Grammys 2024 predictions: Who will win, who should win

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A year after Harry Styles shocked-but-didn’t-surprise with his album of the year win over Beyoncé, the stars of the music world will gather with equal parts excitement and dread on Sunday night for the 66th Grammy Awards.

Top nominees include SZA, who’s up for nine awards; Phoebe Bridgers and Victoria Monét, both of whom have seven nominations; and Jon Batiste, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and Miley Cyrus, with six nods apiece. In a shift from the last two years, the Recording Academy lowered the number of nominees to eight from 10 in the four major categories of album, record and song of the year and best new artist.

Trevor Noah will host Sunday’s show, set to air live on CBS from Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles. Among the acts scheduled to perform are SZA, Eilish, Rodrigo, Dua Lipa, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Luke Combs, Burna Boy, Travis Scott and U2.

Here are my predictions for how the night will go down across eight major categories, offered with the caveat that a Grammys ceremony without some major upset — well, that’s no Grammys at all.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

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

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

Even a hardcore Swiftie likely would admit that the pop superstar has made more impressive albums than “Midnights” (though the offhand way she roasts “some dickhead guy” in “Question…?” still makes me laugh nearly a year and a half after the LP came out). But between her record-breaking Eras tour, her blockbuster rerecordings of her older work and her much-scrutinized romance with the NFL’s Travis Kelce, Swift was simply too commanding a presence in 2023 for Grammy voters not to feel like she earned the academy’s most prestigious prize. A win for album of the year would be her fourth in the category — more than any artist in Grammy history, including Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder, each of whom has three. Were I a voter, I’d go for SZA’s “SOS,” a vulnerable and audacious collection of pop-rock-R&B songs that sits precisely at the nexus of commercial success, critical acclaim and cultural impact — the sweet spot, in other words, that the Grammys purport to occupy. The trouble for SZA is that, in more than six decades of trophy-bestowing, the academy has given album of the year to only three Black women: Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston and Lauryn Hill. Discouraging odds, and a discouraging fact.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

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

Should win: Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”
Will win: Billie Eilish, “What Was I Made For?”

Grammy voters love to give record of the year to a carefully crafted throwback jam à la Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” (which won last year) or Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open” (which won in 2022). So Monét has a shot with the lush retro-soul stylings of “On My Mama,” as does Cyrus with the disco-revivalist “Flowers.” But what voters really love is to give this prize to Eilish and her brother-slash-producer, Finneas, who took it two years in a row with “Bad Guy” and “Everything I Wanted” in 2020 and 2021. If the siblings win again with their beautifully bummed-out ballad from “Barbie,” they’ll join Simon and Bruno Mars in the three-peat club.

SONG OF THE YEAR

“A&W,” written by Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey and Sam Dew (performed by Lana Del Rey)
“Anti-Hero,” written by Jack Antonoff and Taylor Swift (performed by Taylor Swift)
“Butterfly,” written by Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson (performed by Jon Batiste)
“Dance the Night,” written by Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt (performed by Dua Lipa)
“Flowers,” written by Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein and Michael Pollack (performed by Miley Cyrus)
“Kill Bill,” written by Rob Bisel, Carter Lang and Solána Rowe (performed by SZA)
“Vampire,” written by Daniel Nigro and Olivia Rodrigo (performed by Olivia Rodrigo)
“What Was I Made For?,” written by Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell (performed by Billie Eilish)

Should win: “Vampire”
Will win: “What Was I Made For?”

Though she’s been nominated more times than any other human (including Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney), Swift has never won this Grammy — a confounding statistic for the woman widely hailed as the most influential songwriter of her generation. Yet Swift’s seventh nod for song of the year — a songwriter’s award as compared to record of the year, which goes to performers and producers — seems less than certain to bring her first victory, not least because Eilish’s tune is here too. Like past winners such as Adele’s “Hello” and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” the stripped-down recorded version of “What Was I Made For?” showcases a stirring lyric and intricate melody, whereas Swift’s “Anti-Hero” relies more on production and groove. All that said, Rodrigo’s “Vampire” gets my nonexistent vote for her A+ rhyme of “bloodsucker” and “fame-f—er.”

BEST NEW ARTIST

Gracie Abrams
Fred Again..
Ice Spice
Jelly Roll
Coco Jones
Noah Kahan
Victoria Monét
The War and Treaty

Should win: Ice Spice
Will win: Ice Spice

The most competitive best new artist race in years could be decided by a couple of instances of vote-splitting: R&B voters are likely to spread themselves between Monét and former Disney child star Coco Jones, while country voters may line up behind rapper-turned-singer Jelly Roll and married duo the War and Treaty. (Fun fact: At 39, a triumphant Jelly Roll would be the oldest solo artist ever to win this prize.) That scenario would leave a lane open for folk-rocker Noah Kahan and rapper Ice Spice — in which case it’s worth noting that a woman has carried the category the last six ceremonies.

BEST RAP ALBUM

Drake and 21 Savage, “Her Loss”
Killer Mike, “Michael”
Metro Boomin, “Heroes & Villains”
Nas, “King’s Disease III”
Travis Scott, “Utopia”

Should win: Drake and 21 Savage, “Her Loss”
Will win: Travis Scott, “Utopia”

After withdrawing 2021’s “Certified Lover Boy” from competition in apparent protest of the Grammys’ iffy history with hip-hop, the genre’s biggest act is back in the hunt this year with his and 21 Savage’s toxic bro-down of a duo album. Might the optics of Drake’s return to the Grammys stage — and the message that would send to younger rappers unsure whether the Grammys matter — be reason for voters to go his way? Consider that Scott, who arguably looms larger among the kids these days, is already booked to perform on Sunday’s telecast.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

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

Should win: Lainey Wilson, “Bell Bottom Country”
Will win: Tyler Childers, “Rustin’ in the Rain”

The most conspicuous presence in this category is the album not nominated: “One Thing at a Time” by Morgan Wallen, who was blanked by the academy entirely for the third consecutive year after he was caught on video drunkenly using the N-word in 2021. (Wallen’s chart-topping “Last Night” earned a nod for country song, but that award recognizes songwriters, and Wallen didn’t write it.) The snub of “One Thing at a Time” — not just 2023’s biggest country album but the year’s biggest album of any genre — can be taken as the academy’s disapproval of Wallen’s behavior. More likely, it reflects voters’ long-standing preference for earthier sounds like that of bluegrass-steeped Childers.

BEST ROCK ALBUM

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

Should win: Foo Fighters, “But Here We Are”
Will win: Foo Fighters, “But Here We Are”

With five wins in this category — including for 2021’s so-so “Medicine at Midnight” — Foo Fighters have taken the rock album Grammy more times than any other act. So figure that Dave Grohl and Co. are a lock with “But Here We Are,” which has the added advantage of being very good: a mournful yet vital meditation on loss inspired by the recent deaths of the band’s longtime drummer, Taylor Hawkins, and Grohl’s mother.

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

“Barbie World,” from “Barbie,” written by Naija Gaston, Ephrem Louis Lopez Jr. and Onika Maraj (performed by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice featuring Aqua)
“Dance the Night,” from “Barbie,” written by Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt (performed by Dua Lipa)
“I’m Just Ken,” from “Barbie,” written by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt (performed by Ryan Gosling)
“Lift Me Up,” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” written by Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Göransson, Robyn Fenty and Temilade Openiyi (performed by Rihanna)
“What Was I Made For?,” from “Barbie,” written by Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell (performed by Billie Eilish)

Should win: “What Was I Made For?”
Will win: “What Was I Made For?”

Before “Barbie’s” domination of this year’s field, no film had put up four songs for this prize in a single year. (“Waiting to Exhale” got closest with three nods in 1997.) Given Eilish’s track record, “What Was I Made For?” — a favorite for the Oscars’ original song prize in March — is almost sure to win this Grammy along with the others it takes on Sunday night.



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