2021 Grammys Record of the Year predictions: Should you bet against Dua Lipa? Don’t start now

The Grammy Award for Record of the Year is the top award to honor an artist’s performance, along with the production and mixing behind a song, as well as to cement that song into music history. This year we have an eclectic mix of record-breaking hits, acclaimed gems, and politically relevant songs that are all vying for their place in Grammy history. Let’s dive in.

A double nominee here for the first time in her career (and the first time ever for any female artist), Beyoncé has the chance to win for her powerful “Black Parade” (also nominated in Song of the Year), as well as her smash hit “Savage” along with Best New Artist front-runner Megan Thee Stallion. Out of the two, “Savage” could have the advantage; it’s a much bigger hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100, which always helps (most Record winners are commercial hits), and Megan Thee Stallion has incredible hype, notching multiple hits and a successful debut studio album all while voting was underway.

So will “Savage” triumph? Maybe, but rap songs don’t really have the best track record here. The only hip-hop song to win Record (or Song for that matter) is Childish Gambino’s “This Is America‘,’ which probably won in large part due to its timely political overtones. While “Savage” could definitely pull a surprise win, I wouldn’t bank on it completely. That said, Beyoncé might comfortably have both of her songs in the top four or five in the final vote totals; “Black Parade” should monopolize the R&B vote quite easily.

Arguably the front-runner here is Dua Lipa’s smash hit “Don’t Start Now.” The song is nominated for both Song of the Year and Pop Solo Performance in addition to this category, peaked at number-two on the Hot 100, and might be more palatable to the recording academy since pop songs have always done the best out of all genres here. Not only that, but its nu-disco sound might attract older voters just as much as younger ones. Recently we’ve seen hits like Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky,” Bruno Mars‘s “24k Magic” and Mars and Mark Ronson‘s “Uptown Funk” benefit from their throwback sounds to pick up Grammy gold in this category.

Lipa is also no stranger to the Grammys, having two previous wins (Best New Artist and Best Dance Recording for “Electricity,” both in 2019) and being a six-time nominee this year. As for the other disco hit nominated, “Say So” by Doja Cat, it’s also a possibility, but Lipa will likely edge her out since Lipa’s song was bigger (number-four vs. number-12 on the year-end Billboard Hot 100), and Doja has been the subject of some controversies. Not to mention Lipa already edged Doja’s “Hot Pink” out for a nom in Best Pop Vocal Album, indicating greater overall support from the academy at large.

A couple of nominees here might not have enough momentum for a win. “Rockstar” by DaBaby and Roddy Ricch would be an awesome winner, but as I mentioned above, hip-hop has a hard time in this category, and “Savage” is a more likely champ due to the power of Beyoncé plus the Megan hype. Black Pumas’ “Colors” was an inspired nominee, but non-hits rarely win here, and especially a song that didn’t even chart on the Hot 100. (Black Pumas were a little unlucky in that regard; the song shot up the iTunes chart due to their performance at the presidential inauguration — just two weeks after voting ended).

Post Malone’s “Circles” would be a huge threat to win in most years (it’s a heartbreak song that dominated the charts), but it missed Best Pop Solo Performance on a straight popular vote to its Record rivals “Say So,” “Don’t Start Now” and “Everything I Wanted.” Post has missed in pop categories multiple times, which might mean a relative lack of academy support despite his frequent appearances in the top general field categories, whose nominees are ultimately decided by a nomination review committee. So a “Circles” win might not be likely.

Last but certainly not least, Billie Eilish is already back after sweeping the awards last year. Her nomination for “Everything I Wanted” says a lot; most winners tend to get snubbed the following year to make space for others, so it’s clear that she’s still loved by academy members, getting four nominations this year after winning all general field categories last year.

Could that much Eilish hype translate to another win? It definitely could, especially since she’ll easily get the support from the academy’s rock and alternative contingent here, not to mention a portion of the pop voters. “Everything I Wanted,” however, didn’t make as big a cultural or commercial impact as her winner last year, “Bad Guy,” and might suffer from being a little forgotten at this point since it was released back in November 2019. However, an artist like Eilish might not need much promo or campaigning to generate passion among voters and win. We’re definitely keeping an eye on her.

Will Win: Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now”
Dark Horse: Billie Eilish, “Everything I Wanted”; or Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé, “Savage”

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