Is “Despacito” a shoo-in to win the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance? The collaboration between Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber is the only nominee in this category that also contends in the general field — it’s up for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. That makes it look close to invincible, but is it really?
The Pop Duo/Group category has existed at the Grammys under a number of different names going back all the way to 1966, but in 2012 the award was combined with Best Pop Collaboration, and since then a nomination in the general field is strongly predictive of a victory here. In 2013 the award went to Gotye and Kimbra for “Somebody That I Used to Know,” which also went on to win Record of the Year. In 2014 the same song won both of those awards again: “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers. And yet again in 2016 the same song claimed Pop Duo/Group and Record of the Year: “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.
2017 was a tough call since the category included three Record of the Year nominees: “7 Years” by Lukas Graham, “Work” by Rihanna and Drake, and the ultimate winner, “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. But “Stressed Out” didn’t take Record of the Year; it lost that race to “Hello” by Adele.
There was one exception to this rule, though: in 2015 “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX was nominated for Record of the Year, but it lost Best Pop Duo/Group to “Say Something” by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera. Like “Despacito,” “Fancy” was the song of the summer that year, so if “Despacito” suffers the same fate, which one of its rivals could capitalize?
Most of the other nominees are past Grammy winners, so they could be strong threats. Imagine Dragons prevailed in the race for Best Rock Performance for “Radioactive” in 2014, though they’ve never been tested in the pop field until this year. The good news for them is that they’re also up for Best Pop Album (“Evolve”), which indicates strong support from the recording academy.
The Chainsmokers and Coldplay are nominated for their collaboration “Something Just Like This.” The Chainsmokers previously won Best Dance Recording for “Don’t Let Me Down” in 2017, and Coldplay are Grammy darlings with seven past victories including one in this category for “Viva La Vida” (2009), and this year they’re also nominated for Best Pop Album (“Kaleidoscope”), so they mustn’t be ruled out.
Zedd and Alessia Cara are nominated for their collaboration “Stay.” Cara hasn’t won any Grammys yet — she’s nominated for four this year including Best New Artist — but EDM musician Zedd won his only previous nomination, Best Dance Recording for “Clarity.”
The only other nominees in this category who have yet to prevail are Portugal. The Man for their hit “Feel it Still.” This is their first ever Grammy nomination, but it’s their only bid this year. Does that take them out of this race, or can they pull off an upset?
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