Beyonce vs. Pharrell Williams in Grammys showdown for Urban Contemporary Album

Nominees for Album of the Year usually have the advantage in their respective genre categories, but this year’s lineup for Best Urban Contemporary Album boasts two contenders from that top race: Beyonce for her self-titled fifth solo album, and Pharrell Williams for “GIRL.” Will one of them win?

This is the first nomination for both artists in this category, but that’s because the category has only existed since 2012. Before that, Beyonce was undefeated as a solo artist in the now defunct Contemporary R&B Album race, winning all three of her bids: for “Dangerously in Love” (2003), “B’Day” (2006), and “I Am … Sasha Fierce” (2009). She was also nominated with Destiny’s Child for their 2004 reunion album, “Destiny Fulfilled.”

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This is Williams’s first nomination in any R&B Album category. Though he has won seven Grammys, including two as Producer of the Year, “GIRL” is only his second solo effort. His first, “In My Mind,” was nominated for Best Rap Album in 2006, losing to “Release Therapy” by Ludacris.

Williams’s loyalties may be divided, however, at least in the general field. If Beyonce wins Album of the Year, Williams wins anyway as a producer. In fact, that’s also true if Ed Sheeran‘s “X” wins the top prize. He certainly diversified his Grammy portfolio this year.

Of their rivals for Urban Contemporary Album, Chris Brown (“X“) is the only one who has been nominated before in this category. He was nominated in this race in 2012 for “Fortune,” losing to Frank Ocean‘s “Channel Orange.” He also earned two bids for Contemporary R&B Album, and won Best R&B Album in 2011 for “F.A.M.E.”

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The remaining two nominees are Grammy first-timers, competing for their first major releases: Jhene Aiko for “Sail Out” and Mali Music for “Mali Is.”

Do you think Beyonce or Pharrell is the frontrunner? Can Chris Brown surprise them both? Or will one of the newbies have beginner’s luck? Use our drag-and-drop menu below to make your predictions, or click here to make your picks in other top Grammy categories, with more categories soon to come.

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