
• Common & John Legend – Glory
• Jidenna featuring Roman GianArthur – Classic Man
• Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat – These Walls
• Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown – Only

Kendrick’s main competition is the Oscar-winning (from last year) Glory.

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat
Will Win: Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat


BEST RAP SONG
• Ernest Brown, Tyler Bryant, Sean Combs, Mike Dean, Rennard East, Noah Goldstein, Malik Yusef Jones, Karim Kharbouch, Allan Kyariga, Kendrick Lamar, Paul McCartney, Victor Mensah, Charles Njapa, Che Pope, Patrick Reynolds, Allen Ritter, Kanye West, Mario Winans & Cydel Young, songwriters – All Day (Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney)
• Kendrick Duckworth, Kawan Prather, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters – Alright (Kendrick Lamar)
• Richard Dorfmeister, A. Graham, Markus Kienzl, M. O’Brien, M. Samuels & Phillip Thomas, songwriters – Energy (Drake)
• Lonnie Lynn, Che Smith & John Stephens, songwriters – Glory (Common & John Legend)
• Tony Fadd & Willie J. Maxwell, songwriters – Trap Queen (Fetty Wap)

All Day might not win if only because it would require the Grammys to make too many awards for all the songwriters involved.

Should Win: Alright
Will Win: Alright


BEST RAP ALBUM
• J. Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive
• Dr. Dre – Compton
• Drake – If Youre Reading This Its Too Late
• Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
• Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint

This category has become one of the most competitive of the lot in recent years and this year is no different, but the winning album should be obvious.

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar
Will Win: Kendrick Lamar


BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA
• Ahmad Balshe, Stephan Moccio, Jason Quenneville & Abel Tesfaye, songwriters – Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey) (The Weeknd)
• Lonnie Lynn, Che Smith & John Stephens, songwriters – Glory (Common & John Legend)
• Savan Kotecha, Max Martin, Tove Nilsson, Ali Payami & Ilya Salmanzadeh, songwriters – Love Me Like You Do (Ellie Goulding)
• Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters – See You Again (Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth)
• Lady Gaga & Diane Warren, songwriters – Til It Happens To You (Lady Gaga)

Lady Gaga’s nomination in this category is her only one this year and with public perception currently in her favour, plus her recording the only one to also be nominated for the Academy Award this year, I think she’ll get this one. Her main competition would be Glory, which won the Academy Award last year.

Should Win: Til It Happens To You
Will Win: Til It Happens To You


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