On Tuesday (Dec. 6), the nominations for the 59th annual Grammy Awards will be revealed… so it’s time to get those final predictions in. After months of seeing superstars dominate, new artists rise and certain songs hijack mainstream radio, we can speculate as to which songs, artists and albums will be saying hello to the side of Grammy nomination heaven this week — and which ones will sorrowfully be saying hello from the other side.
The Grammy Awards nominations always contain surprises, but we’re going to do our best to guess Tuesday’s big nomination names. Check out our predictions for the four major Grammys categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. Remember: these are unofficial prediction, with no prior knowledge of Tuesday’s results.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
One year after Taylor Swift‘s 1989 made her the first female solo artist to ever win two Album of the Year Grammys, Adele has a good shot at becoming the second female solo artist to do the same, with her mega-selling 25. Adele has won all four of the major Grammy categories, including the top album prize in 2012 for 21; she is a powerhouse, an awards darling, and not the type of artist that will get snubbed here. Although Beyonce has been so far shut out of actually winning an Album of the Year trophy — her self-titled opus was famously upset by Beck‘s Morning Phase two years ago — Lemonade was a universally acclaimed tour de force, so she’s got nothing to worry about in terms of locking up a nomination here.
Speaking of universal acclaim, who doesn’t love David Bowie — and how can you not appreciate his artistry even more now that it is complete? The legend’s swan song, Blackstar, was being hailed as a return to form in the days prior to his January death; now, it stands as a beautifully self-aware farewell, and the Grammys will move swiftly to honor that. Meanwhile, Drake somehow reached an even higher level of ubiquity with Views, and although critics were mixed on his latest album, the public was not, with the biggest debut sales week of 2016 and smashes like “One Dance,” “Hotline Bling” and “Too Good.” With Kendrick Lamar only releasing a B-sides compilation this year and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo likely too polarizing, Drake is the crowd-pleasing choice to stand for hip-hop here.
The fifth slot could go to a number of high-profile projects — maybe Justin Bieber‘s star power secures a nod for Purpose, Radiohead‘s return to form gets A Moon Shaped Pool in there, Chance The Rapper brings his Coloring Book to the table, or Sia rides a huge year to a nomination for This Is Acting. However, our money’s on Rihanna, whose Anti was worth the (very long) wait and soared with experiments in sound and vocal delivery. Five years after her first Album of the Year nom with Loud, expect RihRih to “Work” her way into this competition (sorry).
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Expect another Adele vs. Beyonce showdown, as “Hello” and “Formation” are no-brainers to be included here. We’re also anticipating Drake to double up in the album and record categories: “One Dance” was one of the biggest hits of the year, and that’s because of its undeniable hook and hypnotic dancehall production. Speaking of “undeniable,” Grammy voters will lap up the squeaky-clean sensibility of Justin Timberlake‘s “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” a surprise No. 1 from the Trolls soundtrack. Timberlake has not had much success in this category as a solo artist — “Mirrors” was notably snubbed three years ago — but “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” should appeal to older voters during a contemplative year for pop.
And that leads to the fifth nominee, which could go to Bieber or Bowie or Lukas Graham… but we’re going with another former boy band member to stand alongside JT. Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” was sonically different to latter-day One Direction and resonated with listeners during the first half of 2016; just like how Zayn topped the Hot 100 chart after 1D failed to ever do so, “Pillowtalk” could get him into uncharted territory in the Grammys’ big four categories.
SONG OF THE YEAR
The songwriting category is the one most likely to leave one of Adele or Beyonce on the outside looking in… and we’re betting that “Hello” greets a Song of the Year nod, while “Formation” does not get in. Although Bowie’s “Lazarus” could get into the Record of the Year wrestle, it seems more likely that a song that prophetically begins “Look up here, I’m in heaven” will have its writing remembered and honored. Another likely outcome: Lukas Graham’s inescapable “7 Years” muscles its way into a nod here, after its melancholy storytelling dominated Top 40 radio over the summer. When a wholesome hit places this much emphasis on its lyrical content, a Song of the Year nomination feels like a no-brainer.
Did you know that Justin Bieber has not appeared in the four major Grammy categories since he lost out in the Best New Artist showdown six years ago? That will change this year, thanks (in part) to a team-up with Grammy darling Ed Sheeran; “Love Yourself,” the acoustic kiss-off from Purpose and a No. 1 hit, will love itself a nomination here. And in a category that typically nods toward country music, Maren Morris‘ “My Church” — a celebration of music itself, delivered by a supremely likable new talent — will round out the nominees with a “hallelujah” and “amen.”
BEST NEW ARTIST
Speaking of Maren Morris, her Hero album was one of the country crossover success stories of 2016, and a win in the New Artist of the Year category at the CMA Awards last month makes her a shoo-in here. Lukas Graham‘s name recognition thanks to “7 Years” makes them a natural fit to join her here, and have a shot at becoming the first band since Fun. to win this award. And there’s an obvious choice for hip-hop representation: Chance The Rapper, whose release strategy forced the Grammys to re-examine its eligibility rules, is going to get nominated here, especially if Coloring Book somehow charges into the Album of the Year category.
That leaves two open slots left in a very crowded field. Bryson Tiller? Desiigner? Charlie Puth? Rachel Platten? Shawn Mendes? Troye Sivan? Let’s go with Alessia Cara, a talented R&B-pop upstart whose new hit “Scars To Your Beautiful” reminded voters that she’s much more than just “Here,” and The Chainsmokers, the dance duo that dominated pop radio this year with sensitive smashes like “Closer” and “Don’t Let Me Down.” If you thought the duo responsible for the song “#Selfie” had no shot of ever mining Grammy gold… it’s time to think again.