Artwork: @FAMEKILLED (Twitter)
The first thing you need to know about the Grammy Awards is they aren’t necessarily about quality, cultural impact or personal taste – it’s about entertainment (and ratings). If anything, organizers are trying to figure out who will actually show up to the event and perform, what demographics they’ll attract, and how the list of nominees can be watered down into a narrative for the general public. To put it simply, a seating chart can have more influence on who’s invited than the actual quality of a project.
Predicting nominees becomes easier when you look at it as a ratings game instead of one based on music taste. Our gut tell us The 63rd Annual Grammys ceremony will show a lot of love for newcomers like Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Roddy Ricch, DaBaby & possibly BTS while honoring past nominees like The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift in major categories. This is a crop of nominees that promises ratings AND reflects the culture, but as always, The Grammys will throw in a couple of surprise pick nominees to reflect their narrow definition of quality music.
There’s a lot at stake with the first COVID Grammy Awards show, which makes us think the committee will be more generous with nominations to ensure strong viewership. This could translate into a very Stan Twitter-friendly show that appeals to both pop and Kpop fans, fingers crossed! Continue below for our nominations in the Big 4 categories of the night: Album, Record and Song of the Year & Best New Artist.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Album of the Year is looking to be a showdown between The Weeknd (‘After Hours’), Taylor Swift (‘folklore’), two artists who dominated the conversation this year. Expect Post Malone‘s ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ to be a strong contender, while newcomers Megan Thee Stallion (‘Suga’) & Doja Cat (‘Hot Pink’) are likely on a voter shortlist as well. As for ‘Chromatica,’ we think Lady Gaga has the odds in her favor thanks to her strong campaign, incredible VMAs performance and innovative music videos – all in the face of a global pandemic.
The Weeknd in “In Your Eyes” music video
It’s possible that both Dua Lipa (‘Future Nostalgia’) & Harry Styles (‘Fine Line’) will be ignored in this category but honored elsewhere. Despite both releasing chart-topping hits this year with “Don’t Start Now” & “Watermelon Sugar,” commercial success is never a sure sign you’ll be nominated for “Album of the Year.” It feels like a coin toss at this point, but considering Lipa is a past Grammy winner, we’re giving her the edge over Styles (but not by much).
With 8 potential nominees this year, the Grammys will surely look to include one or two under-the-radar nominees along the lines of past AOTY nominees like Beck’s “Morning Phase” (2014) or Vampire Weekend‘s (‘Father of the Bride’). The Grammys like to pick underdogs who are respected by industry peers, so this could go in many directions. The clear choice at the moment is ‘Fetch the Bolt Cutters’ by Fiona Apple thanks to universal critical praise. Other possible choices include ‘MAGDALENE’ by FKA Twigs, ‘Jaime’ by Brittany Howard, ‘3.15.20’ by Childish Gambino, ‘Gaslighter’ by The Chicks, ‘The Ascension’ by Sufjan Stevens, ‘Circles’ by Mac Miller, and ‘Music To Be Murdered By’ by Eminem.
Taylor Swift in “cardigan” music video
More contenders: ‘Manic’ by Halsey; ‘Rare’ by Selena Gomez; ‘Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial’ by Roddy Ricch; ‘SAWAYAMA’ by Rina Sawayama; ‘Eternal Atake’ by Lil Uzi Vert; ‘Map of the Soul: 7’ by BTS; ‘Legends Never Die’ by Juice WRLD; ‘Show Pony’ by Orville Peck; ‘Ungodly Hour’ by Chloe X Halle; ‘YHLQMDLG’ by Bad Bunny; ‘Changes’ by Justin Bieber; ‘The New Abnormal’ by The Strokes; ‘RTJ4’ by Run The Jewels; ‘The Slow Rush’ by Tame Impala; ‘Women in Music Pt. III’ by HAIM; ‘Shoot For The Stars, Aim For the Moon’ by Pop Smoke‘; ‘What You See Is What You Get’ by Luke Combs; ‘Shore’ by Fleet Foxes; ‘Miss Anthropocene’ by Grimes; ‘The Highwomen’ by The Highwomen; ‘Over It’ by Summer Walker.
Record of the Year
“Record of the Year” is supposed to represent quality and overall impact on the culture, but that’s not always the case if the committee is trying to spin a media narrative for the general public. The clear lock appears to be “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, which currently sits at #4 on Hot 100 despite being released a year ago . If the Grammy committee is smart, they’ll recognize the influence of TikTok with nominations for “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé & “Say So” by Doja Cat. Other strong contenders include “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande, “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa, “Adore You” by Harry Styles, “Circles” by Post Malone & “cardigan” by Taylor Swift.
Dua Lipa in the “Don’t Start Now” music video
It’s possible the Grammys will bring back Billie Eilish with a nomination for “everything i wanted,” or give K-Pop a major moment by honoring “Dynamite” by BTS. Hip-hop continues to dominate with young audiences, so expect some love for streaming smashes like “The Box” by Roddy Ricch, “Rockstar” by DaBaby feat. Roddy Ricch, “The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby or “WAP” by Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion.
Looking outside the smash songs this year, the Grammys will likely throw another curveball in this category honoring an industry veteran and/or fresh face. Possible contenders for a surprise nomination include “Gaslighter” by The Chicks, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” or “Shameika” by Fiona Apple, “Stay High” by Brittany Howard, “America” by Sufjan Stevens, “The Bones” by Maren Morris, “Even Though I’m Leaving” by Luke Combs, and “Before You Go” by Lewis Capaldi.
Other contenders: “Good News” by Mac Miller; “Adore You” by Harry Styles; “Mood” by 24kGoldn feat. Iann Dior; “Toosie Slide” by Drake; “Stuck With U” by Justin Bieber & Ariana Grande; “WHATS POPPIN” by Jack Harlow; “Come & Go” by Juice WRLD with Marshmello; “RITMO” by Black Eyed Peas & J Balvin; “Life Is Good” by Drake & Future; “Lose You To Love Me” by Selena Gomez; “Black Parade” by Beyoncé; “Roxanne” by Arizona Zervas; “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish; “XS” by Rina Sawayama; “Do It” by Chloe X Halle; “The SCOTTS” by Travis Scott & Kid Cudi.
Song of the Year
Unlike Record of the Year, which honors the production behind a song, Song of the Year represents the songwriting talents behind some of the year’s biggest tracks. The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (co-written by Max Martin) appears to be an almost surefire lock, while Taylor Swift‘s “cardigan” and Billie Eilish‘s “everything i wanted” are also strong contenders. Other tracks on the Grammy radar likely include “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé, “Say So” by Doja Cat, “Adore You” by Harry Styles & “Circles” by Post Malone.
Billie Eilish in “everything i wanted” music video
The Grammys love to honor veteran songwriters in this category. Fiona Apple (“Fetch the Bolt Cutters”) & The Chicks (“Gaslighter” or “Sleep At Night”) are strong picks as they represent the country and alternative genres, while Lady Gaga (“Stupid Love,” “Rain On Me” or “911”) also has a chance at sneaking in. We’d love to see Selena Gomez get recognized for her #1 song, “Lose You To Love Me” co-written with Justin Tranter & Julia Michaels, but it feels like the odds might be stacked against her.
One of the most deserving in this category is Lil Baby for “The Bigger Picture,” a massive streaming song with an honest, nuanced perspective on race relations in the United States. We’re also rooting for DaBaby‘s BLM “Rockstar” remix and Roddy Ricch‘s #1 smash, “The Box,” two songs that helped define the year in hip hop.
Other contenders: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa; “Stuck With U” by Justin Bieber & Ariana Grande; “Dynamite” by BTS; “The Bones” by Maren Morris; “Before You Go” by Lewis Capaldi; “If The World Was Ending” by JP Saxe & Julia Michaels; “Stay High” by Brittany Howard; “I Hope” by Gabby Barrett; “Adore You” by Harry Styles: “Righteous” by Juice WRLD; “Time” by Childish Gambino feat. Ariana Grande; “holy terrain” by FKA twigs feat. Future; “WHATS POPPIN” by Jack Harlow.
Best New Artist
The BNA category trips up people every year as the Grammy rules never feel consistent. What constitutes as a “new” artist? Why is an artist nominated when they’ve never dropped a proper album? Does the category reflect commercial success? All these questions and more stir up debate every year, and 2021 will probably be no different.
Due to the pandemic, we think the committee is willing to break their traditional “rules” if it means they can deliver a better show. Expect love for Megan Thee Stallion & Doja Cat, two performers who can deliver Grammy-worthy live performances. If the committee is smart, they’d also show love for Kpop acts like BTS & BLACKPINK. Other strong contenders include Phoebe Bridgers, Clairo, Jack Harlow, Summer Walker, Orville Peck, King Princess, Gabby Barrett & perhaps even FINNEAS.
There’s an amazing amount of new talent in hip hop this year, meaning it’s likely we’ll witness a lot of snubs. We’re also rooting for Lil Baby, DaBaby & Roddy Ricch, three megastars who have already been nominated but still deserve recognition. We hope the Grammys will break tradition to let one of these acts in.
Doja Cat in the “Say So” music video
Other contenders: Pop Smoke; Ava Max; Yungblud; City Girls; Rina Sawayama; Saweetie; Dominic Fike; Victoria Monet; Morgan Wallen; Moses Sumney; Conan Gray; Tones and I; Joji; Noah Cyrus; Tate McRae; BENEE