There is a reason I don’t do forecasts on the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and all the other staples of award show season; getting the opportunity to see everything nominated for these awards are too exhausting and time-consuming for my taste. Plus, compared to something like music, movies are not exactly my wheelhouse of critical breakdown. Don’t get me wrong, I will have some movie and TV-based Tuesday Top 10s coming up, but they’ll be few and far between compared to the music and wrestling ones. Luckily for the Grammy Awards, they’re supposed to be seen as the biggest night in music, where only the best of the best walk away with a coveted trophy. That’s right, it’s not a popularity contest…or is it?
OK, I’m not here to condemn the Grammys for their many, MANY wrong decisions of ceremonies past: I’m here to look forward to this year’s Grammys and predict who’ll win a golden gramophone. Now, keep in mind that the Grammys have tons of categories, most of which cover genres of music I’m not at all familiar with; I’m probably the last person you should trust with categories like “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance”, “Best Opera Recording”, or basically any other award that’s guaranteed to go out on the Grammy’s pre-show stream. But as for the major genres such as pop, rock, rap, R&B, country, and the general field? That’s a can-do for me.
The only problem with that is that it is still a load of awards to cover. Therefore, unlike the Slammy Awards Forecast, where I shoved a load of categories into on post, I’m gonna separate this all into four different posts and you can just read up on the fields that interest you: post #1 will cover the rock and country fields, post #2 will cover the rap and R&B fields, post #3 will cover the pop, dance, music video, and visual media fields, and the post will cover the Big 4 of Best New Artist, Song, Record, and Album of the Year. It may still take as much will power to read as it took for me to write (hence why I’ve decided not to do a Tuesday Top 10 this week), but hopefully it’ll be just as fun as sitting through the ceremony itself will be. I expect SO many piano ballads; I hope not, though. I have to miss out on most of Monday Night RAW for this, and anything that makes me miss my wrestling better be worth it! So let’s go ahead and dive into the rock and country fields to see what we’re dealing with there.
Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett vs. James Bay vs. Sam Hunt vs. Tori Kelly vs. Meghan Trainor
“Who the hell is Courtney Barnett?” I asked myself the morning of the reveal of the 2016 Grammy Award nominations. I’ve come to expect the Grammys to nominate at least one artist I’ve never heard of for BNA due to the lack of mainstream attention they got over the year (last year was one of the rare times I actually knew every nominee), but that doesn’t automatically make them bad, and in the case of Courtney Barnett, she’s actually not bad. I don’t think her rock-oriented sound will be accepted in the current mainstream scene with the abundance of trap and EDM going around, but she’s pretty damn good though and if she wins, I won’t mind. Meghan Trainor, on the other hand…do not do this, Grammys. My favorite songs that Trainor has EVER had a hand in writing weren’t even performed by her; they were performed by a girl group from a reality show, a country singer from a reality show, and a Disney Channel star because they all had the ability, sound, and/or relatability to make those songs work. I honestly can’t say I’ma fan of Meghan’s sound or the songs she performs herself, but I guess her success justifies the nominations. Sam Hunt is…OK, I guess. I mean, I like “Break Up in A Small Town” fine, but it’s not like I NEED the song (or Hunt’s talk-singing style) in my life. I’ve encountered James Bay in the VMA’s Forecast and I’ve made it clear that he’s pretty cool, even if I don’t see myself listening to him that often. Then there’s Tori Kelly, the kinda-sorta-but-not-really successful artist in the bunch; the girl hasn’t a single Top 40 to her name and I don’t think her album is selling that well, but she’s managed to blow audiences away with her many television appearances this past year.
Who I Want to Win: Either Tori Kelly or Courtney Barnett.
Who Will Win: James Bay; I think he sounds most like what the Grammys go for.
Record of the Year
D’Angelo vs. Mark Ronson vs. Ed Sheeran vs. Taylor Swift vs. The Weeknd
D’Angelo’s return to music was a much hyped-about deal in the R&B world; in December of 2014, backed by The Vanguard, he put out his first collection of new music since 2000’s VooDoo, which gave us one of R&B’s all-time most memorable music videos; the album Black Messiah contained that D’Angelo sound on the first single, “Really Love”, which I do remember getting decent airplay on V103, a top R&B station here in Chicago. As soulful as that song is, though, Ed Sheeran also had an acoustic soul song take over the airwaves and it immediately became his biggest, most inescapable hit. And I assure you, “Thinking Out Loud” will be played at every wedding you go to for years to come; hell, Thomas Rhett managed to get his own sound-alike song charting on the country and pop charts. Speaking of artists looking and sounding similar to someone else, The Weeknd received a ton of Michael Jackson comparisons for “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Uptown Funk” also sounded like shades of funk music past, proving that Bruno Mars is the ultimate modern throwback. Then, there’s Queen Taylor Swift, who breaks up the sausage party by making fun of her public persona on record and going #1 with it.
Who I Want to Win: Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars. A year later, this song is still not played out.
Who Will Win: “Uptown Funk”; even the Grammy people can’t deny how big this track was!
Song of the Year
“Alright” vs. “Blank Space” vs. “Girl Crush” vs. “See You Again” vs. “Thinking Out Loud”
Socially conscious rap song that assures people that we’ll make it through the negativity and unfair cultural biases of a crooked system vs. a pop song that lampoons the perceived public persona of a pop music superstar vs. a slow country track that takes the subject of jealousy and puts a sexy little spin on it vs. a sentimental tribute to a fallen actor and movie character who was the heart of an entire franchise vs. the world’s most soulful acoustic pop wedding staple by a ginger? Boy, oh boy; who most deserves to win the Song of the Year Grammy? Truth be told, all of these songs have a legitimate case to the gramophone. Then again, that’s kind of a generous thing for me to say seeing as I actually like all of these songs to some degree and I think that they’re all pretty well written…OK, “See You Again” might be the weak link with Wiz’s lyrics, but at least it’s a departure from what he usually raps about.
Who I Want to Win: Either “Alright” or “Blank Space”.
Who Will Win: Something tells me “Girl Crush” will take this one.
Album of the Year
Sound & Color vs. To Pimp A Butterfly vs. Traveller vs. 1989 vs. Beauty Behind the Madness
My God, is sitting through a bunch of albums in the name of research monotonous. If this was the Billboard Music Awards, I could just say that whichever album sold the most copies (1989, I’d assume it would be here) would take the award home. But since this is the Grammys, content and quality are kind of important (or at least they’re supposed to be), so I had to sit down and listen to every album in this and all the other album categories. Admittdly, I got save myself a little time since I had already listened to 1989 when it first came out, To Pimp A Butterfly when the buzz around it was fresh in out minds, and Traveller a while back as research for the CMA Awards Forecast. I already knew TPAB was perplexity great, Traveller was surprisingly wonderful, and 1989 was a decent crossover for a former country star. It was the Weeknd and Alabama Shakes that I was unsure about. I knew what they sounded like due to previous songs I’d heard, but what about the albums in question? While Sound & Color wasn’t very different musically from what I’d previously heard from the band, it still sounded good and Beauty Behind The Madness delivered on both the beauty and the madness in the title. So when it comes to the biggest award of the entire ceremony, who will be the lucky victorious one?
Who I Want to Win: I’d love for Queen Tay to win, but I feel like Kendrick Lamar really deserves this one.
Who Will Win: Alabama Shakes. If recent Grammy history has taught me anything, it’s to never bet on the mainstream or popular choice to win the Album of the Year award, because while sometimes the mainstream or popular choice will win the award, other times, you end up with situations like Herbie Hancock in 2008, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant in 2009, Arcade Fire in 2011, and Beck last year where the solid-yet-unexpected underdog of the category wins it. Say I’m playing it safe if you want, but I believe Alabama Shakes is gonna win it.
Do you agree with the forecast? Who do you see winning a Grammy Award? Who are you rooting for to win? Do you even care? Tag me on Twitter@FearlessRiOT and let me know or leave a comment below. Then check out the Grammys this Monday on CBS to see which predictions come true. Hope you all enjoy the show!