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Doug’s Fearless 2024 Grammy Predictions

Look for NARAS to spread the wealth around a bit.


Album of the Year
World Music Radio, Jon Batiste
The Record, boygenius
Endless Summer Vacation, Miley Cyrus
Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Lana Del Rey
The Age of Pleasure, Janelle Monáe
Guts, Olivia Rodrigo
Midnights, Taylor Swift

After Harry Styles’s controversial win last year, are voters planning to play things safe? As the night’s top nominee, with nine nominations, SZA is the automatic favorite: an A-lister who released a widely acclaimed, discourse-dominating album that has stayed relevant more than a year after its release. Yet her previous Grammy losses may be a red flag. Prior to 2024, SZA had just one win off 15 nominations, for “Kiss Me More” with Doja Cat. This is also her first AOTY nod as a soloist. That could mean nothing — she’s still bound to clean up nicely in the lower categories, and everyone’s gotta get their first big win somehow — but it’s hard to be 100 percent confident after last year, when Beyoncé was also the top nominee and presumptive AOTY favorite.

If not SZA, then maybe it’ll be Taylor Swift. Midnights was simply undeniable, selling millions and spurring one of the biggest tours in history. She’s also one of two previous winners on this list. In fact, Swift is currently tied for most AOTY wins among artists, a record she shares with Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Simon. But I’m not sure the institutionalists at the Academy will let her break that record so easily. Grammy voters are often immune to public opinion, and they may want their own year-defining album, independent of Swift’s already massive year.

Will win: Midnights, Taylor Swift
Should win: SOS, SZA

Could win: Batiste


Record of the Year
“Worship,” Jon Batiste
“Not Strong Enough,” boygenius
“Flowers,” Miley Cyrus
“What Was I Made For?” Billie Eilish
“On My Mama,” Victoria Monét
“Vampire,” Olivia Rodrigo
“Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift
“Kill Bill,” SZA

Since the Grammys ditched the controversial nominating committees in 2021, no artist has won Album of the Year and Record or Song of the Year in the same night. That was particularly confounding last year, when the Academy decided to reward Styles for Harry’s House but not its more successful single, “As It Was.” It’s hard to declare something a trend after just two years, but Styles’s case makes me confident that general-field consensus is a thing of the past. That also requires us to play a bit of three-dimensional chess: If SZA is winning AOTY, who’s taking the song categories?

It helps that “Kill Bill” wasn’t nearly as big of a hit as some of the other songs here, like “Flowers.” But Miley Cyrus doesn’t feel like much of a threat — this is her first general-field outing, and as big as “Flowers” was, it fizzled out before voting began. Batiste’s “Worship,” Victoria Monét’s “On My Mama,” and boygenius’s “Not Strong Enough” are all solid tracks, but this category is about hits. “What Was I Made For?,” Billie Eilish’s Barbie tearjerker, might fit the bill, but the Academy may be wary of giving her a third ROTY trophy in four years. “Vampire” features a (pardon the pun) gut-wrenching performance from Olivia Rodrigo, but I struggle to see that song actually winning — like “Flowers,” it feels like the public has moved on from it.

Will win: “Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift
Should win: “Vampire,” Olivia Rodrigo
Could win: “Flowers,” Miley Cyrus

Song of the Year
“A&W,” Lana Del Rey
“Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift
“Butterfly,” Jon Batiste
“Dance the Night,” Dua Lipa
“Flowers,” Miley Cyrus
“Kill Bill,” SZA
“Vampire,” Olivia Rodrigo
“What Was I Made For?” Billie Eilish

This trophy is going to a capital-S songwriter, an artist whose lyrics and writing practice are central to their work. That’s been Taylor Swift her whole career, yet somehow, she’s on her seventh SOTY nomination without a win. “Anti-Hero,” the biggest hit of her career with a clever message about fame, could break the spell. “What Was I Made For?” is the same song in different clothing — another thoughtful meditation on fame, this time with a poignant piano and strings to match. And unlike ROTY, Eilish has just one win in SOTY, for “bad guy” in 2020, so the Academy could award her here with less baggage. Eilish’s last major showing, in 2022, saw her go zero-for-seven, so I have to wonder if the Academy wants to ease her back into the big leagues ahead of her next album (and second Oscar to boot).

Last year saw the ultimate left-field SOTY winner: “Just Like That,” a self-written folk ballad by living legend Bonnie Raitt. She benefited from the attention around a recent Lifetime Achievement Grammy, but like the last few ROTY winners, her win also sent a loud message about the sort of songs the new-look Academy is prioritizing. As I noted in AOTY, it’s hard to tell if the Academy is planning to retreat or double down. If they go the latter route, Jon Batiste’s “Butterfly” will get the win. The Academy is clearly excited about the song after Batiste missed in SOTY in 2022. But it would be easy to predict such a dark horse if Swift weren’t in the conversation too.

Will win: “Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift
Should win: “A&W,” Lana Del Rey

Best New Artist
Gracie Abrams
Fred again..
Ice Spice
Jelly Roll
Coco Jones
Noah Kahan
The War and Treaty
Victoria Monét

Before the nominations came out, most pundits pegged Ice Spice as the favorite, thanks to her hit-making bridge of pop and drill music. She underperformed, though — her only other nods came with help from Barbie (for “Barbie World”) and Taylor Swift (for “Karma”). That’s not to say her innovating sound doesn’t deserve the trophy, but the Academy seems to be looking for something more familiar here. That could be Coco Jones, or it could be Victoria Monét. Both are talented vocalists with classic sensibilities, but Monét is the only artist on this list with another Big Four nomination (“On My Mama,” in ROTY). If recent Grammys history is any indication — three of the last four winners also showed up in other top categories — then she is a near-lock.

Will win: Victoria Monét
Should win: Ice Spice

Producer of the Year
Jack Antonoff
Metro Boomin
Dan Nigro

I tend to root for variety at the Grammys. The Academy has always had a big problem with retreating to the familiar, and there are more than enough awards to spread around. But I also have to root for the most deserving work. So, I’m sorry to the entire internet, but… Jack Antonoff should win this award! Yes, it’d be Antonoff’s third consecutive Producer of the Year trophy, matching Babyface’s mid-’90s run. But his portfolio speaks for itself. None of the other names produced multiple Album of the Year nominees. And if you’re pulling out the tired critique that all of Antonoff’s work sounds the same, I don’t know what you’re hearing between Taylor Swift’s reflective synthpop on Midnights and Lana Del Rey’s lush California pop on Ocean Blvd. If it were a different year, I’d be riding for D’Mile, who’s reaching into the past to build the future of R&B, or Dan Nigro, a gifted Gen-Z whisperer. But as Del Rey sang in an Ocean Blvd. song dedicated to Antonoff, “When you know, you know.”

Will win: Jack Antonoff
Should win: Jack Antonoff

Songwriter of the Year
Edgar Barrera
Jessie Jo Dillon
Shane McAnally
Theron Thomas
Justin Tranter

In this category’s second year, the Academy’s songwriters wing is giving us a welcome shakeup from the rest of the general-field awards. We’ve got two independent-minded country songwriters, a pop trendsetter, an R&B/hip-hop hitmaker, and one of the leading figures in the regional Mexican music boom. Edgar Barrera has had by far the biggest impact, as an unofficial member of Grupo Frontera, which helped lead the rise of regional Mexican music in 2023. His win would be somewhat of a balm after the Academy shut out música Mexicana elsewhere. Then again, last year this trophy went to the category’s most familiar name, Tobias Jesso Jr. So I’m going with Justin Tranter, who’s logged recent cuts for Miley Cyrus and Reneé Rapp, and has a past Song of the Year nod for Julia Michaels’s “Issues.” Tranter is also working hard to ingratiate themselves to the Academy, including the thankless task of hosting the Grammys pre-show.

Will win: Justin Tranter
Should win: Edgar BarreraPop & Dance/Electronic

Best Pop Solo Performance
“Flowers,” Miley Cyrus
“Paint the Town Red,” Doja Cat
“What Was I Made For?” Billie Eilish
“Vampire,” Olivia Rodrigo
“Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift

This category has become a sort of second-place Record of the Year — even when the top winner is nominated here (as it usually is), the Academy has awarded Pop Solo Performance to a different song that was also nominated in ROTY. That will likely hold true this year, when four out of the five tracks are also ROTY nominees. (Sorry, Doja!) While “Flowers” won’t stand much of a chance in the generals, I think its strong run on the charts last spring and Cyrus’s throwback performance make it a fitting second-place choice.

Will win: “Flowers”
Should win: “Vampire”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Thousand Miles,” Miley Cyrus featuring Brandi Carlile
“Candy Necklace,” Lana Del Rey featuring Jon Batiste
“Never Felt So Alone,” Labrinth featuring Billie Eilish
“Karma,” Taylor Swift featuring Ice Spice
“Ghost in the Machine,” SZA featuring Phoebe Bridgers

This one tends to go to an event collaboration, a surprising union between two genuine A-listers. None of these tracks feel like that — not even the “Karma” remix, which doesn’t let Ice Spice shine and lands closer to a canny PR move. (Can you believe Taylor Swift was dating Matty Healy less than a year ago?) So I’m going for the song with the most nominations power: “Ghost in the Machine,” uniting nine-timer SZA with seven-timer Phoebe Bridgers.

Will win: “Ghost in the Machine”
Should win: “Never Felt So Alone”

Best Pop Vocal Album
Chemistry, Kelly Clarkson
Endless Summer Vacation, Miley Cyrus
Guts, Olivia Rodrigo
, Ed Sheeran
Midnights, Taylor Swift

It’s been eight years and five albums since Taylor Swift last won this award, for 1989 in 2016. So, is the pop field over her? Probably not. Reputation and Lover simply weren’t as big as her world-conquering synthpop album, while folklore likely won Album of the Year thanks to a coalition of support from rock, alternative, country, and roots voters. Despite that history, Midnights is the clear favorite — it’s a pop album through and through, and a massive one, after debuting to a rare million-unit week. If anyone could surprise, it will be Olivia Rodrigo, who won for Sour in 2022.

Will win: Midnights
Should win: Guts

Best Dance/Electronic Recording
“Blackbox Life Recorder 21F,” Aphex Twin
“Loading,” James Blake
“Higher Than Ever Before,” Disclosure
“Strong,” Romy & Fred again..
“Rumble,” Skrillex, Fred again.. & Flowdan

Dance voters have a reputation for being wary of outsiders. But last year, voters rewarded one of pop’s biggest stars, Beyoncé, for her efforts on Renaissance. Amid some category reconstruction, the dance and pop fields have now been merged. That means many more pop members will be voting in the dance categories, so name recognition is important. That stands to benefit a song like “Rumble” thanks to Skrillex’s history of hits and working with pop acts, and Fred again..’s ascent into genuine electronic stardom (despite “Strong” being Fred’s prettier song).

Will win: “Rumble”
Should win: “Strong”

Best Pop Dance Recording
“Baby Don’t Hurt Me,” David Guetta, Anne-Marie & Coi Leray
“Miracle,” Calvin Harris featuring Ellie Goulding
“Padam Padam,” Kylie Minogue
“One in a Million,” Bebe Rexha & David Guetta
“Rush,” Troye Sivan

The Academy described this new category as “up-tempo, danceable music that follows a pop arrangement.” I figured that would encompass songs like “Padam Padam” and “Rush,” plus many future Dua Lipa tracks, but I didn’t account for all the David Guetta nominations we’d have to endure. I also didn’t expect that to lead to me rooting for an Ellie Goulding-Calvin Harris reunion in 2024 C.E. But if the Grammys want to recognize big-tent EDM, they might as well pick a good song.

Will win: “Rush”
Should win: “Miracle”

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Playing Robots into Heaven, James Blake
For That Beautiful Feeling, the Chemical Brothers
Actual Life 3 (January 1-September 9 2022), Fred again..
Kx5, Kx5
Quest for Fire, Skrillex

James Blake stands a chance for his best-reviewed album in years, and don’t count out the three-time winning Chemical Brothers. But, like the Dance/Electronic Recording category, this will probably be mentor vs. mentee: Skrillex vs. Fred again.. With four nods overall, this one is coming up Fred again.. — again.

Will win: Actual Life 3 (January 1-September 9 2022)
Should win: Actual Life 3 (January 1-September 9 2022)

Metal, Rock, & Alternative

Best Rock Performance
“Sculptures of Anything Goes,” Arctic Monkeys
“More Than a Love Song,” Black Pumas
“Not Strong Enough,” boygenius
“Rescued,” Foo Fighters
“Lux AEterna,” Metallica

Another year of the Grammys falling back on their same bland go-tos in the rock categories. As awesome as it is to see boygenius getting recognition across the rock and alternative field, that’s diluted by the fact that their competition is so stuck in the past. (That’s even true of Black Pumas; they’re younger and add some necessary diversity to the crowd, but they aren’t interested in sounding contemporary.) “Not Strong Enough” is by far the freshest-sounding song of the bunch, which means it’s surely going to lose to Foo Fighters, especially with the added emotional heft of “Rescued,” the band’s first song after Taylor Hawkins’s death.

Will win: “Rescued”
Should win: “Not Strong Enough”

Best Metal Performance
“Bad Man,” Disturbed
“Phantom of the Opera,” Ghost
“72 Seasons,” Metallica
“Hive Mind,” Slipknot
“Jaded,” Spiritbox

Okay, I’ll give it to the Academy: Metallica’s return to form on 72 Seasons was pretty damn good. But you know what’s better? Spiritbox, the only band here that formed in the last ten years and is fronted by a woman. They’re legitimately pushing the needle in metal with dynamic, genre-bending songs like “Jaded” — something the rest of these bands aren’t doing much of these days.

Will win: “72 Seasons”
Should win: “Jaded”

Best Rock Song
“Angry,” the Rolling Stones
“Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl,” Olivia Rodrigo
“Emotion Sickness,” Queens of the Stone Age
“Not Strong Enough,” boygenius
“Rescued,” Foo Fighters

One bright glimmer of hope in the rock categories: a nomination for Olivia Rodrigo’s bonkers-fun pop-punk screed “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl.” The old heads may not see Rodrigo as a rock star, but it’s Grammys-official now. And this track is a genuine feat of songwriting: the laugh-out-loud second verse, the instant-singalong chorus, the “Can’t think of a third line” lyric. Too bad it’s going to lose to Foo Fighters (or worse, a 21st century Rolling Stones song).

Will win: “Rescued”
Should win: “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl”

Best Rock Album
But Here We Are, Foo Fighters
Starcatcher, Greta Van Fleet
72 Seasons, Metallica
This Is Why, Paramore
In Times New Roman…, Queens of the Stone Age

With boygenius’s album falling under alternative, there are really no good options here — not even This Is Why, a rare miss from Paramore. Let’s just get this over with.

Will win: But Here We Are
Should win: 72 Seasons

Best Alternative Music Performance
“Belinda Says,” Alvvays
“Body Paint,” Arctic Monkeys
“Cool About It,” boygenius
“A&W,” Lana Del Rey
“This Is Why,” Paramore

Women! Bands formed in the 21st century! Musical variety! How refreshing. Once again, the Alternative categories earn their name, looking much closer to contemporary music than the Rock field. This one is a two-horse race, between boygenius and Lana Del Rey (for once, the two most deserving). If there’s a song here that legitimately sounds alternative, though, it’s “A&W.”

Will win: “A&W”
Should win: “A&W”

Best Alternative Music Album
The Car, Arctic Monkeys
The Record, boygenius
Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Lana Del Rey
Cracker Island, Gorillaz
I Inside the Old Year Dying, PJ Harvey

This one also comes down to Lana Del Rey and boygenius. While I personally preferred Del Rey’s expansive, experimental Ocean Blvd., I don’t see the Grammys letting boygenius leave empty-handed like member Phoebe Bridgers did in 2021.

Will win: The Record
Should win: Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd


Best R&B Performance
“Summer Too Hot,” Chris Brown
“Back to Love,” Robert Glasper featuring Sir & Alex Isley
“ICU,” Coco Jones
“How Does It Make You Feel,” Victoria Monét
“Kill Bill,” SZA

The R&B field is one of this year’s most stacked, boasting three of the most-nominated artists: SZA, Victoria Monét, and Coco Jones. R&B voters historically spread the wealth, so maybe don’t expect a SZA sweep. Do expect her to take an early trophy here, though.

Will win: “Kill Bill”
Should win: “Kill Bill”

Best Traditional R&B Performance
“Simple,” Babyface featuring Coco Jones
Lucky,” Kenyon Dixon
“Hollywood,” Victoria Monét featuring Earth, Wind & Fire and Hazel Monét
“Good Morning,” PJ Morton featuring Susan Carol
“Love Language,” SZA

Two-year-old Hazel Monét became the youngest-ever Grammy nominee thanks to a feature on her mom’s song “Hollywood, and could have more history to make at the ceremony. Traditionally (cue eye roll), this category goes to the singer with the biggest pipes, and Victoria Monét has never been known for belting. But if SZA’s repping the new-school with SOS, I have to think Monét’s old-school soul has a leg up — especially with a little help from Earth, Wind & Fire. How do you argue with a song that damn smooth? (I would also keep an eye on Coco Jones, who definitely has pipes.)

Will win: “Hollywood”
Should win: “Hollywood”

Best R&B Song
“Angel,” Halle Bailey
“Back to Love,” Robert Glasper featuring Sir and Alex Isley
“ICU,” Coco Jones
“On My Mama,” Victoria Monét
“Snooze,” SZA

SZA and Victoria Monét both achieved a sort of nomination triple-crown, earning recognitions for three different songs across the R&B field. That makes things a bit confusing here, given that SZA’s Song of the Year nominee, “Kill Bill,” isn’t also her nominee for Best R&B Song, while Monét’s Best R&B Song nominee, “On My Mama,” got a Record of the Year nod but not Song. Still not following? It doesn’t really matter, because SZA is the most respected songwriter of this bunch and will take the trophy.

Will win: “Snooze”
Should win: “Snooze”

Best Progressive R&B Album
Since I Have a Lover, 6LACK
The Love Album: Off the Grid, Diddy
Nova, Terrace Martin and James Fauntleroy
The Age of Pleasure, Janelle Monáe

The Academy’s decision to call this category “progressive R&B” — a term nobody uses outside record label offices — looks even sillier with Diddy among the nominees. At least he never posed much of a challenge in this category anyway, with two Album of the Year nominees in SZA and Janelle Monáe. As good as Monáe’s album was, this should be an easy pickup for SZA, given how SOS’s success extended far beyond the R&B world. A loss could be a sign of a weird night across the board.

Will win: SOS
Should win: SOS

Best R&B Album
Girls Night Out, Babyface
What I Didn’t Tell You (Deluxe), Coco Jones
Special Occasion, Emily King
Jaguar II, Victoria Monét
Clear 2: Soft Life (EP), Summer Walker

It’s been three years since the Academy nominated all men in this category. Now, four of the nominees are women, while the fifth, Babyface, is up for an album that only features women and nonbinary singers. We’ve got everyone from top nominees Monét and Jones to Summer Walker’s very first Grammy nod. There are no losses here.

Will win: Jaguar II
Should win: Jaguar II


Best Rap Performance
“The Hillbillies, Baby Keem featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Love Letter,” Black Thought
“Rich Flex,” Drake & 21 Savage
“Scientists & Engineers,” Killer Mike featuring André 3000, Future, and Eryn Allen Kane
“Players,” Coi Leray

When it comes to the rap categories, don’t bet against Kendrick Lamar. The last time he lost in Best Rap Performance was a decade ago for “Swimming Pools (Drank)”; since then, he’s won a whopping six trophies, including one he shared with his cousin, Baby Keem. If anything else on this bizarre slate can pose a threat, it’s Killer Mike, who could be rewarded for getting André 3000 to put down the flute and spit a verse.

Will win: “The Hillbillies”
Should win: “Scientists & Engineers”

Best Melodic Rap Performance
“Sittin’ On Top of the World,” Burna Boy featuring 21 Savage
“Attention,” Doja Cat
“Spin Bout You,” Drake & 21 Savage
“All My Life,” Lil Durk featuring J. Cole
“Low,” SZA

At least the rap voters had fun here. It’s great to see some variety with SZA and Burna Boy, along with two deserved nods for 21 Savage. And without one major hit or year-defining rapper towering above the rest, this trophy could really go any direction. I’d love to see Doja Cat rightfully recognized in the rap field, where she belongs, but this feels like the most likely spot for Drake & 21 to spin some gold.

Will win: “Spin Bout You”
Should win: “Attention”

Best Rap Song
“Attention,” Doja Cat
“Barbie World,” Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice featuring Aqua
“Just Wanna Rock,” Lil Uzi Vert
“Rich Flex,” Drake & 21 Savage
“Scientists & Engineers,” Killer Mike featuring André 3000, Future, and Eryn Allen Kane

Before his major showing this year, Killer Mike had been nominated for just two Grammys, one of which he won for an Outkast feature. His current swell of support makes a trophy feel inevitable, and given his reputation as a rapper’s rapper, his peers might be most inclined to reward his pen here.

Will win: “Scientists & Engineers”
Should win: “Attention”

Best Rap Album
Her Loss, Drake & 21 Savage
Michael, Killer Mike
Heroes & Villains, Metro Boomin
King’s Disease III, Nas
Utopia, Travis Scott

It’s not new for the Grammys to honor the biggest albums instead of the best ones in this category, but it feels especially glaring here, where we’re settling for below-mid performances from Drake and 21 Savage (to say nothing of Nas, who the Academy keeps inexplicably nominating, even after they finally gave him a trophy in 2021). I wasn’t expecting, like, a billy woods nomination (though I would welcome it), but would something like Noname’s Sundial be too much to ask for? Or if we’re talking hits, could we at least go for Ice Spice’s Like..? EP? If the Academy insists on sticking to the same-old same-old, I hope (and expect) they’ll award Killer Mike, who’s at least attempting to push the envelope.

Will win: Michael
Should win: Michael


Best Country Solo Performance
“In Your Love,” Tyler Childers
“Buried,” Brandy Clark
“Fast Car,” Luke Combs
“The Last Thing on My Mind,” Dolly Parton
“White Horse,” Chris Stapleton

Right away, you can count out Luke Combs’s massive hit “Fast Car” cover, which scored its only nod here. Country Grammy voters don’t care about hits — they care about their elders, and, these days, Chris Stapleton (whose songs could be mistaken for classics themselves). In this category, they’ve got choices, between Stapleton’s Southern rock scorcher “White Horse” and Dolly Parton’s re-recording of a song she first sang over 55 years ago. It’s a bit of a tossup, but I’m leaning toward Dolly earning some gold, after a highly visible year. Though if the Grammys want some good old-fashioned country music that still manages to look forward, there’s Tyler Childers, who’s on a continuing quest to open up the world of country and roots music.

Will win: “White Horse”
Should win: “In Your Love”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“High Note,” Dierks Bentley featuring Billy Strings
“Nobody’s Nobody,” Brothers Osborne
“I Remember Everything,” Zach Bryan featuring Kacey Musgraves
“Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold),” Vince Gill & Paul Franklin
“Save Me,” Jelly Roll with Lainey Wilson
“We Don’t Fight Anymore,” Carly Pearce featuring Chris Stapleton

Last year, Zach Bryan earned a measly one Grammy nomination after pundits predicted the ascendant maverick would show up across the board. That finally happened a year later, with three nods on the heels of his massive hit “I Remember Everything” featuring Kacey Musgraves — a familiar face to the Academy who also had a disappointing showing for her last album, star-crossed. It’s hard to get a perfect read of how things will go for Bryan and Musgraves this year, but I have to think the previously tepid Academy’s embrace of “I Remember Everything” is a good sign.

Will win: “I Remember Everything”
Should win: “I Remember Everything”

Best Country Song
“Buried,” Brandy Clark
“I Remember Everything,” Zach Bryan featuring Kacey Musgraves
“In Your Love,” Tyler Childers
“Last Night,” Morgan Wallen
“White Horse,” Chris Stapleton

Like Combs’s “Fast Car,” Morgan Wallen’s pop breakout “Last Night” only managed one nod — and Wallen himself doesn’t even share in it, as he’s not a credited songwriter. Assuming “Everything” and “White Horse” both win in the performance categories, I’d expect one of them to double up here. And if the Academy is coming around on Bryan the way it looks like, the fresh face might have the edge.

Will win: “I Remember Everything”
Should win: “In Your Love”

Best Country Album
Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, Kelsea Ballerini
Brothers Osborne, Brothers Osborne
Zach Bryan, Zach Bryan
Rustin’ in the Rain, Tyler Childers
Bell Bottom Country, Lainey Wilson

It’s kind of funny how different the Grammys can be from the CMAs and ACMs, country’s two major self-awarded shows. Take Lainey Wilson, who is one of mainstream country’s best new stars and just won the top honor of CMA Entertainer of the Year in November but is up for only two awards at the Grammys. I’ve started to take it as a given that the Grammys won’t ever align with the country awards, which is a shame given how deserving Wilson is for her breakout album. Nothing here feels like a juggernaut (Stapleton’s album, Higher, will be eligible next cycle) but this will probably go Bryan’s way given his other nominations — even if he misses in the song or performance categories.

Will win: Zach Bryan
Should win: Bell Bottom Country


Best Latin Pop Album
La Cuarta Hoja, Pablo Alborán
Beautiful Humans, Vol. 1, AleMor
A Ciegas, Paula Arenas
La Neta, Pedro Capó
Don Juan, Maluma
X Mí (Vol. 1), Gaby Moreno

The Latin Grammys aren’t always good predictors of the all-genre Grammys, and vice versa. But Pablo Alborán has been nominated for twenty-nine Latin Grammys and still hasn’t won a single one. As he’s racked up those nods, he’s also become a mainstay in the main Grammys’ Latin pop category, with four nominations for his last four albums. Could this be Alborán’s year? There are two things standing in his way. One: he’s from Spain, not Latin America (though that hasn’t stopped Rosalía). Two: The presence of an A-list Latino star in Maluma, whose album Don Juan is an exciting adventure through the spectrum of Latin music. Lo siento, Pablo.

Will win: Don Juan, Maluma
Should win: Don Juan, Maluma

Best Música Urbana Album
Saturno, Rauw Alejandro
Mañana Será Bonito, Karol G
Data, Tainy

It’s a bit disappointing to see just three albums up in the música urbana category, meaning less than 40 entries were submitted. Still, this is an exciting opportunity for one of three albums to get some shine in a year without Bad Bunny (nadie sabe will be eligible next year). Karol G likely has the edge after a major tour and a highly touted Shakira collab, and awarding a woman here would be a great sign from the Academy. But I’d be equally excited to see Rauw Alejandro take gold for his rowdy space-reggaeton odyssey Saturno.

Will win: Mañana Será Bonito
Should win: Saturno


Best Global Music Performance
“Shadow Forces,” Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer & Shahzad Ismaily
“Alone,” Burna Boy
“Feel,” Davido
“Milagro y Disastre,” Silvana Estrada
“Abundance in Millets,” Falu & Gaurav Shah featuring PM Narendra Modi
“Pashto,” Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer & Zakir Hussain featuring Rakesh Chaurasia
“Todo Colores,” Ibrahim Maalouf featuring Cimafunk & Tank and the Bangas

The creation of the new Best African Music Performance award left this young category in a bit of limbo. It’s unclear what makes a song by an African artist eligible here or there — like Davido’s tracks “Feel” and “Unavailable,” two amapiano songs that are inexplicably nominated in those separate categories. That’s not a knock on Davido, who deserves to be celebrating a big year at the Grammys, but it’ll certainly make voting in both categories more difficult. That said, an Afrobeats or amapiano song didn’t win this category before the split, and I wouldn’t expect that to change now. The global voters tend to prize musicianship, and once they find a musician they like, they can’t stop awarding them. So I’m predicting a win for the unlikely trio of Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, and Shahzad Ismaily, after Aftab won here just two years ago.

Will win: “Shadow Forces”
Should win: “Milagro y Disastre”

Best African Music Performance
“Amapiano,” Asake & Olamide
“City Boys,” Burna Boy
“Unavailable,” Davido featuring Musa Keys
“Rush,” Arya Starr
“Water,” Tyla

The Academy blanked on “Essence” and “Calm Down” before, but thanks to this new category, voters could finally award a peaking African hit in Tyla’s amapiano breakout “Water.” That’s just one of the deserving entries with a chance to make history as the inaugural winner in this category, alongside Asake and Olamide’s bouncy “Amapiano,” Davido’s groovy “Unavailable,” or Arya Starr’s shimmering “Rush.” No outcome would quite be disappointing, but a Burna Boy win would feel anticlimactic, since he’s the only nominee who’s already won a Grammy. If the Grammys really want to listen to more African music, this is their chance to show it.

Will win: “Water”
Should win: “Amapiano”

Best Global Music Album
Epifanías, Susana Baca
History, Bokanté
I Told Them…, Burna Boy
Timeless, Davido
This Moment, Shakti

Like the rest of the global categories, it’s hard to tell the direction Best Global Music Album is going in. Last year, Masa Takumi won the category’s first-ever trophy for a Japanese artist, following a streak of five African winners. More history could be made this year, with 79-year-old Peruvian legend Susana Baca up for her very first Grammy. Or the Academy could cap off a historic year of recognizing African music by awarding Burna Boy, a winner in 2021, or Davido, the only other African musician to run the table in Global Music Performance, African Music Performance, and Global Music Album.

Will win: I Told Them…
Should win: Epifanías