Let’s Predict The Winners For The Big Four Grammy Awards This Year

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

Let’s Predict The Winners For The Big Four Grammy Awards This Year

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

Take this as a reminder, a warning, whatever: The Grammys are this Sunday.

Most of the awards will be handed out before the big show at a smaller show called the Premiere Ceremony, which will begin funneling winners’ names onto your timeline at 3:30PM ET and will be available to stream live on YouTube. That’s when we’ll find out who wins Best Alternative Music Album (it will be boygenius), Best Americana Album (bet on Jason Isbell), Best Rap Album (I’m guessing Killer Mike), and most of the other categories. Then, at 8PM ET, the pageantry will be in your TV on CBS and Paramount Plus.

The Grammys telecast is often derided (including by me) for prioritizing performances, many of which have nothing to do with this year’s nominees, over the awards themselves. But even if the number of gramophone trophies handed out Sunday night will barely crack double digits, you can at least count on the show to shine a spotlight on the general field categories, aka the Big Four: Album Of The Year (for albums), Song Of The Year (for songwriting), Record Of The Year (for the finished recordings of songs), and Best New Artist (for artists you’ve known about for years but who came on the Recording Academy’s radar this year).

With the understanding that the Grammys often reward popularity as much as quality, let’s take a look at all four of those races and figure out who’ll take home the night’s biggest honors, factoring in the betting odds, Grammy history, and subjective vibes. I’ll offer my analysis and picks, and then you all can offer your own in the comments.

Best New Artist

  • Gracie Abrams
  • Fred again..
  • Ice Spice
  • Jelly Roll
  • Coco Jones
  • Noah Kahan
  • Victoria Monét
  • The War And Treaty

This seems like a wide-open race. You don’t necessarily need hits or a big pop culture imprint to win Best New Artist (see: Esperanza Spalding), but we can safely rule out electronic producer Fred again.. and married vintage soul duo the War And Treaty. The two artists are long odds to win, and are both in the “just happy to be nominated” tier, perhaps here by virtue of their association with more famous artists (Skrillex and Zach Bryan, respectively).

I don’t expect the award to go to an artist whose appeal rests entirely in Middle America, which rules out Jelly Roll, a redneck rapper turned hearty country superstar. According to the odds, Gracie Abrams, a nepo baby making prestige indie-pop with Aaron Dessner, and Coco Jones, an actress making exquisite R&B, are both underdogs too. But Abrams is beloved by superstars like Taylor Swift (who took her on some Eras Tour dates) and Olivia Rodrigo (who cited her as an inspiration for “drivers license”), and, oh yeah, her dad is J.J. Abrams. Jones, a former Disney kid, had enough industry heat to get Justin Timberlake on a remix of her awesome “ICU.” I am reluctant to write either of them off in a contest at the heart of the entertainment industry establishment.

Yet this really feels like a three-way race between Victoria Monét, Ice Spice, and Noah Kahan. Monét, the current betting favorite, is a longtime behind-the-scenes figure making resplendent R&B. She boasts a big hit in “On My Mama” and, crucially, seven Grammy nominations this year. The Recording Academy clearly likes her. But Ice Spice, the Bronx rapper with the second best odds, blew up organically and has since been completely subsumed into the music biz machine. She’s guested on a Taylor Swift remix and performed on SNL, and she announced her debut album on Today. There’s powerful machinery at work to ensure even your parents know who she is.

And then there’s Kahan, the Vermont folk-pop singer-songwriter who exploded in popularity over the past couple years. He’s got a lot of famous fans and has collaborated with veteran stars (Post Malone, Kacey Musgraves) and his fellow newly minted celebs (Gracie Abrams, Zach Bryan). Kahan’s combination of personalized lyrics plus blandly inoffensive music puts him in the Hozier/Mumford zone, like Bon Iver if Justin Vernon had way more basic taste. It’s a kind of music that has been experiencing a comeback lately, with Kahan as a major driving force and beneficiary of the wave. I would not be surprised if Ice Spice or Victoria Monét won this award, but this guy’s got my prediction.

Predicted winner: Noah Kahan.

Song Of The Year

  • “A&W” — Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey, and Sam Dew, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)
  • “Anti-Hero” — Jack Antonoff and Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
  • “Butterfly” — Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson, songwriters (Jon Batiste)
  • “Dance The Night” — Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson, and Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Dua Lipa)
  • “Flowers” — Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein, and Michael Pollack, songwriters (Miley Cyrus)
  • “Kill Bill” — Rob Bisel, Carter Lang, and Solána Rowe, songwriters (SZA)
  • “Vampire” — Daniel Nigro and Olivia Rodrigo, songwriters (Oliva Rodrigo)
  • “What Was I Made For?” — Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)

Again, this is an award for songwriting, so it makes sense that Dua Lipa’s boilerplate Barbie hit “Dance The Night” and Lana Del Rey’s “A&W,” a convention-defying song that draws some of its power from production and performance, have the longest odds. Both of those songs are infinitely better than Miley Cyrus’ bland “Flowers” and Jon Batiste’s maudlin “Butterfly,” which both have not-terrible odds at the moment despite being terrible songs. When the nominations dropped, I pegged industry baby Cyrus for a surprise Grammy anointment, and it still wouldn’t surprise me. Nor would a continued celebration of Batiste, a surprise Album Of The Year winner two years ago. But… no. Let’s just pretend a win for either of those songs is impossible.

Though the odds aren’t currently in its favor, Olivia Rodrigo’s campy, formally audacious “Vampire” would be a fun choice. So would SZA’s outrageous “Kill Bill,” one of the more forward-looking R&B songs to see Grammy love in a while. But despite each song hitting #1 last year, how are they ever going to get past Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift? Eilish’s Barbie ballad “What Was I Made For?” is the odds-on favorite at the moment, and why not, considering the Recording Academy’s tendency to throw as many trophies at her as possible. Close behind it is “Anti-Hero,” the longest-running #1 hit of Taylor Swift’s career, at a time when she has somehow ascended to even greater heights of fame, fortune, and influence.

Unlike some of Swift’s 2020s chart-toppers, which hit #1 without making much of an imprint beyond her fan base, the “Anti-Hero” chorus “It’s me/ Hi/ I’m the problem, it’s me” instantly became a pop-culture fixture. It was omnipresent and masterfully catchy, but it’s also one of those hyper-autobiographical pop songs that might turn off listeners who aren’t invested in the artist’s celebrity narrative. Meanwhile, despite a less impressive chart profile, “What Was I Made For?” elicited actual tears from many people at the climax of last year’s biggest box office hit. That’s probably enough to nudge this award toward the Recording Academy darling who went to Grammy camp growing up.

Predicted winner: “What Was I Made For?”

Record Of The Year

  • “Worship” — Jon Batiste
  • “Not Strong Enough” — boygenius
  • “Flowers” — Miley Cyrus
  • “What Was I Made For?” — Billie Eilish
  • “On My Mama” — Victoria Monét
  • “Vampire” — Olivia Rodrigo
  • “Anti-Hero” — Taylor Swift
  • “Kill Bill” — SZA

Here’s the award given to, essentially, the year’s best single.

They’ve got to be kidding with this Jon Batiste stuff. A win for “Worship” would be sacrilege.

There is basically no history of anyone from the indie rock world winning Record Of The Year, even after signing to a major label. Daft Punk, Billie Eilish, Gotye, Childish Gambino — they all scan as vaguely alternative, but they also had viral videos and music in circulation on Top 40 radio. So although “Not Strong Enough” really stuck with me last year, it would be extremely surprising to see boygenius triumph here; it was already pretty surprising to see them nominated in this category.

Despite Victoria Monét’s boatload of nominations, a win for a minor hit like “On My Mama” would also be a stunner. And I’m going to carry over the same arguments against Olivia Rodrigo’s “Vampire” and SZA’s “Kill Bill” from the Song Of The Year category: It’s hard to imagine them overcoming a triad of mom-friendly white ladies, a type the Grammys have always been happy to reward. We should note, however, that oddsmakers have “Kill Bill” running hot, with the second best chances to win. It came in #3 on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100, after all. It was wildly popular. It can’t be counted out.

For all the reasons espoused above, I could see Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” or Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” prevailing here. But Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” was the only nominated record that had a bigger 2023 than “Kill Bill.” It was a dominant force on the charts, a triumphant comeback for an entertainer so broadly appreciated that they gave her a New Year’s Eve broadcast. Yes, the song is disgustingly mid, but doesn’t that just make it even more Grammy-friendly?

Predicted winner: “Flowers”

Album Of The Year

  • World Music Radio — Jon Batiste
  • the record — boygenius
  • Endless Summer Vacation — Miley Cyrus
  • Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd — Lana Del Rey
  • The Age Of Pleasure — Janelle Monáe
  • GUTS — Olivia Rodrigo
  • Midnights — Taylor Swift
  • SOS — SZA

Here’s where they could really throw us for a loop. Album Of The Year has historically been a crapshoot. You never know when the Grammys are going to shock the world and bypass the obvious winners in favor of late-career Steely Dan or late-career Beck or peak-popularity Daft Punk. There’s no such thing as a sure thing.

Also: Did you know boygenius have the second best odds to win this?! It wouldn’t be so crazy. They were a wall-to-wall media sensation in 2023, not unlike prior Album Of The Year winner Kacey Musgraves was in 2018. Phoebe Bridgers is the kind of nouveau celebrity who would probably be up for a bunch of these awards herself if she’d released a solo album last year. I really liked the record, but it’s an “indie rock” album that was released by Interscope and goes down smooth, allowing voters to feel like they’re throwing their support behind a hip, leftfield option without actually challenging themselves to listen to anything weird or obscure.

As I invoke Jon Batiste for a third straight category, I do have to reckon with the possibility that, in the words of Billboard editor and Stereogum supporter Jason Lipshutz, “Jon Batiste is H.I.M.” As an acclaimed jazz musician making crappy eclectic pop music, the guy is basically the Grammy aesthetic personified. World Music Radio currently has the fourth best odds to prevail. It would not be unthinkable for Batiste to repeat as Album Of The Year winner — hilarious, but not unthinkable.

GUTS isn’t going to win. Everything about Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album was just a notch below the gargantuan success of her debut, and I don’t expect to see the Grammys rewarding her for a slight commercial decline, even if the album rips. (The fact that it rips might actually be another strike against it.) It’s hard to imagine Janelle Monáe’s The Age Of Pleasure winning here given its lack of representation in the other major categories, but Monáe is a bit Grammycore.

Endless Summer Vacation is so excruciatingly unmemorable that it makes “Flowers” feel exciting in context, so the long odds for Miley Cyrus here seem right. Lana Del Rey winning four years after the album that inspired endless critical fawning (Norman Fucking Rockwell!) feels conceivable, but “A&W” is so much more deserving than the full Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.

SOS has a real shot. The album spawned five top-10 hits. It was both popular and acclaimed. SZA’s become the kind of prestige superstar the Recording Academy loves. But every single year, they snub the most deserving Black superstars. And though Taylor Swift could easily be the beneficiary of this pattern — it would be her record fourth Album Of The Year win — everyone knows Midnights was pretty weak other than “Anti-Hero.” The Grammys have a chance to honor not just one white lady but three of them at the same time. I’ve talked myself into it: The boygenius Grammy anointment might really happen.

Predicted winner: the record

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