GRAMMY PREVIEW: To Praise A Butterfly

Tonight the Grammy’s air on CBS, and will largely be viewed to see how right Grammy voters get it this year (i.e. a clean sweep for Kendrick Lamar). While that’s unlikely – see my predictions below – one thing is for certain: no matter who wins, it will be a major moment for the industry. That, and we’re all but guaranteed at least one collaboration no one ever wanted. Let the fun begin!

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

Why To Pimp A Butterfly will win: A YEAR after surprising everyone by crowning Beck’s Morning Phase AOTY, Grammy voters will not vote Kendrick Lamar’s universally praised album as the year’s best to assuage past misgivings, but because it truly was the best album during the Grammy’s nominating cycle. And while that’s hardly a strong precedent for an album winning the music industry’s highest honor, Lamar appears to have the backing of many as he landed the most nominations in 2016 with 11. But if Grammy voters are looking for an outcry on Twitter, there are a couple of other albums nominated that stand a chance. Taylor Swift’s 1989 was the biggest pop album of 2014, and voters might be ready to award the songwriter her second AOTY. Meanwhile, a win for Alabama Shakes and their 2015 album Sound & Color would fit the mold of previous 2010’s winners Beck with Morning Phase and Mumford & Sons with BabelSound & Color is better than those two albums, for what it’s worth, but to see it leap ahead of Lamar’s Butterfly would be a shock.

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”

Why “Uptown Funk” will win: DID YOU live in 2015? The Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars team-up was the year’s most infection single, and is somehow still as fun to listen to now as it was when first released. Most pop songs wear out their welcome with overplay, but “Uptown Funk” is the rare song that reminds listeners they love it with ever play.

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”

Why “Blank Space” will win: 1989’s biggest hit is also one of Taylor Swift’s finest crafted pop songs. From the glossy beat to Swift’s biting, candid lyrics, “Space” finds Swift’s aesthetic boiled down to its essentials. She’s either your best friend or worst enemy, and on “Blank Space,” she’s both.

BEST NEW ARTIST

Courtney Barnett

James Bay

Sam Hunt

Tori Kelly

Meghan Trainor

Why Meghan Trainor will win: THE GRAMMYS need to remind us that they’re the Grammy’s, after all. Awarding Courtney Barnett would be too good to be true, and none of the other nominees other than Trainor resonated on as big a level as the “All About That Bass” singer. If Grammy voters are looking to go in the pop direction, they’d be much better off selecting Tori Kelly, but with “Bass” scoring a nomination last year for Song and ROTY, it’s evident the electorate is all about their Trainor.

BEST ALTERNATIVE ALBUM

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color

Björk, Vulnicura

My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall

Tame Impala, Currents

Wilco, Star Wars

Why Sound & Color will win: THE ALBUM is nominated for AOTY, which says a lot about voters’ affection for Brittany Howard and Co. As they should be! Sound & Color is anchored by Howard’s wrecking ball vocals, which can lay you on your ass if you let it. Tame Impala seem to be having a bit of a moment with Currents, but Kevin Parker is going to have to wait until album no. 4 for that elusive Grammy. 

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

Why To Pimp A Butterfly will win: KENDRICK LAMAR has by far the best album among this year’s Best Rap Album nominees. While it was great hearing the return of Dr. Dre, riding with Drake and turning up to Nicki, nothing felt as essential and purposeful as Lamar’s opus. 2015 was Kendrick Lamar’s year. We should be grateful to live in it.

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