With the 2021 Grammys just around the corner on March 14, the question on everyone’s mind is who will come out on top. Especially this year, with award shows seemingly harder to predict than ever (we’re looking at you Andra Day and Alejandro Sanz), a couple of artists could potentially take home more awards than expected, while others may underperform.
Scoring nine nominations this year including Record of the Year (twice) and Song of the Year, it’s safe to say Beyoncé has to win something at least. Her best bets are probably in genre categories, with “Black Parade” leading the odds for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance, as well as her Megan Thee Stallion collaboration “Savage” ahead so far in our predictions for Best Rap Performance.
Beyoncé could also score multiple visual wins, with “Brown Skin Girl” favored for Best Music Video and her acclaimed music film “Black is King” looking tough to beat for Best Music Film. If she manages to win all of those, and even Best Rap Song for “Savage” (that category is pretty much up in the air), that would be a grand total of six wins; not bad in an off year when she didn’t release a new album. In fact, it would tie the record for the most victories in one year by a female artist (Beyoncé already holds that record, which she shares with Adele). However, it might be better to hedge your bets, since she does have some strong competition.
Another leading nominee this year is Taylor Swift. She’s the front-runner for Album of the Year, and it seems like Pop Vocal Album is pretty much on lock at this point, so at least she’s winning something. Regarding her other non-album categories, we could see her Bon Iver collaboration “Exile” win Pop Duo/Group, and her track “Cardigan” win both of its categories, Song of the Year and Pop Solo Performance. It’s all going to depend on how well the alternative/Americana-leaning “Folklore” connects with pop voters; they could easily make sure Swift wins five awards, or they could let her go home empty-handed. But who knows, the love for “Folklore” might even be strong enough to land her a Visual Media Song win for her “Cats” composition “Beautiful Ghosts.”
Also with six nominations this year, the lead male nominee is Roddy Ricch. He’s in a bit of a predicament; he can only win four awards max since he’s nominated twice in two of his categories, so that already puts him at a disadvantage (unless he somehow ties with himself which … I guess stranger things have happened). Will he win those four, though? Well, hip-hop has a historic disadvantage in the general field, where he’s nominated for Record of the Year (“Rockstar” with DaBaby) and Song of the Year (“The Box”) so I wouldn’t bank on those. That said, wins for Melodic Rap Performance and/or Rap Song (he’s nominated for “Rockstar” and “The Box” in both races) could happen, though they aren’t locked either. Ricch could have a big night or end up going zero-for-six on March 14.
Another big nominee this year is Dua Lipa, nominated across the board in the general and pop fields for a total of six bids. Lipa could potentially win most of her categories (I don’t know about Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Un Dia,” though), but her competition is stiff everywhere she turns. Record of the Year for “Don’t Start Now” seems to be her most likely bet, so at the very least she could win that. However, if Billie Eilish sweeps again with her song “Everything I Wanted” like she did last year with “Bad Guy,” Lipa could be the biggest loser of the night and perhaps go zero-for-six like Ricch might.
Finally, nominated across the rock field (Rock Performance and Rock Song for “Stay High,” Alternative Album for “Jaime”) and with two extra noms in other genre categories is Brittany Howard. She’s hard to figure out; even though she has won four career Grammys, the rock field this year is packed, so she could go three-for-three or lose them all, it’s hard to tell. It might be an uphill climb for her since she’s going against critical darling Fiona Apple and buzzing newbie Phoebe Bridgers in the rock cats, against Beyoncé for R&B Performance, and especially against Black Pumas and the late John Prine for American Roots Performance.
We should prepare ourselves for at least a few surprises come March 14 anyway, so who knows, maybe I’m all wrong and Howard goes five-for-five. But this year is full of so many close contests that some of the most nominated artists could as easily win everything as nothing at all.
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