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2021 Grammys predictions: Who should win, who will win

<p>After an unpredictable year, the Grammy Awards are set to premiere on March 14th and provide insight into what kinds of music are valued in our current social landscape.</p>

After an unpredictable year, the Grammy Awards are set to premiere on March 14th and provide insight into what kinds of music are valued in our current social landscape.

After being pushed back two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Grammy Ceremony date is set for March 14th. See the full list of nominees on the Grammys website here, and fill out predictions of your own and compete against Recess in these 13 categories by filling out this form.

Album Of The Year

Taylor Swift has won album of the year twice before – in 2010 for “Fearless” and 2016 for “1989” – and “Folklore” is all but certain to make her the first woman to win the Grammy’s biggest award for the third time. Her combination of critical and commercial success makes her likely to join the likes of other three-time winners Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon. It would be a deserving win, too: “Folklore” beautifully captured the spirit of 2020 with its hushed tone and narrative songwriting. If an upset is going to happen, look to the radio queen Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” or the well-connected Jacob Collier’s “Djesse Vol. 3.” 

Who should win “Folklore” by Taylor Swift

Who will win: “Folklore” by Taylor Swift

Record Of The Year

This award goes to the song with the best production and vocal performance of the year, and with past winners like “Uptown Funk,” “This Is America” and “Hello,” it is a very hit-driven category. Grammy-darling Billie Eilish, fresh off her sweep at the 2020 ceremony, is nominated again with “Everything I Wanted” and has the potential to repeat her success this year. Beyoncé is nominated not once but twice for “Black Parade” and “Savage,” the latter as a feature on a Megan Thee Stallion song. However, Dua Lipa is likely the favorite here with her retro-smash “Don’t Start Now.” 

Who should win: “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé

Who will win: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Song Of The Year

Songwriting, namely lyrics and melodies, is the focus of this award. Unfortunately, Grammy voters are rather lazy, so it almost always goes to the same song as Record Of The Year, regardless of how deserving the actual songwriting is (see: “Bad Guy, “Stay With Me,” “Hello”). As a result, it would make a lot of sense for the the Grammy to go to likely-Record-Of-The-Year winner “Don’t Start Now,” but this year, a split between the two categories may actually be more likely, as a result of “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift being nominated in this category. The song could ride the “Folklore” wave to a victory here, especially considering how high-quality its songwriting is and how “Folklore” has a songwriting-first narrative behind it. It helps that many see Swift as long overdue for a Song Of The Year victory. Potential spoilers include “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R. or “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish. 

Who should win: “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

Who will win: “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

Best New Artist

While 2019 was largely dominated by new artists, in 2020 veterans tightened their grip on the music industry. As a result, it’s somewhat a down year for the Best New Artist category. Nevertheless, there are inspiring faces here: Megan Thee Stallion, the rising star of female rap, and Phoebe Bridgers, the rising star of indie, are the most noteworthy. Either would be just as deserving, but Megan has the support of the bigger genre, so expect her to walk away with the award. Doja Cat has potential to steal because of her support from the pop genre, but she probably doesn’t have the name power to win the award.

Who should win: Megan Thee Stallion or Phoebe Bridgers

Who will win: Megan Thee Stallion

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Songs that aren’t sent to pop radio usually aren’t frontrunners to win pop genre Grammy awards, which is what makes Taylor Swift and Bon Iver’s “Exile” all the more interesting as a contenter in this category. Adding to the weirdness is that one contenter is the first K-pop song to ever be nominated (“Dynamite”), one is in Spanish (“Un Dia”) and one is by the critically-reviled Justin Bieber (“Intentions”). In a normal year, that would mean that “Rain On Me,” an acclaimed moderate hit by two huge pop artists, would be the favorite. However, “Exile” is the kind of song Grammy voters eat up, and it should be able to ride a “Folklore” wave to a win here.

Who should win: “Exile” by Taylor Swift ft. Bon Iver

Who will win: “Exile” by Taylor Swift ft. Bon Iver

Best Melodic Rap Performance

This recently-revamped category, which goes to rap songs that include R&B melodies, got a name change following the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Roddy Ricch is nominated twice, once as a featured artist for DaBaby on “Rockstar” and once for his own mega-smash “The Box.” The former likely will be the one that gets the Grammy, although the latter probably deserves it more. Either way, Roddy Ricch is getting an award.

Who should win: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch

Who will win: “Rockstar” by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch

Best Alternative Album

The alternative genre’s only category at the Grammys may boast the strongest lineup of any this year. The critically-worshiped “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” by Fiona Apple has a mind-blowing 98 score on Metacritic to its name and will walk away with the award here, but it has some noteworthy competition nonetheless. Beck won the 2014 Album Of The Year Grammy, Tame Impala is commercially-beloved and Brittany Howard has the kind of cross-genre support that would normally suggest wins in the general field. Above them all, though, has to be the guitar-smashing Phoebe Bridgers’ “Punisher.”

Who should win: “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers

Who will win: “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” by Fiona Apple

Best Progressive R&B Album

In another category that got a name change last summer, the duo of Chloe x Halle merits a win for their outstanding effort “Ungodly Hour.” They might just get it, too, being the protegés of Beyoncé that they are. They face stiff competition from the commercially-successful and Album Of The Year nominated “Chilombo” by Jhené Aiko, but the pair may walk away with the win despite seeming like underdogs on paper.

Who should win: “Ungodly Hour” by Chloe x Halle

Who will win: “Ungodly Hour” by Chloe x Halle

Best Rock Performance 

Because the alternative genre lacks song categories, its strong year has translated into many cross-genre rock nominations. Once again, Fiona Apple is the favorite (this time with “Shameika”), yet Phoebe Bridgers has the better work (“Kyoto”). HAIM, who were nominated for Album Of The Year for their excellent “Women in Music Pt. III,” are also contenders here with “The Steps,” and they may be able to pull an upset. Notably, all the nominees in this category are women or women-fronted bands for the first time ever.

Who should win: "Kyoto" by Phoebe Bridgers

Who will win: "Shameika" by Fiona Apple

Best Country Song

Country as a genre only garnered one nomination in the general field (Ingrid Andress for Best New Artist), despite having several crossover pop hits in 2020. One of those hits, “The Bones,” was arguably snubbed from a Song Of The Year nomination, so Maren Morris will have to make do with an easy Country Song win – something not all snubs are as lucky to have (looking at you, The Weeknd). Veteran Miranda Lambert could sneak an upset here with “Bluebird,” but she’s far more likely to win in Best Country Album. “Crowded Table” by country-women supergroup The Highwomen (which includes Maren Morris, among others) is the best song here, but it wasn’t a hit and isn’t likely to win.

Who should win: “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen

Who will win: “The Bones” by Maren Morris

Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album

Bad Bunny’s “YHLQMDLG” should easily walk away with a win here after the artist’s dominant 2020, although some older voters may favor the veteran “Pausa” by Ricky Martin, who won this category’s award back in 2015. Bad Bunny was another name many hoped to see in the general field, but he was not quite as lucky as Rosalia last year, who managed to both win this category and pick up a nomination for Best New Artist. 

Who should win: “YHLQMDLG” by Bad Bunny

Who will win: “YHLQMDLG” by Bad Bunny

Best Music Video

The COVID-19 pandemic made music video creation far more difficult than the average year, and the steep drop off in quality from last year’s music video nominees reflects that. Normally, the Grammys nominate four small songs and a big song, with the award going to the hit, but this year, the Recording Academy nominated not one, not two, but three widely-known songs. Harry Styles’ “Adore You” has a cute premise involving an ever-growing fish, and Drake and Future’s “Life Is Good” music video has the pair pretending to be trash collectors, fast food employees and more. However, Beyoncé will win this category thanks to her inspiring video for “Brown Skin Girl” and her name recognition among Grammy voters.

Who should win: “Brown Skin Girl” by Beyoncé

Who will win: “Brown Skin Girl” by Beyoncé

Producer Of The Year

Jack Antonoff, who was robbed from a well-deserved win last year by Finneas O’Connell, should finally pull off a win this year thanks to his work for Taylor Swift, the Chicks, FKA Twigs and more. If he doesn’t, Andrew Watt, known for producing songs like “Break My Heart” (Dua Lipa), “Midnight Sky” (Miley Cyrus) and "Take What You Want" (Post Malone ft. Ozzy Osbourne & Travis Scott), may win. Flying Lotus, producer for the Thundercat's “It Is What It Is,” could play the dark horse role.

Who should win: Jack Antonoff
Who will win: Jack Antonoff

Want to make predictions of your own? Enter the Recess 2021 Grammys Prediction Contest by filling out this form here and compete against the Recess staff!  

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