Who will win the Grammys?
The short answer is: lots of people. Eighty-six golden gramophones will be given out at the 64th Grammy Awards, which will be held in Las Vegas for the first time when the show is telecast on CBS and streamed on Paramount+ from the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 8 p.m. Sunday.
The first category cited on the complete Grammy nominations list is record of the year, which will be given out near the end of the telecast. I fearlessly predict it will be won by Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga for Cole Porter’s 1934 composition “I Get a Kick out of You.”
They’ll beat out ABBA, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Justin Bieber, Jon Batiste, Brandi Carlile, Lil Nas X, and Silk Sonic, making Bennett, 95, one of the oldest Grammy winners ever.
The final category on the list of nominees, for best music film, is one usually presented during the Grammys’ pre-telecast ceremony. This year’s preshow will be streamed live on Grammy.com and the Recording Academy’s YouTube channel.
On Sunday, one would hope, the Grammys will have the good sense to give it away during the prime-time ceremony hosted by Trevor Noah.
That way Roots drummer and Oscar-winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson can collect his trophy for Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) without being preceded by anything like the onstage assault at the Oscars last Sunday.
In between Categories No. 1 and No. 86, there will be plenty of opportunities for big-name acts — including a few Philadelphians — to take home multiple awards.
The artists with the most nominations are Batiste, the New Orleans musician and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader, who leads the way with 11. Rodrigo, Bieber, and H.E.R. are in a three-way tie for second with eight each.
Acts scheduled to perform on the show include BTS, Lil Nas X with Jack Harlow, Eilish, Rodrigo, Carlile, and a Stephen Sondheim tribute with Rachel Zegler, Cynthia Erivo, and Philadelphia’s Leslie Odom Jr.
And keep an eye on Kanye West, who has been banned from performing due to “concerning behavior online” by Grammy officials who are no doubt more nervous after the Will Smith slap. But the rapper-producer is nominated for album of the year for Donda and is expected to be in the audience.
The two high-profile Philly acts with multiple nods are Japanese Breakfast, the band led by songwriter Michelle Zauner, which released its third album, Jubilee, and Jazmine Sullivan, the Strawberry Mansion-raised R&B soul singer who hit a career peak (so far) with her album Heaux Tales.
Zauner — whose stellar 2021 was also marked by the publication of her superb, best-selling memoir Crying in H Mart — is up for both best alternative music album as well as best new artist, one of the Grammys’ most prestigious categories.
This week, she released a cover of “Skinny Love” by 2012 best new artist winner Bon Iver for a Spotify Singles best new artist playlist.
That playlist also includes Milton, Del., country singer Jimmie Allen. He’s also nominated in the best new artist category.
Sullivan is up for three awards. Her song “Pick up Your Feelings” is competing in both the R&B song and performance categories, and Heaux Tales is nominated for best R&B album. That’s an impressive accomplishment, but it’s nothing new for Sullivan. She’s been nominated 11 times before but has never won.
And make no mistake: Heaux Tales’ gaining only three nominations and being shut out of the major categories amounts to a snub, another instance of “Music’s Biggest Night” cluelessly missing a story staring them in the face.
Heaux Tales was named album of the year by multiple outlets from NPR to BET — as well as landing on my Top 10 list — and yet she doesn’t merit an album of the year Grammy nomination. For goodness sake, get it together, Grammys!
Other Philadelphia nominees include Kevin Hart for best comedy album for Zero F***sGiven. Generations, by the Baylor Project — the Philly wife and husband team of Jean and Marcus Baylor — is up for best jazz vocal album. Should they win, honorees will include Drexel University music industry professor Ryan Moys and recently graduated student Hank Byerly, who were part of the engineering team.
The best large jazz ensemble category features a Philly face-off between bassist Christian McBride for For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver, and Swirling, by the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Germantown band led by a nominee older than Bennett: 97-year-old sax man Marshall Allen.
The Opera Philadelphia Orchestra is in the running for best opera recording for Little: Soldier Songs. The Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin are nominated for best orchestral performance for Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3.
Nézet-Séguin is nominated in the same category for his work with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmelites. And Philly choir The Crossing is up for best choral performance for Rising with The Crossing.
Those awards will be presented in the pre-telecast ceremony on Sunday afternoon. The major awards, and a smattering of others, will be given out during the prime-time telecast.
Here’s a guide to my predictions on who will and should win in the top four categories.
Album of the year: Jon Batiste, We Are, Justin Bieber, Justice, Doja Cat, Planet Her, Billie Eilish, Happier Than Ever, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Love For Sale, H.E.R., Back of My Mind, Lil Nas X, Montero, Olivia Rodrigo, Sour, Taylor Swift, Evermore, Kanye West, Donda.
Will win: Sour.
Should win: Also Sour. The main competition for excellence on this for Rodrigo, who plays the Met Philly on May 7, comes from Eilish, who will not win again because she won everything in 2020 and Swift, who only received this one single nomination. Sour is massively popular and really good, and Rodrigo is an ideal candidate to be the face of the awards show.
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, “Peaches” (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon), Brandi Carlile, “Right on Time, Doja Cat, “Kiss Me More” (feat. SZA), Billie Eilish, “Happier Than Ever,” Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” Olivia Rodrigo “Drivers License,” Silk Sonic, “Leave the Door Open”
Will win: “I Get a Kick out of You”
Should win: There’s actually lots of worthy competition here, from Bieber’s charming “Peaches” to Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open,” which is the kind of retro-soul song Grammy voters are apt to go for. I’ll go with “Drivers License,” the suburban teen angst tune that put Rodrigo on the map.
Song of the year: Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits,” Alicia Keys, “A Beautiful Noise” (feat. Brandi Carlile), Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License,” H.E.R., “Fight for You”, Billie Eilish, “Happier Than Ever,” Doja Cat “Kiss Me More” (feat. SZA), Silk Sonic, “Leave the Door Open,” Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” Justin Bieber, “Peaches” (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon), Brandi Carlile, “Right on Time.”
Will win: “Right on Time.”
Should win: “Drivers License.” This is a songwriter’s award, and I’m calling it for Carlile, who is nominated twice and a prestige artist who operates outside of the Nashville mainstream. Her win would reflect well on the good taste of Grammy voters. But along with “Happier Than Ever,” Rodrigo’s heartbreaker is the best of the bunch.
Best new artist. Arooj Aftab, Jimmie Allen, Baby Keem, Finneas, Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast, The Kid Laroi, Arlo Parks, Olivia Rodrigo, Saweetie.
Will win: Rodrigo. This category could be called “best artists that we Grammy voters have only just heard of.” British rock band Glass Animals’ debut album came out eight years ago! Still, there’s lots of intriguing talent, starting with Pakistani vocalist and composer Aftab, whose album Vulture Prince might be the most beautiful music of the year.
Should win: Japanese Breakfast, whose first album came out in 2016, is certainly worthy, and she does have an underdog’s outside chance. But Rodrigo is truly a new artist whose first single was released in January 2021, and she showed her songwriting chops on the star-making Sour. She’s the one who’s going to win the Grammys.