Who Should Win And Who Will Win At The 2023 Grammys?

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Who Should Win And Who Will Win At The 2023 Grammys?

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

[Extremely Twin Peaks voice] It is happening again. [From here, you can choose to read the rest of the article in Twin Peaks voice or not, depending on how disturbing you find the subject matter.]

I’m here to warn you that the 65th Grammy Awards are scheduled to transpire this Sunday in Los Angeles. Most of the awards once again will be handed out at the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony at the Microsoft Theater starting at 3:30PM ET, with the main show going down at (gulp) Crypto.com Arena starting at 8PM ET on CBS and Paramount+. In addition to tributes honoring Loretta Lynn, Christine McVie, and Takeoff, performers will include Harry Styles, Lizzo, Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Sam Smith and Kim Petras, and more to be announced — probably a lot more given that the Grammys producers prefer to crowd their show with as many mostly mediocre performances as possible rather than bestowing trophies on possibly-deserving musical artists.

Speaking of which: It’s kind of a misnomer to discuss who deserves to win the various Grammy categories because in many cases you could make a strong case for artists who aren’t even nominated. (Or in the case of Abel Tesfaye, artists who did not submit their music for consideration.) But within the constraints provided by the Recording Academy, let’s return to the annual tradition of analyzing select categories to see who should win and who will. We’ll dive deep into the “big four” General Field categories then sprinkle in quick picks for some genre categories of interest. As usual, I can only guarantee the accuracy of my opinions, not my predictions.

Best New Artist

DOMi & JD Beck
Muni Long
Molly Tuttle
Omar Apollo
Samara Joy
Tobe Nwigwe
Wet Leg

Better luck next time: Anitta is one of the requisite “not actually new” nominees, having been a huge pop star in Brazil for years before pivoting to English on her merely-solid crossover-attempt LP last year. (The betting odds are slightly in her favor, for what it’s worth.) R&B radio role player Muni Long has similarly been in the game for well over a decade as both an artist and a songwriter-to-the-stars, and her behind-the-scenes role for Grammy favorites like H.E.R. surely contributed to her nomination. Bluegrass mainstay Molly Tuttle is up to her third album at this point and seems like an obvious “just happy to be here” inclusion. Latto is a lotta fun, but none of her music has really stood out beyond one smash hit built on a recognizable sample. We respect the hustle of Christian YouTube rapper Tobe Nwigwe, but nah.

Who should win: Wet Leg. Wet Leg are so fun! We named them a Band To Watch in 2021! Their debut album lived up to the promise of their buzzy breakthrough single. They are actually making moves beyond the blog bubble, too — note the multi-tiered endorsement from one Harry Styles.

Who will win: You never want to rule out the chance that the Grammys will reward a jazz artist just to remind you they’re the Grammys. Young singer Samara Joy could feasibly pull an Esperanza Spalding, given that she’s unleashing her rich alto on music that feels like it was in the same ultra-respectable mid-20th century milieu where many in the Academy’s brains seem stuck. The colorful young duo DOMi & JD Beck would be a more radical choice, but support from Grammy favorite Anderson .Paak among other industry power players makes it seem like the voters could gravitate toward their TikTok-friendly spin on conservatory chops. Alas, what seems even more likely is a win for Måneskin, the sleazy/glammy Italian rock band who won Eurovision, scored a freak pop hit two summers ago, and have since become the first marketable rock band in a long, long time. They suck tremendously, but the Grammys are extremely confused about rock music. When presented with such a chance by the market, I don’t think the traditionalists at the Academy will pass up the chance to anoint a new rock band.

Song Of The Year

GAYLE – “abcdefu” (Sara Davis, GAYLE, Dave Pittenger)
Lizzo – “About Damn Time” (Melissa “Lizzo” Jefferson, Eric Frederic, Blake Slatkin, Theron Makiel Thomas)
Taylor Swift – “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)” (Liz Rose, Taylor Swift)
Harry Styles – “As It Was” (Tyler Johnson, Kid Harpoon, Harry Styles)
Steve Lacy – “Bad Habit” (Matthew Castellanos, Brittany Fousheé, Diana Gordon, John Carroll Kirby, Steve Lacy)
Beyoncé – “BREAK MY SOUL” (Beyoncé, S. Carter, Terius “The-Dream” Gesteelde-Diamant, Christopher A. Stewart)
Adele – “Easy On Me” (Adele Adkins, Greg Kurstin)
DJ Khaled – “GOD DID” (Feat. Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend & Fridayy) (Tarik Azzouz, E. Blackmon, Khaled Khaled, F. LeBlanc, Shawn Carter, John Stephens, Dwayne Carter, William Roberts, Nicholas Warwar)
Kendrick Lamar – “The Heart Part 5” (Jake Kosich, Johnny Kosich, Kendrick Lamar, Matt Schaeffer)
Bonnie Raitt – “Just Like That” (Bonnie Raitt)

Better luck next time: I don’t think the Grammys can bring themselves to give their top songwriting award to a DJ Khaled song, even one that features John Legend. I also don’t think the Bonnie Raitt or GAYLE tracks stand a chance against this many A-list pop stars. Does Lizzo have a shot? Maybe — she certainly has an industry army behind her — but I see her as an underdog compared to the imperial forces she’s up against, so for our purposes here let’s rule her out.

Who should win: The coolest choice would be Steve Lacy, whose chillwavey psychedelic funk-soul jam “Bad Habit” became a surprise #1 hit this year. If not Lacy, a win for Kendrick Lamar makes sense in this category: Even as his Mr. Morale era spurned pop accessibility in favor of the dense and willfully difficult, he continued to be a stunning writer, particularly on this non-album teaser track. I like “All Too Well,” “BREAK MY SOUL,” and “Easy On Me,” but I have my reservations about all three in this context. Re: Taylor’s Version, I don’t love the implications of recognizing a decade-old song, though it would certainly be in step with industry trends. Beyoncé’s hit is fantastic dancefloor material, but it doesn’t stand out to me as a triumph of songwriting, particularly with a synth part so baldly appealing to nostalgia that many assumed it was a sample. My only gripe with a blockbuster Adele ballad winning Song Of The Year would be that it’s too predictable and the Grammys should spread the love; call me mid if you must, but honestly the song slays.

Who will win: Among the titan-level superstars competing here, the odds currently have Adele projected ahead of Harry Styles, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift in that order. Adele and Swift are both proven Grammy darlings, and as the most nominated artist ever — and the most-awarded woman — Beyoncé qualifies for that designation too, even if she’s never won one of the top categories. But Harry Styles is performing Sunday night, and the man’s Patrick-Bateman-apartment music — milquetoast and traditionalist and yuppy-friendly, with a sleek progressive veneer — is begging to be anointed at this year’s ceremony. It’s not the same as it was. Same as it ever was.

Record Of The Year

ABBA – “Don’t Shut Me Down”
Adele – “Easy On Me”
Beyoncé – “BREAK MY SOUL”
Mary J. Blige – “Good Morning Gorgeous”
Brandi Carlile & Lucius – “You And Me On The Rock”
Doja Cat – “Woman”
Lizzo – “About Damn Time”
Steve Lacy – “Bad Habit”
Kendrick Lamar – “The Heart Part 5”
Harry Styles – “As It Was”

Better luck next time: It would be hilarious if ABBA won this, but no. Shut them down. Almost as funny would be living legend Mary J. Blige winning for a song nobody except her Spotify followers has ever heard, two decades past her hit-making prime. Doja Cat, despite her genuinely moving podium moment last year, does not exude the stuffy prestige these General Field categories demand. Lizzo also feels a bit too cartoon-ish in approach, though lord knows she’d give a memorable acceptance speech. Steve Lacy at least has critical acclaim on his side, but I don’t expect him to pull the upset against so many Grammy favorites.

Who should win: As much as I like the Kendrick, Beyoncé, and Steve Lacy tracks here, give this one to Ms. Adkins. “Easy On Me” may be Adele-by-numbers, but that never stops it from tingling my spine. From its downcast opening piano riff to the peak of her glory notes, it’s a bulletproof pop song — and despite its smart construction, no one else could have breathed such life into its tale of loss. All hail the expertly executed genre exercise.

Who will win: Once an artist wins Grammys and cracks regular rotation on Barack Obama’s year-end music lists, you should never count them out for future victories. So I would not be shocked at all if Brandi Carlile prevailed here. As with Song Of The Year, though, I can’t shake the feeling that Styles’ presence at the top of the performers’ list means something. Perhaps more importantly, “As It Was” was the most successful single of 2022. It’s the biggest hit yet from a guy so famous he doesn’t really need hits. The song is an ideal exemplar of the Grammy ethos — broad enough to cross radio formats and demographics, blandly catchy enough to avoid being widely hated or beloved. The fact that SoCal boomer royals like Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks adore Styles should not go unnoticed either. Never forget: A Harry Styles win panders to both the Grammy establishment and the kids.

Album Of The Year

ABBA – Voyage
Adele – 30
Bad Bunny – Un Verano Sin Ti
Mary J. Blige – Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)
Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days
Coldplay – Music Of The Spheres
Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
Lizzo – Special
Harry Styles – Harry’s House

Better luck next time: At this point I’m convinced the Academy wave Coldplay into this category based on name recognition every time they submit. If they hadn’t hitched their star to BTS, their album would have made no cultural or commercial impact whatsoever. Now that she’s an Oscar nominee, the same principle may apply to Mary J. Blige. I don’t expect ABBA, Lizzo, or Brandi Carlile to win either.

Who should win: Beyoncé should win. RENAISSANCE was not a commercial behemoth to quite the same extent that it was a critical behemoth, but in terms of its industry profile, it’s still a #1 album that spun off a #1 single. Aside from the business side of the equation, Bey’s queer-club-inspired dancefloor opus is yet another grand statement from a generation-defining artist who has yet to be recognized by the Academy in its most prestigious tier. Whether this record is better than self-titled or Lemonade or any of Beyoncé’s prior LPs is beside the question, though there are certainly listeners who’ll argue its case. And if they don’t give the award to RENAISSANCE, they’d be wise to award Bad Bunny, who almost had to be nominated here based on Un Verano Sin Ti’s dominant run last year. What a significant triumph that would be: a non-English LP from a forward-thinking superstar at his cultural pinnacle. I’m warming up to this idea…

Who will win: There’s a good chance Harry Styles will win here for reasons outlined above, and you should never, ever rule out Adele on Grammy night. However, it would be extremely Grammy to finally present Kendrick Lamar with Album Of The Year for the worst album of his career. It almost has to happen, right? I’m all the way in Ohio, and I’m pretty sure I can feel the breeze from the Academy members patting their own backs.

Best Alternative Music Album

Arcade Fire – WE
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Björk – Fossora
Wet Leg – Wet Leg
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down

Who should win: Big Thief.
Who will win: Arcade Fire. 😬

Best Rock Album

The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie
Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If
IDLES – Crawler
Machine Gun Kelly – Mainstream Sellout
Ozzy Osbourne – Patient Number 9
Spoon – Lucifer On The Sofa

Who should win: Spoon.
Who will win: Machine Gun Kelly. 😬

Best Pop Vocal Album

ABBA – Voyage
Adele – 30
Coldplay – Music Of The Spheres
Lizzo – Special
Harry Styles – Harry’s House

Who should win: Adele.
Who will win: Harry Styles.

Best Rap Album

DJ Khaled – God Did
Future – I Never Liked You
Jack Harlow – Come Home The Kids Miss You
Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry

Who should win: Kendrick Lamar.
Who will win: Jack Harlow. (Just kidding, it’ll be Kendrick. They wouldn’t really Mackle this category again, right? Right?)

Best Country Album

Ashley McBryde – Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville
Luke Combs – Growin’ Up
Maren Morris – Humble Quest
Miranda Lambert – Palomino
Willie Nelson – A Beautiful Time

Who should win: Ashley McBryde.
Who will win: Luke Combs.

Best Dance/Electronic Album

Bonobo – Fragments
Diplo — Diplo
ODESZA – The Last Goodbye
RÜFÜS DU SOL – Surrender

Who should win: Beyoncé, though including her here is kind of cheating.
Who will win: Beyoncé, unless the same people who are booking ODESZA to headline every music festival also dominate the Grammy voter pool.

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical

Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
Dernst “D’mile” Emile II

Who should win: Dahi.
Who will win: Jack Antonoff.

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