Each artist had a different approach to the trajectory of their respective careers, with Eilish melding goth-pop and soft vocals, Lizzo raising the tempo with girl-power anthems and Lil Nas X turning a viral TikTok clip into a horse-riding smash.
The risks paid off in the end. All three of the up-and-comers — along with more seasoned acts, of course — were recognized by the Recording Academy and earned multiple nominations at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
In anticipation of what is sure to be an exciting show, Us Weekly compiled the top five categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album — and weighed in on which artists will and should win Gramophones on Sunday, January 26.
Album of the Year
I, I — Bon Iver
Norman F–king Rockwell! — Lana Del Rey
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? — Billie Eilish
Thank U, Next — Ariana Grande
I Used to Know Her — H.E.R.
7 — Lil Nas X
Cuz I Love You — Lizzo
Father of the Bride — Vampire Weekend
Will Win: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? — Billie Eilish
Should Win: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? — Billie Eilish
Eilish and Lizzo dominated 2019 fairly equally thanks to their instant classics, but all bets are on Eilish to take home the evening’s top prize. Her album logged more weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart, and the Recording Academy will likely jump at the opportunity to not only make her the youngest AOTY recipient in history at 18 but also the first debut album to win in the category since 2002 (Taylor Swift and Norah Jones, respectively, currently hold the titles).
Record of the Year
“Hey, Ma” — Bon Iver
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish
“7 Rings” — Ariana Grande
“Hard Place” — H.E.R.
“Talk” — Khalid
“Old Town Road (Remix)” — Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
“Truth Hurts” — Lizzo
“Sunflower” — Post Malone and Swae Lee
Will Win: “Old Town Road (Remix)” — Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
Should Win: “Old Town Road (Remix)” — Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
All signs point to Lil Nas X and Cyrus (of “Achy Breaky Heart” fame, not “Wrecking Ball”) walking away with ROTY. Their übercatchy country-trap megahit spent a record-breaking 19 consecutive weeks at No. 1 for a reason, so it would be a shame to see another song win — as strong as the competition may be.
Song of the Year
“Always Remember Us This Way” — Lady Gaga (songwriters Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna)
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish (songwriters Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell)
“Bring My Flowers Now” — Tanya Tucker (songwriters Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth and Tanya Tucker)
“Hard Place” — H.E.R. (songwriters Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris, H.E.R. and Rodney Jerkins)
“Lover” — Taylor Swift (songwriter Taylor Swift)
“Someone You Loved” — Lewis Capaldi (songwriters Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn and Sam Roman)
“Truth Hurts” — Lizzo (songwriters Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson and Jesse Saint John)
Will Win: “Someone You Loved” — Lewis Capaldi (songwriters Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn and Sam Roman)
Should Win: “Truth Hurts” — Lizzo (songwriters Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson and Jesse Saint John)
The legal drama surrounding who actually wrote Lizzo’s anthem may hurt her chances, but Capaldi’s gut-wrenching ballad is more the academy’s speed anyway. Plus, the SOTY category, which rewards songwriters rather than artists, tends to favor bare-bones, emotional tracks such as Adele’s “Hello” (2017), Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” (2016) and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” (2015), making Swift’s “Lover” a contender too.
Best New Artist
Lil Nas X
Tank and the Bangas
Will Win: Lizzo
Should Win: Billie Eilish
Although Lizzo is technically not new to the game (Cuz I Love You is her third album but first on a major label), it would not come as a surprise if she wins BNA. The academy will likely throw her a well-deserved bone after her utterly massive year, but one could argue that she did not change the sound of today’s music as we know it in the way that Eilish did. After all, the teen can’t sweep every category, right?
Will Win: Lover — Taylor Swift
Should Win: Thank U, Next — Ariana Grande
Swift pieced together one of her greatest albums to date with Lover, so it would come as a huge shock if the academy did not award its onetime darling’s work. Controversially, she was snubbed in the AOTY category this year, so Lover deserves some sort of recognition. That said, Swift’s Reputation lost to Grande’s Sweetener at the 2019 Grammys, and there is a case to be made for the vocally gifted pop diva to win again this year with her excellent album.
Hosted by Alicia Keys, the 62nd Grammy Awards air on CBS Sunday, January 26, at 8 p.m. ET.
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