Grammy Awards

True Confessions of a Grammy Voter: An Industry Insider Spills the Truth on Beyonce & Adele's Chances

A leading songwriter and longtime Recording Academy member checks the boxes for Drake (won’t win) and Chance (a lock), and says it’s the kids vs. the alte kakers at the academy.

Who’s On First?
If you’re Neil Portnow and Ken Ehrlich, you open the show with Beyoncé. You open with Beyoncé, but you bring out Chance the Rapper during her performance. You stack the deck. It’s very “F— you, Trump.” And isn’t that what everything will be about? The speeches will be chock-full of that. And everyone will be “overrated” in his tweets the next day.

Business As Usual
As this business continues to evolve and crumble, it’s funny that it still feels so incredibly corporate at the top of the Grammys. The big four album of the year nominations are certainly deserving, but they all feel industry-generated. And the fifth “prestige” nom, Sturgill Simpson, feels like the beneficiary of a big label push.

Free Lunch
It’s hard for me to understand who the Grammy voter really is because I don’t know if most of them have aged out... died, that is. At the end of the day, the Grammys are a TV show. They realize that they need to pull in that young audience and nominate popular artists. I picture representatives from The Recording Academy standing outside studios, signing up a 21-year-old kid who has his first 3 percent of a Rihanna C-side. But the older guard doesn’t want to give up their free annual lunch at the academy.

Album Of The Year
I voted for Drake, but Lemonade will win. Drake’s the most influential artist in music today. And I’m rewarding a billion Spotify plays, or whatever the amount is. But Lemonade is a political record, which feels dangerously appropriate right now. Adele’s her biggest competition. And while I think [Adele’s] stuff is beautifully constructed and the vocals are impeccable, it’s harmless, you know? And everyone knows 25 isn’t as memorable as 21.

Record Of The Year
I voted for [Twenty One Pilots’] “Stressed Out,” but it’s not going to overtake “Hello.” Here’s the thing with “Hello” -- and I know it’s sacrilege not to praise this one -- but it felt like the fourth single from the previous record! I didn’t get it! I still don’t get it! What I loved about both “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumour Has It” were the tempos. Leading with a tempo record is more exciting. “Hello” isn’t exciting.

Bey Vs. Riri
I’m ADHD. Actual diagnosis. With that in mind, I love that “Formation” is so skittery and jumpy, because that’s how my brain works. It has the best 45 seconds ever at the top of the song. Lyrically, it’s great. That said, I just don’t think it’s melodically memorable enough for song of the year. Beyoncé is an incredible artist. But song-wise, she’s a bit overrated. She’s so iconic at this point that it’s become less about songs. I’ll take Rihanna’s singles over Beyoncé’s every day.

The Nader Vote
Chance is a lock. My personal favorite is Anderson Paak, but I don’t think he has a shot. I voted for him. It was like voting for Ralph Nader. Chance is an absolute movement. And it’s an indie record, which is even crazier.

Parting Thought
If the Hollywood Vampires don’t perform, then the night is a success.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of Billboard.

2017 Grammys