63rd Annual Grammy Predictions – Who Should Win vs. Who Will Win?

March 14, 2021

At last year’s Grammy ceremony, we saw teen sensation Billie Eilish sweep the awards show stage with a collection of pop songs that fuses  relatable melancholy with grandiose visual and musical aesthetics. This years ceremony finds itself in a new predicament, one where the music industry and the major components of it, such as ceremony shows and concerts, are sidelined due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Some artists took the pandemic as a time to practice escapism, creating music that is exuberant and bright, cheery and representative of a better time than the ones we’re living through currently. Others dove into their inner psyche, and wrote music that reflected the shifting social climates of America, and the way that ur brains all struggled through a period of self-isolation.

Which of these forms of artistic exploration and expression will the Academy reward; and of the nominated categories, who are the most likely winners, and who I believe should be the likely winner? Here, we present predictions for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Pop Field

With Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift leading in nominations within this field, it’s safe to assume that this will also determine the winners for major categories. Lipa and Swift have reasonably distinguished themselves as major front-runners for the year, as both are representing contrasting sides of the pop music community and its purposes today. 

Dua Lipa represents a younger generation focused on experimentation and escapism within pop, evidenced by her nominated smash hit, “Don’t Start Now”, which features a glossy and danceable, disco-inspired sound to compliment its rather standard pop song conventions.

Taylor Swift, the well established pop icon, abandons her somewhat inconsistent reputation as the princess of country-pop to write and produce some of her most mature and nuanced music to date. With a remade version of Fearless looming in the near future it’d be hard to discredit her merits as one of America’s iconic songwriters, and the Academy has certainly been unafraid of claiming so.

Other notable nominations include teen sensation and Grammy darling, Billie Eilish, present in this field with her second top-ten Billboard hit, “Everything I Wanted”, one of the strongest popular commentaries on fame in recent memory. Also nominated for her No Time to Die Bond theme song, it feels likely that we could witness the young star claiming more Grammy fame.

Additionally, Lady Gaga finds herself underrepresented at this year’s Grammys following her most bombastic pop releases in almost a decade. She’s likely to receive recognition for her pop banger with Ariana Grande, but the rightful group that dominated the last year and represented western cultures growing interest in K-Pop would be BTS. Their first single to top both the Global Hot 100 and US Hot 100, “Dynamite” is easily the most joyous boy-band single in years, and is worthy of awarding.

Best Pop Solo Performance:

Who Should Win: “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

Who is Going to Win: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa or “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

Who Should Win: “Dynamite” by BTS

Who is Going to Win: “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

Best Pop Vocal Album:

Who Should Win: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Who is Going to Win: folklore by Taylor Swift

Dance/Electronic Field

With one of the most diverse groupings in the category’s recent memory, it’s evident that the Grammy committee is dedicated to appearing as though it is changing with the times. Kaytranada is the only nominee within this category to score a nomination in the major fields, being as he’s in consideration for Best New Artist. 

Kaytranada’s BUBBA release was met to general critical acclaim and a somewhat mixed fan reception. While singles such as the nominated “10%” performed well, but most non-single tracks on this album have been considered deep cuts within the DJ’s ever-growing discography. 

This field has notoriety for awarding bigger EDM artists over smaller ones, so it’s most likely that Diplo and Flume, both previous Grammy award winners, are the frontrunners. For both artists, these tracks represent earnest creativity from both producers, and are both some of the artists best works. Despite that, Diplo’s “On My Mind” is easily the popular choice from this list, especially following its brief tenure as a TikTok meme.

The real sleeper hit in this list of nominees is Jayda G’s “Both of Us”, a slow burn house track that was produced by Jayda and producer Fred again. With an incredibly simplistic beat and understated, raw vocal performance, the track is emotional and intelligent. 

Dance and electronic spaces have notoriously underserviced black artistry and undercredited those same black women despite a heavy utilization of black aesthetics and sound. While I find it unlikely that Jayda G’s joyful romp is rewarded, it is the rightfully deserving winner.

Additionally, Arca became the fourth trans person to become a Grammy nominee, joining late friend and collaborator, SOPHIE, as the second trans woman nominated for Best Electronic Album. While SOPHIE did not win for her stunning debut, Oil of Every Pearls Un-Insides, her influence and sound can be heard on both Arca and other nominees music. 

To see Arca win this award for her most accessible album, KiCk i, which is an avant-garde fusion of pop and deconstructed club, would be monumental to left-field experimental music. 

Best Dance Recording:

Who Should Win: “Both of Us” by Jayda G

Who is Going to Win: “On My Mind” by Diplo & SIDEPIECE

Best Dance/Electronica Album:

Who Should Win: KiCk i by Arca

Who is Going to Win: Energy by Disclosure

Rock/Metal/Alternative Field

Phoebe Bridgers has certainly set the scene for herself as music’s latest critical darling, and that continues to show due to her and HAIM being the only nominees in this field to also be nominated in the major leagues. Additionally, Fiona Apple finds herself nominated only three times for her critically acclaimed record Fetch the Bolt Cutters, which undoubtedly was one of the strongest records of the last year. 

Grace Potter and Big Thief are both the indie picks on this roster. Big Thief, helmed by Adrianne Lenker, was previously nominated for their first record of 2019, UFOF. While I believe they are unlikely to be rewarded this year, “Not” is easily the most engaging and cathartic track nominated this year.

On the other hand, Grace Potter largely avoided critical reception on her latest two records despite receiving commercial success. “Daylight” is simultaneously a slow burn and heavy hitter; it may not impact a listener on their first experience, but it’s the type of song that once you’ve heard, sticks with you forever. However I think it is most likely we see previous Grammy winner Brittany Howard rewarded here for her abundantly soulful ballad, “Stay High”.

The metal category sees some noteworthy nominations as well. Poppy became the first woman to be nominated in this category as an individual artist. A win for her would push the boundaries on not only who metal music is being created for, but under what grounds of consumption. 

Additionally, both Power Trip and Code Orange have become notable critical darlings within the metal scene since their inceptions; I think it is more likely that we see a co-signing of these up-and-coming bands from the committee. 

Ice T’s band Body Count also received a nomination here, allowing a majority black band to find its space once again in what could be considered a largely white scene. A win would mean that the said standard for success is possible for people who don’t necessarily appeal to the genre’s standard demographic.

A few longtime Grammy favorites also find themselves representing the Best Alternative Album field. While rising critical darling Phoebe Bridgers stands a large chance at being rewarded for her 2020 record, Punisher, Fiona Apple, Beck, Tame Impala, and Brittany Howard all stand decent chances at taking the award. 

Tame Impala further develops his brand of psychedelic rock into pop formats, creating danceable and accessible indie tracks that are worthy of praise and enjoyment. Additionally, Brittany Howard’s soulful Jaime is a testament to her lived experiences, and what America is like for a poor, biracial lesbian. It’s worthy of praise, and the Grammy’s seem to know that. 

Best Rock Performance:

Who Should Win: “Not” by Big Thief

Who is Going to Win: “Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers

Best Metal Performance:

Who Should Win: “BLOODMONEY” by Poppy

Who is Going to Win: “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Ax) – Live” by Power Trip

Best Rock Song:

Who Should Win: “Shameika” by Fiona Apple

Who is Going to Win: “Stay High” by Brittany Howard

Best Rock Album:

Who Should Win: Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka

Who is Going to Win: Sound & Fury by Sturgill Simpson or The New Abnormal by The Strokes

Best Alternative Album:

Who Should Win: Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

Who is Going to Win: Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers or Jaime by Brittany Howard

R&B Field

Following a tumultuous summer of racial turmoil and campaigns throughout the world, the R&B category sees itself most affected by these events, with numerous songs having been written and recorded in response. In contrast to Jacob Colliers avant-pop R&B fusion, and Beyoncé’s “BLACK PARADE”, most of the R&B performance nominees are somber expressions of love, pain, and struggles for power in a system that specifically disables some from obtaining such. 

While “BLACK PARADE” is easily the most popular nominee in this category, as well as being the only song also nominated in a major category, “Goat Head” is a nuanced and soulful introspection on Brittany Howard’s relationship with race and oppression, due to her parent’s interracial relationship. 

Additionally, Emily King surprises with an incredibly simplistic acoustic track that carefully straddles the lines between soulful mourning and call to action, and is worthy of praise.

The best R&B song category also finds itself in a somewhat odd place, with both somber emotional tracks such as Robert Glasper & H.E.R.’s collaboration “Better Than I Imagined” and the buoyant and groovy pop track, “Do It” from sister act Chloe x Halle. 

H.E.R. finds herself as a double nominee in this category this year, also nominated for her collaboration with Skip Marley, “Slow Down”. Both of these tracks are simple love songs that are accessible and high quality, with the former being a fun and dance worthy fusion of dancehall and modern R&B’s guitar-centric style. 

Best R&B Album finds itself in another odd predicament. The assumption to be made is that Jhené Aiko’s Chilombo is the frontrunner, seeing as it’s the only album in this category that is also nominated for Album of the Year. 

While Aiko certainly has established a reputation for developing what could be considered modern neo soul, this is not very represented in her latest record, which often puts attention grabbing hooks and sensual vibes over tracks with actual substance. 

Thundercat has previously won a Grammy for his work on Kendrick Lamar’s “These Walls”, and has been critically well received for many years. While his latest record largely explores and incorporates musical elements from his 2017 release, Drunk, It is What It Is is certainly his most accessible and enjoyable record to date, and worthy of praise. 

Additionally, Chloe x Halle had one of the most notable pop moments of the year with their Ungodly Hour record, which saw them do numerous live streamed performances and music videos. With a Chrome Edition of the record just released, the album is certain to attain the sister further Grammy buzz.

Best R&B Performance:

Who Should Win: “See Me” by Emily King

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé

Best Traditional R&B Performance:

Who Should Win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” by Chloe x Halle

Best R&B Song:

Who Should Win: “Do It” by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé

Best Progressive R&B Album:

Who Should Win: Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: Chilombo by Jhené Aiko

Rap Field

Highlighting new artists and protest songs in a newly unprecedented manner, the Grammy committee seems dedicated to persuade American audiences that they’ve come to terms with their own issues with diversity. 

Genres like Rap/Hip-Hop and R&B have always existed to separate black artists into a position where they are “recognized” but still not considered for major awards. This is evidenced with none of this year’s Best Rap Album nominees being nominated for Album of the Year and with no Hip-Hop producers being considered for Producer of the Year.

Most of the nominated tracks spent extended periods occupying the Billboard charts. Of these songs, Roddy Ricch makes a case for himself as a standout with acclaimed single “The Box”, as well as a double nominee position on his collaboration with DaBaby’s “Rockstar”. 

While the relevancy curve has arguably not been doing Roddy any favors as of late, with white America’s “rapper-of-the-moment” constantly fluctuating, “The Box” still stands as a highlight of life pre-pandemic, and is worthy of awardship. 

On the opposing side, Best New Artist nominee, Megan thee Stallion, certainly had the most show-stopping year of her fellow rappers. With 2 number one singles, one of which is the nominated “Savage (Remix)” featuring Beyoncé, as well as a debut record that is sure to be in rotation for months to come, Megan makes a strong case for herself as an adversary in what is otherwise a male-dominated category. Megan reigning supreme would be a legendary moment for women in rap.

Additionally, DaBaby is another multi-time nominee at this year’s ceremony, including nominations in the major categories. With his level of production value and the overwhelming popularity of his multiple hits in the last year, he stands a decent chance at being crowned an upset winner in this field. 

Additionally, the committee has rewarded white rappers in the past and I would not be shocked to see “What’s Poppin’” claim awards over aforementioned artists due to the general accessibility of Jack Harlow’s brand of pop rap.

Best Rap Performance:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Best Melodic Rap Performance:

Who Should Win: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch

Who is Going to Win: “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

Best Rap Song:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

Best Rap Album:

Who Should Win: Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

Who is Going to Win: King’s Disease by Nas or A Written Testimony by Jay Electronica

General Field

This year’s general field finds itself in an almost precarious situation. The battle seems to be coming down to Taylor Swift, who is en route to establishing herself as one of the pop greats, and Dua Lipa, who is benefitting from the high of a euphoric sophomore era. While Swift has certainly made artistic development worthy of praise, it would be a safe move to crown Swift in the present moment. 

Other nominees in the general field stand out because they did not receive many nominations in other categories. HAIM’s Women in Music Pt. III only received a best rock performance nomination despite also being in contention for Album of the Year. Women in Music, Pt. III is the most finely crafted and varied album up for the major award, however it is unlikely that the sister trio is rewarded for such.

Critical success’ such as Phoebe Bridgers and Kaytranada also find themselves on the roster for Best New Artist, despite both of their debut albums coming out over three years ago. I think this actually hurts artists like Bridgers and Kaytra because it means artists who are actually benefiting from the relevancy curve of a true debut record, such as Megan thee Stallion, stand a larger chance. 

That is not to propose the idea that Megan is an undeserving winner however. Megan winning in a major field would be the first time a female rapper has done so since Lauryn Hill, and would be a major stepping stone for both black women and rappers in the industry today. 

Megan is a clear standout of the nominees, and stands a chance at walking away this sunday as a multi-time grammy award winning artist, and certainly the most deserving best new artist of 2020.

Best New Artist:

Who Should Win: Megan thee Stallion

Who is Going to Win: Megan thee Stallion or Phoebe Bridgers

Record of the Year:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan the Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé or “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Song of the Year:

Who Should Win: “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

Who is Going to Win: “cardigan” by Taylor Swift or “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Song of the Year:

Who Should Win: Women in Music, Pt. III by HAIM

Who is Going to Win: folklore by Taylor Swift or Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Ultimately, we’re likely to either see the crowning of a newly reigning pop diva, or the establishing of a genre-fluid pop icon who’s set to become one of the most esteemed artists of her generation. What it likely to happen is that we’ll see a Grammy ceremony like no other, deeply impacted by the political turmoil of America’s last year as well as the social struggles of artists across the globe that hope to express themselves despite limited accessibility.

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