grammys 2021

Who Should (and Will) Win at the 2021 Grammy Awards?

All eyes will be on Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, and Taylor Swift. Photo-Illustration: by Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

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The Grammys are a bit of a unicorn. As music’s supposed highest honor, they carry the prestige of the Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys, but their taste and messiness are often more aligned with the Golden Globes. The 2021 awards are no exception, between allegations of racism, corruption, and run-of-the-mill stupidity in the nominations. (The Weeknd’s across-the-board snubs were a perfect storm of all three.) As with the Globes, it’s pretty much understood that the winners won’t represent the best music of a 12-month period (in this case: September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020, split right down the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic) but rather the music that best appealed to an enigmatic, picky group of voters.

Still, if all goes according to the new plan, the Grammys shouldn’t be a boring night. Originally set for January 31, the awards got pushed back six weeks as COVID-19 spiked again in Los Angeles and will now take place on March 14, with many of the top nominees set for in-person audienceless performances. (A note that Grammy voting ended on January 5, though, meaning most of the musical developments of 2021 — including Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition) release and Taylor Swift’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) announcement — won’t translate into any momentum.) Beyoncé leads the pack with nine nominations, largely off her Black Is King companion “Black Parade” and her spot on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” remix. If she wins four awards, she’ll become the woman with the most Grammys (Alison Krauss has 27), and if she wins five, she’ll become the living person with the most Grammys total (Quincy Jones has 28). But as these things tend to go, more eyes will be on Swift, who returns to Album of the Year for the first time since she won for 1989, looking to tie the record for most AOTY wins by an artist. But can either of them stand up to the Academy’s newly anointed favorite pop star, Dua Lipa? We’ve waited long enough for these damn awards, so let’s get to some predictions.


Album of the Year
Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition), Black Pumas
Everyday Life, Coldplay
Djesse Vol. 3, Jacob Collier
Women in Music Pt. III, Haim
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone
folklore, Taylor Swift

The showdown of the night will be between tried-and-true Grammy darling Swift and Grammy darling-in-waiting Lipa, who compete against each other in five of their six categories. It begins at the very top, where Swift is vying for her third Album of the Year win for folklore, a rare feat that would place her in the company of Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Simon. Given folklore’s wide acclaim for its intimate sound and Swift’s top-of-her-game songwriting, it’s the clear favorite. But don’t count out Lipa, whose Future Nostalgia made waves as one of the first big pop albums of the pandemic, helping to usher in a disco revival that reverberated throughout pop in 2020. (An interesting way to read it: Will Grammy voters reward music that reflected their isolation or provided escape from it?) Lipa is a rare Best New Artist winner to break into all three top categories on her follow-up. The last to do that? Adele. While Swift may align with this category’s penchant for more organic fare, Billie Eilish winning on an electropop debut last year shows that the tides could be starting to turn. And speaking of last year, it’s still hard to ignore the Academy’s snub for Lover, a widely perceived favorite. Will they be ready to welcome Swift back into the club with open arms, and with some history to top it off? There’s too much doubt stacked against it, so I see Lipa’s odds in the pop categories, along with an all but certain Record of the Year trophy, propelling her to victory here.

The rest of the category is full of left-field surprises, most of which stand no shot at a win. The exception might be Jacob Collier, who has never lost a Grammy award, going four for four in the arrangement categories. Djesse Vol. 3 is his breakthrough into the main show and could be a dark horse thanks to the album’s impressive list of features (Ty Dolla $ign, Kimbra, etc.) and Collier’s more impressive list of industry champions, Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock among them. (Jones told Billboard he hasn’t been campaigning, but the president of Jones’s management company said Jones used to open every one of his meetings by playing one of Collier’s videos.) The best surprise in this category, though, is Haim’s crisp Women in Music Pt. III, a classic collection of impeccably crafted pop-rock.

Should win: Women in Music Pt. III
Will win: Future Nostalgia

Record of the Year
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“Colors,” Black Pumas
“Rockstar,” DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
“Say So,” Doja Cat
“everything i wanted,” Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Circles,” Post Malone
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé

The one category where Lipa hit and Swift missed is Record of the Year, where Swift was last nominated in 2016 for “Blank Space” and has never won. Record of the Year recognizes performance and production, so Lipa is certain to win it for her inescapably catchy trendsetter “Don’t Start Now.” (The category where Swift hit and Lipa missed would be Best Song Written for Visual Media, for Cats’ “Beautiful Ghosts.” She’s as sure to lose there as Lipa is to win here.)

Eilish won’t win a second time in a row, Post Malone won’t win without a single genre nomination, and DaBaby and Roddy Ricch won’t win if the Academy can’t even pick a favorite Roddy track (see “The Box” in Song of the Year). The real wild card here is Beyoncé, on her sixth ROTY nomination with no wins yet. “Black Parade” is a mid-tier Beyoncé song — still better than some artists’ discographies but missing a wow factor — that the Academy seems more excited about than the rest of the world. It’s hard to judge whether that outsize support can translate to a win, but here’s what I do know: The swaggering remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” does have that Beyoncé wow factor. If we’re finally giving the Queen a trophy, it should be for that.

Should win: “Savage”
Will win: “Don’t Start Now”

Song of the Year
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“The Box,” Roddy Ricch
“cardigan,” Taylor Swift
“Circles,” Post Malone
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“everything i wanted,” Billie Eilish
“I Can’t Breathe,” H.E.R.
“If the World Was Ending,” JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels

More often than not, this songwriting award tends to go to the winner of its performance counterpart, Record of the Year. And even when it doesn’t, a ROTY nomination still tends to be key for a SOTY win. In fact, the last time an artist won SOTY without a ROTY nomination was 15 years ago, in 2006, when U2 won for “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.” U2 won all five of their awards that night, including Album of the Year, and it would take Swift a similar level of momentum to break through here. She could have it — especially for such a writing-focused project as folklore.

But there’s more to it. It’s much easier for a song to win ROTY without a SOTY nomination — as was the case in 2006, when Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” won ROTY. Assuming “Don’t Start Now” wins ROTY, though, it will also have a SOTY nomination. The last song to win ROTY and lose SOTY was Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” which lost the latter to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” in 2010. Beyoncé, though, took a gamble and submitted “Halo” in ROTY instead, so there’s no telling if “Single Ladies” would’ve won there, too. (It would’ve.) So to find a year in which the ROTY winner lost SOTY to an artist entirely not nominated for ROTY, you have to go back to 1976, when “Love Will Keep Us Together,” by Captain & Tennille, won ROTY but lost SOTY to Judy Collins’s “Send in the Clowns.”

That’s a lot of historical evidence to say I’m still hung up on Swift’s swing and miss in ROTY — especially submitting “cardigan” in both categories, unlike in 2019, and especially with eight nominees. Even when 1989 won Album of the Year, Swift still couldn’t win SOTY for “Blank Space” — it went to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” which was also nominated in ROTY. So Lipa is still the one to beat here for a ridiculously refined pop song, “Don’t Start Now.” And if anyone were going to surprise? My money would once again be on “Black Parade,” which could make Album of the Year real messy if it wins both song awards.

Should win: “Don’t Start Now”
Will win: “Don’t Start Now”

Best New Artist
Ingrid Andress
Phoebe Bridgers
Noah Cyrus
D Smoke
Doja Cat
Megan Thee Stallion

This is the most lawless of the generals: It doesn’t always go to the artist with the most nominations or even to an artist who’s actually new. The odds are even likelier of the latter, now that the Academy has removed the cap on the number of releases a nominee can have. Phoebe Bridgers and Kaytranada are both nominated here on their second solo albums, although Kaytranada began releasing beat tapes in 2010, and Bridgers also has an EP with boygenius (alongside Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus) and an album with Conor Oberst, as Better Oblivion Community Center, to her name. Don’t count either out, given the Academy’s desire to recognize them so late — especially Bridgers, who could get a prize here if she goes home empty-handed in the rock categories. Bridgers is tied for most nominations among those in this category with Megan Thee Stallion, favored to win after dominating last summer’s charts. Megan is also one of the few here to catch a second general nomination: in Record of the Year, for the “Savage” remix with Beyoncé. The other is Doja Cat, also in ROTY, for “Say So”; awarding her here would recognize her separate from “Say So” disgraced producer Dr. Luke, nominated under one of his pseudonyms, Tyson Trax. But Megan’s 2020 was on a different level than anyone else here, and it’s impossible to ignore that.

Should win: Megan Thee Stallion
Will win: Megan Thee Stallion

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
Dave Cobb
Flying Lotus
Andrew Watt

Sadly, the only place the Chicks’ spirited, passionate return, Gaslighter, pops up in this year’s nominations is via Jack Antonoff’s production work. It’s the only full album for which Antonoff is nominated for Producer of the Year, along with Swift songs “august,” “mirrorball,” and “this is me trying,” FKA Twigs’ “holy terrain,” and Sia’s “Together.” Antonoff’s second nomination here in as many years is proof of his steadily rising profile as an in-demand pop producer. Plus, he’s represented in Album of the Year via Swift’s folklore (as is newcomer Andrew Watt, who produced Lipa’s “Break My Heart”). Coupled with his previous nomination, that gives him the edge. All said, this category is full of snubs, particularly for hip-hop, which is entirely not represented — unless you count Flying Lotus, nominated for a Thundercat album that leans closer to jazz-funk fusion (and was submitted in R&B). But of the five nominees we’ve been given, hardworking country producer Dave Cobb may be the most deserving winner, off an especially strong year when he produced the Highwomen’s self-titled album and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s Reunions along with the late John Prine’s final song, “I Remember Everything.”

Should win: Dave Cobb
Will win: Jack Antonoff


Best Pop Solo Performance
“Yummy,” Justin Bieber
“Say So,” Doja Cat
“everything i wanted,” Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Watermelon Sugar,” Harry Styles
“cardigan,” Taylor Swift

If Swift is going to win Song or Album of the Year, she’s not doing it without support from the rock and country voters of the Grammys. But expect the pop contingent to side with hitmaker Lipa for a song that had more legs than “cardigan.” That said, if Lipa doesn’t win, her chances up top aren’t fully dashed — Eilish’s big winner, “bad guy,” lost this award to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” last year.

Should win: “Don’t Start Now”
Will win: “Don’t Start Now”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Un Dia (One Day),” J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, and Tainy
“Intentions,” Justin Bieber featuring Quavo
“Dynamite,” BTS
“Rain on Me,” Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande
“exile,” Taylor Swift featuring Bon Iver

Another reason to expect a Lipa win in Pop Solo Performance? Pop voters don’t have to shut Swift out completely and can award her here for her Bon Iver collaboration, “exile” — a more exciting folklore cut than “cardigan” and a better example of her shifting style. But in my heart, I know this award belongs to “Rain on Me,” a collaboration simply too powerful for the Grammys to nominate anywhere else.

Should win: “Rain on Me”
Will win: “exile”

Best Pop Vocal Album
Changes, Justin Bieber
Chromatica, Lady Gaga
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Fine Line, Harry Styles
folklore, Taylor Swift

Since the category’s inception in 1995, no Best Pop Vocal Album loser has won AOTY. I’m less sure of that this year, given folklore’s appeal outside pop. But Lipa still has the better odds here. This category likes to recognize harbingers of new chart trends, whether that’s Ariana Grande’s R&B-inflected Sweetener, Eilish’s bedroom pop on When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, or even Swift’s ’80s synth-pop revival on 1989. (Yes, Swift and folklore clearly paved the way for the biggest hit of 2021 so far, Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license,” but that song didn’t come out until days after Grammy voting ended.) Expect the Academy to catch disco fever and give this one to Lipa too.

Should win: Future Nostalgia
Will win: Future Nostalgia


Best Dance Recording
“On My Mind,” Diplo and Sidepiece
“My High,” Disclosure, Aminé, and Slowthai
“The Difference,” Flume featuring Toro y Moi
“Both of Us,” Jayda G
“10%,” Kaytranada featuring Kali Uchis

Some of us have seen Kaytranada headline festivals years before his Best New Artist nomination, but, hey, there are worse electronic artists the Academy could be getting behind late. Breaking into the generals makes him the one to beat here, and it’s impossible not to dance to the shimmering song he’s nominated for, “10%.” But as excited as I was to see Kaytranada break through, double that for Jayda G’s sweaty house track “Both of Us,” the first song every club ought to play post-pandemic.

Should win: “Both of Us”
Will win: “10%”

Best Dance/Electronic Album
KiCk i, Arca
Energy, Disclosure
Planet’s Mad, Baauer
Bubba, Kaytranada
Good Faith, Madeon

As I said, Kaytranada is running away with it. So let’s celebrate that exciting Grammy nomination for Arca’s fourth album, KiCk i, which saw the electronic experimentalist transition to the dance floor without sacrificing any of her weirdness.

Should win: KiCk i
Will win: Bubba


Best Rock Performance
“The Steps,” Haim
“Stay High,” Brittany Howard
“Not,” Big Thief
“Shameika,” Fiona Apple
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers
“Daylight,” Grace Potter

The Grammys have put me in an extremely tough spot. While I’m all for Fiona Apple bringing home hardware for the masterpiece Fetch the Bolt Cutters (and smashing an award!), “Shameika” isn’t even that album’s best cut. Yet Apple is the favorite here, not only thanks to that song but respect for her whole album — on top of an ongoing reevaluation of her whole career. But Bridgers, Brittany Howard, and Haim all have momentum here, too, with key nominations elsewhere. “Kyoto” also pales against Bridgers’s other Punisher tracks, and while “Stay High” is great, Howard really deserved this award last year for Jaime’s lead single, “History Repeats.” Song to song, “The Steps” rules harder than anything else here.

Should win: “The Steps”
Will win: “Shameika”

Best Metal Performance
“Bum-Rush,” Body Count
“Underneath,” Code Orange
“The In-Between,” In This Moment
“Bloodmoney,” Poppy
“Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe) — Live,” Power Trip

The Best Metal Performance category has been stuck in the past for years, with awards routinely going to giants like Metallica or Tool over new talent. Not this year, where all of the nominees are first- or second-timers. Yes, that’s the Poppy you think it is, nominated as the first-ever solo woman in 30 years of this category. Equally exciting is a first nomination for Power Trip, after leader Riley Gale’s death last year. Their live cut of “Executioner’s Tax” takes no prisoners, and they’ve even nabbed the respect of fellow nominees like Body Count’s Ice-T (again, yes, that Ice-T). But a safer bet might be Code Orange, a rare breakthrough metal band that was slated to perform at Coachella in 2020 and is already on a second Grammy nomination.

Should win: “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe) — Live”
Will win: “Underneath”

Best Rock Song
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers
“Lost in Yesterday,” Tame Impala
“Not,” Big Thief
“Shameika,” Fiona Apple
“Stay High,” Brittany Howard

Even if it’s not the most exciting track on Fetch the Bolt Cutters, the songwriting is clearly there on “Shameika.” Bridgers could slip in here too, but “Kyoto” is missing the heartbreaking lyricism that so many fans love.

Should win: “Shameika,” Fiona Apple
Will win: “Shameika,” Fiona Apple

Best Rock Album
A Hero’s Death, Fontaines D.C.
Kiwanuka, Michael Kiwanuka
Daylight, Grace Potter
Sound & Fury, Sturgill Simpson
The New Abnormal, the Strokes

Here’s where to find all the guitar music the Academy just can’t let go of. The Strokes are nominated for their first-ever Grammy, though a win would be more for their career than the divisive The New Abnormal. Don’t count out Michael Kiwanuka either, after he nabbed the U.K.’s Mercury Prize. But mostly it’s just exciting to see the rock category pick up Sturgill Simpson for his scorcher Sound & Fury.

Should win: Sound & Fury
Will win: The New Abnormal

Best Alternative Music Album
Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
Hyperspace, Beck
Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers
Jaime, Brittany Howard
The Slow Rush, Tame Impala

Come on, though: This is really what rock is today. Four of these five albums would be more-than-worthy winners (sorry, Beck), but none of them loomed over the year the way Apple’s did. Plus, it would be long overdue: Apple lost this award twice for When the Pawn … and The Idler Wheel …, two albums that can hold their own against Bolt Cutters any day.

Should win: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Will win: Fetch the Bolt Cutters


Best R&B Performance
“Lightning & Thunder,” Jhené Aiko featuring John Legend
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“All I Need,” Jacob Collier featuring Mahalia and Ty Dolla $ign
“Goat Head,” Brittany Howard
“See Me,” Emily King

This category has some of the Academy’s wildest cards, from Collier’s first genre nomination to Howard’s breakthrough into R&B, for a song more interesting and powerful than anything else here. None of them will matter in the end, though, when Beyoncé marches right to the win with “Black Parade.”

Should win: “Goat Head”
Will win: “Black Parade”

Best Traditional R&B Performance
“Sit on Down,” the Baylor Project featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor
“Wonder What She Thinks of Me,” Chloe x Halle
“Let Me Go,” Mykal Kilgore
“Anything for You,” Ledisi
“Distance,” Yebba

This is a singer’s category, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of the voices here. But on “Wonder What She Thinks of Me,” Chloe x Halle don’t just prove they can go as big as anyone else here, but they also showcase ethereal moments of vocal control. Plus, a win here could ensure the Grammy-darling sisters don’t go home empty-handed, if the Academy is really that keen on awarding “Black Parade” everywhere else.

Should win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me”
Will win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me”

Best R&B Song
“Better Than I Imagine,” Robert Glasper featuring H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“Collide,” Tiana Major9 and EARTHGANG
“Do It,” Chloe x Halle
“Slow Down,” Skip Marley and H.E.R.

Even when the generals have snubbed her, the R&B voters have been there for Beyoncé — she has won this award more times than she’s lost it (4-3), with similar winning records in the R&B performance and album categories. Chloe x Halle may have outdone their mentor here, but it’ll be hard to take the win on Queen Bey’s home turf.

Should win: “Do It”
Will win: “Black Parade”

Best Progressive R&B Album
Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Ungodly Hour, Chloe x Halle
Free Nationals, Free Nationals
Fuck Yo Feelings, Robert Glasper
It Is What It Is, Thundercat

Some forecasters thought Chloe x Halle could break into the general categories off their mature, experimental sophomore effort, Ungodly Hour, after a Best New Artist nomination two years prior. Instead, Jhené Aiko’s third album, Chilombo, snuck into Album of the Year, making it the one to beat here, in the newly renamed Best Progressive R&B Album. But Thundercat has a bit of momentum here, too — thanks to Flying Lotus’s Producer of the Year nomination, solely off his credits on It Is What It Is.

Should win: Ungodly Hour
Will win: Chilombo

Best R&B Album
Happy 2 Be Here, Ant Clemons
Take Time, Giveon
to feel love/d, Luke James
Bigger Love, John Legend
All Rise, Gregory Porter

There’s so, so much more to R&B in the 2020s than the five men nominated for this award. (And no, I don’t mean Justin Bieber.) John Legend is the favorite, but come on: Legend already has 11 trophies alongside his Emmy, Oscar, and Tony! If we’re stuck with these five nominees, at least spread the love and give this one to the most exciting, dynamic project of the bunch, Luke James’s to feel love/d.

Should win: to feel love/d
Will win: Bigger Love


Best Rap Performance
“Deep Reverence,” Big Sean featuring Nipsey Hussle
“BOP,” DaBaby
“Whats Poppin,” Jack Harlow
“The Bigger Picture,” Lil Baby
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé
“Dior,” Pop Smoke

The Academy had the chance to recognize late New York drill pioneer Pop Smoke across the board this year — he could’ve been a rare posthumous Best New Artist nominee, and some thought he had a chance in Album of the Year. Instead, this is the only category where Pop Smoke landed, for his Meet the Woo flex “Dior.” Of course he should win, but his inability to break into any other rap categories makes him a bit of a long shot. So, this is Meg and Bey’s award to lose.

Should win: “Dior”
Will win: “Savage”

Best Melodic Rap Performance
“Rockstar,” DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
“Laugh Now Cry Later,” Drake featuring Lil Durk
“Lockdown,” Anderson .Paak
“The Box,” Roddy Ricch
“Highest in the Room,” Travis Scott

When you’re nominated against yourself in the same category, you run the risk of splitting votes and letting a third entry take the win. That won’t be the case for Roddy Ricch, who leads among rappers with six Grammy nominations. But which song will he take this renamed award (formerly Best Rap/Sung Performance) for? “The Box” wasn’t just the bigger hit — it’s a much more exciting song as far as both melody and rapping go.

Should win: “The Box”
Will win: “The Box”

Best Rap Song
“The Bigger Picture,” Lil Baby
“The Box,” Roddy Ricch
“Laugh Now Cry Later,” Drake featuring Lil Durk
“Rockstar,” DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé

This songwriting category would be the perfect place to reward Lil Baby for “The Bigger Picture,” his heartfelt protest anthem that became a breakout hit last summer. But Lil Baby will have an uphill battle against three songs that broke through in the general categories. I don’t even think two Roddy Ricch entries can stand a chance when pitted against Meg and Bey.

Should win: “The Bigger Picture”
Will win: “Savage”

Best Rap Album
Black Habits, D Smoke
Alfredo, Freddie Gibbs and the Alchemist
A Written Testimony, Jay Electronica
King’s Disease, Nas
The Allegory, Royce Da 5’9”

What the hell is going on here? While the other rap categories announce a next generation of stars, the youngest nominee here is 35-year-old Kendrick Lamar wannabe D Smoke. Jay Elec and Freddie Gibbs are exciting surprises here, but they come at the expense of Nas and Royce Da 5’9” for albums that were easy to miss last year. A win for Nas would be a lifetime achievement award, with the rapper at zero trophies for 15 nominations. But it would sure be exciting to recognize Gibbs, at the peak of his abilities after over 15 years, and the Alchemist, who also helmed Boldy James’s stunning The Price of Tea in China last year.

Should win: Alfredo
Will win: King’s Disease


Best Country Solo Performance
“Stick That in Your Country Song,” Eric Church
“Who You Thought I Was,” Brandy Clark
“When My Amy Prays,” Vince Gill
“Bluebird,” Miranda Lambert
“Black Like Me,” Mickey Guyton

As last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests reverberated throughout the country industry, many country artists were too afraid to proclaim that their Black fans actually matter. Then there was Mickey Guyton, one of a few Black musicians signed to a major country label, who released the stirring ballad “Black Like Me” just days after George Floyd’s death. If country prizes honesty, songs don’t get more bare than this, both in lyrics and Guyton’s poised vocals. But it’s hard to have faith in country these days, so I’m going with reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Eric Church in his only nomination, for a song that thinks it’s edgy but actually comes up pretty empty.

Should win: “Black Like Me”
Will win: “Stick That in Your Country Song”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“All Night,” Brothers Osborne
“10,000 Hours,” Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber
“Ocean,” Lady A
“Sugar Coat,” Little Big Town
“Some People Do,” Old Dominion

Won’t it be funny if, after throwing a fit about his album being put in the pop category over R&B, Bieber’s only award of the night is in country? Bieber’s Dan + Shay linkup is an unstoppable force of wife-guy nature, but Brothers Osborne deserve the win on their seventh nomination for their southern rock hip-shaker “All Night.”

Should win: “All Night”
Will win: “10,000 Hours”

Best Country Song
“Bluebird,” Miranda Lambert
“The Bones,” Maren Morris
“Crowded Table,” the Highwomen
“More Hearts Than Mine,” Ingrid Andress
“Some People Do,” Old Dominion

There’s a reason Maren Morris is still racking up awards and nominations for “The Bones” over a year after her sophomore album, Girl: The song is that damn good. It should have no problem picking up another trophy here.

Should win: “The Bones”
Will win: “The Bones”

Best Country Album
Nightfall, Little Big Town
Wildcard, Miranda Lambert
Never Will, Ashley McBryde
Lady Like, Ingrid Andress
Your Life Is Like a Record, Brandy Clark

Miranda Lambert has been criminally underawarded at the Grammys, with just two trophies off her ten albums, solo and with the Pistol Annies. So it’s great to see her as the front-runner here — especially for Wildcard, her loosest album yet. But with women occupying all five of these nomination slots, it’s a perfect opportunity for the Academy to start crowning a new generation of country talent. Give this one to Ashley McBryde for bridging roughed-up outlaw country with polished country-pop on her sophomore major-label effort, Never Will.

Should win: Never Will
Will win: Wildcard

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