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|Though dozens are nominated at Sunday’s Grammy Awards, we all know the real showdown is between Beyonce and Adele.|
Both are nominated for the top three prizes — album, song and record of the year. Adele won all three honors with “21” and “Rolling In the Deep” in 2012, while Beyonce earned song of the year in 2010 for “Single Ladies.” (Bey has earned multiple album and record of the year nominations, though.)
Putting their thinking caps on, while trying to put their personal feelings to the side, Associated Press music writers Mesfin Fekadu and Nekesa Mumbi Moody predict who will win big at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on music’s biggest night.
Album of the Year: “25,” Adele; “Lemonade,” Beyonce; “Purpose,” Justin Bieber; “Views,” Drake; “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” Sturgill Simpson.
Fekadu: Sturgill, enjoy it while it lasts; Drake, congrats, but this will not be the first rap album to win album of the year since Outkast did in 2004; and Bieber, um, keep on beliebing. Now that that’s out the way, let’s talk A and B. I could write a thesis, and happily, too, about why Beyonce’s tasty “Lemonade” deserves this prize. But unfortunately, she won’t win. Academy voters are always happy to give Beyonce R&B awards, but they haven’t given her artistic heft enough credit when she’s put in categories with her rock, pop and country music peers. And when one of those peers is Adele — who saved the music industry with sales of her “25” album — it’s hard to argue against her success.
Moody: If success is what we’re measuring here, Adele clearly gets this win. Artistry? As perfect as Adele sounds, “25” was a very conservative album, musically speaking. Not saying that there’s anything wrong with putting out beautiful ballads, but “Lemonade” is a true art piece that engaged on a political and emotional level and with each listen revealed another layer. No other album in this category pushed our buttons or made us ponder the meaning of the world like “Lemonade.” It deserves to win — but then again, I said that when Eminem’s albums were nominated, and they went trophy-less in this category. So gotta agree here: Adele takes home her second trophy for album of the year.
Record of the Year: “Hello,” Adele; “Formation,” Beyonce; “7 Years,” Lukas Graham; “Work,” Rihanna featuring Drake; “Stressed Out,” twenty one pilots.
Moody: I’m “Stressed Out” trying to determine who’s going to win this category. “Formation’s” seismic funk and R&B was a revelation and really should win here, but will Grammy voters really appreciate a song that references “Jackson Five nostrils” and “Red Lobster”? Moreover, do they really appreciate Beyonce? She only won in a top category one time, and that was for the massively successful “Single Ladies,” and that was for song of the year. Most other times, while she gets the nod, she doesn’t get the win. Adele, on the other hand, had a comeback song that resonated with just about all groups — including the Academy. Adele for the win (again).
Fekadu: OK, this is when I think voters will get in formation and give Beyonce the win.
Song of the Year (songwriter’s award): “Formation,” Beyonce, Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan and Michael L. Williams II; “Hello,” Adele and Greg Kurstin; “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” Mike Posner; “Love Yourself,” Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Benny Blanco; “7 Years,” Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard and Morten Ristorp.
Fekadu: “Hello” wins here.
Moody: Adele all the way.
Best New Artist: Kelsea Ballerini; The Chainsmokers; Chance the Rapper; Maren Morris; Anderson .Paak.
Moody: As omnipresent as The Chainsmokers have been over the past year on the charts, Chance the Rapper has that “it” factor that has made him a critic’s darling. Even if Grammy voters don’t know his raps, they know he’s rubbed arms with former President Barack Obama, made a big splash with his own independent record on iTunes, is changing the way artists connect with the record industry and hey — he’s also got a candy commercial! Add that he’s what Kanye West was 13 years ago but happy and humble and he’s a lock for this one, despite the charms and talent of Maren Morris and the funk of Anderson .Paak.
Fekadu: Chance has a really strong chance in this category, but because he doesn’t have a huge hit or recognizable song, I think he’s going to have a hard time winning here. Maren Morris, on the other hand, became a critical darling for her country hit, “My Church,” and her album was praised for its sound and direct lyrics.
LOS ANGELES: The music industry’s biggest night will pay homage to its recently lost icons Prince and George Michael at this Sunday’s 59th Grammy Awards. The beloved musicians, both Grammy winners, will each receive a tribute segment during the festivities, hosted by late night host James Corden.
“George Michael and Prince were pop icons who showcased rare musical genius and otherworldly charisma,” said Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy. “While each possessed a distinct style and sound, they were both adored by audiences worldwide. The passings of two such creative innovators were a huge loss for the creative community; the Recording Academy is humbled to pay homage to their tremendous legacies on the Grammy stage.” (Agencies)
Prince’s Grammy breakthrough was at the 27th awards, when he won his first three career Grammys for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal (with the Revolution), best album of original score written for a film or TV special (for “Purple Rain”) and best R&B song for “I Feel For You.” He later won best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocal for his 1986 hit “Kiss” and for “Future Baby Mama,” he won the best male R&B vocal performance. His legacy was solidified further after three of his albums were inducted into the hall of fame: “1999,” “Purple Rain” and “Sign O’ The Times.” Prince died last April.
George Michael was first honored with a Grammy nomination for Wham’s 1984 “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” in contention for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal. His first career Grammy came in 1987 for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocal for his “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” duet with Aretha Franklin. The following year, Michael’s “Faith” won the coveted album of the year award. George Michael died in December.
Hot off her Super Bowl performance and world tour announcement, Lady Gaga will duet with Metallica at the 2017 Grammys.
The Recording Academy recently announced Demi Lovato, Andra Day, and Tori Kelly will perform a tribute to the Bee Gees at the ceremony. Lukas Graham and Katy Perry were also confirmed to perform, and the show will also include tributes to Prince and George Michael.
The extensive lineup for the 2017 awards also includes Adele, John Legend, Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Chance the Rapper, Little Big Town, Sturgill Simpson, William Bell and Gary Clark Jr. Maren Morris and Alicia Keys will duet together, Anderson .Paak will join A Tribe Called Quest and Dave Grohl, and the Weeknd will team up with Daft Punk. (Agencies)
By Mesfin Fekadu and Nekesa Mumbi Moody