Billboard Latin Music Awards

From Rihanna to Paul Simon: Who Has the Most to Gain (And Lose) at 2017 Grammys?

Michael Campanella/Redferns
Rihanna performs at Tele2 Arena on July 4, 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Rihanna and Paul Simon made great records, yes, but they’re among the artists and execs with the most to gain — and lose.

Kelsea Ballerini
WHO: The Taylor Swift-approved country artist.
ISSUE: A year after a radio consultant recommended limiting airplay for female artists, Ballerini, along with Maren Morris and Cam, hopes to contend for best new artist.
UPSHOT: At least one of these upstarts should make the final ballot -- which bodes well for the future of Nashville’s “tomatoes.”

Sturgill Simpson
WHO: The outspoken critic’s darling behind the country-soul album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.
ISSUE: In a year without a Nashville juggernaut, Simpson has an outside shot at a nod for album of the year.
UPSHOT: Will calling the Academy of Country Music Awards “formulaic cannon-fodder bullshit” lend outlaw cred or torpedo his chances?

Paul Simon
WHO: The veteran artist who released the five-years-in-the-making Stranger to Stranger LP.
ISSUE: Desert Trip proves boomers can still sell tickets, but will they still be a factor for awards?
UPSHOT: The late David Bowie may get an album of the year nod; Simon has a shot, too. But this could be the year that hallowed rock elders are shut out from the top honor.--

Rihanna
WHO: The VMAs-honored singer, who released a No. 1 Billboard 200 album (Anti) and No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 single (“Work”) in 2016.
ISSUE: She has won eight Grammys, but never in a major category.
UPSHOT: Hard to see her lapping Beyoncé. What does a good girl gone bad need to do for proper recognition of a record-smashing career?

Kanye West
WHO: The rapper who released The Life of Pablo in February (and tweaked and revised it for weeks).
ISSUE: He has won 21 Grammys, but -- as he’s quick to remind us -- none in the album, record or song of the year categories.
UPSHOT: Drake dominated airplay, and Chance the Rapper got the critical love. West could be left hanging.

Les Moonves
WHO: The president/CEO of CBS, home of the Grammys telecast.
ISSUE: The 2016 Grammys were the lowest-rated in six years, and TV ratings for awards shows are declining in general.
UPSHOT: Adele versus Beyoncé may draw TV viewers, but only an innovative performance -- or impassioned speech -- is likely to go viral.

Jay Z & Jimmy Iovine
WHO: The heads, respectively, of streaming services Tidal and Apple Music.
ISSUE: Will music released through exclusive deals with streaming services turn off Grammy voters?
UPSHOT: The superstars should emerge unscathed, but certain albums being harder to hear could damage streaming’s image.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 15 issue of Billboard.

2017 Grammys