2016 Grammy Awards: Predictions and Proclamations

Music Features
2016 Grammy Awards: Predictions and Proclamations

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards will air Monday night—yep, Monday instead of the usual Sunday this year—on CBS. We’ll be posting all the results in real-time that night beginning at 8 p.m. EST, but in the meantime, we’re taking a look at the nominees in some of the major categories and offering predictions and proclamations on who will win, who should win and who got snubbed. This year promises to be particularly interesting, as the nominations in many categories are surprisingly not terrible. Of course, there are still a handful of head-scratchers. Check out our thoughts below, and be sure to check back on Monday night for live coverage of the ceremony.

Record of the Year
“Really Love,” D’Angelo and the Vanguard
“Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space,” Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd

Who Will Win: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
Who Should Win: D’Angelo
Who Got Snubbed: Kendrick Lamar, “King Kunta”

There are some heavy-hitters in this category this year, and while Mark Ronson’s excellent collaboration with Bruno Mars is certainly deserving, having ascended to that rare “everyone with ears loves this song and will dance to it at weddings and bar mitzvahs for decades to come” plane, it’d be really nice to see D’Angelo get some Grammy love 15 years after he won for “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”. But an Ed Sheeran nod over the undeniable “King Kunta”? C’mon.

Album of the Year
Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Taylor Swift, 1989
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

Who Will Win: Taylor Swift
Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar
Who Got Snubbed: Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear

Another surprisingly stacked category here. While it’s great to see the likes of Chris Stapleton and Alabama Shakes nominated, this one has to go to Kendrick Lamar, whose To Pimp a Butterfly was not only entertaining but important. As Adrian Spinelli wrote in his review, “This is the product of a rapper who quickly rose to the upper echelon of hip hop and took a long hard look at the scope of the scene and more importantly, himself, before letting out a visceral, imaginative and musically ambitious production that demands your attention. TPAB further develops jazz fusion in hip hop with seasoned collaborators in Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Robert Glasper, et al., producing a live sound that’s compositionally rich, instrumentally complex and flat-out interesting. Yet, the sceptre for all of TPAB’s energy is Lamar, who brings himself to his knees on deeply reflective jams like “King Kunta” and “How Much A Dollar Cost.” TPAB is a call-out of the hip-hop establishment, by perhaps its most self-aware figure, who has no trouble exploring his own vulnerability in order to paint an accurate picture of the harsh, dynamic and inspiring times we’re living in today.”

Song of the Year
“Alright,” Kendrick Duckworth, Kawan Prather, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
“Blank Space,” Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
“Girl Crush,” Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters (Little Big Town)
“See You Again,” Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters (Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth)
“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)

Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar
Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar
Who Got Snubbed: Courtney Barnett, “Pedestrian At Best”

Grammy voters may use this category as a sort of Kendrick Lamar consolation prize to make up for a possible (unjust) Album of the Year loss. And there’s plenty about “Alright” to reward—it’s an anthem that speaks to the times, touching on subjects like police brutality and striking a chord with the Black Lives Matter movement. If the Academy doesn’t want to appear out-of-touch, this one seems like a lock, and rightfully so.

Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Who Will Win: Meghan Trainor
Who Should Win: Courtney Barnett
Who Got Snubbed: Leon Bridges

It’s a little confusing that Meghan Trainor is eligible for this category a year after being nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “All About That Bass,” and unfortunately she’ll probably go home victorious, but can we stop for a second and talk about how shocking (and great) it is to see Courtney Barnett in this category? Here’s hoping she can pull off the upset.

Best Pop Vocal Album
Kelly Clarkson, Piece by Piece
Florence & the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Mark Ronson, Uptown Special
Taylor Swift, 1989
James Taylor, Before This World

Who Will Win: Taylor Swift
Who Should Win: Florence & the Machine
Who Got Snubbed: Tobias Jesso, Jr., Goon

On her followup to 2011’s one-dimensional Ceremonials, Florence Welch finds clever ways to enrich her bewitching blend of alt-pop, soul and art-rock. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful shows the British singer wringing out her usual quota of widescreen melodrama, but without the overwrought theatricality that dragged down much of her previous work. The 11 songs on Beautiful resonate in a deeper way by varying the sonic palette and focusing her words inward. Veering from soulful shouters (“Delilah”) to measured electro-pop ballads (“St. Jude”), Welch sounds liberated in Beautiful’s sprawl.—Ryan Reed

Best Rock Album
James Bay, Chaos and the Calm
Death Cab for Cutie, Kintsugi
Highly Suspect, Mister Asylum
Muse, Drones
Slipknot, .5: The Gray Chapter

Who Will Win: James Bay
Who Should Win: Death Cab for Cutie
Who Got Snubbed: Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit

Gibbard, bassist Nick Harmer, drummer Jason McGerr and Walla—who appears only as a player, not a producer—have created a concise sonic world for Kintsugi’s songs to live in. And while they’re easily identified as The Band Death Cab for Cutie by a few never-swaying factors—Harmer’s punchy bass, Gibbard’s distinct vocal—that landscape is very different than the guitar- and piano-led songs Death Cab’s churned out for decades. But since Codes and Keys’ release, something’s felt different—less jigsaw-esque—about Death Cab’s full-band approach. Walla and Gibbard’s interlocking guitars and keys—see Transatlanticism’s “Death of an Interior Decorator,” We Have the Facts’ “Title Track,” The Photo Album’s “Debate Exposes Doubt”—made way for more defined instrumentation. With Kintsugi, sub out McGerr’s wide-open drum tones for booming, sampled toms and throw in some heavily ‘80s synthesizers, and the Rich Costey (Jane’s Addiction, Mew)-produced recording is probably the biggest sonic outlier in the band’s catalog.—Tyler Kane

Best Alternative Music Album
Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
Bjork, Vulnicura
My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall
Tame Impala, Currents
Wilco, Star Wars

Who Will Win: Alabama Shakes
Who Should Win: Tame Impala
Who Got Snubbed: Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love

This category is always a strange one because “Alternative Music” could mean just about anything. Why, for example, are the Alabama Shakes nominated for Best Rock Song but relegated to this category for their album? Despite that, this year’s field is surprisingly strong: every album nominated is extremely deserving, and four out of five made our 50 Best Albums of 2015 list.

Best R&B Album
Leon Bridges, Coming Home
D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
Andra Day, Cheers to the Fall
Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show
Charlie Wilson, Forever Charlie

Who Will Win: Leon Bridges
Who Should Win: D’Angelo
Who Got Snubbed: Pops Staples, Don’t Lose This

Thanks to the Grammys’ goofy eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015) this category pits this year’s best R&B album (Coming Home) against last year’s best (Black Messiah, which dropped in December 2014). Bridges’ mass appeal will probably lead him to walk away with this one, and without D’Angelo in the mix, we’d say deservedly so, but we have to give it to Black Messiah.

Best Rap Album
J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Dr. Dre, Compton
Drake, If Youre Reading This Its Too Late
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint

Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar
Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar
Who Got Snubbed: Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2

This one seems like a no-brainer. Kendrick by a long-shot, right?

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