Avid music fans like myself have always had a strange relationship with The Grammys. They have a habit of not recognizing what we consider to be the best music of the year, and even when they do, they often don’t award it in favor of safer picks. (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis swept the Rap awards in a cycle which contained “good kid m.A.A.d. city,” “Yeezus,” and “Nothing Was the Same.” “Kid A” and “OK Computer” both didn’t win Album of the Year, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” wasn’t even nominated when it was eligible, and the list goes on and on.) The Grammys also have a history of failing to give hip-hop the credit it is due, by often not nominating acclaimed albums in the genre in non hip-hop categories, and not even televising the hip-hop winners, despite the genre being so popular. Generally, The Grammys just don’t have the same history as an awards show like The Oscars, who usually do recognize the most acclaimed works of the year, not the most popular. (Sometimes to a fault though.) However, inevitably, they’re fun to watch even if I’m often seething, and this year, they got one thing right: Kendrick Lamar. “To Pimp a Butterfly” was such an overwhelming consensus pick for Album of the Year that they couldn’t ignore it, and as a result, Kendrick is up for 11 Grammys. The rest of the nominations are what you would expect for the most part, and I’m not really too mad at any of them. Obviously, I can’t expect to see Lil Ugly Mane getting nods, so I take what I can get. Seeing as they are on in a month, and 2015 is officially over, I’ve been giving some thought as to who’s going to win, who should win, snubs, nominations they got right, etc. Let’s go through the major categories:

 

Record of the Year:

  • D’Angelo and the Vanguard- “Really Love”
  • Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars- “Uptown Funk”
  • Ed Sheeran- “Thinking Out Loud”
  • Taylor Swift- “Blank Space”
  • The Weeknd- “Can’t Feel My Face”

This category contains pretty much what you’d expect. It’s about well produced and well performed singles, and aside from “Thinking Out Loud,” which I really don’t like, these singles definitely meet those requirements. I’d be fine with anyone besides Ed Sheeran winning, as “Uptown Funk” was the biggest song of 2015 and it’s also really good, so Mark Ronson may be most qualified, but I’d really like to see The Weeknd or D’Angelo, two of my favorite artists, walk away with the award. (Although it’s unlikely the less huge D’Angelo would win, “Really Love” is still clearly the best song here.) It also goes without saying how huge of a single “Blank Space” was. In general, this category is pretty wide open.

What Will Win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars- “Uptown Funk”

What Should Win: D’Angelo and the Vanguard- “Really Love”

What Should Have Been Nominated: I say “Thinking Out Loud” should be replaced for another big single this year, like the gigantic “Hotline Bling,” or the even bigger “What Do You Mean?”

 

Album of the Year:

  • Alabama Shakes- “Sound & Color”
  • Kendrick Lamar- “To Pimp a Butterfly”
  • Chris Stapleton- “Traveller”
  • Taylor Swift- “1989”
  • The Weeknd- “Beauty Behind the Madness”

Kendrick is the story of the Grammys, with eleven nominations in all. Given that they gave him so much love by nominating him so much, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that “To Pimp a Butterfly” wins, and that should be the case. That’s not to say that these other albums aren’t good, in particular I think “1989” and “Beauty Behind the Madness” are very strong albums. But this is a giant next to munchkins we’re talking about here.

What Will Win: Kendrick Lamar- “To Pimp a Butterfly”

What Should Win: Kendrick Lamar- “To Pimp a Butterfly”

What Should Have Been Nominated: Given that D’Angelo got a nom for Record of the Year and is nominated in some of the R&B categories, and also that his album, “Black Messiah” is probably the second most acclaimed album of the Grammy cycle behind “To Pimp a Butterfly,” I’m surprised, and upset, that it didn’t get a nod for Album of the Year. No doubt “Black Messiah” should be here. There are obviously tons of great albums that deserve nods, but that is a clear snub.

 

Song of the Year: 

  • Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”
  • Taylor Swift- “Blank Space”
  • Little Big Town- “Girl Crush”
  • Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth- “See You Again”
  • Ed Sheeran- “Thinking Out Loud”

This is where they begin to lose me. Obviously, “Alright” is a great nomination, and I’m also more than fine with “Blank Space” being here. But “Girl Crush” is a really mediocre and unimpressive country song, “See You Again,” despite being a sincere and nice sentiment, is impossible to listen to (mostly because Charlie Puth’s vocals are fucking grating), and I’ve already made my feelings about “Thinking Out Loud” clear. The preceding categories of course didn’t get everything right in my opinion, but they were pretty good, while this category sees the Grammys recognizing that ball-less, average, boring, pussy shit that they’ve been known to adore. Still, I’m holding out hope that Kendrick wins, and if not him, Taylor. I can’t be too sure though; “See You Again,” given the context, could take it.

What Will Win: Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth- “See You Again”

What Should Win: Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”

What Should Have Been Nominated: “Girl Crush,” “See You Again,” and “Thinking Out Loud” should all be replaced by better, but also Grammy accessible songs like “Hotline Bling,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” “The Hills,” “Uptown Funk,etc.

 

Best New Artist:

  • Courtney Barnett
  • James Bay
  • Sam Hunt
  • Tori Kelly
  • Meghan Trainor

Usually, in this category there is a big breakout mainstream star, and then a smaller more indie artist who releases an acclaimed album, and the results are split in recent years between the two sides. On one side, Macklemore beat Kendrick Lamar, and Fun beat Frank Ocean (travesties), but on the other side of the coin, Ezperanza Spalding did beat Drake and Justin Bieber, and Bon Iver did beat Nicki Minaj and Skrillex. So it’s hard to predict. They could do the right thing and give it to Courtney Barnett, who released a really strong album, or they could play it safe and give it to the huge Meghan Trainor. The latter will probably happen.

Who Will Win: Meghan Trainor

Who Should Win: Courtney Barnett

Who Should Have Been Nominated: No love for Vince Staples? He came through with one of the best rap debut albums of this generation and it was a very visible, popular, critically acclaimed, and accessible release. I get that he’s a rapper, and one that you’d have no shot at getting your mom to like, but it’s still a snub regardless.

 

Best Pop Solo Performance:

  • Kelly Clarkson- “Heartbeat Song”
  • Ellie Goulding- “Love Me Like You Do”
  • Ed Sheeran- “Thinking Out Loud”
  • Taylor Swift- “Blank Space”
  • The Weeknd- “Can’t Feel My Face”

I’m more than fine with “Blank Space” and “Can’t Feel My Face” being here, and “Love Me Like You Do” is alright as well, but “Thinking Out Loud” and “Heartbeat Song” are where they really lose me. Again, I fucking hate Ed Sheeran, and Kelly Clarkson’s subpar “The Middle” impression is even worse. I’m going to stay optimistic and say either Swift or The Weeknd will win though.

What Will Win: The Weeknd- “Can’t Feel My Face”

What Should Win: The Weeknd- “Can’t Feel My Face”

What Should Have Been Nominated: Ed Sheeran and Kelly Clarkson should be replaced by Carly Rae Jepsen‘s acclaimed “Run Away With Me,” and I’m going to say Drake‘s huge “Hotline Bling,” should have gotten a nomination. I know he’s a hip-hop artist, but that’s clearly a pop song, and a great one at that.

 

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

  • Florence + the Machine- “Ship to Wreck”
  • Maroon 5- “Sugar”
  • Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars- “Uptown Funk”
  • Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar- “Bad Blood”
  • Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth- “See You Again”

This category is hard to get upset about, because it’s so specific in its qualifications. Obviously, I really detest “See You Again,” and “Sugar” is barely tolerable, but do I have many other realistic suggestions? No.

What Will Win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars- “Uptown Funk”

What Should Win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars- “Uptown Funk”

What Should Have Been Nominated: I’d advocate for a song like the fantastic “Shame” by Young Fathers, or even Venus Fly” by Grimes and Janelle Monae, but did they ever stand a chance? Not at all.

 

Best Pop Vocal Album:

  • Kelly Clarkson- Piece by Piece”
  • Florence + the Machine- “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”
  • Mark Ronson- “Uptown Special”
  • Taylor Swift- “1989”
  • James Taylor- “Before this World”

This is probably the biggest foregone conclusion of the night. Taylor Swift owns this category.

What Will Win: Taylor Swift- “1989”

What Should Win: Taylor Swift- “1989”

What Should Have Been Nominated: Carly Rae Jepsen gets snubbed in this category as well. “E•MO•TION  is a highly acclaimed, highly accessible, likable, and fantastic pop album. Why the Grammys chose to not recognize it at all this year is beyond me.

 

Best Rock Performance:

  • Alabama Shakes- “Don’t Wanna Fight”
  • Florence + the Machine- “What Kind of Man”
  • Foo Fighters- “Something from Nothing”
  • Elle King- “Ex’s & Oh’s”
  • Wolf Alice- “Moaning Lisa Smile”

You’ve got four pretty average songs and one exceptionally annoying one here (“Ex’s & Oh’s). I don’t mind the Alabama Shakes nomination, but there are better songs on “Sound and Color,” and the Wolf Alice song is alright, but none of these songs really provoke much of a reaction from me. But you could say that for a lot of rock music released in the past couple of years.

What Will Win: Alabama Shakes- “Don’t Wanna Fight”

What Should Win: Alabama Shakes- “Don’t Wanna Fight”

What Should Have Been Nominated- “Don’t Wanna Fight” is an alright song, but their other single “Gimme All your Love” is downright amazing, and if you’re going to nominate an Alabama Shakes song, that’s the one. I’d also obviously advocate for Hop Along getting a nomination for any number of songs, but I don’t know how “Grammy visible” they are.

 

Best Rock Album:

  • James Bay- “Chaos and the Calm”
  • Death Cab for Cutie- “Kintsugi”
  • Highly Suspect- “Mister Asylum”
  • Muse- “Drones”
  • Slipknot- “.5: The Gray Chapter”

Some weird stuff happening here. First of all, you have Death Cab for Cutie and Slipknot in the same category, which just doesn’t make a ton of sense, and the Album of the Year, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Performance nominated Alabama Shakes aren’t nominated here. Instead, they’re thrown into the Alternative Music category, when their songs are being recognized as rock songs. It’s confusing. Either way, I only like one album here (“Kintsugi”), and hate one (“Drones”), so we’ve got a mixed bag.

What Will Win: James Bay- “Chaos and the Calm”

What Should Win: Death Cab for Cutie- “Kintsugi”

What Should Have Been Nominated: Hop Along- “Painted Shut”

 

Best Alternative Music Album:

  • Alabama Shakes- “Sound & Color”
  • Björk- “Vulnicura”
  • My Morning Jacket- “The Waterfall”
  • Tame Impala- “Currents”
  • Wilco- “Star Wars”

Pretty good nominations here, which is usually the trend for the Grammys. In the Alternative Music category, you can expect to see some good albums. This year is no different. Are there albums that I aren’t in here that deserve to be? Sure, but am I mad at anything here? No.

What Will Win: Alabama Shakes- “Sound & Color” (Even though it’s not alternative.)

What Should Win: Björk- “Vulnicura”

What Should Have Been Nominated: There are plenty of “alternative” albums that made a splash this year, like “I Love You, Honeybear,” and “Divers,” but if there’s one the Grammys could have recognized it’s Beach House’s “Depression Cherry.”

 

Best R&B Performance:

  • Tamar Braxton- “If I Don’t Have You”
  • Andra Day- “Rise Up”
  • Haitus Kaiyote- “Breathing Underwater”
  • Jeremih feat. J. Cole- “Planes”
  • The Weeknd- “Earned It”

I’m always confused when it comes to the Performance categories. I’m not dissing these nominations, “Breathing Underwater,” “Planes,” and “Earned It” are all strong songs (I’m not big on the other two), but are they really implying that a song like “Really Love,” “The Charade,” “1000 Deaths,” or “Coming Home” isn’t performed as well as “Planes?” It’s puzzling.

What Will Win: The Weeknd- “Earned It”

What Should Win: The Weeknd- “Earned It”

What Should Have Been Nominated: They gave nominations to D’Angelo in plenty of other R&B categories, so why not this one? Aside from the talent of the man himself, he’s playing with people like ?uestlove, Pino Palladino, Chris Dave, Roy Hargrove, and Isiah Sharkey. I think he has some well “performed” songs. I’d no question thrown in a song like “Really Love,” or even better, “The Charade,” and easily have that win.

 

Best R&B Song:

  • Miguel- “Coffee”
  • The Weeknd- “Earned It”
  • Jazmine Sullivan- “Let it Burn”
  • D’Angelo & the Vanguard- “Really Love”
  • Tyrese- “Shame”

I’m very happy with seeing D’Angelo, The Weeknd, and Miguel here. (The other two songs I’m not a huge fan of.) However, if they don’t give it to D’Angelo I’ll be a bit upset. I’m going to stay optimistic and predict him to win.

What Will Win: D’Angelo & The Vanguard- “Really Love”

What Should Win: D’Angelo & The Vanguard- “Really Love”

What Should Have Been Nominated: Leon Bridges is nominated for Best R&B Album, but it would be nice to see him get nominated in a song category. I’d advocate for “Coming Home” getting a nod.

 

Best R&B Album:

  • Leon Bridges- “Coming Home”
  • D’Angelo & The Vanguard- “Black Messiah”
  • Andra Day- “Cheers to the Fall”
  • Jazmine Sullivan- “Reality Show”
  • Charlie Wilson- “Forever Charlie”

The only thing here that I’m not big on is “Cheers to the Fall,” but everything here is varying degrees of good. However, though we have some good albums here, we all know what should win.

What Will Win: D’Angelo & The Vanguard- “Black Messiah”

What Should Win: D’Angelo & The Vanguard- “Black Messiah”

What Should Have Been Nominated: I’d like to see “Beauty Behind the Madness” get a nomination here, but I think that was weirdly caught between pop and R&B and got split votes. Besides that, Miguel’s “Wildheart” was solid, and so was The Internet’s “Ego Death.” All three of these albums were put into the Urban Contemporary category, which I’ve always hated. It’s pretty much just another R&B category. Why not merge them?

 

Best Rap Performance:

  • J. Cole- “Apparently”
  • Drake- “Back 2 Back”
  • Fetty Wap- “Trap Queen”
  • Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”
  • Nicki Minaj feat. Drake and Lil Wayne- “Truffle Butter”
  • Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney- “All Day”

They couldn’t have been safer here, but that’s fine when you have songs like “Alright,” “All Day,” “Back 2 Back,” and “Apparently” in your list. There are obviously plenty of great rap performances that could be here. (Although can I really expect them to nominate Nickelus F? No.) But these are all fine songs, and we all know what should, and will win.

What Will Win: Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”

What Should Win: Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”

What Should Have Been Nominated: Again, I could say any number of songs but I can’t expect some of my favorites from last year to even touch The Grammys. But I can say that Meek Mill’s “Lord Knows” should have a spot here, and so should Vince Staples’s “Norf Norf.”

 

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration:

  • Big Sean feat. Kanye West and John Legend- “One Man Can Change the World”
  • Common and John Legend- “Glory”
  • Jidenna feat. Roman GianArthur- “Classic Man”
  • Kendrick Lamar feat. Anna Wise, Bilal, and Thundercat- “These Walls”
  • Nicki Minaj feat. Drake, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown- “Only”

Obviously “These Walls” and the Oscar winning “Glory” are great, but everything else is highly questionable. Although, it’s hard to say because a lot of the best rap songs from last year featured no singing. Still, anything is better than “One Man Can Change the World.”

What Will Win: Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat- “These Walls”

What Should Win: Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat- “These Walls”

What Should Have Been Nominated- I think the beautiful collaboration between Travi$ Scott and Kacy Hill on “90210” is deserving of a nomination, as is Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, and Chris Brown’s “All Eyes On You.”

 

Best Rap Song:

  • Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney- “All Day”
  • Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”
  • Drake- “Energy”
  • Common and John Legend- “Glory”
  • Fetty Wap- “Trap Queen”

Again this category is pretty safe, but again, I can’t expect a song like Injury Reserve’s “Yo” to get a nod. Also again, it seems like a foregone conclusion as to who is going to win.

What Will Win: Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”

What Should Win: Kendrick Lamar- “Alright”

What Should Have Been Nominated: A lot of my favorites weren’t Grammy visible, but some were, or should have been, like Vince Staples’s “Norf Norf,” or Meek Mill and Drake’s “R.I.C.O.” But it’s hard to say what should be here when it comes to rap because most things even slightly hardcore get no love from The Grammys. (Excluding Kendrick.)

 

Best Rap Album:

  • J. Cole- “2014 Forest Hills Drive”
  • Dr. Dre- “Compton”
  • Drake- “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late”
  • Kendrick Lamar- “To Pimp a Butterfly”
  • Nicki Minaj- “The Pinkprint”

Some very good albums here, but we know which one looms above them.

What Will Win: Kendrick Lamar- “To Pimp a Butterfly”

What Should Win: Kendrick Lamar- “To Pimp a Butterfly”

What Should Have Been Nominated: Travis $cott’s “Rodeo” is more than deserving of a nomination, as is Vince Staples’s “Summertime ’06,” but they might be too dark and aggressive. I’d also like to see Meek Mill here, but he probably didn’t have the critical backing they look for. In my dream world we’d be seeing Injury Reserve, Lil Ugly Mane, and Nickelus F here, but that won’t happen at any time soon. At least they got Kendrick right.

 

So in my alternate, biased predictive universe I have big nominees like Kendrick winning five, Taylor Swift winning one, and The Weeknd and D’Angelo each winning two. Who knows, this could all come true, or The Grammys could do what they usually do and award the most accessible music. Maybe Kendrick won’t win anything and Taylor Swift takes home Album of the Year. But I’m going to stay optimistic and trust the Grammys to do the right thing.

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