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Grammys 2017 Predictions: Who Will Win and Who Should Win in 14 Top Categories!

If your name isn’t Beyoncé, you may as well stay home from the 59th annual Grammy Awards. The pregnant diva will sashay into music’s biggest night with a leading nine nominations and she’ll likely need to enlist every one of her “Formation” dancers to help her load her winnings into a waiting moving van at the end of the night. But on closer inspection, there are actually quite a few holes where other music stars will be able to slide through. Mrs. Carter didn’t qualify for quite a few categories (the country folks, for example, weren’t having it) and in several areas the winner isn’t quite so obvious. (Yes, Adele, you might want to have a black dress picked out and ready to go.) So, before we all settle down to see who host James Corden talks into an opening sketch of Carpool Karaoke, who gets to perform the surprise duet with Stevie Wonder this time, and which of the performers our mothers have actually heard of, Us Weekly Entertainment Director and music critic Ian Drew weeds through several of the top awards to predict the outcome. Consider this your scorecard for the big show (CBS, 8 P.M.).

Beyonce on May 14, 2016 in Pasadena, California.

Album of the Year

25 — Adele

Lemonade — Beyoncé

Purpose — Justin Bieber

Views — Drake

A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson

Will Win: Lemonade – Beyoncé

Should Win: Lemonade – Beyoncé

Kanye West can sit down and shut up this time. Queen Bey has been on a mission to take the top Grammy ever since dad Mathew Knowles was training her to run laps while singing around their Houston neighborhood. After losing out twice before (2009’s I Am…Sasha Fierce and 2014’s Beyoncé), she didn’t take any chances with her unstoppable visual concept album, in which she straddled genres while vividly ripping the lid off her broken marriage. Recording Academy voting members will feel Adele already got enough love after her 2012 sweep, including this trophy, for 21. Justin Bieber should be happy just to be nominated for his smash-soaked Purpose disc, as should his fellow Canadian Drake (let’s be honest, there were four, maybe five decent songs out of 20 on Views). Neither of them will be attending the ceremony, so they must know nothing’s coming. If there’s a dark horse here, it’s Sturgill Simpson. The 38-year-old Nashville outlier’s majestic third solo outing again took country to places it has rarely been before and some voters may want to go against the Beyoncé and Adele grain. Alas, voters will feel he still has time and they can reward him later down the line if he keeps this up. You know, kind of like Beyoncé in previous years.

Record of the Year

“Hello” — Adele

“Formation” — Beyoncé

“7 Years” — Lukas Graham

“Work” — Rihanna Featuring Drake

“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots

Will Win: “Hello” — Adele

Should Win: “Formation” — Beyoncé

You didn’t think they’d really send Adele home empty-handed, did you? This is the Academy’s chance to give their favorite big-voiced Brit a major consolation prize for her windblown second-thoughts anthem. In reality, Beyoncé deserves this one, with “Formation” slaying bigtime as an unparalleled and vital call to arms for black female pride. Those Lukas Graham and Twenty One Pilots tracks were hugely popular, yet too annoying to rack up enough votes to take this one. Same goes for Rihanna’s “Work.” She would need something resembling a melody to justify such an important win. Not happening.

Adele on Nov. 4, 2016, in Austin, TX.

Song of the Year

“Formation” — Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)

“Hello” — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)

”I Took A Pill In Ibiza” — Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)

“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)

“7 Years” — Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)

Will Win: “Hello” — Adele

Should Win: “Formation” — Beyoncé

A few things to keep in mind here. First of all, the Record of the Year winner usually also scoops up this one, which means Adele is going to need to keep her other hand free to carry this one off stage. Second, this is a songwriter’s award, whereas the other category is all about the overall production. Adele undeniably put together a timeless power ballad, yet Beyoncé’s “Formation” was a one-of-a-kind marvel of cultural significance, right down to the Red Lobster shout-outs. If any other cut had a chance in this group, it would be nice to see Bieber and Ed Sheeran’s collaboration (not so subtly addressed to their mutual ex, Selena Gomez?) shake things up, although that’s a long shot given the pop diva favorites overshadowing him (again, his failure to attend signals he knows this). The nod for “I Took A Pill in Ibiza” is more obvious when listening to the acoustic version of Posner’s hit, but it hasn’t held up enough since it slid down the charts later last year. As I said about “7 Years” already: too annoying!

Maren Morris performs on December 10, 2016
Maren Morris performs on December 10, 2016

Best New Artist

Kelsea Ballerini

The Chainsmokers

Chance the Rapper

Maren Morris

Anderson .Paak

Will Win: Maren Morris

Should Win: Chance the Rapper

This is always a weird one. Past winners either go on to become legends (Amy Winehouse, Adele, etc.) or … anybody heard from Paula Cole or Marc Cohn in a while? The Grammys have missed the boat on several big-league country stars of recent years — Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift, to name two of the most glaring omissions  — which is why I’m going with Maren Morris. The 26-year-old Texas native blends country and pop à la Swift, giving her an appeal to a wide swath of voters. Plus, they won’t want to step on the toes of established big fish Lambert, Loretta Lynn and Carrie Underwood by handing her most of the country trophies. When it comes to making first impressions, Chance the Rapper gave a fresh gospel jolt to hip-hop and upstaged everyone from Kanye to Drake with his critically adored mixtape, Coloring Book. He’s the kind of talent that doesn’t come around too often, and giving him the award would make amends for the Grammy’s tone-deaf choice of awarding Macklemore & Ryan Lewis over Kendrick Lamar for this in 2014. Kelsea Ballerini isn’t original enough to outshine Morris, and neo-R&B sensation Anderson .Paak didn’t have wide enough mainstream appeal to make him stand out. I’m sure many an erudite voter was loathe to mark The Chainsmokers’ box on the ballot. Still, the pop duo’s chart dominance with “Closer” and “Don’t Let Me Down” meant they were forced to begrudgingly recognize them. A win would be taking it too far.

Best Pop Vocal Album

25 — Adele

Purpose — Justin Bieber

Dangerous Woman — Ariana Grande

Confident — Demi Lovato

This Is Acting — Sia

Will Win: 25 — Adele

Should Win: 25 — Adele

Another chance to make it up to Adele for not winning Album of the Year. Somehow, Beyoncé’s Lemonade was too sonically diverse to qualify as a pop vocal album (this honor is all about the voice), clearing the way for London’s finest to scoop up more love. While it may not be Lemonade (what is?), 25 is leaps and bounds above the competition here, especially to the typically older Grammy voters. Coming in a distant second is Bieber’s Purpose, and, powerful vocals aside, Ariana Grande’s and Demi Lovato’s entries don’t cut it. The tunes on Sia’s This Is Acting were strong enough for a nomination — but made to be overshadowed by Adele.

Best Pop Solo Performance

“Hello” — Adele

“Hold Up” — Beyoncé

“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber

“Piece By Piece (Idol Version)’ — Kelly Clarkson

“Dangerous Woman” — Ariana Grande

Will Win: “Hold Up” — Beyoncé

Should Win: “Hello” — Adele

With Adele gobbling up the Record and Song of the Year awards, the show will add to Beyoncé’s stash. Still, this is a singer’s award and nobody holds a flip phone to Adele when it comes to vocals on “Hello.” That especially means you, Justin Bieber. Great song, just not the best showcase for vocal chops. Kelly Clarkson and Grande certainly have hefty sets of pipes. These were not their finest moments though.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Closer” — The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey

”7 Years” — Lukas Graham

‘Work” — Rihanna Featuring Drake

“Cheap Thrills” — Sia featuring Sean Paul

“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots

Will Win: “7 Years” — Lukas Graham

Should Win: “Cheap Thrills” — Sia Featuring Sean Paul

Fine, fine: Give something to that “7 Years” song so your grandmother can be happy. The Danish group made a huge splash with their autobiographical ditty that needs to be recognized somehow even though, again, we are talking vocal performance here and Sia is the clear powerhouse. Nobody knows what Rihanna and Drake are droning on about aside from what appears to be the one-word chorus. And great performance doesn’t immediately pop into mind when you think about the Chainsmokers and Twenty One Pilots cuts.

David Bowie
David Bowie

Best Rock Performance

“Joe (Live From Austin City Limits)” — Alabama Shakes

“Don’t Hurt Yourself” — Beyoncé Featuring Jack White

“Blackstar” — David Bowie

“The Sound Of Silence” — Disturbed

“Heathens” — Twenty One Pilots

Will Win: “Blackstar” — David Bowie

Should Win: “Blackstar” — David Bowie

Here is the Academy’s big chance to make up for David Bowie being slighted bigtime in the Album of the Year category for his breathtaking final outing, Blackstar. This jazz-infused, 10-minute title track was its astounding introduction from rock’s brightest provocateur, who died last year at age 69. It would be blasphemy to give it to anyone else, even Grammy darlings Alabama Shakes and Beyoncé, who did light sonic fireworks in her Jack White collaboration. However, rock purists won’t stand for it.


Best R&B Song

“Come and See Me” — J. Brathwaite, Aubrey Graham & Noah Shebib, songwriters (PartyNextDoor Featuring Drake)

“Exchange” — Michael Hernandez & Bryson Tiller, songwriters (Bryson Tiller)

“Kiss It Better” — Jeff Bhasker, Robyn Fenty, John-Nathan Glass & Natalia Noemi, songwriters (Rihanna)

“Lake By the Ocean” — Hod David & Musze, songwriters (Maxwell)

“Luv” — Magnus August Høiberg, Benjamin Levin & Daystar Peterson, songwriters (Tory Lanez)

Will Win: “Kiss It Better” — Jeff Bhasker, Robyn Fenty, John-Nathan Glass & Natalia Noemi, songwriters (Rihanna)

Should Win: “Lake By the Ocean” — Hod David & Musze, songwriters (Maxwell)

Because Rihanna is so going to lose the Best Urban Contemporary Album prize to Beyoncé, here’s one way to toss a Gramophone her way. “Kiss It Better” is a standout on her electric left turn, Anti, in the same way that Maxwell’s luscious “Lake By The Ocean” is on his blackSUMMERS’night LP. Nobody does smooth R&B quite like Maxwell, though, and his entry will stand the test of time. The rest pale in comparison.

Best Rap Performance

“No Problem” — Chance the Rapper featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz

“Panda” —Desiigner

“Pop Style” — Drake featuring The Throne

“All The Way Up” — Fat Joe & Remy Ma featuring French Montana & Infared

“That Part” — ScHoolboy Q featuring Kanye West

Will Win: “No Problem” — Chance the Rapper featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz

Should Win: “Panda” —Desiigner

The same prime factor that makes “Panda” incredible — Desiigner’s “WTF-is-he-saying?” cadence — might also rule him out as a flash in the pan. After all, the teenage newcomer’s debut album, New English, was basically a bunch of alternate versions of his smash. Given that, Chicago’s own Chance will run off with this Grammy for his gospel-enhanced group-think with Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. There’s also a, um, chance this one could go to Drake, although he’ll probably get more love in other places.

Drake on Sept. 23, 2016, in Las Vegas.

Best Rap/Sung Performance

“Freedom” — Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar

“Hotline Bling” — Drake

“Broccoli” — D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty

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

”Famous” — Kanye West featuring Rihanna

Will Win: “Freedom”— Beyoncé Featuring Kendrick Lamar

Should Win: “Hotline Bling” — Drake

Add another Beyoncé trophy to the heap! She perfectly complimented Lamar’s fiery verse, as demonstrated on her awards show performances of “Freedom.” Nobody else raps and sings as well on their own (or as frequently!) as Drake, and “Hotline Bling” was a pop culture touchstone. The double Kanye entries will cross themselves out. And besides, Ye’s dissed the Awards too vocally. Shutting him out will be seen as the comeuppance they’ll feel he deserves.

Best Rap Album

Coloring Book — Chance the Rapper

And the Anonymous Nobody — De La Soul

Major Key — DJ Khaled

Views — Drake

Blank Face LP — ScHoolboy Q

The Life of Pablo — Kanye West

Will Win: Views — Drake

Should Win: The Life of Pablo — Kanye West or Coloring Book — Chance the Rapper

You sure you don’t want to cancel those overseas tour dates and swing by to grab your Grammy, Drizzy? Again, there’s no way they’re going to reward Kanye for his bad behavior. This one would be his if anyone else had recorded it. Chance’s impressive Coloring Book would be an equally worthy choice (both buddies appeared on each other’s albums). Instead, this will be a way to repay Drake for remaking the rap game in his own image. He’s the safer bet.

Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert on April 30, 2016, in Austin, TX.

Best Country Solo Performance

“Love Can Go To Hell” — Brandy Clark

“Vice” — Miranda Lambert

“My Church” — Maren Morris

“Church Bells” — Carrie Underwood

“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Keith Urban

Will Win: “Vice” — Miranda Lambert

Should Win: “My Church” — Maren Morris

Lambert’s captivating double-disc set, The Weight of These Wings, was released last November, missing the nomination submissions cutoff date. So awarding the lead single is a way to keep it in the Grammy’s good graces until she can make a sweep on the 2018 telecast (expect an Album of the Year nod then). Meanwhile, Morris’ breakout ditty announced the arrival of a major new talent and instantly placed her in the pantheon of country greats that came before her. Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban have had brighter moments in the past, while Brandy Clark’s “Love Can Go To Hell” simply can’t overcome the Miranda and Morris mountains.

Best Country Album

Big Day in a Small Town — Brandy Clark

Full Circle — Loretta Lynn

Hero — Maren Morris

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth — Sturgill Simpson

Ripcord — Keith Urban

Will Win: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth — Sturgill Simpson

Should Win: Big Day in a Small Town — Brandy Clark

Another case of handing out an award to an artist (Simpson) because it wasn’t fair to put them in the same room with Beyoncé this year. He’ll easily score here as an apology for his sound defeat for the Album of the Year. True, both he and Maren Morris gave revolutionary new spins to country — and Loretta Lynn is, well, Loretta Lynn — but I’d love to see it go to Clark, the finest example there is of ornate Music Row storytelling. Sturgill had a bit more razzle dazzle in his soulful musicianship. Morris will have to settle for the Best New Artist trophy although she’s a strong contender. As for Urban, it’s just not his year.

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