Grammy Awards preview: Who’s who on music’s biggest night

Awards season is among us once again and in the coming months, Hollywood’s elite will be gearing up for some of the most important nights of their careers. The 63rd annual Grammy Awards is one of the first award shows to occur on March 14 after being postponed from its usual date in late January. 

The nominees were announced Nov. 24, 2020 and since then, I’ve had time to look through all 83 categories and make some predictions in regard to who I think is going to win the coveted golden gramophone. However, for the sake of this story, I’ll be highlighting some of the night’s biggest categories.

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

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

For record of the year and song of the year, Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” is my predicted winner. “Don’t Start Now” is the perfect mix of 1980s disco with electronic undertones that make you want to dance. It shows off Lipa’s vocal ability while highlighting a self-transformation post breakup, as well as an attempt by the ex in question to wiggle their way back into her life. It’s a shame we weren’t able to experience the full beauty of this song live, in clubs or at a rollerskating rink even, but the track receiving a Grammy nomination is a telltale sign the Recording Academy has been paying attention to its impact. 

Album of the Year

“Chilombo” — Jhené Aiko

“Black Pumas (Deluxe)” — Black Pumas

“Everyday Life” — Coldplay

“Djesse Vol. 3” — Jacob Collier

“Future Nostalgia” — Dua Lipa

“folklore” — Taylor Swift

Being the first of two surprise albums from Taylor Swift in 2020, “folklore” is definitely deserving a Grammy nomination and my prediction of winner for album of the year. The stripped-down folk tones Swift incorporated, as well as the vivid stories in each track, make this album one of the standout releases of 2020. Swift perfectly wraps up the feelings of love and loss in 16 tracks in a way only she’s capable of and includes a heartbreaking piano ballad with Bon Iver that’s sure to punch you in the gut. It’s an album that’s stark in contrast to Swift’s other recent releases and continues to prove her diversity as an artist.

Best New Artist

Ingrid Andress

Phoebe Bridgers

Chika

Noah Cyrus

D Smoke

Doja Cat

Kaytranada

Megan Thee Stallion

My prediction for best new artist is indie pop artist Phoebe Bridgers. Her sophomore album “Punisher,” which is also nominated for best alternative music album, has thrust her even further into the spotlight. Her vocal abilities are strong, yet soft-spoken, but that’s what makes her stand out as an artist beside the raw nature of her music. Each song on “Punisher” shows off her songwriting abilities through the descriptions and context weaved throughout each individual lyric. Bridgers’ Grammy nomination is deserved and only solidifies her place within the ever-growing industry.

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

“Watermelon Sugar’’ by Harry Styles is my predicted winner for best pop solo performance. It served as the song of summer 2020 for many despite being stuck inside — Styles himself even dedicated the song’s music video to touching. The track exudes the energy of summertime and makes me want to frolic along the shore everytime I listen to it. Styles’ vocal abilities shine through the entire track, as do the backing instruments consisting of guitars, horns and percussion to name a few. The track starts off with just Styles and a guitar but grows to its full production soon after. While there seems to be an ongoing discussion regarding the true meaning of the lyrics, one thing is certain and it’s that “Watermelon Sugar” was the upbeat, feel-good song we needed in 2020.

Best Pop Vocal Album

“Changes” — Justin Bieber

“Chromatica” — Lady Gaga

“Future Nostalgia” — Dua Lipa

“Fine Line” — Harry Styles

“folklore” — Taylor Swift

Harry Styles’ sophomore album “Fine Line’’ is my pick for best pop vocal album. It’s one of the albums that will go down in history for its production and lyrics. It has also been praised by rock goddess Stevie Nicks as being Styles’ own “Rumors.” Each track shows off a different side of Styles’ lyricism and tells a cohesive story about what it’s like to fall in love, lose that love and eventually come to terms with that loss. It’s a beautifully-produced album that has gotten me through some difficult times and contains some of my favorite songs to date. The Grammy nomination for “Fine Line” solidifies Styles’ status as a solo artist and gives the album the credit it’s deserving of.

Best Rock Performance

“Shameika” — Fiona Apple

“Not” — Big Thief

“Kyoto” — Phoebe Bridgers

“The Steps” — HAIM

“Stay High” — Brittany Howard

“Daylight” — Grace Potter

My prediction for winner of best rock performance is “The Steps” by HAIM. The song is heavily guitar and drum-driven and paired with lyrics that embody what it feels like when a lover doesn’t understand the path their significant other is taking. The sisters’ vocals shine through on the track with gritty and airy falsettos. The song also exudes 1970s vibes mixed with what you’d expect to hear while driving down California’s coast, which makes it stand out. 

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

For my predicted winner, the best rock album goes to “The New Abnormal” by The Strokes. For being a rock album, “The New Abnormal” tests the waters by including some ’80s synth-like beats on “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” and “At The Door,” while including some killer guitar on “Not The Same Anymore” and “Selfless.” For their first album in seven years, The Strokes deliver a fun rock album that shows off lead singer Julian Casablancas’ range while providing listeners with the usual rock elements. 

Best R&B Performance

“Lightning and 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

My predicted winner for best R&B performance is “Black Parade” by Beyoncé. It’s a powerful song celebrating Black culture and was released on Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The song shows off Bey’s extensive vocal abilities from gritty alto to her signature falsetto, while the imagery of the lyrics gives off a sense of pride for Black culture and communities. It’s songs like these that are remembered for generations to come, and I have no doubt this will be incorporated into that list. 

Best Progressive R&B Album

“Chilombo” — Jhené Aiko

“Ungodly Hour” — Chloe x Halle

“Free Nationals” — Free Nationals 

“F*** Yo Feelings” — Robert Glasper

“It Is What It Is” — Thundercat

Sister duo Chloe x Halle’s sophomore album “Ungodly Hour” is my predicted winner for best progressive R&B album. The vocal abilities of both women stand out on each track, offering listeners both heavenly falsettos and sultry tones. Each track offers something different from the sisters, whether it be upbeat track “Do It” or ballad “Wonder What She Thinks of Me.” Each performance from Chloe x Halle over the last year has also set them apart from other artists in terms of production and design — each performance was also filmed on their tennis court. “Ungodly Hour” is definitely an album that shows what the duo is capable of and this nomination is only a testament to that. 

Best Alternative Music Album

“Fetch The Bolt Cutters” —Fiona Apple

“Hyperspace” — Beck

“Punisher” — Phoebe Bridgers

“Jaime” — Brittany Howard

“The Slow Rush” — Tame Impala

“Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers is my predicted winner for best alternative music album. This is Bridgers’ sophomore album and each track stands out in its own way, whether it be the upbeat nature of “Kyoto” or the heartbreaking loss felt in “Chinese Satellite.”  Bridgers’ lyrics also stand out and wrap listeners in its tendrils, whisking them away on a journey to a world that’s filled with melancholy, while stripping away layers of oneself until they’re left bare. It solidifies Bridgers’ songwriting abilities and leaves listeners wanting to spend more time in this world she’s created.

Overall, this year’s Grammy Awards is sure to be full of amazing performances by nominees, surprises and commentary from host Trevor Noah. I’m looking forward to tuning in and seeing if some of my predictions come true in the coming weeks.