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Mainstream artists poised to sweep Grammys once again

Armaan Rashid and Danya Gao

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Record of the Year

 

Will Win: Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” or Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”

Record of the year is a central category, and this year, it’s a toss up between Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”. Although they were huge hits on both the charts and the internet (it helps that both videos were filmed on properties unaccessible to the rest of us plebeians), the songs are not without flaws. “Blank Space” incorporates unfortunate overproduction, just another mark of her highly profitable pop transition. And despite accusations of being boring, “Thinking Out Loud” has managed to shut out the critics and keep it standing, well, everywhere.

 

Album of the Year

 

Will Win: Taylor Swift’s “1989”

Taylor Swift has only gotten exponentially more successful with each new album, and “1989” is no exception. Since the Grammys most often reward commercial success AND inoffensiveness — “1989” sold like hotcakes, and Taylor Swift is White, straight and extremely apolitical — she is a shoe-in, unfortunately.

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”

This is the great American album. Its cultural importance is hard to overstate — according to Metacritic, it is the most acclaimed contemporary album, full stop. Its importance to racial politics and thought cannot be overlooked, either — this is “To Kill A Mockingbird”, just several magnitudes more potent, cutting, and Black. Kendrick’s unapologetic embrace of his origins, in sound and style, will likely cost him this award which he more than deserves, but slim chances remain.

Best New Artist

 

Will Win: Meghan Trainor

Trainor released the aggressively inoffensive singles “All About That Bass” and “Lips Are Movin” last year to great success on the charts.  Her general inoffensiveness supersedes even that of Taylor Swift. A snub is very unlikely.

Should Win: Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett released the momentous, funny and emotional “Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit” last year to raves from critics and fans alike. The talented songwriter deserves some recognition that could propel her to mainstream success that she so desperately deserves.

 

Song of the Year

 

Will Win: Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”

And once again, bets are on Swift — but we’ll hold off on the ubiquitous “Blank Space” puns. This is her second co-written album, and it shows in her lyrics, which provide a lighthearted escape from the longing love stories of her past. It’s predicted that “Blank Space” will win because of it’s witty, satirical lyrics that take self-awareness to the extreme.

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”

Released at the height of the Black rights movement, Lamar addresses escalating racial tension in “Alright”, a song about rising up from the ground. The chorus, sung by Pharrell Williams, is repetitive and catchy (unsurprisingly), and emphasizes the feeling of “Be alright. Be determined. Persevere.” Lamar’s “Alright” should win Song of the Year, if only for its message and voice.

 

Best Rap Album

 

Will and Should Win: Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”

 

Kendrick’s success commercially and critically will be near-impossible to ignore when the focus is so closely upon him, especially with the much weaker nominees in this category. Frankly, just to avoid the uproar, the Grammys will grant Kendrick this consolation. But Drake has a depressingly good chance of stealing it away.

 

Best R&B Album

 

Will and Should Win: D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah”

 

D’Angelo came back in a big way at the end of 2014 with “Black Messiah”. After an extremely successful early career in the early aughts, D’Angelo was dismayed from being a singer after gratuitous attention placed on his status as a sex symbol. But his comeback rippled in a big way, with another powerful examination of race in America today. The Grammys would be remiss to ignore such a renowned (and well-selling) icon.

 

Best Metal Performance

 

Will Win: Slipknot’s “Custer”

 

Slipknot’s (relatively) inoffensive bluster remains insufferable and just well-known enough to satisfy Grammy judges. Not even a toss-up here.

 

Should Win: Ghost’s “Cirice”

 

Ghost released an astounding third LP in 2015 with “Meliora”, and lead single “Cirice” was a big part of that album’s success. Catchy, well-written, excellently-produced and aggressively Satanic, it is almost a surefire loss in this category for its occult nature. But it’s a hallmark of the power of metal when it goes melodic.

 

Best Dance/Electronic Album

 

Will Win: Jack Ü’s “Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü”

 

Jack Ü (AKA the monopolizing duo of Skrillex and duo) received great success with mainstream-catering and just boring singles such as “Where Are Ü Now” and “Take Ü There” in the past year. Again, not even a close race.

 

Should Win: Jamie xx’s “In Colour”

 

“In Colour” stunned the world over in 2015 as a respectful homage and deconstruction of dance music that was stunningly evocative and emotional, replacing the heady nihilism of clubby EDM for soft, intimate textures and melodies. By the time “Loud Places”, 2015’s song of the summer, rolled around in the tracklisting, everyone fell into the warmth of its soft pianos and transcendent gospel choir. But its relative obscurity leaves it at a great disadvantage in this race.

 

Best Alternative Album

 

Will Win: Tame Impala’s “Currents”

 

In the one category where commercial success is less relevant to the race, Tame Impala is still likely to steal the award for his fairly successful brand of derivative, lugubrious psychedelic rock. But there are worse losses.

 

Should Win: Alabama Shakes’ “Sound and Color”

 

Alabama Shakes released an excellent blues rock LP last year with “Sound and Color”, a gritty, dark and atmospheric album with tons of emotional potency. The great production, even better melodies and frontwoman Brittany Howard’s soaring voice contribute to an album full of sound, color and life. Its #1 debut on the Billboard 200 does leave hope held out for its victory over Tame Impala, but chances are still not in its favor.

 

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

 

Will win: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk”

The duo’s chart climbing single -featuring Ronson’s shrieks and Mars’ shouts- stands out among other inescapable tracks as a serious contender in the duo/group category. Its received more than its fair share of airtime in the past year, topping the charts for an almost record breaking 14 weeks. The competition is close, however. Popular rivals include Swift and Lamar, Khalifa and Puth, and Maroon 5(affectionately nicknamed “Adam Levine and the other guys”), who all have roughly an equal likelihood of winning their gilded gramophone.

 

Should Win: Florence + The Machine’s “Ship to Wreck”

The Grammy’s always likes to slip in a relative unknown, and this year, it’s a pandora favorite alongside radio hits. It may seem outlandish to refer to Florence + The Machine as an “unknown”, as the pair has been topping charts since their genesis in 2007. But in comparison to their competitors, Florence and The Machine is little known and unrecognized; not that this makes them any less deserving of the award. “Ship To Wreck” is upbeat, fast paced, and joyous, but the lyrics are anything but. The words reflect doubt and the feeling of drowning under the wreckage of love and decision, all taken together in this Grammy worthy single that is the opposite of a wreck.

 

Other nominations: Maroon 5’s “Sugar”, Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar’s “Bad Blood”, Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth’s “See You Again”

 

Best Rock Performance

 

Will win: Elle King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s”

Breakout star Elle King is nominated for “Ex’s & Oh’s”, and she’ll likely win. It’s the song that initially bewildered you with speculations of tic tac toe, and reeled you in with its fast tempos and King’s raspy bashing tone. The opening tune is reminiscent of a deserted western movie, but the response to this catchy ballad, filled with sharp one liners, has been anything but deserted.

 

Best Music Video

 

Will Win: Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”

If chosen by popularity and abundance of young millionaires (read: “celebrities”), the Grammy award for Best Music Video will no doubt go to Swift’s “Bad Blood”. In a year where #squadgoals and girl power reigned supreme, the “Bad Blood” music video epitomized Swift’s rebirth into a new era where boys are not 100% and girls dominate — with explosions. As said by music video cast member Lena Dunham, “Let the lethal forces of femininity rock you to sleep.”

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”

Lamar’s “Alright” was in black and white, and it’s filled with deep symbolism. The music video is dripping with metaphor, from the smokey apocalyptic introduction to his shooting at the end, closing out the video with a smile from Lamar, giving a literal face to hope for the future.

 

Other Nominations: A$AP Rocky’s “LSD”, The Dead Weather’s “I Feel Love”, Pharrell William’s “Freedom”

 

Best Song Written for Visual Media

Will win: Fifty Shades of Grey

Although the movie may have garnered questionable mixed reviews, there is no doubt that the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack was a success. Giving us highly profitable breakout hits like The Weeknd’s “Earned It”, and Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do”, while incorporating sultry sounds and provocative voices, made for a charting success. Fifty Shades of Grey, more like Fifty Shades Grammy Awards.

Should win: Fifty Shades. Again.

 

Other nominations: Empire: Season 1, Glen Campbell: It’ll be me, Pitch Perfect 2, Selma

 

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Mainstream artists poised to sweep Grammys once again