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2017 Grammy predictions: Adele, Beyonce, David Bowie and...?

3

October

We’re about four months from a Grammys for the ages.

Yeah, I know, it seems early to start making predictions about the 2017 Grammy Awards. But I can't help myself. This should be a ceremony for the ages, with a certain showdown between Adele and Beyonce in the top category, Album of the Year. And with the deadline for 2017 Grammy eligibility passing on Sept. 30, we've now officially heard everything that can be nominated, which makes this the perfect time to look ahead.

Because I spend way too much of my year thinking about the Grammys, here are some extremely early predictions for who will be nominated in the top four categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.

Adele's 25 and Beyonce's Lemonade are guaranteed several nominations. But will they win? That's where things get interesting.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Because 25 and Lemonade are locks for a nomination, people may see this as a two-horse race. I’m not so sure.

David Bowie’s Blackstar and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool have also been warmly received, and if they make the final five -- emphasis on if -- I think either could easily pull an upset. Radiohead have never won this category despite three prior nominations (OK Computer, Kid A and In Rainbows), and a victory would fall in line with the Grammys’ recent trend of honoring alt-rock acts like Beck, Mumford and Sons and Arcade Fire. Bowie’s death in January has rocked the music industry, and honoring the excellent Blackstar feels like a very Grammys move.

There are plenty of other strong contenders for the fifth slot -- Rihanna’s Anti, Drake’s Views, Frank Ocean’s Blond, Maxwell’s blackSUMMERS’night, Paul Simon’s Stranger to Stranger -- but my pick, for reasons I’ll outline in a minute, is Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book. At this point, I’m calling Lemonade the winner over 25 and Blackstar, but the margin is razor-thin.

PREDICTIONS: Beyonce, Lemonade (winner); Adele, 25; David Bowie, Blackstar; Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool; Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

There was no Uptown Funk-sized hit this past year, which makes this race a little more open. But the frontrunner has to be Adele’s Hello. It peaked quite a while ago, but it’s still one of the greatest things Adele’s ever done -- it was my pick for the best song of 2015 -- and it’s going to be tough to beat.

Other top candidates include Sia’s Cheap Thrills, Rihanna and Drake’s Work, Thomas Rhett’s Die a Happy Man, Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s This Is What You Came For, Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling, Drake’s One Dance and Lukas Graham’s 7 Years. Any of Beyonce’s songs from Lemonade could make the cut, but the flame-throwing Formation is probably the horse to bet on.

And then there’s Adele herself. Could she score a historic second nomination in this category? Hold that thought.

PREDICTIONS: Adele, Hello (winner); Beyonce, Formation; Rihanna and Drake, Work; Sia, Cheap Thrills; Lukas Graham, 7 Years.

SONG OF THE YEAR

This songwriters’ award mirrors Record of the Year a little more than half the time, but predicting that overlap can be tough.

I like Sia’s Cheap Thrills to pull the double play. I also like the odds of Thomas Rhett’s Die a Happy Man, one of the year’s biggest country singles, and Lukas Graham’s 7 Years, an earwormy adult alternative hit. Both were technically released in September 2015, just a couple of days before this year’s eligibility period, but that same bit of deadline jiggery-pokery didn’t stop Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud from winning Song of the Year in February. If Rhett doesn’t make the cut, Tim McGraw’s Humble and Kind or Maren Morris’s My Church could take its place as the token country nominee. And the Grammys might not be able to resist nominating Taylor Swift for her songwriting collaboration with ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris on This Is What You Came For.

Finally, it’s not unprecedented for an artist to receive nominations for Song and Record of the Year for two different songs in the same year -- U2 did it in 2002 with Walk On (Record) and Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (Song). And that’s where I think we find Adele and Beyonce. Hello could easily win this category, but I’d prefer to Adele recognized for When We Were Young, a magnificent bit of songcraft and lyricism. And Formation (“hot sauce in my bag”), Sorry (“tell the boy bye,” “you better call Becky with the good hair”) and Hold Up (“what’s worse, looking jealous or crazy?”) are three of the most quotable pop songs of 2015 -- it’s a toss-up as to which will get a nod.

PREDICTIONS: Adele, Hello (winner); Beyonce, Sorry; Sia, Cheap Thrills; Lukas Graham, 7 Years; Thomas Rhett, Die a Happy Man

BEST NEW ARTIST

Always a confounding category. Some nominees truly are “new artists,” having dropped their debut single or album the previous years. Others are on their second or third album, and have only made a significant leap in stature. Just this year, Meghan Trainor won Best New Artist a full year AFTER All About That Bass was nominated for Song and Record of the Year. It makes no sense.

But that rulebook squishiness opens the door for rock acts like the 1975, Twenty One Pilots and Lukas Graham to break in, despite having been around for a few years. Same for singers, rappers and producers like Shawn Mendes, Future, Halsey, Troye Sivan and Flume. And it’d be a shame if the Grammys ignored country music’s insanely talented crop of young female singer-songwriters; I think Maren Morris has the edge over Margo Price, Cam and Aubrie Sellers.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the aforementioned names make the top five, but my pick to win it is Chance the Rapper. The young Chicagoan has been around for a few albums, but technically, his work has never been eligible for a Grammy, as it’s all been released for free. The Grammys have always required work to be released commercially before it can become nominated, but that rule changed this year, partly thanks to fans campaigning on Chance’s behalf. His commitment to unconventional releases has come to symbolize the changing tides of the industry, and his music has received some of the highest co-signs imaginable, from Kanye West to Barack Obama. That’s why I think his widely acclaimed Coloring Book could get nominated for Album of the Year, and why he’ll take home Best New Artist -- if, that is, the Grammys deem him eligible.

My predictions: Chance the Rapper (winner), Maren Morris, Lukas Graham, the 1975, Halsey

-- Jay Cridlin

[Last modified: Friday, September 30, 2016 2:53pm]

    

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