2017 Grammys Preview

grammy

When: 8:00 – 11:30 ET

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles

The 59th Grammys are upon us tonight. It’s the biggest music award show in the world. As always there will be millions watching because they are fans of the artists nominated, but also hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who hate-watch and want to argue everything. I fall into the latter category, ready to criticize the nominee choices/snubs, winners, and performers at every step. The Grammys finally have a new host, James Corden. This is a change from LL Cool J who has hosted the previous five award shows. He hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been great. He kept the event moving but never really added anything so it’s nice to see a new face in the hosting spotlight. There are 84 categories this year, almost all of which will be presented during The Premiere Telecast, hosted by comedian Margaret Cho. It starts at 12:30 PT and can be watched here. And of those 84 categories I will only be doing 20 in this preview because I know nothing about the classical, gospel, or country categories. So now that we know we’ve got a good amount to cover, let’s dive in.

adele-james-corden-carpool-karaoke-on-the-late-late-show-jan-2016-billboard-650-1

Host: James Corden

Who He Is: James Corden is the host of The Late Late Show. The British actor/host most likely got this gig due to the viral success of his recurring segment Carpool Karaoke on The Late Late Show. The hipster in me also wants to let you know go check out the TV series he did before becoming a late night host. I recommend The Wrong Mans because it is a great dramedy.

Performers:

  • Adele
  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • William Bell and Gary Clark Jr.
  • Chance The Rapper and Kirk Franklin
  • Cynthia Erivo and John Legend for a special In Memoriam tribute performance
  • Lady Gaga and Metallica
  • Little Big Town
  • Demi Lovato with Andra Day and Tori Kelly celebrating the music of the Bee Gees and the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever
  • Lukas Graham
  • Bruno Mars
  • Maren Morris and Alicia Keys
  • Anderson .Paak and A Tribe Called Quest
  • Katy Perry
  • Sturgill Simpson
  • Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban
  • The Weeknd with Daft Punk

One interesting thing this year is that there does not seem to be any crossover act except for Metallica and Lady Gaga. This is something the Grammy’s have done in the past and has boosted their ratings greatly. Most acts will probably regular and nothing spectacular. All of the the Best New Artist nominees will perform except The Chainsmokers, who will be presenting an award. The one I’m most excited for is A Tribe Called Quest, who released a classic comeback album in 2016. They will be performing alongside Anderson .Paak who is an electrifying performer and whose songs make you want to move.

Awards: The Big Four

Best New Artist:

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Chance The Rapper
  • Maren Morris
  • Anderson .Paak

Who Will Win: Chance the Rapper

Who Should Win: Chance the Rapper

Honestly, I am still disheartened from Courtney Barnett losing to Meghan Trainor last year (as well as being the only nominee in this category to not perform). A very petty grudge but a grudge I will hold for a long time. Anyways, Coloring Book may have been Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape, but he broke through truly with several hits from it including “No Problems”. More importantly he achieved this through releasing it independently and for free. He also created a huge breakthrough in how Grammys are considered by allowing streaming-only albums to be submitted. I would also be cool with it going to Anderson .Paak who had a prolific and incredibly successful year because of his second album Malibu and collaboration album Yes Lawd! with producer Knxwledge under the moniker NxWorries. Just praying anyone but The Chainsmokers win it.

Song of the Year, Nominees:

  • Formation; Beyoncé; Songwriters are Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II
  • Hello; Adele; Songwriters are Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin
  • I Took A Pill In Ibiza; Mike Posner; Songwriter is Mike Posner
  • Love Yourself; Justin Bieber; Songwriters are Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran
  • 7 Years; Lukas Graham; Songwriters are Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp

Who Will Win: Hello

Who Should Win: Formation

I personally think “Formation” should win, given its influence and importance in our current culture. Other strong contenders that I wouldn’t be surprised by are “Hello” and “Love Yourself”. Both were immensely popular songs, but “Hello” will ultimately win. It was the first song to sell a million digital copies in a week. It also held the number one spot in the Billboard 100 for longer than either song and did seem inescapable or a long period of time.

Record of the Year, Nominees:

  • Hello; Adele; Produced by Greg Kurstin
  • Formation; Beyoncé; Produced by Beyoncé Knowles, Mike Will Made-It, & Pluss
  • 7 Years; Lukas Graham; Produced by Future Animals & Pilo
  • Work; Rihanna Feat. Drake; Produced by Boi-1da
  • Stressed Out; Twenty One Pilots; Produced by Mike Elizondo & Tyler Joseph

Who Will Win: Formation

Who Should Win: Formation

This has to go to Formation. Record of the Year differs from song of the year because it is meant to honor more the production and engineering rather than the songwriting. All of these songs were mixed fine, but Mike Will Made-It did a tremendous job with “Formation”. The minimal bouncing beat that let Beyoncé’s voice and lyrics take over, as well as that electrifying beat in the chorus that gives the lyrics an extra umpf of pride.

Album of the Year, Nominees:

  • 25; Adele
  • Lemonade; Beyoncé
  • Purpose; Justin Bieber
  • Views; Drake
  • A Sailor’s Guide To Earth; Sturgill Simpson

Who Will Win: Views

Who Should Win: Lemonade

I’m predicting Views will win mostly based off the fact of how well it sold and that that is usually a big factor in terms of who is awarded the Grammy. Views is certified four-times platinum, racked up over a billion streams on Apple Music, and was the number one album on the charts for 13 non-consecutive weeks. While Drake may have reached all these milestones, the album in general was above average but didn’t feel like anything new. The album has 20 songs and is basically a way to generate more money through streaming. Beyoncé’s Lemonade was still one of best-selling albums of 2016 though. She matched her own feats of tying DMX for being the only artist to have their first six solo albums go number one. Beyoncé is also the first female artist to have 12 or more songs in the Billboard 100 at the same time. Lemonade, unlike Views, had cultural importance and was actually a good album (it was phenomenal). Beyoncé let us know that when she dropped Formation that she had, according to Tidal (which is a part owner), “delivered the heaviest, most politically saturated expression of her career to date, alluding to police brutality, gender, culture, class, history and the greater black experience in today’s America.”

Others Awards which are Noticeable:

Best Pop Solo Performance:

  • Hello; Adele
  • Hold Up; Beyoncé
  • Love Yourself; Justin Bieber
  • Piece By Piece (Idol Version); Kelly Clarkson
  • Dangerous Woman; Ariana Grande

A lot of this year’s awards feel like a toss-up between Adele and Beyoncé. This I believe is going to Adele for “Hello”. “Hold Up” is also a strong song that seems to be started by a tweet.

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

This should go to either Rihanna or Sia but The Chainsmokers somehow dominated with “Closer”, a song that is pretty strongly what The Grammy judges usually look for and like.

Best Pop Vocal Album

  • 25; Adele
  • Purpose; Justin Bieber
  • Dangerous Woman; Ariana Grande
  • Confident; Demi Lovato
  • This Is Acting; Sia

This Is Acting is the album I think and hope will win this award. I think it would be pretty cool for her to win an album comprised of songs written for other pop artists who eventually rejected them. Adele is always a strong candidate, especially as a vocalist. Dangerous Woman feels like a dark horse in this race, especially since Ariana is only going up against Adele, not both Adele and Beyoncé like in the Best Pop Solo Performance category.

Best Dance Recording:

  • Tearing Me Up; Bob Moses
  • Don’t Let Me Down; The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya
  • Never Be Like You; Flume Featuring Kai
  • Rinse & Repeat; Riton Featuring Kah-Lo
  • Drinkee; Sofi Tukker

This one I except to go The Chainsmokers. “Tearing Me Up” is a song that could challenge.

Best Dance/Electronic Album:

  • Skin; Flume
  • Electronica 1: The Time Machine; Jean-Michel Jarre
  • Epoch; Tycho
  • Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future; Underworld
  • Louie Vega Starring…XXVIII; Louie Vega

Flume’s Skin was a good effort, but compared to his first felt like a sophomore slump. This one goes to either Tycho or Underworld. Epoch is a beautiful album and Tycho continues to expand on his ideas and create refreshingly beautiful music. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future is a very good album and could beat out Epoch due to Underworld having been around much longer.

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 (Live On Conan); Disturbed
  • Heathens; Twenty One Pilots

This category, like pretty much every rock category, is a weird one. Disturbed vs. Beyoncé is just flat out strange. David Bowie is expected to rack up a lot of posthumous awards for Blackstar. This could be one of them. I don’t think either live performance has a shot. “Heathens” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself” are strong contenders but this one feels like a Bowie win.

Best Metal Performance:

  • Shock Me; Baroness
  • Silvera; Gojira
  • Rotting In Vain; Korn
  • Dystopia; Megadeth
  • The Price Is Wrong; Periphery

Metal is something I need to know more about. From the sites I read it seemed like there were a lot better metal performances than something Korn dredged up. But anyways, this basically seems to come down to Baroness vs. Gojira. Neither would be surprising. But what would be is if they let Dave Mustaine of Megadeath speak. Honestly, please give them this just for that to happen.

Best Rock Song:

  • Blackstar; David Bowie
  • Burn The Witch; Radiohead
  • Hardwired; Metallica
  • Heathens; Twenty One Pilots
  • My Name Is Human; Highly Suspect

David Bowie is in this one, and will probably receive it. “Heathens” was incredibly popular, “Hardwired” was solid, “Burn The Witch” signaled Radiohead’s return and redemption from The King of Limbs, and Highly Suspect is just there. This is a stronger category than I was expecting. Could imagine pretty much anyone of these winning. That sort-of includes “My Name Is Human”. I believe it could in another year as a dark horse.

Best Rock Album:

  • California; Blink-182
  • Tell Me I’m Pretty; Cage The Elephant
  • Magma; Gojira
  • Death of a Bachelor; Panic! At The Disco
  • Weezer; Weezer

California, the Tom DeLonge-less Blink-182 return album seems like it could win based upon Blink-182’s past. An original Blink-182 could be cool, but DeLonge has moved on to better things and I applaud him. Tell Me I’m Pretty could win from due to its crossover appeal. Weezer’s white album was a solid enough record to win. I’ll be rooting for Death of a Bachelor cause my girlfriend loves Panic!

Best Alternative Music Album:

  • 22, A Million; Bon Iver
  • Blackstar; David Bowie
  • The Hope Six Demolition Project; PJ Harvey
  • Post Pop Depression; Iggy Pop
  • A Moon Shaped Pool; Radiohead

Bon Iver’s 180, David Bowie’s incredible farewell, a great album about gentrification, Iggy Pop + Josh Homme releasing a scorcher, or Radiohead’s possible last album that made their fans believe again that they could still be truly great. Personally, Radiohead should win this. A Moon Shaped Pool was incredible and I couldn’t think of a better way to go out (if they are done) than recreating “True Love Waits” into perfection. 22, A Million was completely unexpected for Wisconsin folk singer, but might be his best challenger in rivaling his classic For Emma, Forever Ago. David Bowie’s last album will win. It’s deserved. He basically put everything he had left into that album. Blackstar is an album that made 2016’s year in music all that more special and will make future years memorable too when we discover the hidden meanings from it.

Best R&B Perofrmance:

  • Turnin’ Me Up; BJ The Chicago Kid
  • Permission; Ro James
  • I Do; Musiq Soulchild
  • Needed Me; Rihanna
  • Cranes In The Sky; Solange

Solange released a fantastic and thoughtful album. Its highlight being “Cranes in The Sky”. This should win, with its only real challenger being “Turnin’ Me Up”. Rihanna’s name holds weight but I don’t think it’ll win.

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

  • Lemonade; Beyoncé
  • Ology; Gallant
  • We Are King; KING
  • Malibu; Anderson .Paak
  • Anti; Rihanna

Lemonade is the champion here. This is one of the, if not the, strongest category this year. Lemonade was the best album of 2016 and if Beyoncé doesn’t win AotY, she’ll definitely win here. RiRi’s Anti was a solid album that I think will get the attention it deserves as it ages. Malibu truly brought Anderson .Paak onto the national stage after his only real presence was being featured on Dr. Dre’s album Compton. We Are King was an unexpected but welcomed site. An album that flew under the radar and was awarded Bandcamp’s number one album of 2016.

Best Rap Performance:

  • No Problem; Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
  • Panda; Desiigner
  • Pop Style; Drake Featuring The Throne (Jay Z, Kanye West)
  • All The Way Up; Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared
  • That Part; ScHoolboy Q Featuring Kanye West

“No Problem” should win this one. “Panda” has a shot because of how popular it was and “That Part” was a solid song. “No Problem” had both of these elements and proved how big Chance could become.

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

This category is a fun one for all the memes, drama, and goofiness found here. “Hotline Bling”, “Famous”, and “Broccoli” represent all of this, respectively. “Ultralight Beam” is an astounding song that I think is the best in this category, but “Freedom” deserves it. A collaboration between two of the biggest and most important black artists of this generation is forceful black empowerment anthem that was needed. It may not have the biggest song off of Lemonade, but it is the most important right alongside “Formation”.

Best Rap Song:

  • All The Way Up; Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared
  • Famous; Kanye West Featuring Rihanna
  • Hotline Bling; Drake
  • No Problem; Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
  • Ultralight Beam; Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream

“Ultralight Beam” was one of my favorite songs of 2016 and I believe is one of the best. It delivered a powerful performance from Kanye West, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, & The-Dream. The song also included a verse from Chance the Rapper, which was the best of 2016.

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

Just really quick, how is We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service not included in this?!? It could be argued it would be the best album on this list. A Tribe Called Quest should be on here. No question. But we have to discuss those who were actually nominated. This will come down to Coloring Book and Views. Views sold and charted very impressively but was average. Coloring Book broke new ground in Grammy territory and was a great album. I’m expecting it to win but wouldn’t be surprised if Views won instead.

Here are a couple other articles to check out:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/grammys/7686182/grammy-awards-nominees-album-of-the-year-wins-narrative

http://www.stereogum.com/1923768/a-look-at-15-artists-up-for-their-first-grammy/franchises/list/#comments

List of full winners that stays updated:

https://www.grammy.com/nominees

And as a bonus for coming this far: a drinking game for the Grammys:

http://www.vh1.com/news/301283/grammys-drinking-game/

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