Predicting the winners: 2016 Grammy Awards

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The Appalachian Online

Adrienne Fouts

The 58th annual Grammy Awards are right around the corner, and although the voters’ choices of nominees and winners can often be puzzling, the awards show is still entertaining to watch. Sometimes even more fun is guessing who the winner of each category will be.

This year, there is a pretty wide range of genres and artists up for the major awards, but Kendrick Lamar leads the pack with 11 total nominations, and Taylor Swift follows close behind him with seven.

Below are some predictions on who will take home the Grammy in the four biggest categories: “Album of the Year,” “Record of the Year,” “Song of the Year” and “Best New Artist.”

 

Album of the Year

Nominees:

“Sound & Color” by Alabama Shakes

“To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar

“Traveller” by Chris Stapleton

“1989” by Taylor Swift

“Beauty Behind the Madness” by The Weeknd

 

“Album of the Year” is the biggest award of the Grammys, and often the hardest one to predict. This year’s nominees represent a diverse range of music, from Alabama Shakes’ bluesy rock to Chris Stapleton’s country to The Weeknd’s hip-hop.

Each of these albums had a big impact, reaching outside their respective genres to become popular both on the charts and with critics. However, while “Sound & Color,” “Traveller” and “Beauty Behind the Madness” were all great albums, and each could very well end up a winner, I’m going to predict that the real contest here will be between “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “1989.”

The deserving winner is Kendrick Lamar. “To Pimp a Butterfly” was arguably the most critically acclaimed album this year. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and it is certified platinum. Even President Obama is a fan.

More importantly, the album is a poetic social commentary, contributing to the ongoing discussion of race in the U.S. and the Black Lives Matter movement. While “1989” was the more radio-friendly of the two, with six hit singles released, “To Pimp a Butterfly” fits together better as an album, and that is what this category is focused on.

However, I don’t think that Lamar will be the one who actually takes home the Grammy. Only two rap albums in history have won “Album of the Year,” and I’m guessing that Grammy voters will be more inclined to choose Taylor Swift.

To Swift’s credit, “1989” was a bold album. Swift left her country roots behind for good, and the popularity of the album still lingers today even after being out for more than a year. The album produced several hit singles, and is five-times platinum in the U.S.

The fact that Swift won this award in the recent past, and the Grammy voters’ habit of choosing unexpected winners for this category, might work against her. However, I think “1989” had enough of an impact that it is very likely to win.

 

Record of the Year

Nominees:

“Really Love” by D’Angelo and the Vanguard

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran

“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

“Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd

 

This is the award for the producers and the performers of a song, unlike “Song of the Year,” which recognizes the songwriters. Past winners include Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” This can also be a difficult winner to predict since there is usually tough competition between some of the year’s biggest songs.

However, I think Taylor Swift has this one locked up. “Blank Space” just stands out above the rest of the competition. The ones who come closest to matching it are Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars and The Weeknd. “Uptown Funk” is a fun, crowd-pleasing hit that may stand a chance of winning. “Can’t Feel My Face” was one of the biggest songs of the summer, and is a close second to “Blank Space” in this category, but I would be surprised if Swift didn’t take this one as well.

 

Song of the Year

Nominees:

“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar

“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

“Girl Crush” by Little Big Town

“See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran

 

“Song of the Year” is the category where the songwriters are honored. Sometimes the writer is the same as the performer, but sometimes there are contributing songwriters or someone else entirely. Lorde’s “Royals,” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and John Mayer’s “Daughters” were all past winners of this category.

Once again, this looks like a race between Swift and Lamar. “Girl Crush,” “See You Again,” and “Thinking Out Loud” did not have near the acclaim or reach that “Alright” and “Blank Space” did, let alone the same quality of lyrics.

Since I’m already guessing that Swift will take home the previous two Grammys, I’m going for Lamar on this one. “Alright” may not have been as prominent on the radio as the other songs, but is far above them in terms of songwriting.

Lamar’s song is unique and cleverly written, as well as poignant. If Swift takes the other two awards listed here, I’m hoping Lamar wins this one. He needs to get at least one of the 11 he was nominated for.

 

Best New Artist

Nominees:

Courtney Barnett

James Bay

Sam Hunt

Tori Kelly

Meghan Trainor

 

The Grammy voters have picked out some pretty good winners in this category in the past, including The Beatles in 1965. But as usual, they have also made some unpredictable or unusual choices, like when Bon Iver won in 2012 over Nicki Minaj.

They don’t necessarily seem to go for the most popular new artist, which is good, as “best” is not always what is popular.

Additionally, these artists may not even be new. They are nominated after their first recording on a major label or, as the official rules say, “the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.”

The standout here as far as popularity goes is Meghan Trainor, with her catchy, though sometimes controversial, pop hits. Out of all the nominees, she was the biggest star this year. However, I don’t know if she will win this category. She’s not the best of the nominees, and I have a feeling that this might be a year when the Grammy voters choose an indie artist over a pop star.

My guess is English folk-rocker James Bay. He has already has two other Grammy nominations for “Best Rock Album” and “Best Rock Song,” which makes him more likely to receive this award. I also think he’s slightly more prominent than Courtney Barnett, Sam Hunt and Tori Kelly, as talented as those three are. James Bay isn’t the obvious pick like Trainor is, but I think he has a definite chance of winning this one.

 

I’ve based my choices on who I think the Grammy voters will choose. The Grammys can be unpredictable, so I might be surprised when the winners are announced, but that’s always part of fun too.

By: Adrienne Fouts, A&E Reporter