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Predicting the 2022 Grammy Award Results

If it feels like the 2022 Grammy Award nominees were announced a long time ago, it’s because they were. A total of 131 days will have passed since the announcement on November 23, 2021 by the show on Sunday, April 3, when the Recording Academy finally reveals who this season’s champions are. The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place on the last day of January but had to be pushed back due to an unexpected rise in COVID-19 cases all over the country.

Ultimately, the two-month gap will have no influence on the final results as the voting deadline was set to January 5. What is sure to make an impact, though, is changes in the process: members of the Recording Academy are now only allowed to vote in 10 different categories from up to three genre fields, not counting the four main ones (Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year) — five fewer than before. Perhaps most importantly, the 64th Grammy Awards have gotten rid of their controversial anonymous committees, which used to have a final say on nominations — a much-expected change after questions on transparency arose when The Weeknd was notably absent from the 2020 award nominations.

In contrast to the Academy Awards, which celebrate the best of the cinematic industry, the Grammy Awards have no alternative ceremonies in which the voting members overlap. This means that predicting the outcomes mostly depends on noticing trends and following the logic of previous years. Either way, enough time has passed to make bets on how music’s biggest night will pan out — even during unique circumstances that are transforming the way the awards are being presented. Here are our predictions for the four main field categories.

Best New Artist

  • Arooj Aftab
  • Jimmie Allen
  • Baby Keem
  • Finneas
  • Glass Animals
  • Japanese Breakfast
  • The Kid Laroi
  • Arlo Parks
  • Olivia Rodrigo
  • Saweetie

The ‘Best New Artist’ category is usually one of the easiest to predict — and it doesn’t seem like this year will be an exception. Just like Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and Megan Thee Stallion were highlights in their respective seasons since the very beginning of the race, all eyes are set on Olivia Rodrigo to receive the honor this time around.

After having an absolutely massive breakout with her debut single drivers license,” the 19-year-old singer-songwriter has proved her ability to maintain the attention of the public and the approval of the critics with subsequent singles “deja vu” and “good 4 u,” and the record-breaking SOUR, which has enough mentions throughout the other categories to prove the remarkable amount of Academy support towards the songstress. The criteria of acclaim, popularity and overall dominance of the year make this category a no-brainer for Rodrigo to take home.

To anyone that has noticed Finneas‘s eight Grammy Award wins for his ever-present work in sister Billie Eilish’s catalog, it may sound like a bad decision to count him out of contention, as it’s clear the Academy is willing to recognize his talent. However, the absence of his solo releases from any of the other categories shows that it’s likely a mention is all he will get. Japanese Breakfast released a masterpiece of an album, Saweetie is becoming a cultural giant one step at a time and Glass Animals is having a chart breakout — but none of them have been able to go head-to-head with the global phenomenon of Olivia Rodrigo at any time during the race.

Song of the Year

Before heading into the analysis, let’s get one thing out of the way: the award for Song of the Year: is given out to the songwriter behind the lyrics and/or melodies to the song. This means that the vote should be in favor of the track that had the best lyrical and melodic content out of the nominated ones. While recent history has shown that this is not always the case and that the Academy instead chooses to honor pieces that are outstanding in all its components, last year’s winner “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R. could be an indication of a re-focus on meaning and passion.

  • Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”
  • Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile – “A Beautiful Noise”
  • Olivia Rodrigo – “Drivers License”
  • H.E.R. – “Fight for You”
  • Billie Eilish – “Happier Than Ever”
  • Doja Cat, SZA – “Kiss Me More”
  • Silk Sonic – “Leave the Door Open”
  • Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”
  • Justin Bieber, Daniel Cesar, Giveon – “Peaches”
  • Brandi Carlile – “Right on Time”

Upon first look, there are three stand-outs in this category: Olivia Rodrigo’s heartbreak power ballad “drivers license”, Billie Eilish’s rage-filled album outro Happier Than Ever,” and Silk Sonic’s cheeky love bomb  Leave The Door Open.”

What the track by Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak has in its favor, besides being the first and most successful joint release of two Academy favorites, resides in its witty execution and the charming show of its singers’ personalities. It’s full of attitude and extremely inviting in its cheeriness, which might be enough to warrant a vote.

On the other hand, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo’s offerings are on the darker, grittier spectrum. Eilish’s resentment slowly builds up to one of the most well-done climaxes that pop music has seen in a while, and shows a different side of the singer’s vulnerability, which was previously awarded in the 2021 ceremony with “everything i wanted.” Rodrigo’s appeal also lies in passion, with an unforgettable bridge and the ability to present herself as relatable, even to those who have not experienced the feelings of teen heartbreak in a long time — it also has an accompanying real-life storyline that the public has followed and mostly taken her side on.

While it would be unsurprising to see any of these three contenders take home the award, the safest bet is on “drivers license.” Its inescapable popularity and the fact that it poses a solid option for those who were looking to reward the subsequent singles that were not submitted, make it the front-runner in this category. Voters may be reluctant to give Billie Eilish another main field win after two triumphant years, and the lack of Silk Sonic’s project in ‘Album of the Year’ may indicate that the support behind them is not sufficient.

Record of the Year

  • ABBA – “I Still Have Faith in You”
  • Jon Batiste – “Freedom”
  • Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga – “I Get a Kick Out of You”
  • Justin Bieber, Daniel Cesar, Giveon – “Peaches”
  • Brandi Carlile – “Right on Time”
  • Doja Cat, SZA – “Kiss Me More”
  • Billie Eilish – “Happier Than Ever”
  • Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”
  • Olivia Rodrigo – “Drivers License”
  • Silk Sonic – “Leave the Door Open”

While the ‘Song of the Year’ prize aims to celebrate lyrics and melodies, ‘Record of the Year’ goes to the performing artist, the producer, recording engineer and/or mixer for that song, focusing on the final product’s overall sound.

There are two ways in which this award can end up being presented. It either goes in the hands of whoever wins Song of the Year, and the Academy decides to honor a single track in both categories, even if it means one of the two is not as deserved. Or, it does, in fact, follow its own guidelines and gives out the award on the basis of recording.

Either way, the contenders remain the same as in the previous field — as the nominees on their own don’t variate much. This time, though, Leave The Door Open might have a slight edge: its entire sound and atmosphere are reminiscent of an era that both the Academy and the general public have raved over, and it has managed to make a fuss over multiple generations. If this year’s ceremony continues last year’s trend of spreading out the love, we could see two polar opposites taking home the main awards that are aimed at single tracks.

Album of the Year

  • Jon Batiste – We Are
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Love For Sale
  • Justin Bieber – Justice
  • Doja Cat – Planet Her
  • Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  • H.E.R. – Back Of My Mind
  • Lil Nas X – Montero
  • Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
  • Taylor Swift – Evermore
  • Kanye West – Donda

The particularity of this year’s Album of the Year category is that, for the first time ever, it includes 10 nominees — a rise from the previous 8. This factor opens up a race that is already stacked and full of surprise potential.

If we were to narrow the list down to three names, we would once again have Happier Than Ever and SOUR — this time, joined by Love For Sale. We have already gone through supporting factors for the first two: Billie Eilish’s sophomore album is arguably a step-up from its predecessor, which gave the singer all of the main field awards back in 2020 — with more variety, a deeper introspection and fully-realized conceptualization. Olivia Rodrigo, on the other hand, pulled out multiple impressive feats during the rollout of her debut project that quickly strayed her away from her Disney star image and established her as a respected artist with an astounding first chapter to what seems to be a bright future.

Special attention must be paid to Love For Sale. The second full-length joint album by living Jazz legend Tony Bennett and industry trailblazer Lady Gaga didn’t necessarily have the cultural relevance of most of its companions, but it checks many boxes that the Academy may not be able to look away from. The album has been billed as Tony Bennett’s last, as the star has revealed his battle with Alzheimer’s disease and the complications it brought throughout the recording process. It’s hard to find someone as universally beloved as him inside the industry, and it is not minor that his final release is performed alongside one of the most iconic figures of the 21st century (who also has yet to receive a general field award). This makes for a combination of two giants that can attract voters from different fields and age groups. Significant support for the album has already been shown by giving it a total of six nominations across the board, and it shouldn’t be surprising if the trend continued in the final voting rounds.

As satisfying as the Gaga-Bennett combination and storyline might be and as impressive as Olivia Rodrigo’s first year in the industry has been, Billie Eilish has the upper hand in this category. A very polished and well-rounded follow-up to a lauded debut project, powerful acclaim, solid public support and a track record that speaks on its own could make the biggest award of the night hers.

 

Featured Image Credit: Grammy Awards/Recording Academy

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