Hey! And welcome to another edition of “UE tries to predict stuff.” If you’re familiar with my past work, you’d know that I’m not terribly great at this. But, hey, this is what they pay me the “no bucks” for. So, once again, I’m going to try to predict who WILL win come January 26. And who I believe should win because their song is clearly the best in the category.
Best R&B Performance: Tamar Braxton (Love and War), Anthony Hamilton (Best of Me), Hiatus Kaiyote featuring Q-Tip (Nakamarra), Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar (How Many Drinks?), Snarky Puppy featuring Lalah Hathaway (Something) Will Win: I always really love listening to the R&B categories because (since R&B isn’t “mainstream” anymore) I get to discover some really cool, new artists. However, although voters tend to be daring in their nominations, they aren’t necessarily through their winners. So I think Miguel and Kendrick Lamar, the most recognizable artists in the lineup, will take this one. Should Win: Although I’m a pretty big fan of Anthony Hamilton, I have to say I really dig “Nakamarra” the most out of these nominees. I have never heard of Hiatus Kaiyote, but I need to listen to more of their stuff.
Best R&B Song: Anthony Hamilton and Jairus Mozee (Best of Me); Tamar Braxton, Darhyl Camper, Jr., LaShawn Daniels and Makeba Riddick (Love and War); PJ Morton (Only One, feat. Stevie Wonder); Justin Timberlake, James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon, and Timothy Mosely (Pusher Love Girl); Fantasia Barrino, Missy Elliott, Al Sherrod Lambert, Harmony Samuels, and Kyle Stewart (Without Me, feat. Kelly Rowland) Will Win: To be honest, usually the most popular song/artist wins this award. So (even though he’s white), I think Justin Timberlake and co. are winning this. Should Win: Again, an Anthony Hamilton win wouldn’t bug me, but this time I really enjoyed PJ Morton’s really fun and upbeat love song.
Best Rock Performance: Alabama Shakes (Always Alright), David Bowie (The Stars Are Out Tonight), Imagine Dragons (Radioactive), Led Zeppelin (Kashmir Live), Queens of the Stone Age (My God is the Sun), Jack White (I’m Shakin’) Will Win: David Bowie could win because he is a respected artist with a highly acclaimed comeback album. However, considering he didn’t show up in any of the “general categories,” I think Grammy voters will lean more towards the wildly successful, more commercial “Radioactive.” Should Win: “Kashmir” is always a lot of fun to listen to. However, I’m not quite sure how I feel about a live version of an old song getting a nomination. It’s a cool recording, but I have such a soft spot for Alabama Shakes. And, well, I think “Always Alright” is the best song in the category.
Best Rock Song: Gary Clark Jr. (Ain’t Messin’ ‘Round); Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear (Cut Me Some Slack); Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (Doom and Gloom, by The Rolling Stones); Black Sabbath (God is Dead?); Matthew Bellamy (Panic Station, by Muse) Will Win: There are a lot of “veteran” performers in this category, so I could see the award going to any of them. However, I have a feeling a McCartney/Grohl collaboration will be too difficult to beat. Should Win: I honestly don’t love this category so much. It’s mostly because I’m more into contemporary rock rather than the classic, heavy rock that’s taking over here. I think Muse is my favorite song of the nominees, followed closely by the infectiously soulful Ain’t Messin ‘Round.
Best Rap Performance: Drake (Started from the Bottom), Eminem (Berzerk), Jay-Z (Tom Ford), Kendrick Lamar (Swimming Pools Drank), Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, feat. Wanz (Thrift Shop) Will Win: This is a toughie. Very strong category. I really like all the songs. Usually, the safe choice would be Jay-Z (who received more nominations than any other artist this year); however, his album got a pretty lukewarm response, and it’s almost surprising how many nominations he received (mostly for collaboration stuff but still). I think Kendrick Lamar will win this category, but Macklemore is definitely a strong possibility. Should Win: I freaking adore “Tom Ford,” but I don’t think Jay-Z should win a billionth Grammy for a song that’s not even in his top 10. A month ago, I probably would have rooted for “Thrift Shop,” but over these last few weeks I’ve developed a new found appreciation for Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” – so now that’s my pick.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: J. Cole, feat. Miguel (Power Trip), Jay -Z, feat. Beyonce (Part II On the Run), Jay-Z, feat. Justin Timberlake (Holy Grail), Kendrick Lamar, feat. Mary J. Blige (Now or Never), Wiz Khalifa, feat. The Weeknd (Remember You) Will Win: This award is definitely going to Jay-Z…but for which song? A part of me believes with Beyonce’s new “Queen status,” voters may want to award the husband/wife pair. However, I think I’m going to play it safe and predict the song that is coincidentally also nominated for “Rap Song”: “Holy Grail.” Should Win: I don’t know! This is tough. I wouldn’t mind if Jay-Z won this one…but I think the upbeat “Now or Never” or even J Cole’s soulful “PowerTrip” spoke to me more.
Best Rap Song: ASAP Rocky, Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Noah Shebib (F***in’ Problems); Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Terius Nash, J. Harmon, Timothy Mosley, Ernest Wilson, with Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic (Holy Grail); Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Ben Bronfman, Mike Dean, Louis Johnson, Malik Jones, Elon Rutberg, Sakiya Sandifer, Rhymefest, Cyhi the Prynce, with Anna Adamis, Gabor Presser (New Slaves); Drake, Mike Zombie, Noah Shebib, with Bruno Sanfilippo (Started From the Bottom); Macklemore, Ryan Lewis (Thrift Shop, feat. Wanz) Will Win: Again, I’m not 100% convinced Macklemore will win in these categories. I think, even with 2 nominations, Kanye West has to win something. This song (“New Slaves”) will be relevant for a lot of the African American voters, so I think it will end up winning here. Should Win: I don’t really understand what F***kin’ Problems is doing here. Anyway, as mentioned before, I really like “Started from the Bottom.” But the lyrics in “Thrift Shop” are so clever and funny and iconic, that I have to root for that song this time.
Best Country Solo Performance: Lee Brice (I Drive Your Truck), Hunter Hayes (I Want Crazy), Miranda Lambert (Mama’s Broken Heart), Darius Rucker (Wagon Wheel), Blake Shelton (Mine Would Be You) Will Win: The last two years, the song that won in this category also won in the songwriting category. I’m not sure that will be completely true this yea, but I still can’t imagine a win here without at least a nomination there. I’m not the biggest fan of Blake Shelton’s music, but he’s never won a Grammy before, and I think goodwill from The Voice (and no competition from Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood) will finally allow him to win here. (Also, it’s nuts how Carrie Underwood wasn’t nominated!) Should Win: Hunter Hayes “I Want Crazy” is definitely the best song in this list. It stands out. Miranda Lambert’s spicy and fun “Mama’s Broken Heart” is runner up.
Best Country Duo/Group Performance: The Civil Wars (From This Valley), Kelly Clarkson, feat. Vince Gill (Don’t Rush), Little Big Town (Your Side of the Bed), Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban (Highway Don’t Care), Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (You Can’t Make Old Friends) Will Win: If voters are really familiar with Taylor Swift’s work, they’d know that her very first single was entitled “Tim McGraw.” I think that sort of nostalgic tidbit alone will allow “Highway Don’t Care” to win. Should Win: This is an incredibly strong category. “From this Valley” is raw and acoustic. “Don’t Rush” has a comforting, 80′s sway feeling to it. “You Can’t Make Old Friends” is just a lovely sentiment featuring two great artists. And Little Big Town always delivers with their crazy harmonies. However, I’m going to go the easy route and say that “Highway Don’t Care” should win. Taylor Swift’s “I Can’t live without you, baby” line just does it for me.
Best Country Song: Taylor Swift (Begin Again); Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary (I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice); Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves (Mama’s Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert); Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne (Merry Go ‘Round); Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan (Mine Would Be You by Blake Shelton) Will Win: It’s interesting how the “disconnect” between artist and songwriter is stronger than the other categories. Just sayin’. Anyway, newcomer Kacey Musgraves has to win a Grammy this year. It would be ridiculous otherwise. So, if she doesn’t win for “Merry Go ‘Round,” then I think she will at least win for writing the Miranda Lambert song. The similar sounding “I Drive Your Truck” and “Mine Would Be You” will cancel each other. Should Win: “Merry Go ‘Round” is far ahead of, not only all the songs in this category, but all the country songs that came out last year. It’s a song about small town dreams and rural life in general. The song literally brings me to tears every time I listen to it. And the backing melody is instantly distinct and recognizable. I think the song deserved more nominations than what it got, but whatevs…
Best Pop Solo Performance: Sara Bareilles (Brave), Lorde (Royals), Bruno Mars (When I Was Your Man), Katy Perry (Roar), Justin Timberlake (Mirrors) Will Win: God, I love pop music! Anyway, this one’s a little difficult. It would seem like “Mirrors” would be the front runner here, but considering Timberlake was completely shut out from the general categories, I just can’t believe he would win here. I mean, maybe he can. But, in any case, I’m going to predict Lorde for the win. She’s a little too new and fresh (and with only one real hit), but I think the song is popular enough to win at least one award. Should Win: Honestly, any of them would be fine with me. A part of me is rooting for Bareilles just because she’s never won before and she’s such an underdog. However, I think the biggest part of me is rooting for Justin Timberlake because “Mirrors” truly is an 8 minute masterpiece.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Daft Punk, feat. Pharrell Williams (Get Lucky), Pink and Nate Ruess (Just Give Me a Reason), Rihanna, feat. Mikky Ekko (Stay), Robin Thicke, feat. TI and Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines), Justin Timberlake, feat. Jay-Z (Suit & Tie) Will Win: Another strong category filled with songs that are also nominated in the general categories. Again, JT and Jay-Z could win here, but I think they have a better chance at prevailing the rap/R&B categories. I’m going to go out on a limb (OK, maybe not so much) and say the radio friendly (yet less possibly offensive) Pink song takes it over Pharrell Williams and co. The beautiful and haunting “Stay” would be a huge shock. Should Win: I don’t love “Suit and Tie” or “Blurred Lines” so any of the other 3 nominees would be fitting choices. “Get Lucky” is my favorite song to sing along to.
Why isn’t there a Pop Song category?
Best New Artist: James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran Will Win: I honestly think Kacey Musgraves will win, even if her nomination (over more popular choices like Lorde and Ariana Grande) was a little surprising. It would be unusual seeing a rapper (even a white one) win. And Ed Sheeran’s nomination, while completely deserving, strikes me as a little odd because he was nominated for a general category last year. And James Blake winning would just be out there. This category has always liked young female artists (even going as far as giving the virtual unknown Esperanza Spalding a win), so I’m imagining Kacey Musgraves for this win. Should Win: All great artists (James Blake’s voice is SO unique), but I want Ed Sheeran to win the most. “Lego House” and “The A-Team” are my life.
Song of the Year: Pink, Nate Ruess, Jeff Bhasker (Just Give Me a Reason); Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine (Locked Out of Heaven); Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Henry Walter (Roar); Lorde, Joel Little (Royals); Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Curtis Mayfield (Same Love) Will Win: I think with everything that has been going on this year in regards to gay rights and gay marriage, I have a feeling “Same Love” will win. I don’t think the Grammys are terribly sentimental, but I think this is a situation where they’ll want to be. Should Win: I love “Same Love” and a win would make me happy…but, honestly, I think “Just Give Me a Reason” is a really well-made, well sung song. I just think Nate and Pink collaborate really well together. There was a time when I was obsessed with “Locked out of Heaven.” But, now, I feel like I’ve listened to the song so much that…it’s a little numb for me. I feel like I’ve forgotten what I loved about the song in the first place. So…yeah…go Pink!
Record of the Year: Daft Punk, feat. Pharrell Williams (Get Lucky), Imagine Dragons (Radioactive), Lorde (Royals), Bruno Mars (Locked Out of Heaven), Robin Thicke, feat. TI and Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines) Will Win: Oh, this is a very tight race. I don’t really see “Locked out of Heaven” or “Blurred Lines” winning this one so let’s cross them out. Sometimes, voters like rock songs, so I could see Imagine Dragons win a la Kings of Leon from a few years back. At one point, I thought Daft Punk was the front runner because they got a lot of nominations this year and it seems like they’re finally receiving some mainstream praise (maybe not “finally” but you get the idea.) But…maybe I shouldn’t over think this. Sometimes simple and iconic is the way to go. If “Somebody That I used to Know” can win last year, then I think Lorde’s instantly recognizable and wildly popular “Royals” can win this year. She would be one of the (if not “the”) youngest winner of this category. Should Win: I’m just obsessed with “Get Lucky.” It’s such a cool, yet simple song. And…it would be interesting seeing Daft Punk make an acceptance speech, right?
Album of the Year: Sara Bareilles (The Blessed Unrest), Daft Punk (Random Access Memories), Kendrick Lamar (Good Kid, MAAD City), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (The Heist), Taylor Swift (Red) Will Win: AGH! Where’s Justin Timberlake when you need him. Not fully saying he DESERVED a nomination over these 5, but if he had gotten one like everyone in the world thought, then he probably would have been the front runner. But now? We’re left with two rap albums, an electronic music album, an album from a young artist who only (controversially) won a few years ago, and Sara Bareilles (the official WTF nomination of the year). No aging rock bands. No rock bands in general. No Bruno Mars. No Justin Timberlake. No Lorde. Whatever wins this year…will be a relatively strange win. Oh…I guess I should probably make a prediction…….Daft Punk. Should Win: Not gonna lie, I’m rooting for Taylor Swift. I think another win would be an invitation for more hate directed towards her but…yeah, I think she should win. Red was a great album.
Whew! And that is all the categories I’m going to cover. What do you think? Any of these predictions completely off base? Too safe? Anyway, thanks for reading. Byeee…