The Recording Academy that hands out the annual Grammy Awards are a mercurial bunch — and often controversial. So naturally, not all of our predictions across 34 categories proved accurate. Below, see the 16 races where voters surprised us this year. And check out the complete list of winners here.
Album of the Year: Harry Styles (“Harry’s House”)
We ranked him fourth behind Beyonce, Adele, and Brandi Carlile. We got an early glimpse of his strength at the Grammys two years ago when he beat a formidable field for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Watermelon Sugar.” Back then nomination review committees were still in charge, and it seemed like Styles would have won even more had the committee let him into the general field. Maybe we were right, because with the nomination review committees out of commission he just won the biggest award of the night.
Record of the Year: Lizzo (“About Damn Time”)
We ranked her fourth in our odds behind Adele, Harry Styles, and Beyonce. Honestly, this looked like a three-way race, and our odds didn’t leave much hope for Lizzo to win anything. Indeed, she lost everything else, including Best Pop Solo Performance for “About Damn Time,” but the song still managed to win the grand prize of Record of the Year.
Song of the Year: Bonnie Raitt (“Just Like That”)
Not just the biggest upset of the night, but one of the biggest upsets I’ve ever seen at the Grammys. Where in the entire hell did this come from? Well, the Grammys love Bonnie Raitt. She has now won 13 times in her career, including twice earlier in the afternoon in the American roots field against stiff competition (including Brandi Carlile). Plus, the story song about a life-saving organ donation was arguably the most lyrics-driven song in the lineup. Even still, hardly anyone saw this coming.
Best New Artist: Samara Joy
When is an upset not an upset? When the race is as wide open as Best New Artist was this year. We ranked Samara Joy seventh in our odds, but after she performed at the afternoon Premiere Ceremony and won Best Jazz Vocal Album, her victory for Best New Artist suddenly made a lot of sense. Shades of Esperanza Spalding for sure.
Best Pop Vocal Album: Harry Styles (“Harry’s House”)
Styles’s road to Album of the Year started here. Judging from our odds it was clear this was a two-way race between Styles and Adele. But Adele had won this award twice before and in fact had not lost a single award in over a decade (until tonight). It turns out we backed the wrong Brit.
Best Traditional Pop Album: Michael Buble (“Higher”)
We knew going in that this would be a two-way race, but we thought sentiment around Diana Ross, who has never won a competitive Grammy, would push her to a victory here. Instead, Buble won his fifth career trophy.
Best Rock Album: Ozzy Osbourne (“Patient Number 9”)
We probably should have seen this coming. Black Keys are longtime Grammy favorites, so we judged that they were the front-runners, but this was their only nomination, while Ozzy Osbourne was recognized all across the rock field, showing how much support he had from his peers.
Best R&B Performance: Muni Long (“Hrs and Hrs”)
She had the biggest R&B hit in the category, but this was nevertheless a surprise given her competition. She was up against Grammy juggernaut Beyonce, last year’s R&B darling Jazmine Sullivan, and general field nominee Mary J. Blige. This was a real coup.
Best Traditional R&B Performance: Beyonce (“Plastic Off the Sofa”)
It normally wouldn’t be a surprise when Beyonce wins a Grammy, but in this case she was contending for an album track, and she was up against a song nominated for Record of the Year (Mary J. Blige’s “Good Morning Gorgeous”). That made this a rare occasion when Beyonce could have been considered an underdog, but she won anyway.
Best R&B Album: Robert Glasper (“Black Radio III”)
A huge surprise. He defeated Album of the Year nominee “Good Morning Gorgeous” by Mary J. Blige. That said, he had won four previous Grammys, including this category for the first “Black Radio,” so it was certainly in the realm of possibility.
Best Melodic Rap Performance: Future feat. Drake and Tems (“Wait for U”)
This could have gone either way. We bet on Kendrick Lamar’s “Die Hard” because Lamar so rarely loses in the rap field that it’s usually foolish to bet against him. But “Wait for U” was a chart-topping single and thus had a much higher profile. Never underestimate a huge hit.
Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde (“Never Wanted to Be That Girl”)
Pearce and McBryde had never won a Grammy before, but their country hit put them over four Grammy-winning music legends: Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire (“Does He Love You”) and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (“Going Where the Lonely Go”). As with Best Melodic Rap Performance, the bigger commercial hit won.
Best Country Song: Cody Johnson, “Til You Can’t”
A head-scratcher. “Til You Can’t” is a much-loved country song, but the fact that it was snubbed for Best Country Solo Performance made it seem like a relative longshot here. We thought Willie Nelson‘s “I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die,” co-written by Grammy fave Chris Stapleton, would win the day.
Best Latin Pop Album: Ruben Blades and Boca Livre (“Pasieros”)
Another one we should have seen coming. The two pop stars — Christine Aguilera and Sebastian Yatra — seemed to have the advantage, but Blades had previously won 10 Grammys out of 19 nominations; it rarely pays to bet against him, and this was yet another example.
Best Musical Theater Album: “Into the Woods”
“A Strange Loop” is the reigning Tony winner for Best Musical, and “MJ the Musical” featured the songs of Grammy winner Michael Jackson. With those in the running, we underestimated this season’s new revival of “Into the Woods,” which was probably also fueled by a desire within the Recording Academy to pay tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim.
Best Visual Media Score: Germaine Franco, “Encanto”
“Encanto” did even better than we thought. We expected it to win Best Visual Media Compilation and Best Visual Media Song (“We Don’t Talk About Bruno”), but we thought Recording Academy favorite Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead) was a likelier winner for scoring “The Power of the Dog.”
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