The music and wrestling Gods are fighting for my attention once again it seems as this Sunday, the music world will gather together and honor the year’s most popular and best-selling acts on the American Music Awards while the WWE Superstars and Divas fight for survival at the Thanksgiving classic Survivor Series. And since I’ve made it my mission in the forecast to predict the winners of both upcoming award shows and WWE events, I’m requiring myself to sit down and put my brain to work on predicting who’s gonna win at both of these events. We’ll get to the Survivor Series later, but first, let’s tackle the American Music Awards.
It’s not a huge surprise that Taylor Swift has the most nominations with six, including a place in Artist of the Year while Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd have four nominations apiece. Obviously, having the most nominations isn’t any indicator you’ll win, but it does at least increase your chances of walking about with something, especially if you’re a big a name as Taylor Swift. So which of these musicians will be leaving with anything? I’m gonna enter the forecast and have a guess. (Full Disclosure: I’m only doing the artist and song categories; I’m leaving the album categories alone in this one. Don’t worry; I’ll actually be doing my album research during Grammy coverage, though. )
Pop/Rock Male Artist
Ed Sheeran vs. Nick Jonas vs. Sam Smith
2015 officially makes no sense. Not only is Joe Jonas in a band that actually has one of the catchiest, most fun songs on the radio at the moment, but his younger brother Nick Jonas had enough success to get nominated for an American Music Award as a solo artist. Next thing you know, his name will actually be on a Grammy ballot next month. But anyway, he’s going up against two gentlemen from the UK: acoustic guitar-playing ginger Ed Sheeran and the soulful critical darling/owner of multiple 2015 Grammy Awards Sam Smith.
Who I Want to Win: Ed Sheeran; he’s one of my favoite msuicians in the mainstream today, so I wouldn’t mind him winning it.
Who Will Win: Ed Sheeran; I could see any of these dude winning it, but in a fan-voted environment in 2015, Ed seems more like the “it” pick to take it home.
Pop/Rock Female Artist:
Ariana Grande vs. Meghan Trainor vs. Taylor Swift
Apparently, Meghan Trainor has managed to be successful enough in late-2014 and early-2015 to warrant being nominated alongside Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande for this award. I know they say never to count someone out before allowing the battle to happen, but I’m sorry to Meghan on this one. She is going up against heavy-hitters like Taylor and Ariana in a fan-voted environment, so it is incredibly easy to strike her name out of it. This will definitely come down between the Fair-Haired Queen and Pint-Sized Princess of Modern Music.
Who I Want to Win: Taylor Swift; no surprise there, huh?
Who Will Win: Not Meghan Trainor, that’s for sure. It’ll totally be either Taylor or Ariana winning.
Maroon 5 vs. One Direction vs. Walk the Moon
Maroon 5 are the biggest band in mainstream music today whether you hate their music or not. The numbers don’t lie and Maroon 5 (or as I like to call them, Adam Levine and Friends) have gotten countless levels of radio airplay and I guess their album sold pretty well. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but One Direction lost one member this year, but still decided to go on and release one final album before going on a break altogether, and you can bet their dedicate stanbase will be there to buy it up. Then we have the breakout rock group Walk the Moon, who’s one hit “Shut Up and Dance” was as successful as it was infectious.
Who I Want to Win: Walk the Moon; I’d honestly rather listen to their one hit over anything the other two groups released this year.
Who Will Win: One Direction; no-brainer.
Country Male Artist:
Jason Aldean vs. Luke Bryan vs. Sam Hunt
Of all the male country artists to release material this year, the three most successful enough to earn nominations for the Thanksgiving music tradition were a guy who got a country hit with a damn-near R&B song, the poster-boy for solo bro-country music, and a guy who’s biggest hit features him talking just as much as he is singing. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Sam Hunt have all been pretty big this year, but which country boy will snag the trophy on Sunday?
Who I Want to Win: Eric Church or Blake Shelton; but since they’re not nominated, Sam Hunt, I guess. His sing-talking is weird, but it’s at least interesting compared to the other two.
Who Will Win: Luke Bryan; it’s totally gonna be country heartthrob Luke Bryan.
Country Female Artist:
Kelsea Ballerini vs. Miranda Lambert vs. Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert release material every year and it’s always successful, so it’s no surprised why it seems like a requirement to nominate them both for every female country award. But since the AMAs traditionally have three artists a category, a third person must get nominated too, and since Taylor Swift went full-pop on her latest album, it was time to slide an up-and-coming into that slot. Enter blonde 22-year old Kelsea Ballerini, who this year scored the first #1 country song by a female artist in three years with her hit song “Love Me Like You Mean It”.
Who I Want to Win: Kelsea Ballerini; Carrie and Miranda have so many awards, I wouldn’t mind if this promising young talent got this one.
Who Will Win: Carrie Underwood. It’s always been either Carrie or Taylor winning this award every year since 2007 and I have no reason to think that’ll change this year.
Country Duo or Group:
Florida Georgia Line vs. Little Big Town vs. Zac Brown Band
Is there a group or duo in country more dominant over the last few years than Florida Georgia Line? Brian and Tyler have snatched awards and records left and right in the genre with their polarizing brand of country music. Little Big Town, meanwhile, released perhaps THE county song of the year in “Girl Crush” and have been awarded accordingly by the likes of the Country Music Association. Whether their entire body of work this year lands them this trophy remains to be seen. Zac Brown Band have had a great year by virtue of the fact that they charted on both the country and rock charts his year with country fare like “Homegrown” and the hard rocking, WWE 2K16-soundtracking “Heavy is the Head”. (Random Observation: LBT are the only group here to not be associated with WWE in any kind of media; think they’ll ever invite FGL back to perform again?)
Who I Want to Win: Little Big Town. One of my favorite groups and I’m rooting for them to win.
Who Will Win: Florida Georgia Line. Like it or not, the “Anything Goes” singers are still a pretty damn big deal.
Drake vs. Fetty Wap vs. Nicki Minaj
Drake and Nicki Minaj pretty much run hip-hop now. I think that’s probably fair to say. Drake claims If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late is a mixtape, but given the way he released it, let’s call it his latest album. And that album charted a bunch of tracks on Billboard. And his single “Hotline Bling” is EVERYWHERE these days. Nicki, meanwhile, runs hip-hop as its top female artist. Her dominance could be considered the reason the ladies don’t have their own hip-hop category like they used to. Joining these two giants is newcomer Fetty Wap, who’s “Trap Queen” has been on the Billboard charts for over 40 weeks, most of that time in the Top 40 where it STILL is as I type this.
Who I Want to Win: Drake. All three of them had great tracks this year, but Drake is the one who stands out as a personal favorite.
Who Will Win: Nicki Minaj; she’s not only the most popular female rapper in the game, she may be THE most popular rapper in the game PERIOD. Expect her fans to get her this award.
Soul/R&B Male Artist:
Chris Brown vs. Trey Songz vs. The Weeknd
So it looks like Chris Brown is still around and so is Trey Songz. To be fair, Breezy did release a solo album late last year which included the kinda decent “New Flame”. He also released a collaborative album with Tyga earlier this year that actually charted a Top 40 song. Trey Songz, meanwhile, is one of those artists who always releases stuff when I’m not looking. He released an EP and two singles this year that totally went under my radar until I did research for this Forecast. Then there was The Weeknd, who was on everyone’s radar all year with hit after hit.
Who I Want to Win: The Weeknd. Please be the Weeknd.
Who Will Win: The Weeknd, assuming Team Breezy didn’t pay much attention to the voting.
Soul/R&B Female Artist:
Beyoncé vs. Mary J. Blige vs. Rihanna
I don’t think Beyoncé even released that much music this year. There was “7/11”, her guest spot on “Feeling Myself” and I think that’s it. And that was enough to get her a nomination. Must be good to be Queen Bey, I guess. Meanwhile, Rihanna also didn’t release much; three singles and that’s it. Meanwhile, we’ve been waiting so long for her next album, Dr. Dre of all people actually beat her to releasing one. Meanwhile, soul icon Mary J. Blige released a new album last December that included singles like the emotional “Whole Damn Year”. And if this was the early-to-mid-2000s, she’d have a legit shot at winning; hell, she won this award in 2006. Sadly, she’s not in the mainstream as much as she used to be.
Who I Want to Win: Rihanna, mainly out of favoritism.
Who Will Win: Rihanna; I can imagine the Rihanna Navy sitting in front of the computer voting while thinking “Maybe if we get her this one, she’ll repay us by finally drop that damn album!”
Favorite Alternative Artist:
Fall Out Boy vs. Hozier vs. Walk the Moon
Does this category seem fair? So many categories this year look like two heavyweights vs. a newcomer or two heavyweights vs. a faded legend, but this category is one heavyweight vs. two newcomers. Fall Out Boy have been one of music’s most popular bands since 2005 and they’re still charting strong today with songs like “Centuries” and “Uma Thurman”. Then we have Hozier and Walk the Moon, who are both still in the one-hit wonder realm at the moment with “Take Me To Church” and “Shut Up and Dance”. Sure, both those songs were Top 5 hits on Billboard, but is it enough to topple Fall Out Boy though?
Who I Want to Win: Fall Out Boy.
Who Will Win: Fall Out Boy; they already creamed the other two for a VMA and I expect them to do the same for an AMA.
Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist::
Ed Sheeran vs. Taylor Swift vs. Meghan Trainor
Wait a minute, Meghan Trainor counts as an adult contemporary artist? Wow, she doesn’t sound that much like what I hear when I tune into an AC station. She just sounds more like Radio Disney with innuendo to me a lot of the time. OK, there is that one song with John Legend, but that’s all that comes to mind. Taylor Swift also makes catchy pop tunes, but she can slow it down too. Not every song is a “Shake It Off”; that’s what the “Wildest Dreams”-type songs are for. Then there’s Ed Sheeran; it’s not every day you see a dude become such a huge pop star while holding an acoustic guitar, especially not in 2015 when the radio is so EDM heavy. Of all three artists here, Ed Sheeran seems to fit the AC format most; I mean “Thinking Out Loud” is the quintessential song to slow-dance to at a wedding.
Who I Want to Win: Ed Sheeran.
Who Will Win: Likely Taylor Swift.
Calvin Harris vs. David Guetta vs. Zedd
I was very hesitant on doing this category. I have grown exhausted with all the EDM on the radio and so much of it is starting to sound the same to me. But I guess I can give it a shot. Calvin Harris has been big since 2012 and he’s regularly worked with artists that I actually really like, such as Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Florence Welch, and recently Ellie Goulding and HAIM. That also just happens to be the only time I ever listen to him is when he works with people I like, and that’s usually only for – you guessed it – the guest artist themselves.. David Guetta’s also been big for a while, but it seems like he disappeared for a bit before turning up again this ywar by gathering Nicki Minaj, BeBe Rexha, and Afrojack in one room for a smash collabo. And Zedd also regularly works with big names; the biggest name he worked with this year easily being Selena Gomez.
Who I Want to Win: Calvin Harris, I guess just because I enjoyed his songs with HAIM and Goulding. Mainly cause I like HAIM and Goulding in general.
Who Will Win: Calvin Harris because he’s all over the radio even when you don’t notice him and we’ve managed to keep him relevant this long because of it.
To honor the memory of Paul Walker, Furious 7 included a collaboration between rapper Wiz Khalifa and newcomer Charlie Puth paying tribute to him and his film character that topped the Billboard charts and dominated the radio for a lengthy period of time in 2015. Legendary Beatle Paul McCartney teamed up with Rihanna and Kanye West for probably the most unexpected, experimental track Rihanna has done up to this point, and that might be true for Paul and Kanye as well. Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars got fresh and clean for a retro jam that believe it or not is STILL on the charts even now when we’re nearing the end of the year. A more matured (musically, at least) Justin Bieber got to show off that side of him on his collaboration from Skrillex and Diplo’s joint album as Jack Ü. And pop titan Taylor Swift created an anthem about bridge-burning basically, and bought one of the biggest rappers in the game, Kendrick Lamar, along for the ride; it became her third #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.
Who I Want to Win: “Uptown Funk” for the same reason I want it to win Song of the Year.
Who Will Win: “Where Are Ü Now”, particularly due to Bieber’s inclusion. He’s been having the comeback of comebacks and this could be a part of it.
“See You Again” and “Uptown Funk” are also up for Song of the Year after both songs spent a marathon-lengths of time at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Joining them are Ed Sheeran at his most soulful with “Thinking Out Loud”, Taylor Swift taking a well-written, comedic stab at her public persona with “Blank Space”, and The Weeknd getting more upbeat than usual with “Can’t Feel My Face”. These five songs took over 2015 and they felt like it. But which one will be crowned Song of the Year before the Grammy Awards have their say?
Who I Want to Win: “Uptown Funk”; that song is still not annoying almost a year after it’s release.
Who Will Win: I’m gonna go with “Blank Space”.
New Artist of the Year:
Sam Hunt vs. Fetty Wap vs. Tove Lo vs. Walk the Moon vs. The Weeknd
I love the Best New Artist award on award shows; it’s a nice way to look forward to the future. The problem is that these days, too many flash-in-the-pan artists have come out the woodwork and it’s difficult to detect who has true staying power. Fetty Wap might not have to worry about that; not only has “Trap Queen” been in the Top 40 for forever and a fortnight, but he managed to escape one-hit wonder territory with the catchy “679” and the Drake-assisted “My Way”. Sam Hunt, meanwhile, is the breakout male artist of the year, proving there is in fact a market out there for funny-haired everymen who speak more than sing in their songs. Tove Lo managed to land two hits; “Talking Body” was my favorite of the two cause of the fun chorus, but “Habits (Stay High)” charted higher. The only way I can see Walk the Moon winning of the strength of their one hit is if they can do like country group Gloriana did in 2009 and win right the hell out of nowhere over higher favored artists. If not, there’s no reason to believe The Weeknd isn’t the heavy favorite to win this thing after how successful he’s been this year.
Who I Want to Win: Eh, give it to The Weeknd.
Who Will Win: The Weeknd; again, this is assuming another Gloriana moment doesn’t happen.
Artist of the Year:
Luke Bryan vs. Ariana Grande vs. Nicki Minaj vs. Taylor Swift vs. One Direction
The biggest award of the night started out as a ten-artist field at the beginning of fan-voting, but has been narrowed down to a field of five. Bro-Country heartthrob Luke Bryan, who just recently took home the CMA’s biggest honor by winning Entertainer of the Year for a second year in a row, looks to keep the momentum going by nabbing the AMA’s Artist of the Year. Two years ago, Ariana Grande won her very first American Music Award in 2013 for New Artist of the Year; how great would it be for her to win the Artist of the Year prize two years later? Nicki Minaj has quite a few American Music Awards to her name, and the “Feeling Myself” rapper would certainly make her Barbz happy by winning the top prize. Taylor Swift has been inescapable for a long time now and that’s especially the case this year with five songs impactful enough on radio and an album impactful enough on charts to make a win in this category well-earned for her. And the now four-member One Direction just released their final album before heading on a hiatus, so you better believe their fans would see a win in this category a proper way to show their appreciation for the group.
Who I Want to Win: Taylor Swift; maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of hers, maybe it’s because she’s basically been running the music game this year (just ask the streaming music business), but Taylor for the win in this one.
Who Will Win: Either Taylor Swift or One Direction; everyone in this category have dedicated fanbases, but I feel like the Swifties and the Directioners will be voting the hardest for it. And given the bitter history between the two fanbases and their idols, that’ll make for one intriguing dynamic.
What do you think of these predictions? Hit me up on Twitter @FearlessRiOT with your predictions and tune into the American Music Awards this Sunday night on ABC!