3 tips for making Grammy predictions this year include a quirky alphabetical advantage

The Grammys can be a little … unpredictable. “Music’s biggest night” oftentimes makes unexpected decisions and produces head-scratching moments, to say the least. But there are a few trends that you should keep in mind every year that could make your Grammy predicting easier and could help you finish on top of our predictions leaderboard.

Watch out for veterans

Recently there have been a lot of unexpected nominations in the general field for artists who have been around for awhile. Jay-Z in 2018, Brandi Carlile in 2019, Tanya Tucker in 2020, and most recently Coldplay and Beyoncé in 2021 have been examples of veterans getting bids nominations in top categories. But don’t go too old; we’ve seen a lot of older veterans like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney get completely snubbed for recent projects. Besides Tucker, it seems like this trend is more focused on artists who broke through around the late ’90s and the 2000s.

Pay attention to this year’s precursors

Other award ceremonies are good at predicting Grammy nominees in certain categories. Especially this year with no nomination review committees involved to override the decisions of Grammy voters at large, we might see increased overlap between these award shows and the Grammys. So keep an eye out for the CMAs and the ACMs to preview the Grammys’ country field, the Soul Train Music Awards for the R&B field, the VMA technical categories for Best Music Video, and the Americana Music Honors and Awards for the American Roots field.

Alphabetical advantage?

Is being near the top of the list an advantage in some categories? With no panels this year, some voters might just name-check the first few familiar names they see. We’ve seen possible examples of this in the pop field, which wasn’t decided by a committee even before this year’s overhaul: Coldplay for Pop Vocal Album in 2018; nominations for Backstreet Boys, Beck, and Christina Aguilera in 2019; and most recently Justin Bieber’s “Changes” and “Yummy” might suggest that voters aren’t looking too far down their lists.

Even outside the pop field, a lot of nominations last year were oddly high on the list alphabetically. Six of the Album of the Year nominees were in the upper half of the alphabet, with four of them (all surprise nominees) at the very top from A to D (Jhene Aiko, Black Pumas, Coldplay, Jacob Collier).

In Song of the Year, where the contenders are organized by title, all eight nominees were in the first half of the alphabet, with the lowest song being “If the World Was Ending” by JP Saxe and Julia Michaels. similar to Album of the Year, five of the nominees were from A to D (“Black Parade” by Beyonce, “The Box” by Roddy Ricch, “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift, “Circles” by Post Malone, “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa).

Over in Record of the Year, four of the nominees were in that same area (Beyonce for “Black Parade,” Black Pumas for “Colors,” DaBaby for “Rockstar,” Doja Cat for “Say So”). And in Best New Artist, six out of the eight nominees were from A to D (Ingrid Andress, Phoebe Bridgers, Chika, Noah Cyrus, D Smoke, Doja Cat). Meanwhile, there were big snubs for acts on the latter parts of the list like Summer Walker, Rina Sawayama, and of course The Weeknd.

Being on the latter part of the list isn’t a death sentence by any means (just ask Taylor Swift and Megan Thee Stallion), but it seems like being one of the first few candidates might give you a boost. Even the Emmys have acknowledged this potential advantage; now they send out half of their ballots to voters in reverse alphabetical order.

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