First of all, apologies to the fanbases who were heartbroken to see that their fave pop acts weren’t up for Grammys this year. I know the Selenators, the Harmonizers, and the 5SOSFam must’ve been really frustrated to see their idols shut out this year, but honestly, if you know what kind of the music the academy tends to enjoy, it’d make way more sense. That’s not to say acts like that aren’t nominated – a couple are – but, hey, only so many cooks can fit in the pop kitchen. This year’s pop fields feature quite the number of heavy hitters, stars who’ve dominated radio with their inescapable jams and sold as many records as is possible in 2016. So maybe a few 100 thousand. And along with this particular genre, we’re also gonna look at the Big 4. And trust me: the Big 4 categories are gonna ruffle some feathers if the general public believes that the WRONG person was awarded. I’ve suggest that they’ve maybe learned their lesson, but no. They never do. They’re the Grammys. Still, I’m examining this stuff, so let’s get into the final part of the Grammys Forecast!
Best Pop Solo Performance
I liked “Hold Up” by Beyoncé; I think it’s one of Lemonade’s high points. Never thought I’d say that about a song that samples the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and sounds like it belongs in the background of a Spongebob episode, but there you go. And she’s one of four women in this category. Adele‘s powerhouse pipes are always a favorite with Grammy voters, but if they’re looking to go outside the norm this year, they also have the option of the aforementioned Queen Bey or two other strong singers in Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson. Clarkson’s last Grammy win was in 2013, the same night she finally found out who Miguel is, and since then, her vocals have remained as flawless as ever, evidenced by her nominated “Piece by Piece”. Ariana Grande officially dipped into the sexy pool with “Dangerous Woman”, and while it’s not my favorite song from her album (hello, “Greedy”), it was a fine slice of sultry, guitar-laden pop. Then we got Bieber with his new album adult voice on “Love Yourself”.
Who I Want to Win: Ariana Grande; if her mission was to step over the line into the realm of sex symbol, this song certainly did the trick.
Who Will Win: Adele; the case could also be made for Beyoncé, but again, I think Adele’s vocals will be key here.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
We’re really doing this? We’re really keeping the Chainsmokers around and nominated for awards? What alternative dimension have I stepped on where this makes any sense? With all due respect, “Closer” was one of the groovier songs of the year; more tolerable than “Don’t Let Me Down” at least. I didn’t quite jam to it as much as “Work” though. One of two songs to have “Work” repeated in the hook this year (I’m guessing the Grammys didn’t care much for the other one as it’s nominated for absolute zilch), Rihanna and Drake have amazing chemistry on-record, which makes you wonder why them dating never worked out. Sean Paul and Sia are not dating, but they did hook up on wax and recorded one of the most addictive dance tracks of 2016, even if I don’t buy Sia as a total Saturday night party girl. (I know it was written for Rihanna; don’t scold me.) Finally, we have Lukas Graham‘s over-singing and over-annunciation in his/their big hit and the chiller vibe of the Twenty One Pilots boys, both of whom reflect upon how aging has affected their life. Been there, done that, bros; I can relate.
Who I Want to Win: Twenty One Pilots or Drihanna; please be one of them.
Who Will Win: Lukas Graham; the Grammys do love themselves some pretentious, melodramatic music.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Of course Adele‘s gonna win; Adele always wins. Do I even need to discuss this category? Finding an Adele album the Grammys won’t love is like finding a news outlet that Donald Trump won’t easily take offense to. They love Adele that much. Maybe they’ll give Sia her just due like the mainstream finally has, but that remains to be seen. But the other three nominees in this category may have a hardest time. Sure, they’ve released quality work as of late, but I’m not sure if the Grammys will be able to overlook the fact that they just nominated Cat Valentine, Sonny Monroe, and the kid who recorded “Baby” for the best pop LP of the year. (OK, this is the Biebs’ second time in this category, but I’m pretty sure the first time was just a ratings trap to lock in the tween viewership.) Can’t say they don’t deserve the honor though. Ariana‘s album is her most spectacular and grown-up to date, Lovato worked hard, revamped her image, and poured her heart and soul into Confident, and Bieber‘s evolution into an extremely unlovable person has somehow improved him as a musician, maybe because it gives him more material to work with. They’re no longer the kiddy-kiddy Tiger Beat headliners of yesteryear; they’ve grown significantly as artists, so it’s not as shocking that they’re here.
Who I Want to Win: Either Ariana Grande or Demi Lovato. You damn right, I said it. Dangerous Woman was stellar; hell, “Greedy” alone should win EVERY Grammy. Best Dance, Best Pop, Beat R&B, Best Disco, Best Metal. That song is THAT good. And Demi’s growth and maturity shines so much on Confident as she asserts herself as both a badass and a figure of vulnerability on it.
Who Will Win: This is the Grammys. Who do you think? It’s definitely Adele. Granted Sia could pose a threat, but I just don’t see it happening. The Grammys are the battleground and Adele is the Master Hand.
Record of the Year
If the Billboard Year-End chart is to be believed, the undisputed winner of this category deserves to be the dynamic duo of Rihanna and Drake. Despite the fact that Rihanna sounded zoned out in portions of it, “Work” was a massive, taking the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine straight weeks. However, that was just between the walls of 2016; overall, between 2015 and 2016, “Hello” by Adele topped the chart for 10 weeks. I’m sure Tye Dillinger would be proud. Their competition? Three songs that never reached #1, but were still pretty big in their own right. “Stressed Out” put Twenty One Pilots on the mainstream map and got them in more ears than just the Alternative Press crowd. “7 Years” was such a huge hit for Lukas Graham that I don’t think they’ll ever be able to top that level of success again. We could be looking at the next Nico & Vinz here. And “Formation” only got as high as #10, and probably could’ve peaked higher if Beyoncé didn’t make the video private on YouTube, potentially damaging streaming points. But it was still so talked about and debated that it was one of the biggest songs of the year regardless.
Who I Want to Win: I’d give it to Beyoncé just due to social impact alone.
Who Will Win: Adele; the fact that it launched Adele back into the spotlight and stayed #1 so long gives the song brownie points in addition to the Grammy’s Adele bias.
Song of the Year
Welcome back, “Formation”, “7 Years”, and “Hello”. Guess it wasn’t enough for you to be nominated for the award that crowns the best-recorded song of the year; you had to show up in the biggest songwriter category of the night too. And alongside former flash-in-the-pan Mike Posner and vastly improved artist Justin Bieber. What company. Now this year’s Song of the Year category is interesting as every single song in here features the performer listed as a co-writer. A lot of times, at least one song makes it in that doesn’t feature the words coming straight from the pen of the performer, such as with “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town last year. So this year, either Beyoncé could win for her political stance and display of black pride, Mike Posner could win for singing how sad his life has gotten since “Cooler Than Me” faded into obscurity, Bieber could win for telling a girl to eff off basically, Adele could win for stalking and guilt-tripping her ex, or Lukas Graham could win for singing about the passage of time and his late father. Though I don’t think that last one would fly would most people.
Who I Want to Win: Beyoncé, if for any other reason, the quotables the writers were able to conjure up here.
Who Will Win: Beyoncé; that’s one reason I predicted Adele winning Record of the Year. I figured the Grammys would give one of these to Bey and the other to Adele.
Best New Artist
After Meghan Trainor’s victory in this category last year, which I was totally not expecting, I have no idea what to expect from with this award in 2017. Spanning three different genres, the five breakout artists in this category all bring something significant to the conversation and have all had a ton of success and buzz in the past year. Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris both represent country music, and since dropping their respective albums The First Time and Hero, they’ve she’s been two of the biggest beneficiaries of the renewed interest in women on country radio, notching hits like “Love Me Like You Mean It”, “Peter Pan”, “80s Mercedes”, and “My Church”. The rappers in this field, Anderson .Paak and Chance the Rapper, really stand out in the current hip-hop landscape due to their obvious influences in R&B, funk, and gospel music, creating tunes that aren’t like the typical trap sound that hip-hop is currently drowned in. Endorsements from the likes of Kanye West and Dr. Dre, maybe they’re onto something with their styles. The biggest hitmakers in this field by far are The Chainsmokers, and even though I don’t particularly care for them, lots of people really seem to believe that songs like “Closer” and “Don’t Let Me Down” were enough for them to redeem that abomination 2014 “#Selfie”.
Who I Want to Win: Either Maren Morris or Chance the Rapper. I really love how Maren blends different styles into her brand of county without it sounding embarrassing and lame and I think Chance is one of those few imaginative rappers getting buzz these days and he deserves his just due.
Who Will Win: Hopefully not the Chainsmokers. Anyone but them. Seriously, though, I predict Maren Morris. As much as I do like her, she does seem like the safe pick here, carrying so many things the Grammys seem to look for in their promising young stars.
Album of the Year
Going into the Grammy Awards, the prevailing wisdom is that Album of the Year is Beyoncé’s for the taking. So many people are praying so hard for it to happen that to them, any other option would be a major disappointment. For some, it could even be seen as a slight on the black community given how assertive Lemonade was in its pride of being a transcendent project from a woman of color the caliber of Beyoncé. However, the other albums shouldn’t be counted out so easily. Like Lemonade, 25 was highly talked about, as well as highly profitable; it went platinum in a week, dominated the album chart, and notched Adele more hits in the process. While some saw it as a step down from 21, it’s still a solid stand-alone effort. Purpose was the album that gave Bieber exactly that beyond J-14 covers. In 2010, the thought of The Biebs EVER being nominated for the Grammy’s biggest category would seemed like a weird joke. But Purpose turned out surprisingly good as Bieber’s growth as an artist was evident. Drake blurred the pop and hip-hop lines with his highly meme’d Views album, and though I personally found the results a tedious struggle to get through, many other would disagree due to the album’s roaring success. And despite being the least successful album here, what A Sailor’s Guide to the Moon lacks in sales, it makes up for in quality musicianship, whimsy, and personal leanings.
Who I Want to Win: Beyoncé. Oh, how original of me. Look, I’m not one of those people who call for Beyoncé to win EVERY award she ever gets nominated for just because she’s Beyoncé; in fact, I actually hate when people do have that blind worship toward her most of the time. But the cultural relevance and overall variety offered up in Lemonade to great to ignore.
Who Will Win: One of three people: 1) Adele, because the Grammy’s LOVE her like Kel loves orange soda, 2) Beyoncé because of the attributes I mentioned above, or 3) Sturgill Simpson through the “Probably Good Album Barely Anyone Has Heard Of” clause, ala Herbie Hancock in 2008 and Beck in 2015. But I’m gonna assume the Grammys have their mind right this year and award it to Beyoncé.