July 16, 2020

Predicting the GRAMMYS: Who will win the top categories?

Ryan Silverstein ’20, Sports Editor

Graphic by Zoe Gieger '20.

1. Record Of The Year

Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) and mastering engineer(s), if other than the artist.

  • HEY, MA
    Bon Iver
    BJ Burton, Brad Cook, Chris Messina & Justin Vernon, producers; BJ Burton, Zach Hanson & Chris Messina, engineers/mixers; Greg Calbi, mastering engineer
     
  • BAD GUY
    Billie Eilish
    Finneas O’Connell, producer; Rob Kinelski & Finneas O’Connell, engineers/mixers; John Greenham, mastering engineer
     
  • 7 RINGS
    Ariana Grande
    Charles Anderson, Tommy Brown, Michael Foster &
    Victoria Monet, producers; Serban Ghenea, John Hanes,
    Billy Hickey & Brendan Morawski, engineers/mixers;
    Randy Merrill, mastering engineer
     
  • HARD PLACE
    H.E.R.
    Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, producer; Joseph Hurtado, Jaycen Joshua, Derek Keota & Miki Tsutsumi, engineers/mixers; Colin Leonard, mastering engineer
     
  • TALK
    Khalid
    Disclosure & Denis Kosiak, producers; Ingmar Carlson, Jon Castelli, Josh Deguzman, John Kercy, Denis Kosiak, Guy Lawrence & Michael Romero, engineers/mixers; Dale Becker, mastering engineer
     
  • OLD TOWN ROAD
    Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
    Andrew “VoxGod” Bolooki,  Jocelyn “Jozzy” Donald & YoungKio, producers; Andrew “VoxGod” Bolooki, Cinco & Joe Grasso, engineers/mixers; Eric Lagg, mastering engineer
     
  • TRUTH HURTS
    Lizzo
    Ricky Reed & Tele, producers; Chris Galland, Manny Marroquin & Ethan Shumaker, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
     
  • SUNFLOWER
    Post Malone & Swae Lee
    Louis Bell & Carter Lang, producers; Louis Bell & Manny Marroquin, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer

Prediction: “Bad Guy”, Billie Eilish. What a year 2019 was for the eighteen-year-old musician. After releasing her debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, in March, Eilish shot to the top of the charts — both with a number-one album and a number-one song. “Bad Guy” ended “Old Town Road”’s seventeen-week stay at the top of the charts (the longest of all time) and instantly became one of the most recognizable songs of 2019. Record Of The Year is awarded to the overall production and performance of a song, and the unique, genre-bending sound of “Bad Guy” may appeal to a wide variety of voters.

Something to Watch: “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo or “7 Rings” by Ariana Grande both have strong chances of winning as well. “Truth Hurts” catapulted Lizzo to a household name this year and has strong qualities needed to win ROTY. “7 Rings” may appeal to older GRAMMY voters by sampling “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. With the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 being a massive time for Ariana Grande, the song has a chance at getting the trophy.

2. Album Of The Year

Award to Artist(s) and to Featured Artist(s), Songwriter(s) of new material, Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s), Mixer(s) and Mastering Engineer(s) credited with at least 33% playing time of the album, if other than Artist.

  • I,I
    Bon Iver
    Brad Cook, Chris Messina & Justin Vernon, producers; Zach Hanson & Chris Messina, engineers/mixers; BJ Burton, Brad Cook & Justin Vernon, songwriters; Greg Calbi, mastering engineer
     
  • NORMAN F***ING ROCKWELL!
    Lana Del Rey
    Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey, producers; Jack Antonoff & Laura Sisk, engineers/mixers; Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey, songwriters; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
     
  • WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
    Billie Eilish
    Finneas O’Connell, producer; Rob Kinelski & Finneas O’Connell, engineers/mixers; Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters; John Greenham, mastering engineer
     
  • THANK U, NEXT
    Ariana Grande
    Tommy Brown, Ilya, Max Martin & Victoria Monet, producers; Serban Ghenea, Sam Holland & Brendan Morawski, engineers/mixers; Tommy Brown, Ariana Grande, Savan Kotecha, Max Martin, Victoria Monet, Tayla Parx & Ilya Salmanzadeh, songwriters; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer
     
  • I USED TO KNOW HER
    H.E.R.
    David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris, H.E.R., Walter Jones & Jeff Robinson, producers; Miki Tsutsumi, engineer/mixer; Sam Ashworth, Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman, David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris & H.E.R., songwriters; Dave Kutch, mastering engineer
     
  • 7
    Lil Nas X
    Joe Grasso, engineer/mixer; Montero Lamar Hill, songwriter; Eric Lagg, mastering engineer
     
  • CUZ I LOVE YOU (DELUXE)
    Lizzo
    Ricky Reed, producer; Manny Marroquin & Ethan Shumaker, engineers/mixers; Eric Frederic & Melissa Jefferson, songwriters; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
     
  • FATHER OF THE BRIDE
    Vampire Weekend
    Ezra Koenig & Ariel Rechtshaid, producers; John DeBold, Chris Kasych, Takemasa Kosaka, Ariel Rechtshaid & Hiroya Takayama, engineers/mixers; Ezra Koenig, songwriter; Emily Lazar, mastering engineer

Prediction: Norman F***ing Rockwell!, Lana Del Ray. Lana Del Ray has had one of the most interesting careers in pop music today. When she first started, critics across the industry dismissed her music and live performance capabilities (see her debut on SNL). Since then, however, Lana Del Ray has successfully built her fanbase with the releases of her dark-Americana albums. After releasing Norman F***ing Rockwell, an album almost universally acclaimed by music critics, Lana Del Ray solidified herself as one of the most talented and influential singer/songwriters in pop music today — a far cry from her early years.

Something to Watch: Billie Eilish’s WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? could easily get the win here. The album — entirely written and produced by Eilish and her brother Finneas — made Eilish the youngest person ever nominated for AOTY. On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Eilish said, “there are fourteen songs on the album, and one of the goals I had was I wanted to make an album that I could put fourteen people into a room that each had fully different tastes — like one person likes this, one person likes this, and that’s all they liked, and that if I played them my album each person would like at least one song.” This diversity could appeal to a lot of voters. Something to consider, however: could Eilish’s style of creating alternative music exist without the trailblazing of Lana Del Ray before her?

3. Song Of The Year

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

  • ALWAYS REMEMBER US THIS WAY
    Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Lori McKenna, songwriters (Lady Gaga)
     
  • BAD GUY
    Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)
     
  • BRING MY FLOWERS NOW
    Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Tanya Tucker, songwriters (Tanya Tucker)
     
  • HARD PLACE
    Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris, H.E.R. & Rodney Jerkins, songwriters (H.E.R.)
     
  • LOVER
    Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)
     
  • NORMAN F***ING ROCKWELL
    Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)
     
  • SOMEONE YOU LOVED
    Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn & Sam Roman, songwriters (Lewis Capaldi)
  • TRUTH HURTS
    Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson & Jesse Saint John, songwriters (Lizzo)

Prediction: This category, I believe, is a complete toss-up. It could be “Truth Hurts”, but a copyright lawsuit against the song may get in the way of voters confidently voting for her. Could Taylor Swift win with her entirely self-written but unimpactful “Lover”? Could “Bad Guy” win both Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year? Or might the GRAMMYS choose the sappy piano ballad “Someone You Loved” — something they tend to do for this category? We will have to wait and find out.

4. Best New Artist

An artist will be considered for Best New Artist if their eligibility year release/s achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape.

  • BLACK PUMAS
  • BILLIE EILISH
  • LIL NAS X
  • LIZZO
  • MAGGIE ROGERS
  • ROSALÍA
  • TANK AND THE BANGAS
  • YOLA

Prediction: Lizzo. Or Eilish. This storyline will be interesting to follow throughout the night. While I don’t believe Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You has a chance at winning Album Of The Year instead of Lana Del Ray or Billie Eilish, “Truth Hurts” could easily prevail in both the Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year categories against “Bad Guy”. Lizzo has the momentum coming into the ceremony, whereas Eilish became more popular earlier in the year.

Something to Watch: Could Maggie Rogers pull off an upset in this category? There’s a strong chance that the GRAMMY voters split between the most popular artists in this category (Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, and Lizzo), leaving space for 90s synth-pop singer/songwriter to prevail. Her debut album Heard It In A Past Life received generally positive reviews.

Random Notes: I see GRAMMY voters struggling to take Lil Nas X seriously in every category. While he had the biggest song of the year, the GRAMMYS have never been afraid to deviate from the influence of the charts. Also, could the entirely Spanish-singing Rosalía make an impression on the voters, upsetting the rest of the nominees?

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