Guessing at the Grammy’s

Every year the bigwigs and leaders in the music industry come together for a self-proclaimed “celebration” of all that is music. In total the Grammy Commission will be awarding 83 awards in 2016, from Album of the Year to Best Classical Compendium. Though there are many categories that go mostly ignored (many jazz and classical releases), those that garner the most attention are sources of a lot of debate and competition. In the past few years there has been a ton of controversy, from the snub of Kanye West in 2010 to the unlikely victory of Beck last year. The 2016 Grammys, set for February 15, are shaping up to be very interesting.

Record of the Year: Record of the Year in my mind is a decision between two artists: Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. Taylor Swift has gained a lot of notoriety in the pop genre with her release of the commercially massive 1989. The single “Blank Space” off of that album is one of the nominees for this category and is the one that will most likely win this award. The only challenger I can see here wouldbe “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd, whose recent surge in popularity has obviously attracted the attention of the Grammy Commision. It seems his current name-power could give him a chance for a win. Also not to be underestimated is “Uptown Funk”, though it’s one detractor is it’s lack of relevance, due to a decline in airplay.

Album of the Year: This is another one of the big name categories, and the one that has received the most criticism over the years. The two major forces here are 1989 by Taylor Swift and To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, with Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd in a close third. If the critics want to go with a safer choice based on what was more commercially successful, the award will easily go to Swift. But, if they decide to go with critical success again like they did last year, Kendrick Lamar may be able to take the award away from Swift; in my opinion he deserves Album of the Year, due to the social and cultural relevance of TPaB.

Song of the Year: Again, this category is most likely between the commercial and the critical:“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift vs. “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar.

Best New Artist: Most likely this award will go to pop singer Meghan Trainor, who gained a great deal of radio play with the single “All About That Bass,” though she still lacks relevance because of fading popular attention. The only other artist I foresee taking this would be Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, who gained a ton of traction in the music world with her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, which even gave her enough popularity to open up for Blur at Madison Square Garden.

Dance/Electronica Album: Skrillex and Diplo will most likely be the winners of this award for their album Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U, but if the Grammy Commission has any sense of the critics, the obvious choice would be In Colour by Jamie xx, which attracted a large-scale wave of critical affection.

Best Rock Song: “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes is a shoe-in for this category because of its combination of chart and critical success. Florence + the Machine’s “What Kind of Man” is a not-so-close second.

Best Rock Album: Once more the Grammys don’t seem to know what they want to do for this category, and the choices were markedly strange, as none of the artists were very notable, with no real hits and no real critical love either. Out of the choices available I’d predict Muse as somewhat probable winners for their album Drones, simply because of their name-power and passionate fanbase.

Best Alternative Album: Here’s the category that the Grammys are always most confused about. The line between what is “alternative” and what isn’t has always been a blurry one, and the Grammy Commission does not know how to define it. The choices here were hit or miss, because some albums like Vulnicura by Björk or Currents by Tame Impala are too out there to gain major mainstream attention but are close enough to the line that they can gain crossover appeal. The choice of Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes is another one that sits close enough to this line for a good pick. However, the choice of two albums by bands who are completely out of any pop or indie culture relevancy, Star Wars by Wilco and The Waterfall by My Morning Jacket, is a bit confusing, especially considering that the fantastic and critically acclaimed No Cities to Love by Sleater-Kinney was unfairly snubbed by the Commission this year. By and by it seems like Alabama Shakes will take home this award, but don’t be surprised if Björk or Tame Impala come up from behind.

Best Rap Song: Kendrick Lamar will probably claim this award with his single “Alright” but it seems like Drake will challenge him with the track “Energy” off If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Out of the other choices, “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap could gain a bit of a leg up because of its obsessive radio play.

Best Rap Album: This category is going to be a huge one. The three juggernauts I foresee battling it out for this award will be To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late by Drake. Both Cole and Drake have what it takes to really control this category because of their surge in popularity, but the ever-present Kendrick, in my eyes, will most likely take this because of his critical and commercial domination. However, this will (as ever) be a close competition.