Predictions and Hopes for the 2021 Grammys

I’m Julian Galkin, a GDS junior and the new Augur Beat columnist. I am a music lover and artist. Here, I will be writing album reviews, current favorites lists, musical trend watches and updates on the music industry as a whole. Music’s biggest award show, the Grammys, is coming up on Mar. 14 and I wanted to dive into the most important categories and discuss my thoughts. 

Album of the Year:

The most prestigious category at the Grammys has also become widely known as the most controversial. The Album of the Year award has too often gone to either the biggest album nominated or the safest pick, instead of the most culturally potent or acclaimed. The last hip hop album to win was Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004, despite hip hop becoming the most popular genre on the planet in the years since. Some of the biggest names in music—including Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West—have never won the award. 

This year’s nominees are not the worst eight albums that could have been chosen but are certainly the strangest set of nominees ever. No rap albums were nominated, critical favorites (Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, Run the Jewels’ RTJ4) were ignored and The Weeknd was snubbed in favor of the likes of Coldplay and Post Malone. 

The frontrunner in this category is folklore by Taylor Swift. This surprise album from the world’s biggest pop star shocked fans and critics alike. If she wins, she would become the first female artist to ever win Album of the Year three times (she previously won in 2010 for Fearless and in 2016 for 1989). Another safe bet is Future Nostalgia, a pure ’80s-inspired pop record by recent Best New Artist winner Dua Lipa. The album was highly praised by critics for its production and cohesiveness along with Lipa’s artistic vision. So while the Grammys’ top prize may be Swift’s to lose, a Nostalgia-c win would also be justified. As for the other six albums nominated, anything could happen. But a win for anyone besides Swift or Lipa would further undermine the growing distrust in the Grammys as music’s most prestigious award show.

WILL WIN: folklore by Taylor Swift

SHOULD WIN: folklore by Taylor Swift

DARK HORSE: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

PROBABLY NOT: Women In Music Pt. III by HAIM, Djesse Vol. 3 by Jacob Collier

DEFINITELY NOT: Everyday Life by Coldplay, Black Pumas (Deluxe) by Black Pumas, Chilombo by Jhené Aiko, Hollywood’s Bleeding by Post Malone

SNUBS: After Hours by The Weeknd, Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple, Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers, Fine Line by Harry Styles

Record of the Year:

Record of the Year (ROTY) is given to a song’s producers, engineers and artists while Song of the Year (SOTY) is given to the songwriters. As the Grammys grow more and more unpredictable, this is one category that does not have a clear frontrunner. Billie Eilish, who swept all of the major categories last year, could easily win again for her mellow hit “everything i wanted.” Beyoncé is the most nominated artist of the night, and her unexpected double nominations for the timely Black pride R&B anthem “Black Parade” show the Grammys haven’t stopped giving Queen Bey her well deserved props. However, she is much more likely to take home the award for her feature on Megan Thee Stallion’s breakout hit “Savage.” Doja Cat’s sleeper hit “Say So” is a great disco pop jam, but it would be quite upsetting to see producer Dr. Luke win his first ever Grammy after his highly publicized sexual assault lawsuit. A strong bet would be “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa because of Dua’s strong pop support and universal appeal. 

WILL WIN: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

SHOULD WIN: “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé or “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

DARK HORSE: “Circles” by Post Malone

PROBABLY NOT: “Rockstar” by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch,  “Say So” by Doja Cat

DEFINITELY NOT: “Colors” by Black Pumas

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “Blinding Lights” by The Weeeknd, “Adore You” by Harry Styles, “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

Song of the Year:

Song of the Year, an award given to a song’s writers, has historically had the biggest surprise factor of any Grammy category. Taylor Swift has been nominated four times previously, making her the most nominated female songwriter in this category, but she has never won the award. Most bets are on Swift to break her losing streak in this category for folklore’s lead single “cardigan.” However, she faces steep competition from Dua Lipa’s disco smash “Don’t Start Now” and Post Malone’s record-breaking hit “Circles.” So while it would be great to see one of the greatest songwriters of this generation finally win the Grammys’ highest songwriting honor, it’s definitely not a sure bet. 

H.E.R. scored her second consecutive SOTY nomination for Black Lives Matter–inspired power ballad “I Can’t Breathe.” Roddy Ricch also received a nomination for his runaway hit “The Box,” which came as a surprise to many because the Grammys have traditionally declined to nominate rap songs in this category unless they have a timely message. In these song/record categories, truly anything could happen. Taylor, Dua, Post, H.E.R. and Roddy all have enough demonstrated support and buzz to win. So while “cardigan” is the frontrunner for now, SOTY could go many ways.

WILL WIN: “cardigan” by Taylor Swift

SHOULD WIN: “cardigan” by Taylor Swift or “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R.

DARK HORSE: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

PROBABLY NOT: “Circles” by Post Malone, “everything i wanted” by Billie Eilish, “The Box” by Roddy Ricch, “Black Parade” by Beyoncé

DEFINITELY NOT: “If The World Was Ending” by Julia Michaels and J.P. Saxe

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, “Shameika” by Fiona Apple,  “I Know The End” by Phoebe Bridgers

Best New Artist:

The three most likely contenders for Best New Artist are Phoebe Bridgers, Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion. The one to beat here is Megan, but both Doja and Phoebe make strong cases for an upset. Doja has proven herself as a true hitmaker and won several New Artist awards at other big award shows. Phoebe has become an icon of the singer-songwriter world and has had several high profile performances recently. But Megan has managed to become something more: an instant superstar and cultural icon. From her “Hot Girl” trademark to scoring two number one hits through her collaborations with Cardi B and Beyoncé, she is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. It could really play out in favor of any of these three incredible artists, but don’t be surprised if Mar. 14 becomes the first day of this year’s Hot Girl Summer.

WILL WIN: Megan Thee Stallion

SHOULD WIN: Megan Thee Stallion or Phoebe Bridgers

DARK HORSE: Phoebe Bridgers and Doja Cat

PROBABLY NOT: N/A

DEFINITELY NOT: Noah Cyrus, D Smoke, Chika, Kaytranada, Ingrid Andress

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Rina Sawayama, Summer Walker, Conan Gray, Pop Smoke

Julian Galkin ’22