Grammy 2016 Nominees & Predictions

The Grammys, bless their gilded heart, have been trying to modernize for what feels like years now, but 2016 feels like it might be a break through. Instead of parsing the nomination announcements out over the entire day like last year, this year’s complete nominee list was up before I had time to have my coffee. And, more to it, this year’s list is not entirely terrible! It’s still The Grammys, so there are plenty of safe choices and industry favorites, but they’re mostly the good ones!

So, let’s get to the list and my predictions. Annual reminder that 1. the eligibility window is October 1st of 2014 to September 30th 2015 (see you next year, Adele!), and 2. I am consistently terrible at predictions. Let’s go!

Record of the Year:
D’Angelo And the Vanguard – “Really Love”
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk!”
Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”
Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”
The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
The nice thing about Record of the Year (i.e. which song has the best mixing/production) is that it’s the only category with an objectively correct answer. And, this year that answer is D’Angelo.

Album of the Year
Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Chris Stapleton – Traveller
Taylor Swift – 1989
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
Honestly, this is a stacked category. Solid genre representation, each of these was a top seller, and even if I didn’t like all of them, they all played well with the critics. I’d love to see Kendrick or Alabama Shakes get it (I missed AS on the first go around, but jamming to S&C now), but, as The Grammys are learning, so must I: bet on the safe horse. Praise Taylor Swift.

Song of the Year
Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
Taylor Swift- “Blank Space”
Little Big Town – “Girl Crush”
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”
Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”
Oh, this hurts. Here, we have a song that ended up tapping into the spirit and activism of 2015, and it’s probably gonna lose. I liked “Thinking Out Loud”, but not this much, and “Girl Crush” is okay, even if it relies on its punchline too much. I’ll be in the cold ground before I say something nice about “See You Again”. Hail Swift.

Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor
Cynical money’s on Trainor following last year’s Sam Smith win, but I don’t see her with the same presence he had last year (this is her only nomination). I’m going to go with Courtney Barnett because I want it.

Best Pop Solo Performance
Kelly Clarkson – “Heartbeat Song”
Ellie Goulding – “Love Me Like You Do”
Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”
Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”
The Weeknd “Can’t Feel My Face”
Taylor Sw–I can’t do this one. I’ve tried, but a year of overexposure has curdled my lukewarm opinion on “Blank Space” into outright dislike. The plodding tempo, that arid production, and the song’s constant search for a melody leave me cold, and encase what should be Taylor Swift’s most humanizing song in a layer of shrink wrap. I tried, Taylor, I really did. I’ll shut my yap for the rest of these, but please, just let me have my soul for this once. This round goes to The Weeknd, who owns the shit out of “Can’t Feel My Face”.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Florence + The Machine – “Ship to Wreck”
Maroon 5 – “Sugar”
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk!”
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood”
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”
All hail Taylor Swift.

Best Pop Vocal Album
Kelly Clarkson – Piece by Piece
Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
Taylor Swift – 1989
James Taylor – Before This World

Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes – “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Florence + the Machine – “What Kind of Man”
Foo Fighters – “Something From Nothing”
Ellie King – “Ex’s and Oh’s”
Wolf Alice – “Moaning Lisa Smile”
Who did Dave Grohl piss off? Normally, he owns the rock categories when he has something out, but his lone nomination this year is for one of the Foo’s worst songs. “What Kind of Man” is one of Florence’s best tunes, and “Moaning Lisa Smile” is so in my lane I almost think I’m getting played, but Alabama Shakes gets it.

Best Rock Song
Alabama Shakes – “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Ellie King “Ex’s and Oh’s”
James Bay – “Hold Back the River”
Highly Suspect – “Lydia”
Florence + the Machine – “What Kind of Man”
Alright, here’s what I make things up by going with Florence, although I’m happy so long as either Florence or Alabama Shakes get this one or Best Rock Performance. Also, I’ve never heard of James Bay before tonight, and I’m already inclined to say “fuck this guy.”

Best Rock Album
James Bay – Chaos and the Calm
Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi
Highly Suspect – Mister Asylum
Muse – Drones
Slipknot – .5: The Grey Chapter
Is there some unwritten Grammy rule that Best Rock Album always has to be a mess? [editor’s note: for the last tenish years, yes] See above on Bay, and Highly Suspect answers the dangerous question “What happens if you count Nickelback as an influence?” I’ll throw Death Cab because I like “Ghost of Beverly Drive”, and if it’s good enough for Zack Zarrillo formerly of Property of Zack (RIP), it’s good enough for me.

Best Rap Performance
J.Cole – “Apparently”
Drake – “Back to Back”
Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”
Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
Kanye West ft. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, and Paul McCartney – “All Day”
Really, anyone could win this one, and I’d be happy. J.Cole and Fetty Wap would give just the sweetest speeches, and it’d be funny to see Paul McCartney get a trophy for a rap hit. I’d even be okay with Drake winning, just because it’d be one last act of clowning on Meek Mill from this past summer. Kendrick gets best in class, though.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Big Sean ft. Kanye West and John Legend – “One Man Can Change the World”
Common and John Legend – “Glory”
Jidenna ft. Roman GianArthur – “Classic Man”
Kendrick Lamar ft. Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat – “These Walls”
Nicki Minaj ft. Chris Brown, Drake, and Lil Wayne – “Only”
Hm. If The Grammys want to be stodgy, there’s a (really good!) “Glory”for them. If they want to be nasty, we’ve got an “Only” for that, too! If they want a happy medium, there’s “These Walls”! But I’ma say Jidenna, just because Rap Grammys are hard to predict.

Best Rap Song
Kanye West, et. al – “All Day”
Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
Drake – “Energy”
Common and John Legend – “Glory”
Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”
“All Day” seems most in line with what’s won BRS in the past, so that’s my choice, although I’d put “Energy” at number two. If the Grammys are smart, this would be the year to give Aubrey a few trophies (his only rap win has been Best Rap Album for Take Care) to keep him happy with the establishment; 2015 has shown he’s not someone to play against.

Best Rap Album
J.Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Dr. Dre – Compton
Drake – If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint
You ever have that thing happen with a friend where you get into a fight or do them wrong, and part of making up with them is going out of your way to be as nice and giving toward them as possible? That’s what I feel like the Grammys are doing to Kendrick with all these nominations in the Macklemore fallout from 2013. And Best Rap Album could be their biggest “I’m Sorry” present.

Best Alternative Music Album
Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color
Bjork – Vulnicura
My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
Tame Impala – Currents
Wilco – Star Wars
Alabama Shakes, filed under the “Genre Album Award As Consolation For Losing Album of the Year.” Personally, I’d have put them under Rock, but they were DQ’d because Best Rock Album is The Grammys’ Designated White Dude Award (seriously: last none white dude artist nominated was female front Evanescence in 2004).

Best R&B Song
Miguel – “Coffee”
The Weeknd – “Earned It”
Jazmine Sullivan – “Let It Burn”
D’Angelo and the Vanguard – “Really Love”
Tyrese – “Shame”
I feel like this is D’Angelo‘s to lose, although if you haven’t heard “Let It Burn”, do yourself a favor.

Best Urban Contemporary Album
The Internet – Ego Death
Kehlani – You Should Be Here
Lianne La Havas – Blood
Miguel – Wildheart
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
Just be rid of the loaded category name and call it “Modern R&B” or something already. Ego Death is my personal pick, but I’m taking Beauty Behind the Madness overall.

Best R&B Album
Leon Bridges – Coming Home
D’Angelo, etc. – Black Messiah
Andra Day – Cheers to the Fall
Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show
Charlie Wilson – Forever Charlie
Eh, I let D’Angel have the last one, let’s throw Charlie Wilson here, or Leon Bridges if they feel like skewing young.

And that’s it, y’all, tune in on February 15th to see Taylor’s Award Show Face!

About bgibs122

I enjoy music and music culture; I hope you do, too.
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