The Grammys Crystal Ball: Here's Who Will Take Home an Award This Year

Plus, who deserves it the most.

Design by Betsy Farrell

When you're contending with new albums from Rihanna, Drake, Beyoncé, Kanye, Solange, and Adele, the stakes are so much higher for music—which is why this year's Grammys will be one to remember. And even though it feels like music continually gets more progressive (this year was an especially political moment for many musicians), it's unclear whether the votes will reflect a changing industry at-large (upsets of the past include memorable Beyoncé snubs). Below, our predictions for the lucky artists who will take home a gold trophy this year, plus the many bruised egos who actually deserve the win.

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Album of the Year

25—Adele

Lemonade—Beyoncé

Purpose—Justin Bieber

Views—Drake

A Sailor's Guide To Earth—Sturgill Simpson

Will win: 25

Should win: Lemonade

In conclusion: As much as Lemonade deserves this album for its critical success, Adele's star power (she sold 8 million albums versus Beyoncé's 1 million—blame Tidal?) might earn her the title no matter what.

Record of the Year

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"Hello"—Adele

"Formation"—Beyoncé

"7 Years"—Lukas Graham

"Work"—Rihanna Featuring Drake

"Stressed Out"—Twenty One Pilots

Will win: "Formation"

Should win: "Formation"

In conclusion: Quick note on the distinction between "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year." This category honors the overall production value and recording while "Song of the Year" honors the singers and songwriters directly, so we're hoping that Beyoncé bags it for the truly squared away-down-to-the-minute-details perfection that was "Formation."

Song of the Year

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"Formation"—Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles, and Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)

"Hello"—Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)

"I Took A Pill In Ibiza"—Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)

"Love Yourself"—Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin, and Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)

"7 Years"—Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard, and Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)

Will win: "Formation"

Should win: "Formation"

In conclusion: I'm going to have to give it up to Beyoncé this time, too. Adele's "Hello" ballad was beautiful, but Beyoncé's was pure epic, with layers upon layers of meaning (an ode to her black heritage) and visceral language.

Best New Artist

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Kelsea Ballerini

The Chainsmokers

Chance The Rapper

Maren Morris

Anderson .Paak

Will win: The Chainsmokers

Should win: Chance the Rapper

In conclusion: By all accounts, from the sheer amount of streams Chance the Rapper's album had this year (141 million, far more than any of his contenders), to how superior musically this album is, he deserves the award. Do I have faith that the system will put the right artist on top (*cough* remember Macklemore *cough*) this year? Not really. This might be the Nickelback of EDM's year.

Best Pop Vocal Album

25—Adele

Purpose—Justin Bieber

Dangerous Woman—Ariana Grande

Confident—Demi Lovato

This Is Acting—Sia

Will win: Dangerous Woman

Should win: Dangerous Woman

In conclusion: Even though Adele's or Bieber's album may have had some home-run individual hits, ya girl Ariana Grande's album as a package was fire, churning out radio-friendly earworm after earworm.

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Best Pop Solo Performance

"Hello"—Adele

"Hold Up"—Beyonce

"Love Yourself"— Justin Bieber

"Piece By Piece (Idol Version)"—Kelly Clarkson

"Dangerous Woman"—Ariana Grande

Will win: "Hello"

Should win: "Love Yourself"

In conclusion: If Justin Bieber's going to win anything, it should be for his stripped-down performance of "Love Yourself" which truly took a note from Drake's playbook on assuming the scorned lover role (no shade, this song is great). But Adele's in her own category performance-wise, and she's a darling of the Grammy Awards, so she will probably take home the award instead.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

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"Closer"—The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey

"7 Years"—Lukas Graham

"Work"—Rihanna Featuring Drake

"Cheap Thrills"—Sia Featuring Sean Paul

"Stressed Out"—Twenty One Pilots

Will win: "Work"

Should win: "Work"

In conclusion: Let's be clear—no duo could hold a candle to Rihanna and Drake's sexually charged Song of the Summer "Work."

Best Alternative Music Album

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22, A Million—Bon Iver

Blackstar—David Bowie

The Hope Six Demolition Project—PJ Harvey

Post Pop Depression—Iggy Pop

A Moon Shaped Pool—Radiohead

Will win: Blackstar

Should win: A Moon Shaped Pool

In conclusion: Bowie nostalgia might tip the scales in favor of the last album he released before his death, though Radiohead's latest was another prolific album to add to their shelf and *should* nab the award.

Best R&B Performance

"Turnin' Me Up"—BJ The Chicago Kid

"Permission"—Ro James

"I Do"—Musiq Soulchild

"Needed Me"—Rihanna

"Cranes in the Sky"—Solange

Will win: "Needed Me"

Should win: "Needed Me"

In conclusion: Though Solange's latest album was a darling of critics (and rightfully so!), Rihanna's was phenomenal, especially in stand-alone performances like "Needed Me."

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Best Urban Contemporary Album

Lemonade—Beyoncé

Ology—Gallant

We Are King—KING

Malibu—Anderson .Paak

Anti—Rihanna

Will win: Lemonade

Should win: Anti

In conclusion: *Unpopular opinion alert*—as a whole, I still think Anti is stronger than Lemonade in the R&B field but will probably be overshadowed by sales and the critical success of Bey's album.

Best Rap Performance

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"No Problem"—Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz

"Panda"—Desiigner

"Pop Style"—Drake Featuring The Throne

"All The Way Up"—Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared

"That Part"—ScHoolboy Q Featuring Kanye West

Will win: "Panda"

Should win: "Panda"

In conclusion: Newcomer Desiigner rocketed to fame from the success of his chart-topping trap anthem "Panda," and broke streaming records for it, too.

Best Rap Song

"All The Way Up"—Joseph Cartagena, Edward Davadi, Shandel Green, Karim Kharbouch, Andre Christopher Lyon, Reminisce Mackie & Marcello Valenzano, songwriters (Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared)

"Famous"—Chancelor Bennett, Ross Birchard, Ernest Brown, Andrew Dawson, Kasseem Dean, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, Kejuan Muchita, Patrick Reynolds, Kanye West & Cydel Young, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring Rihanna)

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"Hotline Bling"—Aubrey Graham & Paul Jefferies, songwriters (Drake)

"No Problem"—Chancelor Bennett, Dwayne Carter & Tauheed Epps, songwriters (Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)

"Ultralight Beam"—Chancelor Bennett, Kasseem Dean, Mike Dean, Kirk Franklin, Noah Goldstein, Samuel Griesemer, Terius Nash, Jerome Potter, Kelly Price, Nico

"Donnie Trumpet"—Segal, Derek Watkins, Kanye West & Cydel Young, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream)

Will win: "Ultralight Beam"

Should win: "No Problem"

In conclusion: Don't get me wrong. "Ultralight Beam" is a straight-up religious experience, from the evangelical choir to the fantastic Chance the Rapper verse. But this was truly Chance the Rapper's year and I'm secretly hoping he gets to take home the award for his own song (huh huh).

Best Rap Album

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Coloring Book—Chance The Rapper

And the Anonymous Nobody—De La Soul

Major Key—DJ Khaled

Views—Drake

Blank Face LP—ScHoolboy Q

The Life of Pablo—Kanye West

Will win: Views

Should win: The Life of Pablo

In conclusion: Though TLOP and Coloring Book are strong contenders (and definitely less controversial than Drake's sampling habits), Drake will likely take home the award for its record-breaking (and instantly viral) hits.

Best Country Album

Big Day In A Small Town—Brandy Clark

Full Circle—Loretta Lynn

Hero—Maren Morris

A Sailor's Guide To Earth—Sturgill Simpson

Ripcord—Keith Urban

Will win: A Sailor's Guide to Earth

Should win: A Sailor's Guide to Earth

In conclusion: Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth was the only country album nominated for "Album of the Year," and if he doesn't strike gold there, I'm thinking the progressive country artist will take home the big prize here. His eclectic and refreshingly modern take on the genre sounds unique to anything I've heard from country in a while.

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