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GRAMMY PRE-CHEW:
THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIG 4

July 4th weekend is now behind us, and that means one thing (besides uncontrolled anxiety over the state of our dying republic): It’s time for a premature look at what is shaping up to be the most star-studded, competitive and eventful Grammy Awards in recent memory. In the coming weeks, esteemed Grammy bloviators Lenny Beer and Simon Glickman will begin filling these column inches (that’s old-school newspaper talk) with their eagle-eyed assessments. But for now, prefaced by the necessary caveats—the eligibility period isn’t over until 8/30; artists, labels and their teams are still figuring out what to submit; and, most crucially, GRAMMYS GONNA GRAMMY—here’s my 30,000-foot overview of how the general-field categories are shaping up and who really has a legitimate shot to win.

1. Does anyone have a chance to take home Album of the Year besides Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Billie Eilish?

The short answer is no. Tay, Bey and Billie are Grammy juggernauts. Swift has been nominated 52 times and won 14 Grammys, including a record four AOTY wins (Midnights in 2024; folklore, 2021; 1989, 2016; and Fearless, 2010); Beyoncé is tied with her hubby, JAY-Z, for most all-time noms (88) and has won more Grammys than any other artist (32); and Eilish, still just 22 years old, has already received 25 nominations and won nine awards, including AOTY in 2020. Their latest albums—THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT, COWBOY CARTER and HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, respectively—have all been enormously successful, both commercially and critically.

Sure, there could be some vote-splitting; breakthrough newcomers like Sabrina Carpenter and Chappell Roan could make things spicy, and OK, I suppose Irish singer-songwriter Hozier and previous AOTY winner Kacey Musgraves might have enough standing to pull an upset. Eminem’s forthcoming album becomes an instant favorite in the Rap Album category, but the last time he was nominated for AOTY was in 2011, for Recovery. Charli xcx’s BRAT is a deserving underdog, but I’m guessing it’s too steamy for the Academy. So unless Kendrick Lamar releases an album before the end of the summer (more on him below), I’d be dumbstruck if one of the three aforementioned superstars doesn’t end up taking home the AOTY trophy.


Tay, Bey, Billie, Hozier and Kacey

2. Unless your first name is Aubrey, Kendrick’s “Not Like Us” is everything you could want in a hip-hop record, a culturally gargantuan banger from one of the GOATs. But the Grammys are often tone-deaf when it comes to hip-hop. Should Ken be the favorite for Song and Record?

Should he be? Yes. Will he be? Um…. Historically, the Song and Record categories have not been kind to hip-hop (this is even more crushingly true for Album). So as omnipresent as “Not Like Us” has been, and as revered as Lamar is, bear in mind two things: The last time a rap song won Song or Record was 2019, when Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” won both, and Lamar has never won a general-field Grammy (he’s 0 for 10, including the Black Panther soundtrack). Still, if “Not Like Us” doesn’t win at least one major award, yikes, it’s gonna get ugly.

Taylor, Billie and Beyoncé will, of course, be fierce competition in these categories, although it’s worth noting that Taylor has never won for Song, and Beyoncé, despite her record haul of noms, has stunningly only won one of the Big 3, for Song of the Year way back in 2010 (“Single Ladies”), whereas Billie, alongside her brother FINNEAS, has four Song and Record wins since 2020.

Meanwhile, pop supernovas Carpenter (whether “Espresso” or “Please Please Please”) and Roan (the unstoppable “Good Luck, Babe!” or perhaps the accelerating “Hot to Go!”) certainly seem poised for Record and Song noms. Grammy voters, though, with exception, tend to favor Meaningfulness (see “What Was I Made For,” last year’s Song winner from Barbie) or artists with a traditionalist bent (Silk Sonic, H.E.R., Bonnie Raitt). Along those lines, it’s not hard to see Hozier’s smoldering mid-tempo #1, “Too Sweet,” capturing Song or Record. Similarly, Teddy Swims’ “Lose Control” has the show-stopping appeal of Adele’s torch songs; it’s the kind of song and performance that Grammy voters love to reward. I’d put Benson Boone’s “Beautiful Things” in that category as well, but it may lack the gravitas needed to pull an upset. SZA’s “Saturn” and Musgraves’ “Deeper Well” deserve noms, but it’s hard to imagine either winning. The Grammys don’t know what to do with Zach Bryan, and that’s fine with him, because he couldn’t care less. So we’ll see what happens with “Pink Skies” or a newer single. Morgan Wallen has NEVER been nominated for a Grammy; his duet partner, Post Malone, has, so perhaps this is the year. (And Malone, the duet partner du jour, has his own album coming in August.)


Kendrick, Sabrina, Chappell, Teddy and Benson

Finally, The Beatles’ elegiac “Now and Then” generated a lot of conversation upon its release, but given that the Grammy voting body continues to diversify and get younger, Paul and Ringo would be happy to just say hello, goodbye on Grammy night.

3. Will the Best New Artist race come down to Sabrina vs. Chappell?

Both are wholly deserving, both are on fire (and both are on Island). Still, if there’s one category where the Grammys are gonna Grammy the hardest, it’s Best New Artist, where previous winners such as Samara Joy and Esperanza Spalding signified the Recording Academy’s commitment to bedrock values: musicianship, craft, a connection to and respect for the past. (Last year’s winner, Victoria Monét, embodies those virtues, too.) Sabrina and Chappell are pure pop acts, more along the lines of recent winners Olivia Rodrigo and Dua Lipa, and both are feel-good examples of artists who toughed it out and overcame years of struggle to achieve their “overnight” success.

If they split the vote, Warner has two outstanding BNA contenders as well, in Swims and Boone, but the last dude to win BNA was Chance the Rapper back in 2017. If they also split the vote, there could be a lane for Afrobeats sensation Tems (already a five-time Grammy nominee) or even Shaboozey (one monster song, plus credits on Beyoncé’s album). There are plenty of other deserving newbies—GloRilla, Reneė Rapp, Sexyy Red, Tommy Richman, Michael Marcagi and Megan Moroney, to name a few—but it’s hard to ignore the streams and cultural momentum of Carpenter and Roan.

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