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GRAMMY CHEW: (SORT OF) HANDICAPPING THE BIG 4


This year’s round of top-tier noms is, as ever, a combination of on-target choices, insider favorites and a few unaccountable snubs. How will it all shake out on Music’s Biggest Night? Remember our mantra: Grammy does what Grammy wants.

What follows is less a set of predictions—what kind of suckers do you take us for?—than a survey of possibilities. By the by, we’ve also combined Record and Song into one section as there is considerable overlap between them. Now let’s get to it.


ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Jon Batiste, World Music Radio: Grammy handed AOTY to the versatile Verve/Interscope artist-songwriter-muso-bandleader last time (with an armload of other trophies); might this more eclectic, pop-leaning set repeat that feat?

boygenius, the record: When Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus joined forces, the result was greater than the sum of its parts. A breakout SNL performance amped up the Interscope threesome’s momentum; could they go all the way?

Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation: The Columbia vocal dynamo’s smasheroo “Flowers,” discussed below, was a signal song of 2023. This album includes some of the most affecting and disciplined pop she—or anyone—has made in a long time.

Lana Del Rey, Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd: The Interscope innovator pushes yet more boundaries on this challenging offering, taking her distinctive approach to the next level. Could this Blvd give her a lane to victory?

Janelle Monáe, The Age of Pleasure: Anything the multitalented Monáe does is of interest, and Pleasure’s exuberant, global vibe—incorporating Afrobeats, reggae and more—won critical plaudits. Might she surprise with a win?

Olivia Rodrigo, GUTS: There was no sophomore slump whatsoever for the Geffen star, who was nominated across the Big Four categories and took home BNA, Pop Solo Performance and Pop Vocal Album in 2022. GUTS, which she co-crafted with trusty amanuensis Dan Nigro, showed her increased confidence in multiple styles. Could it take the prize?

Taylor Swift, Midnights: The Republic megastar conquered 2023 with her monster tour, hit movie of the tour, re-recorded triumphs, media ubiquity and huge streams for this sophisticated, candid set. Will she cap an unprecedented run with a win here?

SZA, SOS: The TDE/RCA superstar’s follow-up to the monster Ctrl was among the most eagerly awaited albums of the decade and still managed to exceed expectations. Indeed, everything SZA did in 2023 was next-level. Will she have a suitably triumphant Grammy night?


RECORD OF THE YEAR/SONG OF THE YEAR
(Entries are nominated in both categories unless otherwise specified.)

Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”: Will this mega-smash and cultural touchstone earn the Columbia star the hardware? It’s a great song and performance by any conceivable metric, and despite Grammy’s claim not to care about sales, its massive success is a factor.

SZA, “Kill Bill”: SZA crushed it in 2023, consistently earning top streams and demonstrating the power of her artist brand. “Bill” was among the year’s biggest songs and solidified her dominance. Will a win in one or both of these categories be the capper to her fabulous year?

Billie Eilish, “What Was I Made For?”: This intimate track from the Barbie ST, another streaming monster, is a contender for an Oscar for Song as well. Could Darkroom/Interscope’s darling Billie need a new trophy shelf soon?

Olivia Rodrigo’s “vampire”: O-Rod’s leadoff GUTS single showed serious, um, bite and proves her big wins in 2022 (including Best New Artist) were no fluke. With a humongous tour in the offing, will she also make a trek to the podium?

Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero”: Tay’s culture-rocking year encompassed chart, turnstile, film and headline dominance, and this Midnights cut streamed continuously throughout. Will this be the year she gets her long-desired SOTY hardware?

boygenius, “Not Strong Enough” (ROTY): The trio’s energetic blend of pop-rock and folk—with killer harmonies—has taken hold, particularly post-SNL. In a field crowded with superstars, could they take it?

Victoria Monét, “On My Mama” (ROTY): The RCA artist and hit tunesmith is beloved in the creative community, and this endearing slice of R&B perfectly crystallizes her appeal. Might Grammy anoint her this year?

Jon Batiste, “Worship” (ROTY) and “Butterfly” (SOTY): Batiste, who took an armload of top trophies home this year, is up for more glory just as a highly regarded, moving documentary about his life is released.

Lana Del Rey, “A&W” (SOTY): This mesmerizing song addressing sexual assault and other painful territory is a reminder that LDR routinely and bravely goes where other artists dare not. Is Grammy ready to fully reward her artistry?

Dua Lipa, “Dance the Night” (SOTY): Another Barbie cut, this disco romp underscores the Warner superdiva’s charisma. With a new single and word of another enormous tour, she’s only gained momentum.


BEST NEW ARTIST

Gracie Abrams: The Interscope singer-songwriter delivers emotionally resonant pop songs with energy and finesse, and her opening spot on Taylor Swift’s giant tour spiked her visibility. Is her vibe in harmony with Grammy’s direction this year?

Fred again..: This Brit artist-songwriter and EDM luminary has considerable musical bona fides, having worked with everyone from Brian Eno to Ed Sheeran; in 2020 he became the BRITs' youngest Producer of the Year. Could Grammy plug into his wavelength?

Ice Spice: 10K/Capitol’s breakout was unquestionably rap’s rookie of the year and brought much swagger and style to hit collaborations like “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2,” with PinkPantheress, and her monster Barbie joint with Nicki Minaj. Could she season her killer year with a BNA win?

Jelly Roll: Arguably 2023’s biggest, most disruptive country arrival, Broken Bow’s face-tatted, rock-leaning artist broke through with audiences and critics alike thanks to his frank, emotionally raw material and swinging-for-the-fences delivery. Could his roll lead to the podium?

Coco Jones: Def Jam’s sleek chanteuse made a splash in the R&B world with her versatile vocals and considerable charm, not to mention hit single “ICU,” which injected new vitality into the genre’s classic bedroom mode. Is Coco ready to sashay to victory?

Noah Kahan: This Mercury/Republic troubadour has helped bring folk-tinged music back into the mainstream, and thanks to “Stick Season” and other riveting songs, he’s catapulted to stardom. Will he cement his gains with a BNA win?

Victoria Monét: Having written hits for stars like Ariana Grande, Monét is well known to Grammy voters, many of whom have been rooting for her to truly enter the spotlight. With ROTY love for “On My Mama” and a BNA nom, her time may truly have come.

The War and Treaty: Mercury Nashville’s soulful married couple has enchanted country fans for a while now with their combination of Americana, gospel, R&B and other forms, all delivered with genuine fire. Are they about to break into the mainstream?

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