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Bell’s Grammys predictions

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Let’s be honest: If your name isn’t Beyoncé or Adele, there’s no need for you to even show up to the 59th annual Grammy Awards. 

Set to air this Sunday at 7 PM CST on CBS, James Corden is hosting the annual ceremony honoring the best in music. While the initial brouhaha over who got snubbed has come to pass (although I’m still bitter Frank Ocean got completely shut out), we can now focus on who’s set to take home those cherished gold gramophones. 

While some of the potential winners may seem like a given, the Grammys are probably the least consistent of all major awards shows. Everybody thought Beyoncé’s self-titled masterpiece had Album of the Year on lockdown in 2015 before Beck caused a major upset when he won for Morning Phase. Kenderick Lamar is one of the greatest rapper alive, but for some reason Grammy voters felt Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were more deserving of the award for Best Rap Album. And never forget that in 2008, a year where the Album of the Year category was packed with decade-defining classics from Amy Winehouse and Kanye West, Herbie Hancock won for a tribute album comprised of Joni Mitchell covers. Seriously. 

In other words, anything can happen come Sunday night when the biggest stars in music are all crammed into the Los Angeles Staples Center. Will Grammy voters award commercial hit-makers like The Chainsmokers or go for a more under-the-radar choice in Maren Morris? Will traditional records by Adele sweep the ceremony or will Beyonce’s politically-charged music make more of an impact? Nobody knows for sure, but here’s who’s most likely to win big. 

Album of the Year

Adele, 25

Beyoncé, Lemonade

Justin Bieber, Purpose
Drake, Views
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

Who Will Win: The Grammys always love to throw a curveball in their biggest category. But after feeling the heat for snubbing Bey in favor of Beck just a few years prior, it makes sense that they’d almost feel obligated to hand it over to her this time around. One can almost argue that with so many pop heavyweights pitted against one another, an underdog like Sturgill Simpson could take advantage of that divide and come out on top. But given that Lemonade came out nearly ten months ago and is still one of the biggest conversations in music, that topicality paired with the album’s pure artistry almost ensures its victory. 

Who Should Win: 25 is a solid pop record and A Sailor’s Guide to Earth a masterful storytelling epic. But even the most hardened Beyonce detractors can’t deny the facts: Lemonade was not only the best album of 2016, but also the most important. By bending genres and integrating personal struggles with universal themes, there’s no other album on this list that comes close to Beyoncé’s musical mastery. 

Song of the Year
Beyoncé, “Formation”

Adele, “Hello”

Mike Posner, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”

Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself”

Lukas Graham, “7 Years”

Who Will Win: The Grammys love a big doozy of a hit, and “Hello” is one of the best-selling songs of the decade. If Adele gets overlooked in a lot of the major categories, Grammy voters are sure to award her for a song as grand and sweeping as “Hello.” It’s possible that Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” could cause an upset with lyrics as annoyingly clever as “my momma don’t like you and she loves everyone,” but for now I’m banking on Adele. 

Who Should Win: Given that Song of the Year is a songwriter’s award, Beyonce’s “Formation” deserves the honor alone for integrating references to Red Lobster, the Illuminati, and the Jackson Five so perfectly into a three and a half minute track.  

Record of the Year
Adele, “Hello”

Beyoncé, “Formation”

Lukas Graham, “7 years”

Rihanna feat. Drake, “Work”

Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”

Who Will Win: If Record of the Year is awarded based on the production and performance, it makes sense that Adele’s “Hello” could swoop up this award as well. The Grammy’s older voters tend to award more traditional fare, so the Celine Dion-style theatrics of “Hello” are sure to sway them her way. 

Who Should Win: While I have to give credit to Beyoncé for making bounce music so damn infectious on “Formation,” there’s a reason “Hello” sold over 12 million copies. It may be a simple ballad at face value, but the emotion running through Adele’s voice and the grandiose production are deceptively complex. 

Best New Artist
Kelsea Ballerini

Chance the Rapper

Maren Morris

The Chainsmokers

Anderson .Paak

Who Will Win: The Chainsmokers were responsible for three of the biggest hits of the past year, so part of me is worried that Grammy voters are going to be swayed by their intense commercial appeal. But I have faith that they’re smart enough to see that 2016 was Chance The Rapper’s breakout year. Best New Artist can be a tricky category to decipher, but Chance’s talent and street cred should push him ahead of the otherwise lackluster nominees. 

Who Should Win: Was I not clear? Chance The Rapper. Next category. 

Best Pop Solo Performance
Adele, “Hello”

Beyoncé, “Hold Up”

Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself”

Kelly Clarkson, “Piece by Piece” (Idol Version)

Ariana Grande, “Dangerous Woman”

Who Will Win: Adele is likely to nab Record/Song of the Year, so Pop Solo Performance is Beyoncé’s to lose. “Hold Up” may not’ve been an enormous hit, but its bouncy rhythm and cocky delivery made it a definite standout on Lemonade.

Who Should Win: This is first and foremost a singer’s award, and while all of the performers here are in fine form on their respective tracks, none of them hold a candle to the queen that is Kelly Clarkson. “Piece by Piece” (Idol Version) is an unabashed tearjerker with the kind of heart-tugging emotion that just can’t be faked. There’s a reason America collectively cried when Clarkson performed the song on American Idol last year, and she deserves this award more than anyone. 

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey, “Closer”

Lukas Graham, “7 years”

Rihanna feat. Drake, “Work”

Sia feat. Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”

Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”

Who Will Win: “Closer” was a gargantuan hit that stood at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for twelve weeks. I can harp on the Chainsmokers and Halsey all I want, but they’re going to win this award and there’s nothing we can do about it. 

Who Should Win: Sia has written far superior songs that deserve to be bigger hits, but that doesn’t mean “Cheap Thrills” isn’t still one helluva pop song. “Work” is certainly a lot of fun and “Stressed Out” has its charms, but “Cheap Thrills” is ultimately the most deserving of all the nominees. 

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Andrea Bocelli, Cinema
Bob Dylan, Fallen Angels
Josh Groban, Stages Live
Willie Nelson, Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin
Barbra Streisand, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway

Who Will Win: Barbra Streisand’s last Grammy win was in 1986 for The Broadway Album, and she’s due for another one. She’s the clear frontrunner this year and with good reason, seeing as Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway is her most invigorating release in quite some time. All of the nominees are certainly worthy, but this is Barbra’s year. 

Who Should Win: Barbra Streisand’s album features duets with Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Melissa McCarthy, Chris Pine, and Seth MacFarlane. Do I really need to say any more? 

Best Pop Vocal Album
Adele, 25
Justin Bieber, Purpose
Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman
Demi Lovato, Confident
Sia, This Is Acting

Who Will Win: Adele and Beyoncé are without a doubt the two biggest names in music. If it was any other year with only one of them nominated, they’d sweep the entire ceremony. But while 25 and Lemonade are duking it out over in Album of the Year, the R&B-leaning latter isn’t on the nominee list for Best Pop Vocal Album. So there’s no way Adele isn’t going to be taking home this Grammy, which’ll look mighty nice next to the ten she’s already won. 

Who Should Win: Every album on here is worthy of the Grammy for different reasons, and I myself am completely split. While 25 is a personal favorite, there’s no album on here that best exemplifies the pure pleasures of pop more than Dangerous Woman. It’s not only Ariana Grande’s best release thus far, but a near-perfect album that deserves more respect than it’s getting.

Best Dance Recording

Bob Moses, “Tearing Me Up”

The Chainsmokers feat. Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”

Flume feat. Kai, “Never Be Like You

Riton feat. Kah-Lo, “Rinse & Repeat”

Sofi Tukker, “Drinkee”

Who Will Win: I’m not ready to live in a world where The Chainsmokers are Grammy Award-winning artists, but this is what it’s come to. At the very least we can sleep at night knowing it’s for a song that’s at the very least elevated by Daya’s presence. 

Who Should Win: Flume is the best DJ/producer working in the business and “Never Be Like You” should’ve been as big as “Closer” or “Don’t Let Me Down.” Everything from Kai’s breathy delivery to Flume’s spastic production makes it a dance track packing a whole lot of heat. 

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Freedom”

Drake, “Hotline Bling”

D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”

Kanye West feat. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream, “Ultralight Beam”

Kanye West feat. Rihanna, “Famous”

Who Will Win: “Hotline Bling” got snubbed by most of the major categories despite being one of the biggest pop culture moments of 2016. Even if Views isn’t Drake’s most impressive album and “Hotline Bling” his best track, its ubiquity should put it ahead of the pack.

Who Should Win: If it was any other year, Kanye West would probably be racking up wins left and right. But “Famous” was too controversial to gather enough attention for its artistic merits, which is a damn shame given that its West’s most inventive track in quite some time. 

Best Rap Song

Fat Joe & Remy Ma feat. French Montana & Infared), “All the Way Up”

Kanye West feat. Rihanna, “Famous”

Drake, “Hotline Bling”

Chance the Rapper feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz, “No Problem”

Kanye West feat. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream, “Ultralight Beam”

Who Will Win: This is the rare category where the Grammys got the nominations right, so hopefully they’ll do it justice and award the best rap song of the year to the rightful winner: Kanye West. “Ultralight Beam” is a powerful piece of poetry made all the better by Chance the Rapper and Kelly Price’s contributions. 

Who Should Win: “Ultralight Beam” by a long shot. All of the nominees are worthy, but Kanye truly outdid himself on this track. 

Best Rap Album

Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
De La Soul, And the Anonymous Nobody
DJ Khaled, Major Key
Drake, Views
ScHoolboy Q, Blank Face LP
Kanye West, The Life of Pablo

Who Will Win: Chance the Rapper is building steam everyday. Even if the Grammys have a bad track record with the Best Rap Album category, there’s no denying that Coloring Book was the most talked about rap release of the year. 

Who Should Win: The Life of Pablo had one of the messiest releases in history, and the controversy surrounding it has completely overshadowed the music at this point. Which is a shame given how truly masterful it is. The Life of Pablo is what rap should be: loud, aggressive, and passionate to a fault. 

Best Country Album
Brandy Clark, Big Day in a Small Town
Loretta Lynn, Full Circle
Maren Morris, Hero
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Keith Urban, Ripcord

Who Will Win: Chances are if you’re nominated in the Album of the Year category, you’re pretty much a shoo-in if its nominated in any other genre category. By that logic, Sturgill Simpson should have no problem winning this category. 

Who Should Win: Simpson made the best country album of 2016, a bold and transgressive statement that’s also a big middle finger to the country music industry. Simpson getting a nomination is honor enough, but he rightfully deserves every accolade tossed his way. 

Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes, “Joe (Live From Austin City Limits)”

Beyoncé feat. Jack White, “Don’t Hurt Yourself”

David Bowie, “Blackstar”

Disturbed, “The Sound of Silence (Live on Conan)”

Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Who Will Win: Rock is one of the most historically sexist genres in an industry where being a white male has been an unspoken prerequisite. But it looks like come Sunday night, the Recording Academy is gonna be handing over the Best Rock Performance Grammy to Beyoncé, a black woman who bends genres and delivered one of the most rollicking rock songs of 2016. 

Who Should Win: In what other world would Beyoncé, Disturbed, and David Bowie be nominated for the same award? This is definitely one of the more interesting categories, but Bowie is ultimately the most deserving for the posthumous release “Blackstar.” 

Best Rock Song

David Bowie, “Blackstar”

Radiohead, “Burn the Witch”

Metallica, “Hardwired”

Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Highly Suspect, “My Name Is Human”

Who Will Win: The world is still reeling from David Bowie’s death, so why would the Grammys disrespect him by giving the Best Rock Song award to Twenty One Pilots? “Blackstar” would probably win any other year, but the sting of Bowie’s passing makes it a sure thing. 

Who Should Win: Bowie never cared for the Recording Academy or wanted to win a Grammy, which honestly just makes me want him to win more. 

Best Rock Album
Blink-182, California

Cage the Elephant, Tell Me I’m Pretty
Gojira, Magma

Panic! at the Disco, Death of a Bachelor

Weezer, Weezer

Who Will Win: None of these albums are really that good, so it’s a true toss-up on which one is going to take home the gold. Blink-182 have had a slight resurgence in their career with California, but I’m betting the Grammys are gonna stick with what they know and reward an alt-rock staple from the likes of Weezer. 

Who Should Win: Like I said, none of these albums are particularly great. But if you’re forced to pick the best of the bad, I’d go with Panic! at the Disco’s solidly crafted Death of a Bachelor.

Best Alternative Music Album
Bon Iver, 22, A Million

David Bowie, Blackstar

PJ Harvey, The Hope Six Demolition Project

Iggy Pop, Post Pop Depression

Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool

Who Will Win: Pretentious music fans love nothing more than a new Radiohead album, and they’ll likely win again for the relatively lackluster A Moon Shaped Pool. If you think Bowie is going to take home the award for Blackstar, just remember that Bowie only has one Grammy Award while Radiohead has won the Best Alternative Music album twice. 

Who Should Win: I consider the fact that PJ Harvey was nominated at all a major victory. They simply don’t make artists like her anymore, and The Hope Six Demolition Project is her most creatively-charged release since the ‘90s. And based solely on the music itself, it’s also the best album out of the bunch. 

Best R&B Performance
BJ the Chicago Kid, “Turnin’ Me Up”

Ro James, “Permission”

Musiq Soulchild, “I Do”

Rihanna, “Needed Me”

Solange, “Cranes in the Sky”

Who Will Win: While Beyoncé may be sweeping up awards left and right for Lemonade, she won’t be the only Knowles sister winning big Sunday night. This really is Solange’s to lose, with “Cranes in the Sky” the clear frontrunner in a solid nominee pool. 

Who Should Win: “Cranes in the Sky” is one of the best songs of 2016, R&B or otherwise. In a solid category filled with all manner of slow-burning R&B jams, Solange is the rightful winner.

Best R&B Song
PartyNextDoor feat. Drake, “Come and See Me”

Bryson Tiller, “Exchange”

Rihanna, “Kiss It Better”

Maxwell, “Lake by the Ocean”

Tory Lanez, “Luv”

Who Will Win: Rihanna is likely to lose in all of the major categories, but I have faith that she’s not going home completely empty-handed. As the sole woman in the Best R&B Song category, Ri Ri is going to roll over the competition easily. 

Who Should Win: The other four nominees are traditional R&B jams that don’t leave much of an impact, while “Kiss Is Better” is one of Rihanna’s best songs ever. A dreamy sex jam with soulful guitar riffs that would’ve made Prince proud, it deserves to be recognized. 

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Beyoncé, Lemonade

Gallant, Ology

King, We Are King
Anderson .Paak, Malibu

Rihanna, Anti

Who Will Win: I could list all of the reasons why Lemonade is going to win, but I feel like you get the picture. 

Who Should Win: I’m pretty torn by this category. While Lemonade is certainly deserving of every accolade, we expect button-pushing lyrics and experimental production from Beyonce. But who knew Rihanna had an album as adventurous as Anti in her? It gets more rewarding with each listen and part of me secretly hopes she causes an upset. 

Best Music Video
Beyoncé, “Formation”

Leon Bridges, “River”

Coldplay, “Up & Up”

Jamie XX, “Gosh”

OK Go, “Upside Down & Inside Out”

Who Will Win: You guessed it, Beyoncé will win again in a landslide. Have you even seen the other four nominees? 

Who Should Win: “Formation” was hands down the best music video of 2016 based on the killer choreography alone. 

Best Music Film
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week The Touring Years
The Music of Strangers
American Saturday Night: Live From the Grand Old Opry

Who Will Win: I know this award wasn’t actually invented for the sole purpose of awarding Beyoncé, but it sure feels like it. This category is normally reserved for music-related documentaries, hence why a lot of people don’t even know it exists. But given Beyoncé’s unique album release strategy of premiering Lemonade in the form of an hour-long “music video special“ on HBO, there’s no way this is going to anyone else. 

Who Should Win: The Beatles: Eight Days a Week The Touring Years is a fantastic film, but you’ve gotta credit Lemonade for being one of the most visually arresting projects of the year.

Best Spoken Word Album
Amy Schumer, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo

Carol Burnett, In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox

Patti Smith, M Train

Tom DeSavia, John Doe, Scott Sherratt & Dan Zitt, producers, Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk (Joe Doe With Tom DeSavia)
Elvis Costello, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Who Will Win: I’m split between Schumer and Burnett, but something has me leaning towards the latter based on sheer legendary status alone. 

Who Should Win: Not-so-fun fact: Patti Smith has never won a Grammy. Like ever. She’s always been a little too avant-garde for the Recording Academy, and her fantastic memoir M Train follows that pattern. But anyone who’s listened to the audiobook can relish the way Smith injects the bleak and gritty landscape of her life with the same wit and charisma that defines her music. 

Best Song Written for Visual Media
Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

P!nk, “Just Like Fire”

Skrillex & Rick Ross, “Purple Lamborghini”

Shakira, “Try Everything”

Peter Gabriel, “The Veil”

Who Will Win: Justin Timberlake is nominated for an Oscar for “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” so it’s a total given that he’s going to nab this award.

Who Should Win: As much as I love P!nk, “Just Like Fire” is far from her best song and works better as a workout anthem than a solid piece of music. There’s no way Peter Gabriel is going to win, but it’d sure be cool to see him pick up a Grammy for “The Veil,” his moody contribution to the Snowden soundtrack. 

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About the Author

Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

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