Grammys 2021: Nominations + Predictions

Another year, another chaotic and unpredictable string of nominees to read across the screens of music fans, lovers, and critics as they hear the nominees for this year’s Grammy Awards. Pleasant surprises and shocking oversights were to be expected, but the biggest surprise this year is The Weeknd’s complete shut out. Receiving 0 nominations in a year when the artist is at what many consider his peak, After Hours‘ failure to be recognized is baffling. The first smash album to come from the pandemic, After Hours is the cinematic escape from reality that listeners could latch on and relate to. Where it didn’t literally relate to the year at play, it thematically weaved together concepts like isolation, grief, and loneliness in an extremely profound way. It’s just one of many shockers to come from one of the most baffling lists in Grammy history yet.

Take a look a look at the snubs, surprises, picks and predictions for this year’s ceremony:

Album of the Year
Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition), Black Pumas
Everyday Life, Coldplay
Djesse Vol. 3, Jacob Collier
Women in Music Pt. III, Haim
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone
folklore, Taylor Swift
Should win: folklore, Taylor Swift
Will win: folklore, Taylor Swift
With The Weekend’s opus After Hours out of the picks for this year’s album of the year nominees, it seems more than likely that Taylor Swift will pick up her history making third trophy with the most mature work of her career in folkloreChilombo could pull the surprise win, but based on the decision-making of the previous few years, it seems folklore is a near lock (and deservedly so.)

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
Should win: “Black Parade,” Beyoncé
Will win: “Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Black Parade” came at the center of the political protests that helped define 2020. Powerful and honest, it is a celebration of blackness that could easily be hailed as the record of this year. “Don’t Start Now,” on the other hand, is an extremely fun pop song that is as free of controversy as it can get, and that is why it will win.

Song of the Year
“Black Parade,” (performed by Beyoncé)
“The Box,” (performed by Roddy Ricch)
“Cardigan,” (performed by Taylor Swift)
“Circles,” (performed by Post Malone)
“Don’t Start Now,” (performed by Dua Lipa)
“Everything I Wanted,” (performed by Billie Eilish)
“I Can’t Breathe,” (performed by H.E.R.)
“If the World Was Ending,” (performed by JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels)
Should win: “I Can’t Breathe,” (performed by H.E.R.)
Will win: “Everything I Wanted,” (performed by Billie Eilish)
“Everything I Wanted” is a perfect continuation of Billie Eilish’s post Grammy wins. Its narrative expertly crafts the experience a star feels post-oversaturation in the limelight. While big winners rarely repeat in subsequent years, it’s likely the pop sensation will take the trophy once more.

Best New Artist
Ingrid Andress
Phoebe Bridgers
Noah Cyrus
D Smoke
Doja Cat
Megan Thee Stallion
Should win: Chika
Will win: Megan Thee Stallion
Best New Artist has always been a random category. The qualifications need an update and it has tendency to award artists who disappear into obscelecense soon after their victories. That said, its more than clear Megan Thee Stallion is likely thee choice for this year. 

Best Pop Vocal Album
Changes, Justin Bieber
Chromatica, Lady Gaga
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Fine Line, Harry Styles
folklore, Taylor Swift
Should win: folklore, Taylor Swift
Will win: folklore, Taylor Swift
Though it’s more of an alternative album, no record in this category comes close. A no brainer.

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
Should win: “Watermelon Sugar,” Harry Styles
Will win: “Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Watermelon Sugar” was a slow burn hit that quickly defined the 2020 summer, or lack thereof. The Grammys will likely go with the feminist punch of “Don’t Start Now,” but either single is a worthy winner of this category.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Un Dia (One Day),” J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny & Tainy
“Intentions,” Justin Bieber featuring Quavo
“Dynamite,” BTS
“Rain on Me,” Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
“exile,” Taylor Swift featuring Bon Iver
Should win: “exile,” Taylor Swift featuring Bon Iver
Will win: “Rain on Me,” Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
One is a bubbly commercial hit narrating fortitude in the midst of grief, and another is a painfully vivid tale of two parties acknowledging their relationship has run its course. “Rain on Me” is the likely winner here.

Best Alternative Music Album
Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
Hyperspace, Beck
Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers
Jamie, Brittany Howard
The Slow Rush, Tame Impala
Should win: The Slow Rush, Tame Impala
Will win: Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
This is one of the tougher categories to come from this year. While The Slow Rush is our pick for its discussion of time, introspective production, and meticulously crafted structure, Fetch the Bolt Cutters is one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the last few years. Punisher could just as easily upset both, making this one a toss up.

Best Progressive R&B Album
Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Ungodly Hour, Chloe X Halle
Free Nationals, Free Nationals
____ Yo Feelings, Robert Glasper
It Is What It Is, Thundercat
Should win: Ungodly Hour, Chloe X Halle
Will win: Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Is the name better than “Best Urban Contemporary Album?” Sure, but it still beckons the question for a need to separate artists of color from their White counterparts in the pop category. Ungodly Hour is a pop album through and through and should be recognized as such. Opinions on the category aside, Chilombo will likely take this.

Best Rap Album
Black Habits, D Smoke
Alfredo, Freddie Gibbs and the Alchemist
A Written Testimony, Jay Electronica
King’s Disease, Nas
The Allegory, Royce Da 5’9″
Should win: King’s Disease, Nas
Will win: King’s Disease, Nas
The fact that Nas has yet to receive an award for this category despite his genre defining Illmatic, its likely the academy will award the veteran rhymer with the gold this year.

See the full list at
The Grammy Awards are live on Jan. 31, 2021, on CBS at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

Author: Kieran Sweeney

Writing about entertainment for the better part of a decade and consuming it twice as much, Kieran Sweeney is "the" pop culture aficionado. A connoisseur of the intersection of art and commercialism, the USC Annenberg graduate has earned his reputation as an empathetic and thoughtful writer. His resume includes USC's The Daily Trojan, USC Viterbi News, and personal assistance for publicity and marketing companies from Drill Down Media to This Fiction. His intersectional experience in the industry points to his wit and unfiltered thoughts on the latest project in entertainment

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