2021 Grammys: Who Will and Should Win

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2021 Grammys: Who Will and Should Win

Awards shows have a way of feeling frivolous, even in the best of times. Add a global pandemic to the equation, and this whole deal—who’s wearing who, who surprised and who got snubbed, which set of stairs Jason Derulo fell down—becomes particularly trivial. But there’s a flip side to that, as well: The scarier the world becomes, the more we need silly things to soothe us. Enter the 63rd Grammy Awards, still happening this Sunday, March 14, after a COVID outbreak in Los Angeles bumped the show off its original Jan. 31 date. Like seemingly everything else lately, this year’s Grammy nominations are strange, and feel totally unstuck in time: The noms were announced in November 2020, but “recognize recordings released between Sept. 1, 2019, and Aug. 31, 2020,” per the Recording Academy, meaning a significant chunk of the music being honored is already (*punches calculator keys*) a lifetime or two old. Here’s hoping the Academy has spent all that time developing the correct opinions!

The ‘21 nominees in the awards’ 83 categories represent a mixed bag when it comes to getting it right. There’s a surprising amount to be excited about: Haim’s Album Of The Year-nominated Women In Music Pt. III; an all-women Best Rock Performance category; would-be Best New Artists Phoebe Bridgers, Kaytranada and Megan Thee Stallion; Mickey Guyton becoming the first Black female solo artist nominated in a country category; a pair of posthumous nods for roots-music legend John Prine; BTS earning the first-ever nomination for a K-pop act; and nods for Thundercat’s It Is What It Is, Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist’s Alfredo and Lido Pimienta’s Miss Colombia, among other Paste favorites. But the Grammys invariably present more than their fair share of head-scratchers, to which this year is no exception—from the exclusion of The Weeknd and The Chicks, and the inclusion of Dr. Luke (nominated for producing Doja Cat’s “Say So”) to long-since-established “Best New Artist” noms (Phoebe and Meg have been releasing projects since 2017!) and an entire generation of overlooked rap stars, the Academy’s latest missteps range from minor annoyances to outright travesties.

Regardless of whether the Grammys themselves end up on the right shelves, Music’s Biggest Night™ is set up to be a blockbuster in terms of entertainment value—or at least as much of one as a part-live, part-virtual, theoretically COVID-safe awards show can be. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah will have the unenviable duty of hosting—a tall task even in the Before Time—and emceeing for a long list of performers, including Bad Bunny, Black Pumas, Cardi B, BTS, Brandi Carlile, DaBaby, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Mickey Guyton, Haim, Brittany Howard, Miranda Lambert, Lil Baby, Dua Lipa, Chris Martin, John Mayer, Megan Thee Stallion, Maren Morris, Post Malone, Roddy Ricch, Harry Styles and Taylor Swift. Will the complex production’s wheels fall off? Will someone accidentally mute their own acceptance speech? Will Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion somehow scandalize the worst people in the world? We’ll find out starting at 8 p.m. ET via CBS and the newly launched Paramount+, as well as, you know, online. In the meantime, check out all of Paste’s 2021 Grammys predictions and proclamations below—we’re forecasting winners in the major categories and beyond, as well as picking our personal winners.


Record Of The Year Nominees:
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“Colors,” Black Pumas
“Rockstar,” DaBaby Featuring Roddy Ricch
“Say So,” Doja Cat
“Everything I Wanted,” Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Circles,” Post Malone
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé

Will Win: “Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
The Paste Pick: “Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé

Between its TikTok ubiquity, three-times platinum status and inclusion on an AOTY-nominated LP, “Don’t Start Now” has a pretty iron-clad claim to the Record of the Year crown. It also happens to be a good song, which helps. You can’t completely count out DaBaby and Roddy Ricch, who delivered the official song of a lost summer. But the only one of these tracks that really felt like a 2020 event to us was one of Paste’s unofficial songs of last summer, Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé’s “Savage” reimagining, which took a banger and made it … bangerer.

Album Of The Year Nominees:
Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition), Black Pumas
Everyday Life, Coldplay
Djesse Vol. 3, Jacob Collier
Women In Music Pt. III, Haim
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone
Folklore, Taylor Swift

Will Win: Folklore, Taylor Swift
The Paste Pick: Women In Music Pt. III, Haim

Although Dua Lipa is very much in the running here, as well, all indications are that AOTY is Taylor Swift’s golden gramophone to lose. Folks love folklore, and if it brings home this award, it will make Swift the first woman artist—and only the third human, after Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder—to win AOTY three times (she previously won for Fearless and 1989). There’s no denying the cozy artistry of Swift’s universally acclaimed “indie” turn, but we’d love to see the Haim sisters, who made one of Paste’s favorite albums of 2020, make their first Grammy win a big one. Considering Swift recently declared herself “the 4th Haim sister,” we can’t imagine she’d have any hard feelings.

Song Of The Year Nominees:
“Black Parade,” Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Shawn Carter, Brittany Coney, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim “Kaydence” Krysiuk & Rickie “Caso” Tice, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“The Box,” Samuel Gloade & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Roddy Ricch)
“Cardigan,” Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
“Circles,” Louis Bell, Adam Feeney, Kaan Gunesberk, Austin Post & Billy Walsh, songwriters (Post Malone)
“Don’t Start Now,” Caroline Ailin, Ian Kirkpatrick, Dua Lipa & Emily Warren, songwriters (Dua Lipa)
“Everything I Wanted,” Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)
“I Can’t Breathe,” Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. & Tiara Thomas, songwriters (H.E.R.)
“If The World Was Ending,” Julia Michaels & JP Saxe, songwriters (JP Saxe Featuring Julia Michaels)

Will Win: “Cardigan,” Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
The Paste Pick: “The Box,” Samuel Gloade & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Roddy Ricch)

Speaking of Swift winning awards, “Cardigan” continues the trend of making this year’s major categories feel like foregone conclusions. Her folklore lead single is the standout of an odd group; Dua Lipa’s aforementioned hit is a better record than a song, while Beyoncé and Billie Eilish’s auto-nominated one-offs are plenty good, though hardly their best work. H.E.R. and JP Saxe/Julia Michaels are unexpected inclusions that don’t seem to have much of a shot, and if anything, Post Malone’s Hootie & The Blowfish cover should’ve been here instead of “Circles.” Cosigning “Cardigan” just feels boring, so we’ll opt for Roddy Ricch’s “The Box,” an impossibly hooky rap hit in which Ricch rhymes about putting a bounty on George Zimmerman’s head and accurately boasts, “I done put my whole arm in the rim, Vince Carter.”

Best New Artist Nominees:
Ingrid Andress
Phoebe Bridgers
Chika
Noah Cyrus
D Smoke
Doja Cat
Kaytranada
Megan Thee Stallion

Will Win: Megan Thee Stallion
The Paste Pick: Phoebe Bridgers

This is another unusual field, with Megan Thee Stallion and Phoebe Bridgers—who, again, have been releasing good music for years now—competing to take home the last of the top four major awards. The two are pretty interchangeable as far as our prediction and pick are concerned, rising stars who are among the most exciting artists their respective genres have to offer—we’ll stay on brand and side with the indie rocker. Shout out to Kaytranada, though! We’ve enjoyed his music for a while now (*looks directly into the camera*).

Best Pop Solo Performance
“Yummy,” Justin Bieber
“Say So,” Doja Cat
“Everything I Wanted,” Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Watermelon Sugar,” Harry Styles
“Cardigan,” Taylor Swift

Will Win: “Cardigan,” Taylor Swift
The Paste Pick: “Watermelon Sugar,” Harry Styles

The battle of the titans (Dua Lipa v. Taylor Swift … Dawn of Justice?) rages on in this category, but we’ll stump for Harry Styles, who appears likely to run into the buzzsaws that are folklore and Beyoncé in the other two categories he’s up in (Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Music Video, respectively). The former One Directioner has been slowly, steadily winning a new audience over since stepping out as a solo artist, resulting in the first three Grammy nods of his career. Fine Line standout “Watermelon Sugar” is the most vibrant pop track here, with weapons-grade hooks and a carefree, summery vibe worth savoring.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Un Dia (One Day),” J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny & Tainy
“Intentions,” Justin Bieber Featuring Quavo
“Dynamite,” BTS
“Rain On Me,” Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande
“Exile,” Taylor Swift Featuring Bon Iver

Will Win: “Exile,” Taylor Swift Featuring Bon Iver
The Paste Pick: “Rain On Me,” Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande

You can’t rule out BTS pulling off an “upset” by making good on this, their historic first Grammy nod, and J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny and Tainy’s bilingual slow jam deserves more traction than it has. But more than likely Swift wins this for “Exile,” a track emblematic of the big pop/indie folk blend that defines folklore. Give us “Rain on Me” every day of the week and twice this Sunday—Lady Gaga’s Ariana Grande collaboration is a gleaming dance-pop thumper, with retrofuturist production from BURNS & BloodPop®, bittersweetly uplifting lyrics and a pair of characteristically stellar vocal performances from two of the best in the biz.

Best Pop Vocal Album
Changes, Justin Bieber
Chromatica, Lady Gaga
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Fine Line, Harry Styles
Folklore, Taylor Swift

Will Win: Folklore, Taylor Swift
The Paste Pick: Folklore, Taylor Swift

Future Nostalgia has a shot at this one, but … Folklore is inevitable (Thanos voice). Moving right along!

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Kick I, Arca
Planet’s Mad, Baauer
Energy, Disclosure
Bubba, Kaytranada
Good Faith, Madeon

Will Win: Bubba, Kaytranada
The Paste Pick: Kick I, Arca

This category is an odd mix of mainstream EDM (Disclosure, Madeon, Baauer) and more artfully esoteric electronic sounds (Arca, Kaytranada). Kaytranada stands out from the pack by virtue of his Best New Artist nomination ( ... guess when he released his debut album? 2016!), and is the favorite here on the strength of his acclaimed 99.9% follow-up BUBBA. We quite liked that record, but give the edge to Arca’s Kick I: “Alejandra Ghersi’s first proper studio album post-transition is her most fun, pop-oriented, guest-filled—and plain best—yet,” as Max Freedman wrote in his review for Paste.

Best Rock Performance
“Shameika,” Fiona Apple
“Not,” Big Thief
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers
“The Steps,” Haim
“Stay High,” Brittany Howard
“Daylight,” Grace Potter

Will Win: “Shameika,” Fiona Apple
The Paste Pick: “Shameika,” Fiona Apple

We have entered Fiona Apple country, not to mention Paste’s wheelhouse, here in the rock and alternative categories. Apple owned this sphere in 2020, releasing its runaway favorite album in Fetch the Bolt Cutters, and we like “Shameika” to fetch Apple her first Grammy since 1997. That said, she’s up against strong competition, including career-highlight Big Thief and Haim tracks, as well as one of Paste’s favorite songs of 2020 in “Kyoto.” We picked a different Apple track for that particular list, but “Shameika” was right on its heels. We won’t bet against its potential here … or anywhere.

Best Rock Song
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers, Morgan Nagler & Marshall Vore, songwriters (Phoebe Bridgers)
“Lost In Yesterday,” Kevin Parker, songwriter (Tame Impala)
“Not,” Adrianne Lenker, songwriter (Big Thief)
“Shameika,” Fiona Apple, songwriter (Fiona Apple)
“Stay High,” Brittany Howard, songwriter (Brittany Howard)

Will Win: “Shameika,” Fiona Apple, songwriter (Fiona Apple)
The Paste Pick: “Shameika,” Fiona Apple, songwriter (Fiona Apple)

Between Best Rock Performance and Song, Tame Impala replaces Grace Potter in an otherwise-unchanged category. Sort of like Song of the Year versus Record of the Year, this particular award honors the writing of these tracks, rather than the recording. Much of the previous paragraph applies, and it’s certainly possible that Apple and Bridgers split the two awards, but we’re sticking with “Shameika.”

Best Rock Album
A Hero’s Death, Fontaines D.C.
Kiwanuka, Michael Kiwanuka
Daylight, Grace Potter
Sound & Fury, Sturgill Simpson
The New Abnormal, The Strokes

Will Win: The New Abnormal, The Strokes
The Paste Pick: A Hero’s Death, Fontaines D.C.

Nominated for the first time in their careers, The Strokes are pretty much a lock to collect this Grammy for their acclaimed comeback album The New Abnormal (which, for the record, we weren’t too crazy about). So in the interest of sticking up for the little guy, we’re pulling for surprise nominees Fontaines D.C. and their excellent sophomore effort A Hero’s Death, which we ranked among the best albums of 2020.

Best Alternative Music Album
Fetch The Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
Hyperspace, Beck
Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers
Jaime, Brittany Howard
The Slow Rush, Tame Impala

Will Win: Fetch The Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
The Paste Pick: Fetch The Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple

Ah, yes, the Paste-iest category of all! We love an alternative music album around here, and are quite fond of all five of these nominees, even if we thought Beck’s 14th record was a little all over the place. But this one begins and ends with Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Paste’s top album of 2020—slotting it atop that ranking was an easy call, as is this.

Best R&B Performance
“Lightning & Thunder,” Jhené Aiko Featuring John Legend
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“All I Need,” Jacob Collier Featuring Mahalia & Ty Dolla $ign
“Goat Head,” Brittany Howard
“See Me,” Emily King

Will Win: “Black Parade,” Beyoncé
The Paste Pick: “Goat Head,” Brittany Howard

Betting against Beyoncé is a fool’s errand, as evidenced by her 2021 pack-leading nine nominations, despite her not releasing a proper album in 2020. Her Juneteenth charity single “Black Parade,” which appeared on both her Disney+ film Black Is King and her Lion King companion album, is the single most-nominated song at this year’s Grammys, and we see it sweeping the R&B awards with ease. But we like Brittany Howard’s Jaime standout “Goat Head” here, one of the most compelling, innovative tracks on one of 2019’s very best records.

Best R&B Song
“Better Than I Imagine,” Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters (Robert Glasper Featuring H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello)
“Black Parade,” Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Shawn Carter, Brittany Coney, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim “Kaydence” Krysiuk & Rickie “Caso” Tice, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“Collide,” Sam Barsh, Stacey Barthe, Sonyae Elise, Olu Fann, Akil King, Josh Lopez, Kaveh Rastegar & Benedetto Rotondi, songwriters (Tiana Major9 & EARTHGANG)
“Do It,” Chloe Bailey, Halle Bailey, Anton Kuhl, Victoria Monét, Scott Storch & Vincent Van Den Ende, songwriters (Chloe X Halle)
“Slow Down,” Nasri Atweh, Badriia Bourelly, Skip Marley, Ryan Williamson & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters (Skip Marley & H.E.R.)

Will Win: “Black Parade,” Beyoncé
The Paste Pick: “Better Than I Imagine,” Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters (Robert Glasper Featuring H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello)

“Black Parade” keeps rolling here, while “Goat Head” is inexplicably omitted. Our favorite from this group is Robert Glasper’s collaboration with H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello, a lovesick slow jam with lyrical dexterity that jumps out of your speakers.

Best Progressive R&B Album
Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Ungodly Hour, Chloe X Halle
Free Nationals, Free Nationals
F*** Yo Feelings, Robert Glasper
It Is What It Is, Thundercat

Will Win: Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
The Paste Pick: It Is What It Is, Thundercat

Odds are Jhené Aiko will grab her first Grammy in this category, but Thundercat’s fourth solo album It Is What It Is was one of our favorites of last year in any genre. The artist “draws freely from the wells of funk, soul, disco, jazz, rock, hip-hop and lo-fi experimentation,” yet “shoehorns those influences into a startlingly smooth flow that somehow accommodates dazzling technical proficiency,” as Saby Reyes-Kulkarni wrote in his review of the record for Paste.

Best Rap Performance
“Deep Reverence,” Big Sean Featuring Nipsey Hussle
“Bop,” DaBaby
“What’s Poppin,” Jack Harlow
“The Bigger Picture,” Lil Baby
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé
“Dior,” Pop Smoke

Will Win: “Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé
The Paste Pick: “Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé

If anything but “Savage” takes this one home, it’ll be an upset. But one to watch is “Dior,” Pop Smoke’s hit that became an anthem during last summer’s widespread protests in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many others. It would be a posthumous win for the Brooklyn rapper, who was shot and killed at age 20 last February.

Best Melodic Rap Performance
“Rockstar,” DaBaby Featuring Roddy Ricch
“Laugh Now, Cry Later,” Drake Featuring Lil Durk
“Lockdown,” Anderson .Paak
“The Box,” Roddy Ricch
“Highest In The Room,” Travis Scott

Will Win: “Rockstar,” DaBaby Featuring Roddy Ricch
The Paste Pick: “The Box,” Roddy Ricch

We love Anderson .Paak in particular, and these nominees are all among the best melodic rappers around, but one way or another, Roddy Ricch is winning something here. Flip a coin!

Best Rap Song
“The Bigger Picture,” Dominique Jones, Noah Pettigrew & Rai’shaun Williams, songwriters (Lil Baby)
“The Box,” Samuel Gloade & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Roddy Ricch)
“Laugh Now, Cry Later,” Durk Banks, Rogét Chahayed, Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Ron LaTour & Ryan Martinez, songwriters (Drake Featuring Lil Durk)
“Rockstar,” Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, Ross Joseph Portaro IV & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (DaBaby Featuring Roddy Ricch)
“Savage,” Beyoncé, Shawn Carter, Brittany Hazzard, Derrick Milano, Terius Nash, Megan Pete, Bobby Session Jr., Jordan Kyle Lanier Thorpe & Anthony White, songwriters (Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé)

Will Win: “Savage,” Beyoncé, Shawn Carter, Brittany Hazzard, Derrick Milano, Terius Nash, Megan Pete, Bobby Session Jr., Jordan Kyle Lanier Thorpe & Anthony White, songwriters (Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé)
The Paste Pick: “The Bigger Picture,” Dominique Jones, Noah Pettigrew & Rai’shaun Williams, songwriters (Lil Baby)

“Savage” takes this one, too, most likely, but for the sake of variety, we’ll lean “The Bigger Picture,” an introspective and unflinching consideration of the Black Lives Matter movement, racial tension and state-sanctioned violence. There’s an urgency to Lil Baby’s track that sets it apart from the other nominees in this category.

Best Rap Album
Black Habits, D SMOKE
Alfredo, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist
A Written Testimony, Jay Electronica
King’s Disease, Nas
The Allegory, Royce Da 5’9”

Will Win: King’s Disease, Nas
The Paste Pick: Alfredo, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

New York legend Nas appears likely to take this one, seemingly on seniority alone. Any number of 2019/2020 rap records could (and should) have ended up here instead, from RTJ4 or Lil Uzi Vert’s Eternal Atake to Megan Thee Stallion’s Good News or Open Mike Eagle’s Anime, Trauma and Divorce. The clear standout from what’s nominated, though, is Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist’s Alfredo, one of 2020’s very best (rap) albums.

Best Country Solo Performance
“Stick That In Your Country Song,” Eric Church
“Who You Thought I Was,” Brandy Clark
“When My Amy Prays,” Vince Gill
“Black Like Me,” Mickey Guyton
“Bluebird,” Miranda Lambert

Will Win: “Bluebird,” Miranda Lambert
The Paste Pick: “Bluebird,” Miranda Lambert

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“All Night,” Brothers Osborne
“10,000 Hours,” Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber
“Ocean,” Lady A
“Sugar Coat,” Little Big Town
“Some People Do,” Old Dominion

Will Win: “10,000 Hours,” Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber
The Paste Pick: “Some People Do,” Old Dominion

Best Country Song
“Bluebird,” Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby & Miranda Lambert, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
“The Bones,” Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins & Laura Veltz, songwriters (Maren Morris)
“Crowded Table,” Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby & Lori McKenna, songwriters (The Highwomen)
“More Hearts Than Mine,” Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis & Derrick Southerland, songwriters (Ingrid Andress)
“Some People Do,” Jesse Frasure, Shane McAnally, Matthew Ramsey & Thomas Rhett, songwriters (Old Dominion)

Will Win: “The Bones,” Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins & Laura Veltz, songwriters (Maren Morris)
The Paste Pick: “The Bones,” Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins & Laura Veltz, songwriters (Maren Morris)

Maren Morris rules, but between the lovely “Bluebird,” The Highwomen and Old Dominion, there’s a lot to like among these options. No way to goof this one up, really.

Best Country Album
Lady Like, Ingrid Andress
Your Life Is A Record, Brandy Clark
Wildcard, Miranda Lambert
Nightfall, Little Big Town
Never Will, Ashley McBryde

Will Win: Wildcard, Miranda Lambert
The Paste Pick: Your Life Is A Record, Brandy Clark

We’re fond of Your Life Is A Record, Wildcard and Never Will, in particular, but give us Brandy Clark here. Your Life Is A Record was one of our favorite country albums of 2020, and Clark has eight Grammy nods to her name, with nary a win. She’s due!

Best Latin Pop or Urban Album
YHLQMDLG, Bad Bunny
Por Primera Vez, Camilo
Mesa Pera Dos, Kany García
Pausa, Ricky Martin
3:33, Debi Nova

Will Win: YHLQMDLG, Bad Bunny
The Paste Pick: YHLQMDLG, Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny is a global superstar who was Spotify’s most-streamed artist of 2020, and it’s only taken an artist of his caliber to bring Spanish-language Latin music into the mainstream Stateside. Give the man a damn Grammy!

Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album
Aura, Bajofondo
Monstruo, Cami
Sobrevolando, Cultura Profética
La Conquista Del Espacio, Fito Paez
Miss Colombia, Lido Pimienta

Will Win: La Conquista Del Espacio, Fito Paez
The Paste Pick: Miss Colombia, Lido Pimienta

Fito Paez’s La Conquista Del Espacio won Best Pop/Rock Album at the Latin Grammys, so we expect that momentum will carry over. Lido Pimienta’s Miss Colombia wowed Paste on its way to a spot on our ranking of 2020’s best albums, though, with Lizzie Manno writing, “Mixing electro-pop, industrial and reggaeton music with cumbia rhythms, Miss Colombia is a fearless album about identity, resistance and pain.”

Best American Roots Performance
“Colors,” Black Pumas
“Deep In Love,” Bonny Light Horseman
“Short and Sweet,” Brittany Howard
“I’ll Be Gone,” Norah Jones & Mavis Staples
“I Remember Everything,” John Prine

Will Win: “Colors,” Black Pumas
The Paste Pick: “I Remember Everything,” John Prine

Black Pumas are this category’s only nominees to also factor into the Album Of The Year conversation, so we’re putting our chips on them to take it. But how do you pick anyone but the late, great John Prine’s final song? You don’t.

Best American Roots Song
“Cabin,” Laura Rogers & Lydia Rogers, songwriters (The Secret Sisters)
“Ceiling to the Floor,” Sierra Hull & Kai Welch, songwriters (Sierra Hull)
“Hometown,” Sarah Jarosz, songwriter (Sarah Jarosz)
“I Remember Everything,” Pat McLaughlin & John Prine, songwriters (John Prine)
“Man Without A Soul,” Tom Overby & Lucinda Williams, songwriters (Lucinda Williams)

Will Win: “I Remember Everything,” Pat McLaughlin & John Prine, songwriters (John Prine)
The Paste Pick: “I Remember Everything,” Pat McLaughlin & John Prine, songwriters (John Prine)

Prine. Gotta be.

Best Americana Album
Old Flowers, Courtney Marie Andrews
Terms of Surrender, Hiss Golden Messenger
World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz
El Dorado, Marcus King
Good Souls Better Angels, Lucinda Williams

Will Win: World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz
The Paste Pick: Old Flowers, Courtney Marie Andrews

Another rock-solid set of nominees. The only way the Academy could go wrong here is if they swapped in and awarded Morgan Wallen.

Best Contemporary Blues Album
Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?, Fantastic Negrito
Live at the Paramount, Ruthie Foster Big Band
The Juice, G. Love
Blackbirds, Bettye LaVette
Up and Rolling, North Mississippi Allstars

Will Win: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?, Fantastic Negrito
The Paste Pick: Blackbirds, Bettye LaVette

Best Folk Album
Bonny Light Horseman, Bonny Light Horseman
Thanks for the Dance, Leonard Cohen
Song For Our Daughter, Laura Marling
Saturn Return, The Secret Sisters
All The Good Times, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

Will Win: Song For Our Daughter, Laura Marling
The Paste Pick: Song For Our Daughter, Laura Marling

Best Global Music Album
Fu Chronicles, Antibalas
Twice As Tall, Burna Boy
Agora, Bebel Gilberto
Love Letters, Anoushka Shankar
Amadjar, Tinariwen

Will Win: Twice As Tall, Burna Boy
The Paste Pick: Twice As Tall, Burna Boy

Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Frozen 2
Jojo Rabbit

Will Win: Frozen 2
The Paste Pick: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Three words: “Jaja Ding Dong.”

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media
Ad Astra, Max Richter
Becoming, Kamasi Washington
Joker, Hildur Guonadottir
1917, Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams

Will Win: Joker, Hildur Guonadottir
The Paste Pick: Joker, Hildur Guonadottir

If there’s one part of Joker that’s pretty unimpeachably good, it’s Hildur Guonadottir’s score. If there’s two … there’s not two.

Best Song Written For Visual Media
“Beautiful Ghosts” (from Cats), Taylor Swift
“Carried Me With You” (from Onward), Brandi Carlile
“Into the Unknown” (from Frozen 2), Idina Menzel & AURORA
“No Time to Die” (from No Time to Die), Billie Eilish
“Stand Up” (from Harriet), Cynthia Erivo

Will Win: “No Time to Die” (from No Time to Die), Billie Eilish
The Paste Pick: “No Time to Die” (from No Time to Die), Billie Eilish

The gall of the Academy to nominate Cats. The absolute brass on them.

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical
Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
Dave Cobb
Flying Lotus
Andrew Watt

Will Win: Jack Antonoff
The Paste Pick: Jack Antonoff

Did y’all know Jack Antonoff actually has yet to win this award? News to us!


Scott Russell is an associate music editor at Paste and he’ll come up with something clever later. He’s on Twitter, if you’re into tweets: @pscottrussell.

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