Here at the Rock, we love to write and we love music–so what better way to spend an afternoon than prepping for music’s biggest night? Melissa and Eddie are here to discuss the nominees and potential outcomes.
Best New Artist
Nominees: Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly, James Bay, Meghan Trainor, Courtney Barnett
Melissa: James Bay might be able to swing this one his way. Sam Hunt will be a very, very close second, so close that he may just run away with it. His album Montevallo risks being too pop to satisfy country fans and too country to satisfy pop fans, but it’s double platinum and has some straight jams. But James Bay has that soft-rock, easy-listening, crossover appeal that I think will win over the votes. And personally, he fits into every playlist I make–always a sign of quality in my book.
Eddie: ‘Best New Artist’ is easily the trickiest category to predict every year. While I believe James Bay and Courtney Barnett possess enough talent to earn the award, they seem to lack the stage presence that Meghan Trainor and Tori Kelly have. However, both Kelly and Trainor, in my opinion, are generic pop music sellouts who will attract younger audiences to the television airing of the ceremony. I think Sam Hunt easily can and should run away with the award. His ability to combine spoken word and hypnotizing vocals in songs like “Take Your Time” and “Break Up in a Small Town,” as well as his crossover style are enough to give the boost to win a Grammy.
Melissa: Okay, fine, you’re right–now I have “Ex To See” stuck in my head and just want Sam Hunt to win it. James Bay might have to wait for his Grammy chance in Best Rock Album, which is rapidly becoming just irrelevant enough that a Best Artist nom would win it easily.
Song of the Year
Nominees: “Alright,” Kendrick Lamar; “Blank Space,” Taylor Swift; “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town; “See You Again,” Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth; “Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran
Eddie: Hands down, this award needs to go to Kendrick. “Alright” came before Beyoncé’s “Formation” and characterized the Black experience in America through a depiction of strife, crime, and violence at the hands of the system. Strictly focusing on the songwriting here, the lyrics are complex and quick, just like Kendrick. It’s a song of hope in the wake of oppression, a testament to the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for racial equality. The song’s message goes far beyond Spotify playlists and radio airwaves. Its lyrics are anthemic and worthy of all praise from the Grammy voters.
Melissa: Okay, first of all, I will never not have to look up the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year–for all the other confused folks out there, Song of the Year recognizes songwriting, and Record of the Year recognizes production and performance. With that established, I’m trying to figure out who will win this category if Kendrick doesn’t, and I’m coming up empty. “Alright” is, stylistically and lyrically speaking, innovative, catchy, and downright fascinating. It didn’t get the most airtime, and it certainly won’t appeal to everyone–but it has a lot of important things to say. Strictly looking at the parameters of what makes a Song of the Year, “Alright” has it locked. And it’s about time Kendrick got one of the Big Four awards.
Eddie: The only logical choices aside from Kendrick would be Swift or Sheeran who have enough star quality to keep the ceremony’s television ratings up (because that’s what’s really important).
Record of the Year
Nominees: “Really Love,” D’Angelo and the Vanguards; “Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars; “Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran; “Blank Space,” Taylor Swift; “Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd
Melissa: “Uptown Funk” will win and deserve it; it has to. I mean, it was released in November 2014, and performed at the Super Bowl in 2016–that’s some staying power. Remember when you first heard it and thought it was catchy as all hell? It’s not the song’s fault it’s been overplayed and gotten everyone sick of it. It’s a really quality release that deserves some love.
Eddie: I have to disagree. “Blank Space” is the clear winner here. As one of the leading singles for 1989, which sold almost 1.3 million copies in its first week, the song was virtually everywhere in 2015. The iconic music video (link!: Taylor Swift – Blank Space) also helped Swift and her production team of Max Martin and Shellback make that song explode. I’m also biased because I would love for “Uptown Funk” to go quietly into the night and mysteriously never return.
Album of the Year
Nominees: Sound and Color, Alabama Shakes; To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar; Traveller, Chris Stapleton; 1989, Taylor Swift; Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd
Eddie: If the Grammys were about objective talent, cultural relevance, and pure artistry and innovation, there would be no need to air the ceremony on TV because Kendrick would win every award he was nominated for (11!!!), especially this one. However, as a televised event, Grammy voters (likely) take the ratings of the ceremony into account, so it’s almost a done deal that Taylor Swift will go home with her second Grammy for Album of the Year. I’m not bitter, though. 1989 was my anthem until Adele’s 25 dropped, and I truly believe Taylor has proven herself as a versatile pop artist whose songs, while pop, have truly deeper meanings deserving of recognition.
Melissa: Oh, man. Ummm….. 1989 will win, but there will be a huge fight afterwards from those who think it should have been To Pimp a Butterfly. Eddie’s right–Kendrick’s album has as much talent, artistry, and cultural relevance as any release of recent years. It would be a massive feather in the cap of the hip-hop industry for him to take it home (only two hip-hop albums have ever won AOTY), but it might not be the likely choice compared to Taylor’s absolute slayage of the music industry with 1989. Combine her artistic growth with the smash success of this album, and she’s the obvious winner. Having said that, after the “Bad Blood” collaboration between Taylor and Kendrick over the summer, I can already see the camera panning over the smiling face and applause of whomever doesn’t win. And I’m also curious if Alabama Shakes can pull a dark-horse act and snag this one out of thin air?
Eddie: I could see that happening, and an album of Sound and Color’s quality with so few collaborations and producers is particularly impressive, especially to Grammy voters who ultimately believed Beck’s self-produced Morning Phase was more deserving of AOTY than Queen Bey. Don’t forget about Chris Stapleton, either. He did just walk away with the award for Album of the Year at the CMA Awards, country music’s Grammys.
The Grammys air tonight at 8pm, so stay tuned for our review of the results!