Wed. Sep 30th, 2020

The Grammy Gods’ predictions

Matthew Kelley Rand’s predictions

Album of the Year
The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
Red – Taylor Swift
The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake
Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars

Unless Kanye randomly regains favor with the Academy and Yeezus sneaks in here or, rather, Vampire Weekend nabs the “indie cred” spot with Modern Vampires of the City, I don’t see much getting in the way of these five. It’s clearly the year of Justin, of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, of Daft Punk, so they’re set. Bruno and Taylor are on shaky ground, the former because I lightly detest him and am praying he’s snubbed, the latter because they left her out the last time around (when she had nearly identical sales figures) and Red was released at the very beginning of the eligibility period. Perhaps they’ll pull a 2011 and throw Rihanna’s Unapologetic in because the kids like her. Or maybe Paramore’s self-titled, well-received fourth studio album could weasel in due to the same logic.

Record of the Year
“Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell
“Get Lucky” – Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams
“I Knew You Were Trouble” – Taylor Swift
“Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake
“Thrift Shop” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

“Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky,” and “Thrift Shop,” the undisputed songs of the year, should be safe here, though the Grammys do love to go all “Bad Romance” and not nominate something gigantic and seemingly unavoidable (see “Bad Romance”) so they can confuse people, but after that, what we’ve got here seems to be yet another Taylor-Justin-blank-blank-blank situation. “Mirrors” should be fine; it’s a lovely production, super heartfelt, la, la, and “I Knew You Were Trouble” was an enormous (#2) smash for Swift. But then, of course, there’s Katy’s “Roar,” there’s Miley with “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball,” there’s Rihanna with “Diamonds” and “Stay,” P!nk and Nate Ruess with “Just Give Me a Reason,” there’s Bruno Mars with (god forbid) “Locked Out of Heaven,” “When I Was Your Man,” or (the only suitable choice of his singles) “Treasure.” Oh and Icona Pop, who actually deserve to make it here. Oh lord, I also forgot to mention Lorde, whose “Royals” would make a whole lotta sense here, wouldn’t it…

Song of the Year
“I Love It” – Icona Pop
“Merry Go ‘Round” – Kacey Musgraves
“Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake
“Same Love” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“Stay” – Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko

For Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, this seems like the category to strike. Assuming they submitted “Same Love,” they should be an instantaneous lock. Same with “Mirrors.” Rihanna and Mikky Ekko should sneak in with “Stay,” the gorgeous piece performed at last year’s ceremony but was then ineligible. They love to throw the really big, chanty, anthemic songs here (see “Call Me Maybe”) so I’d imagine this’ll be where “I Love It” pops up, if at all. Perhaps Kanye and his massive “Black Skinhead” will make it, or P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason.” I have an inkling feeling Kacey Musgraves’ gently heartbreaking “Merry Go ‘Round” will get its due à la Miranda Lambert and “The House That Built Me” back in 2011, but then again, she’ll be stealing the country darling spot from “I Knew You Were Trouble,” so it’s a toss-up.

Best New Artist
Ariana Grande
Kendrick Lamar
Lana Del Rey
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Lorde

I’m incredibly confident in predicting Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (of course), Kendrick Lamar (with his absurdly good press for good kid, m.A.A.d city–a possible AOTY spoiler), and Ariana Grande (with her recent #1 album debut/baby Mariah stylings). Lorde seems like another shoo-in, and I’d literally do anything to have Lana recognized somewhere, but with Best New Artist there’s always an Esperanza Spalding waiting out there in the darkness, isn’t there? (Perhaps Selena Gomez?)

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Joaquim Caetano’s predictions

Record of the Year

“Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke (Feat. Pharrell & T.I.)
Record of the Year has a tendency to recognize the mammoth hits and Robin Thicke and co. hit it big with Blurred Lines. A sleeper hit that gained traction with a provocative video, the song broke airplay and sales records during the summer. The controversial lyrics and VMA performance will probably prevent a nomination in Song of the Year, but they’re safe here, unless voters decide one Pharrel track is enough. Following in the footsteps of I Gotta Feeling, Firework and Empire State of Mind, I think Blurred Lines makes the lineup.

“Get Lucky” – Daft Punk (Feat. Pharrell)
With this song, Daft Punk finally hit the bullseye. They’ve been ruling alternative and dance crowds since forever but the release of Get Lucky, combined with the dance music take over, represented their mainstream arrival in a big way. From hipsters to top 40 radio listeners, the song was inescapable. Having Pharrel and Nile Rodgers on the backseat also helped. Great reviews combined with chart success, not to mention the cool factor of awarding European robots, make this our frontrunner.

“Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars’ first album hit it big with the Grammys, getting nominations in all the General Field categories and bar New Artist, of course, he should have no trouble repeating the feat. His recently announced Super Bowl gig combined with strong commercial appeal and public interest, will have no trouble keeping the buzz alive until the nominations are announced.

“Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake
Justin is a Grammy darling that had a huge year. After 6 years away from the music biz, his return proved irresistible to critics and audiences everywhere and this heartfelt track has already made an impression at the VMAs. He’s the frontrunner for Album and Mirrors should have no trouble increasing his nomination tally.

“Thrift Shop” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Feat. Wanz)
Much like Blurred Lines ruled the summer, Thrift Shop ruled the end of 2012/beginning of 2013. Rapper/producer duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis came out of nowhere and made a big impression on the scene with this left field, upbeat track with an anti-consumerist message. The song combines this category’s favourite things: breakout stars delivering huge hits. We have to wait for the submission lists though, because they also have Can’t Hold Us and Same Love. I say Thift Shop goes for ROTY consideration while Same Love tries for SOTY. Both get nominated.

Next in line:
“I Knew You Were Trouble” – Taylor Swift
Taylor is also a Grammy darling, with a huge hit, coming from her second 1 million albums/ first week sales. If anyone can break in the male dominated line up above, it should be her, which got a surprise nomination last year with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” But, her buzz kind of cooled after the single choices ignored her Country fanbase, not to mention Speak Now, her last album, also failed to receive any nomination in the General Field.

“Royals” – Lorde
Red hot Kiwi teen Lorde is making waves in the industry. Her bluesy smash Royals already sits atop the Itunes charts, she’s the first female to top Alternative radio in 17 years and the track is crossing over to top 40/AC stations in a big way. She’ll probably follow in Adele’s 19 era footsteps and get nominated across the board. This is obvious Grammy bait and voters love their foreign young singer/songwriters. For now, I’m confident in Best New Artist/SOTY but as she goes supernova, the Grammys may want to invite her in an even bigger way to the ceremony.

“Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake (Feat. Majid Jordan)
Last year, his collaboration with Rihanna, Take Care, was heavily predicted to factor in the ROTY/SOTY races, but still missed. Drake’s back, this time collaborating with Canadian producers duo Majid Jordan. The song got some of the best reviews of his career and its commercial performance looks strong, but a release so close to the deadline may hurt its ability to place in top categories.

“Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
See SOTY.

“Just Give Me a Reason” – Pink (Feat. Nate Ruess)
Always the industry underdog, recently named Billboard’s Woman of the Year, Pink is on a career high, placing in the top 10 for the year’s best selling albums, singles and tours. This duet with last year’s Grammy wonder boy (SOTY and Best New Artist winner) Nate Ruess from fun. was the only female fronted song to top the Hot 100 in the first semester but in such a competitive category, I think this ballad will only register in the Pop field, where a nomination for Best Pop Collaboration is a given. SOTY is more likely than ROTY, but still an uphill battle.

“Roar” – Katy Perry
For some reason, Katy Perry is on her way to become a Grammy darling. The safest, most calculated and probably successful popstar currently working has earned 9 nominations in 5 consecutive years. She has yet to win one but that only makes matters worse. She cracked the General Field twice, Teenage Dream for AOTY and Firework for ROTY. Roar, her new uplifting “anthem” is already a huge hit, similar to what Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together did in 2012, which surprised everyone last year to become the sixth nominee in this category. Be very afraid.

“Skyfall” – Adele
See SOTY.

“Diane Young” – Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend delivered one of the most acclaimed alternative albums of the year and after The Black Keys were able to factor in a big way last year, Diane Young is fresh and uptempo enough to fill the rock quota this cathegory needs. But the problem is IF they’d want a rock quota.

Dark Horses:
“Radioactive” – Imagine Dragon
“Black Skinhead” – Kanye West
“I Love It” – Icona Pop (Feat. Charli XCX)
“Holy Grail” – Holy Grail (Feat. Justin Timberlake)
“Highway Don’t Care” – Tim McGraw (Feat. Taylor Swift)
“Cruise” – Florida Georgia Line (Feat. Nelly)

Song of the Year

“Locked Out of Heaven/When I Was Your Man” – Bruno Mars
See ROTY

“Merry Go Round” – Kacey Musgraves
Following on Miranda Lambert’s career trajectory, Kacey Musgraves had been on the verge of breaking out for half of a decade, releasing albums independently and co-writing songs for bigger stars like Martina McBride and Miranda herself. 2013 marked her arrival in the country scene with the superb album Same Trailer Different Park with Merry Go Round serving as the project’s first single. Its themes of small town life are country clichés but Kacey injects the song with personality traits and an incredible melody that turn it into one of the year’s best offerings. SOTY is more accepting of surprises/low profile songs and the General Field needs more of a country presence, making Musgraves the perfect contender.

“Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake
See ROTY

“Royals” – Lorde
See ROTY

“Same Love” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Feat. Mary Lambert)
Even if it didn’t hit the chart peaks of the first 2 singles, this part protest/´part celebration song feels topical and relevant. It’s the duo’s best offering, with an outstanding vocal performance from Mary Lambert, that should be in the running for Song of the Year. It makes sense to split Thrift Shop/Same Love but as I said before, we’ll need the submissions list first to make the call.
Next in line:

“Get Lucky “– Daft Punk (Feat. Pharrell)
See ROTY

“Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
The most respected band currently working just released Reflektor, coming off their Album of the Year win in 2011 for The Suburbs, with some help from Ziggy Stardust himself, David Bowie. It’s great, impressive work, no surprise, but releasing so close to deadline may work against their chances and Grammys are enamored with big hits, something Arcade Fire isn’t known for.

“I Knew You Were Trouble” – Taylor Swift

“Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke (Feat. Pharrell & T.I.)

“Just Give Me a Reason” – Pink (Feat. Nate Ruess)

“Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons
In a year full of breakout acts, one can’t forget to mention Imagine Dragons. After It’s Time spent almost a whole year on the verge of becoming a certified hit, Radioactive finally did the trick for the band. It’s certainly unique enough to warrant awards consideration and its combination of acoustic guitars with an explosive chorus that combines elements of pop rock and dubstep certainly found an audience. Still, they aren’t household names yet and the critical support isn’t in place. Possible player in the Rock categories.

“New Slaves” – Kanye West
Kanye returned with an unusual album campaign: no radio singles, barely any promo, just the usual combination of outstanding music and displays of his larger than life ego. New Slaves showed yet again a new side of Kanye, a minimalist beat, big words, in raps that feel both personal and universal at the same time. He’s been nominated in the cathegory 3 times before (Jesus Walks, All of the Lights and the Estelle feature, American Boy), so if they respond to Yeezus, it’s very likely New Slaves shows up here. Unless his team sends Black Skinhead for consideration and for some reason, I think that song might have a harder time getting the nomination.

“Skyfall” – Adele
In my opinion, this Oscar winning song is not up to the quality of her 21 singles, but it’s Adele + Grammys + Oscar. I can only hope this Math fails the biggest selling artist of the decade so far.

Album of the Year
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
Daft Punk – R.A.M.
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
Taylor Swift – Red

Contenders
Drake – Nothing Was the Same
Lorde – Pure Heroine
Kanye West – Yeezus
The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
Jay-Z – Magna Carta…Holy Grail
J. Cole – Born Sinner
Paramore – Paramore

Justin Timberlake had the most talked about comeback of the year, not to mention sales, having the best selling album of the year so far. He’s respected, made the cathegory before and the music biz will probably throw everything they can to convince him that music is fun!

Daft Punk also had a huge comeback but this time it was more like an introduction. Fueled by huge expectation, R.A.M. arrived with the help of Get Lucky which is probably the most loved track of the year. They are cool, they sold a lot, they are robots. No way the Grammys will that pass.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had a banner year. Huge hits, huge album, a landmark song with Same Love and all of that done without a huge record label behind. Taking independent distribution to new levels, they were able to sustain the buzz and Grammy attention will close a very successful and exciting album cycle for them.

Taylor Swift gets to represent female popstars and the country demographic, even with an era that could be described as frontloaded. Bruno Mars makes music the Grammys love, radios can’t get enough and he’s fronting the Super Bowl. I’d say he’s pretty safe.

If anyone gets to break this lineup, I’d put money on Drake. Critically acclaimed with his selling power only getting bigger with each new release. Only the release date, very close to the deadline, could get in his way. The same goes for new teen sensation Lorde, riding high on the buzz for Royals, her debut album Pure Heroine is something the Grammys always go for, but releasing on the very last week of the deadline may be difficult to overcome.

Best New Artist
Imagine Dragons
Kacey Musgraves
Kendrick Lamar
Lorde
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Possible contenders:
Ariana Grande
Emeli Sandé
Florida Georgia Line
Icona Pop
Jake Bugg
Philip Philips

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