Sorry to nearly everybody not named Olivia Rodrigo.
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Predicting Grammy nominations has by no means appeared like extra of a idiot’s errand than this year. For one, we’re coming off final year’s chaotic nominations, a noticeably out-of-touch slate from a physique identified for being out of contact. It left the plenty questioning: Who are Black Pumas and Jacob Collier? Why is Beyoncé nominated for “Black Parade”? And the place is the Weeknd? That final question gave option to a ground-shaking structural change for this year’s awards, which would be the first with out the nominating committees that the Weeknd criticized when he did not be acknowledged for one of many greatest songs ever. Those committees, identified for his or her anonymity and accused of inside dealing and corruption — notably by ousted Grammys CEO Deborah Dugan — used to slim down a gaggle of 20 finalists (as voted by Recording Academy members) to eight nominees in a majority of Grammy classes, together with the highest 4. Now, Academy members will merely vote, with the highest eight entries turning into the nominees.
The Grammys don’t hew to precedent fairly just like the Oscars, nevertheless it sometimes helps to have some historical past to go off. So what occurs to all of the fields with out the nominating committees? (They’ll stick round to information the extra technical craft classes.) My guess is pretty much as good as anybody else’s, however I ponder (and fear) that with out the nominating committees, some genres will fall by the cracks within the high classes and the awards will flip into much more of a reputation contest than ever earlier than. But I’ll be joyful to be proved fallacious! In the meantime, don’t maintain me to any of the picks beneath come Tuesday afternoon.
First, although, some housekeeping: This year’s Grammys will really acknowledge a 13-month span, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, in an try to shift the eligibility window for future ceremonies — which suggests Adele’s new album must watch for subsequent year, together with Ed Sheeran’s = and Lana Del Rey’s Blue Banisters. Among the others we received’t see on this year’s nominees checklist: The Weeknd, who would’ve been eligible for “Take My Breath,” didn’t submit owing to ongoing protest. Some of his collaborators, together with Ariana Grande and Doja Cat, additionally appeared to not submit their duets in solidarity. (Kanye West, although, submitted Donda’s Weeknd–that includes tune “Hurricane.”) Drake, who’s been cold and hot with the Grammys up to now (he criticized his rap-category wins for “Hotline Bling” and didn’t submit his “playlist” More Life), is entering Certified Lover Boy for Album of the Year however received’t have songs in play in Record or Song of the Year. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” isn’t eligible this year, after Cardi held it from the 2021 awards for an eventual album that has but to materialize. And Dua Lipa uncared for to submit her “Levitating” remix with DaBaby, apparently to keep away from recognizing him after his anti-AIDS and anti-gay feedback.
Off and on since 2017, the Grammys have given out Record of the Year as the ultimate trophy of the night time slightly than Album of the Year. That will make further sense this year, because the Grammys are going to revolve round one tune: “drivers license.” Olivia Rodrigo is the one to beat throughout the board, beginning on the high, due to her breakout hit — not simply as a result of it was an natural hit that launched a brand new pop star however as a result of it’s the type of no-frills, show-your-work musicianship the Grammys have a tendency to like. That’s key in Record of the Year, which acknowledges manufacturing and efficiency of a tune. It also needs to give Silk Sonic, comprising Grammy darlings Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, a nomination for his or her throwback soul hit “Leave the Door Open.” And talking of Grammy darlings, let’s additionally slot in back-to-back winner Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” and Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” after “Old Town Road” earned a ROTY nomination and obtained him into Best New Artist and Album of the Year in 2019. Also count on repeat nominations for Doja Cat and SZA, due to their irresistibly catchy collab “Kiss Me More.”
With “WAP” absent from the hit parade that normally is ROTY, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion might nonetheless seem for “Up” or “Body,” respectively; Megan probably has the higher odds after her Best New Artist win, however neither tune had practically the ubiquity of “WAP.” And even the largest hit of this year, BTS’s “Butter,” is a tossup. Okay-pop has robust odds on the Grammys, with BTS beforehand scoring only one nomination for his or her music. But that nomination was for “Dynamite” final year in Best Pop Duo/Group Performance — a class that, crucially, has by no means had nominating committees. Given that, together with the truth that “Butter” topped the charts for longer than “drivers license” and was 2021’s runaway tune of summer time, I see BTS breaking by right here. (And additional, they’ll have assist from Columbia Records CEO Ron Perry, a credited author on the tune who might assist legitimize its declare.)
Justin Bieber has additionally outrun Rodrigo at No. 1 together with his two chart-toppers, “Peaches” with Daniel Caesar and Giveon and the Kid Laroi’s “Stay.” “Peaches” has the sting, since Caesar and Giveon are each acquainted faces within the R&B classes (the place the tune can also be competing, sarcastically, after Bieber’s match final year when Changes was moved from R&B to pop), however I wouldn’t be shocked to see “Stay” nominated as properly. (Don’t count on a 3rd nomination for Bieber, although, since Wizkid and Tems didn’t submit the Bieber–that includes remix of “Essence,” a transfer that may probably make it tougher for his or her Afrobeats crossover hit to crack the overall classes.) I’ll give my closing slot to Bieber’s pal Ariana Grande, although, who leaned additional into her R&B experiments on “positions.”
Thanks to the power of “drivers license,” to not point out its album’s cross-genre enchantment, Olivia Rodrigo should not have any bother securing an Album of the Year nomination for Sour, regardless of it being her debut. Her closest competitor right here, Billie Eilish, had the same trajectory in 2020, finally sweeping the awards. Precedent says Eilish might have bother returning to AOTY, since most winners aren’t nominated for his or her follow-up initiatives, however I don’t see the Grammy love for Eilish stopping this year and do count on Happier Than Ever to interrupt that sample. Also, after catching his personal shock AOTY nomination for debut EP 7, Lil Nas X ought to have a easy trip to a second nod for his correct debut album, Montero. And one previous AOTY winner who has by no means been nominated for a follow-up project is Taylor Swift, however a nomination right here for evermore might take into accounts her broadly lauded “Taylor’s Version” rerecordings (particularly since she’s not submitting Fearless). I additionally see a path for 2019 winner Kacey Musgraves to reappear with star-crossed — the large criticism of the Academy’s choice to maneuver the album from the nation area to pop each gave her extra publicity and will inspire nation voters to fit her in right here, a class the place they nonetheless can vote for her. AOTY likes to reward a Best New Artist winner who really lives as much as the title, and Megan Thee Stallion’s Good News is an ideal instance of her doing that. Also count on to see 2021 Best New Artist nominee Doja Cat catch her first AOTY nomination for Planet Her, due to a probable wave of assist for “Kiss Me More” throughout the poll.
I’ve a couple of medium-spicy theories about how the dearth of nominating committees will have an effect on AOTY particularly — particularly after final year’s wildly incongruent slate of nominees on this class. Those nominations have been largely doable owing to mentioned committees, which appeared to prize some false sense of “musicianship” (Jacob Collier’s preparations, Black Pumas’ classic-rock revivalism) over music that had better significance final year. For one, I feel it’ll get tougher for nation and rock releases to interrupt by, so I’m cautious of the percentages for Chris Stapleton’s Starting Over regardless of his favor with the Grammys. (His current close to sweep of the CMAs does make him the odds-on favourite nation artist to catch a nod right here, although, and because it’s practically inconceivable to think about two nation albums nominated for AOTY, that ought to shut out Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous.) And two, I ponder if H.E.R. will nonetheless be as a lot of a Grammy darling when she’s a alternative out of hundreds of entries slightly than simply 20; I’m doubting the possibilities for her correct debut, Back of My Mind. (Similar to Stapleton, she may very well be splitting votes this year with one other Grammy-favorite R&B singer-songwriter, Jazmine Sullivan, and her acclaimed comeback, Heaux Tales).
But there are a couple of broadly interesting pop musicians acquainted to this class who might fill the final slot: Drake, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber. Drake has the hardest path for Certified Lover Boy, owing to his choice to not submit in Record or Song of the Year and his previous criticism of the Grammys. (The dark-horse rap album may very well be Tyler, the Creator’s trendy CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, if the Grammys need to acknowledge him for really rapping this time round.) Grande had a success in “positions” the tune, however I ponder if positions the album will get overshadowed after being launched over a year in the past. But there’s no denying Bieber had an enormous year with a number of long-running hits and an album praised as a career greatest. Justice for Justice.
Olivia Rodrigo is likely to be the favourite in all of those classes, however “drivers license” has even higher possibilities right here than in Record of the Year, due to her established fame as a soul-baring songwriter within the lineage of Taylor Swift. Billie Eilish goals for comparable territory on “Happier Than Ever,” in comparison with her less-personal 2020 winner “bad guy,” which ought to go over properly with the Academy. Also like Rodrigo, Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open” is much more spectacular as an article that enables Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak to seamlessly channel the post-Motown period. “Kiss Me More” has good possibilities right here for its intelligent Olivia Newton-John interpolation within the hook and much more intelligent lyrics. (“Say So” incomes a Record of the Year nod final year proved the Academy has no issues recognizing Dr. Luke, who would share in a “Kiss Me More” nomination as a co-writer regardless of the abuse allegations towards him.) And I’m extra assured about “willow” right here than in ROTY, given Swift’s perennial standing as a nominee (each “cardigan” and “Lover” confirmed up with out corresponding Record of the Year noms).
Ed Sheeran is the same case to Swift with “Bad Habits,” however he’s solely been acknowledged in SOTY for ballads like “The A-Team” and 2017 winner “Thinking Out Loud,” so I don’t see his synthpop flip altering that. As for who else I’m shakier on? Lil Nas X for one, since “Old Town Road” was beforehand handed up in 2019, however I in the end assume “Montero,” a slightly extra critical tune, will come by. And BTS, provided that we don’t know the way 2021 pop voters felt about “Dynamite” as a piece of writing, since there’s no Best Pop Song award. I lean no on “Butter” right here, although, because it’s a bit lyrically skinny, particularly for a tune with seven writers.
Historically, SOTY is the overall class the place R&B, nation, rock, and extra indie fare have the very best odds, however with out nominating committees to slim the sector, I ponder how a lot voters will care in regards to the distinction between Song and Record of the Year. I might see a writing-driven sleeper hit like SZA’s “Good Days” edging out a tune like “Butter” right here, however I feel the percentages will probably be steeper for songs like “Starting Over” and “Right on Time,” the follow-up by 2019 shock nominee Brandi Carlile. (One wild card? Lana Del Rey, who caught a nomination in 2020 for “Norman fucking Rockwell”; she might reappear right here with “Let Me Love You Like a Woman,” although that tune doesn’t make the identical voice-of-a-generation case that “Norman” did.) I give my closing slot to reigning winner H.E.R., who will get to marketing campaign on the truth that “Fight for You” has already received an Oscar.
Sorry to the seven musicians who’ll need to compete towards Olivia Rodrigo, who will unquestionably win this class. The Kid Laroi is first alternate with even higher odds if Record (or Song) of the Year provides a nod to “Stay.” His pal Polo G ought to make an look too (regardless of Hall of Fame being his third correct album), particularly if his No. 1 “Rapstar” cracks Record of the Year. Country tends to characterize right here, so I’m betting on each Jimmie Allen, who simply received New Artist of the Year on the CMAs, and Gabby Barrett, whose career has already properly outlasted her Charlie Puth–co-signed hit “I Hope” (which I assumed would get her nominated in 2021, however apparently she wasn’t entered). Speaking of hits, Saweetie and Ava Max each have a number of to their names too and needs to be close to locks right here. (Also maintain eyes on Glass Animals and Tate McRae, who have been forces on the charts as properly.)
I predicted Rina Sawayama can be a nominee final year, for her 2020 album SAWAYAMA, nevertheless it seems she’s eligible this year, which I feel will work towards her and not using a correct project to advertise. Also within the indie space, singer-songwriter Julien Baker is eligible for her third album, Little Oblivions, and may very well be a darkish horse, particularly given her boygenius associations with 2021 nominee Phoebe Bridgers. But in relation to co-signs, somebody has her beat: Finneas, who’s eligible this year for his solo music, regardless of already having eight Grammys to his title as producer and songwriter for his sister, former Best New Artist winner Billie Eilish. I don’t assume the voters who gave Finneas Producer of the Year for only one album and gave Eilish and Finneas Record of the Year two years in a row will cross up an opportunity to appoint him once more.
Will Morgan Wallen present up, and the place?
Wallen is submitting throughout the board, however I’m not too assured about his possibilities within the generals — as I wrote above, there’s room for one nation artist in most of these classes, and if that’s anybody, it’s Chris Stapleton. But from a musical perspective, he has a superb shot to point out up all through the nation area in one of many first awards appearances the place he received’t be penalized after saying a racial slur on video in February. The question turns into whether or not, and the way a lot, the nation trade is able to let him again in. (Pay particular consideration to Best Country Duo/Group Performance, the place Wallen’s duet with Stapleton, “Only Thing That’s Gone,” is eligible.)
On that matter, what about DaBaby?
The rapper had his greatest possibilities with “Levitating,” which Dua Lipa isn’t submitting, and doesn’t have a full album to marketing campaign this cycle. He might nonetheless seem within the rap classes for minor hits like “Ball If I Want To,” however amid a sea of worthy rap nominees this year, a DaBaby nomination can be a pointed message from voters.
Where will Kacey Musgraves get her love?
The former Album of the Year winner is bound to stroll away with a couple of nominations, however with star-crossed moved from the nation area to pop, the question turns into the place. She faces increased odds in a class like Best Pop Vocal Album, the place voters will probably be much less conversant in her and extra keen to acknowledge class stalwarts like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, together with new faces like Doja Cat. But her tune “camera roll” will nonetheless be in play for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song, classes which have favored her up to now.
And what about Brandi Carlile?
A current Grammy darling after stunning with six nominations and three awards in 2019, Brandi Carlile returns this year along with her first solo single since then, “Right on Time” — additionally moved to pop slightly than American roots. (Her corresponding album, In These Silent Days, received’t be eligible until subsequent cycle.) It’s laborious to see Carlile incomes a Best Pop Solo Performance nod over chart-runners like Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, and Grande, to not point out the tune sadly received’t be eligible for a style songwriting award, which the pop area doesn’t have. Carlile has her greatest possibilities in Song of the Year, particularly if roots and nation voters need to make a protest vote.
Who will seem within the inaugural Best Global Music Performance class?
The Grammys have given out a Best Global Music Album award for a couple of a long time and, this year, will fill out that area with a corresponding tune award. The observe to beat will probably be “Essence,” the late-summer Afrobeats hit by Wizkid and Tems.