With the 62nd Grammy Awards coming up on Jan. 26, it’s time to take a look at the nominees and predict who should win (and who actually will) in the ceremony’s top categories. You can find the full list of nominees here.
Album of the Year
2019 was the year that pop came back, and the album that kicked it all off was Ariana Grande’s trap-pop hit, “thank u, next.” A vulnerable album focused on the pain, emotional fallout and eventual healing that comprised her tumultuous 2018, “thank u, next” is at the same time devastating and danceable. Unfortunately for Ariana Grande, the album’s early release in the year means its buzz has faded and given way to other works, notably Billie Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and Lana Del Rey’s “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” Although the former album is seemingly the frontrunner for this category, it could potentially lose a few votes due to the crowded pop field, leaving the door open for Lana Del Rey’s heralded album.
Should win: Ariana Grande, “thank u, next”
Will win: Lana Del Rey, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!”
Record of the Year
The “Record of the Year” honor goes to the song with the best production and vocal performance of the year. Among this crop of nominees, “Bad Guy” stands out for its catchy yet fresh sound. Although the song faces some stiff competition in “Old Town Road” and “Truth Hurts,” expect the Academy to reward Billie Eilish for this critically-acclaimed chart topper. Duh.
Should win: Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
Will win: Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
Song of the Year
This award is one for songwriters, rewarding not production but lyrics and melodic content. Knowing this, it’s hard to deny Taylor Swift’s “Lover,” which is among the best works of one of the past decade’s most prolific songwriters. As the only self-written nominee, it provides a deeply personal take on love. However, 2019 was the year of the newcomers, and “Bad Guy” and “Truth Hurts” are each deeply loved for their songwriting. Due to some controversy over the credits on “Truth Hurts,” it’s likely that Billie Eilish will emerge victorious.
Should win: Taylor Swift, “Lover”
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Will win: Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
Best New Artist
Despite having an absolutely loaded group of nominees, the best new artist award is a clear two-way race between Billie Eilish and Lizzo. Each sports a number-one hit, widespread critical acclaim and a promising career ahead of her. Eilish perhaps has the edge due to her youth and fresh sound, so it’s likely that the Recording Academy will err on her side in this category.
Should win: Billie Eilish
Will win: Billie Eilish
Music Video of the Year
It’s a particularly competitive year for the music video award, since each nominated video is especially creative in its own way. FKA Twigs’s “Cellophane” is breathtakingly artistic, while the striking imagery of Gary Clark Jr.’s “This Land” expertly magnifies the song’s message. Alongside these is newcomer Lil Nas X and veteran Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Old Town Road,” which is a blast of a music video. However, it is Tove Lo’s “Glad He’s Gone” that stands above the rest for its visual take on the mindless things we do while talking on the phone. Despite this, it’s likely that the Grammys will continue its tradition of giving the music video award to chart-toppers (see: “Bad Blood,” “Humble,” “This is America”) by handing the prize to “Old Town Road.”
Should win: Tove Lo, “Glad He’s Gone”
Will win: Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road”
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Best pop collaboration is another stacked category, featuring no less than four number-one hits. Nevertheless, it will be difficult for the academy to turn down the massive smash “Old Town Road,” even though the song is perhaps misplaced in this genre category. “Sunflower” better fits the bill as a pop song and its infectious personality makes it a very deserving choice.
Should win: Post Malone and Swae Lee, “Sunflower”
Will win: Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road”
Best Rap Album
Even in a generally weak year for the genre — no rap albums were nominated in the general field — there are still many noteworthy albums nominated. Perhaps the best of these is Tyler, the Creator's “Igor.” A critical darling that many believe was snubbed in the “Album of the Year” category, “Igor” seems like a guarantee to win this award. It would be deserved, too — “Igor” is widely regarded as one of the best projects of 2019.
Should win: Tyler, the Creator, “Igor”
Will win: Tyler, the Creator, “Igor”
Best Rock Performance
Gary Clark Jr. has himself another outstanding song in “This Land.” In dealing with difficult but necessary-to-discuss topics like racism in America, the song carries a strong message while still being very listenable. It’s the kind of song that Grammy voters love, too, so it’s very probable that Gary Clark Jr. will be walking away with an award come Jan. 26.
Should win: Gary Clark Jr., “This Land”
Will win: Gary Clark Jr., “This Land”
Producer of the Year (Non-Classical)
Jack Antonoff has had an eventful decade, from his developing his personal projects Fun. and Bleachers to producing many critically acclaimed albums, such as Lorde’s “Melodrama.” In 2019 Antonoff produced four albums — Taylor Swift’s well-received “Lover” and Lana Del Rey’s “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” being two of them. It would only be fitting for him to win this award to finish of a decade in which he was so influential. Barring an upset by Finneas O’Connell (producer for and brother of Billie Eilish), it’s likely that the Grammys will do just that.
Should win: Jack Antonoff (“Arizona Baby” by Kevin Abstract, “Lover” by Taylor Swift, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” by Lana Del Rey, and “Red Hearse” by Red Hearse)
Will win: Jack Antonoff (“Arizona Baby” by Kevin Abstract, “Lover” by Taylor Swift, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” by Lana Del Rey, and “Red Hearse” by Red Hearse)