Celebrating music: Grammy Awards preview and predictions

Plank Article Matt Parks ’21

One of the great escapisms during the pandemic was music. 

Millions of people turned to their favorite artists and albums for comfort. Artists themselves found solace in music, producing new records and songs in an effort to retain normalcy and connect with their fans. 

This Sunday, March 14, is the annual Grammy Awards, a night that is arguably the most prestigious in the music industry which celebrates a year of music and the work of artists and musicians. 

Ahead of the awards show, here’s a preview of the event and insights from students of Jesuit High School Sacramento. 

Records and Notes 

Hosted by Trevor Noah, the Grammys will be without an in-person live audience and performances by nominated artists such as Post Malone, Maren Morris, Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, and Megan Thee Stallion will be a combination of live and pre-recorded appearances. 

Swift’s “folklore” is nominated for Album of the Year and with a win, she will make history as the first female artist to hold that award three times, which would place her with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Simon. Swift will also look to win Song of the Year for the first time with “cardigan.”

Beyoncé is up for nine awards, adding her total career nominations to 79, which is the most of any female artist. The 24-time Grammy winner also has a chance to make history. Four wins would place her as the most decorated female, eight or nine would secure her with the most Grammys of any artist. 

The nominees for Best Rock Performance and Best Country Album are composed solely by female artists or groups —  the first-ever female-only categories in Grammys history. 

Arguably one of the biggest snubs was the absence of The Weeknd in all categories with no recognition for “After Hours” or the album’s biggest song “Blinding Lights.”

First-time nominees include BTS, Harry Styles, Noah Cyrus, D Smoke, Doja Cat and Phoebe Bridgers, and Stallion. 

Predictions, Hopes, and Expectations  

Song of the Year, which awards the songwriter, sees a clash of big names with Swift, Beyoncé, Lipa, Malone, Billie Eilish, joined by JP Saxe & Julia Michaels, H.E.R., and Roddy Ricch up for recognition. JR Drusel ’21 cites popularity as one of the determining factors on who will win.

“I expect Roddy Ricch’s ‘The Box’ to win the Song of the Year as it has had recurring appearances on the radio and remained popular amidst our youth,” JR said. 

Drew McDonald ’22 recognizes how tough this category is and provides an analysis of the nominees. 

“For Song of the Year, I’d say that the race for the award is pretty close for who will end up taking the cake, all of these songs are very popular, very successful, and a majority of them are very highly acclaimed,” Drew said. “If I had to guess who it’ll end up going to, my guess would be to either ‘I Can’t Breath’ by H.E.R., or to ‘Black Parade’ by Beyoncé, though personally, I’d want it to go to either ‘Circles’ by Post Malone or to ‘Black Parade’ by Beyoncé.”

JR also anticipates Drake, who’s nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Music Video, and Best Rap Song to pick up some wins. 

“I haven’t heard most of the nominees; however, browsing through the artists, I expect Drake to win as he recently released a new hit, which has received lots of attention,” JR said. 

Record of the Year is another of the night’s biggest honors and unlike Song of the Year is given to the performing artist and collaborators rather than the composer. Lipa’s “Don’t Stop Now” and last year’s winner Eilish —  this year with “Everything I Wanted” —  are up for the award, but Drew hopes for a different outcome. 

“‘Circles’ by Post Malone and ‘Say So’ by Doja Cat are contenders; however, the two real contenders for me are ‘Black Parade’ by Beyoncé for her profound message of identity as well as the fantastic production on this record as well,” Drew said. “‘SAVAGE’ by Megan Thee Stallion would be my second choice for their clever and effective uses of lyricism on this record as well as the same professional production her newer music is known for.” 

While he doesn’t know what to expect when it comes to the night’s winners, Isaias Iniguez-Sandoval ’21 is rooting for Swift whose work is nominated in six categories with the biggest nods for Album and Song of the Year.  

“To be honest, I have no idea who is going to win, but I hope Taylor Swift wins in at least one of the big categories,” Isaias said. “Although her songs weren’t really ‘feel-good’ songs, I think these songs are some of the best ‘pop’ records in a while.” 

Elsewhere, Isaias has his favorite for Best Country Song and an upset he would like to see pulled off for Best Pop Solo Performance.

“I also hope Maren Morris wins Best Country Song,” Isaias said. “But in a not so serious note, I want to see [Justin Bieber’s] ‘Yummy’ win because I think it would be the most ironic thing ever, and it would make me laugh.” 

For Best Rock Album, Carlo Di Fiore ’21 gives his opinion on who should win the award. 

“Personally, I think that the Best Rock Album of the year should go to ‘The New Abnormal’ by The Strokes,” Carlo said. 

Along with “The New Abnormal,” Carlo also mentions Mac Miller’s posthumous “Circles” as albums that “definitely helped get me through 2020.” Miller’s “Circles” was another notable snub from the Recording Academy. 

A win for “The New Abnormal” is a shared sentiment by Drew who explains his love for the band’s sixth studio album. 

“‘Sound & Fury’ by Sturgill Simpson will probably win, but I’m a Strokes fan through and through, [and] ‘The New Abnormal’ is already one of my favorite albums in their discography, and I’d love to see them take home the award,” Drew said. “Tracks from the ‘New Abnormal’ like their opener ‘The Adults Are Talking,’ ‘Why Are Sundays So Depressing,’ and ‘At The Door’ are some of the most interesting work The Strokes have put out in a long time, taking risks not only in terms of … vocals and instrumentals but also in the long winding and intricate lyrics and songwriting that the band is able to use to great effect in making ‘The New Abnormal’ sound like no other album in The Strokes discography.”

Other winners picked by students are “King’s Disease” (Best Rap Album), “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” (Best Alternative Music Album), “Kyoto” (Best Rock Song),  Phoebe Bridgers (Best New Artist) and “Future Nostalgia” (Best Pop Vocal Album). 

Rounding out student predictions for the Grammys is the coveted Album of the Year. Drew found this category — which includes Coldplay’s “Everyday Life,” Black Pumas, “Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition),” Jhené Aiko’s “Chilombo,” Jacob Collier’s “Djesse Vol. 3,” HAIM’s “Women In Music Pt. III,”  Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia,” Swift’s “folklore,” and Malone’s “Hollywood is Bleeding” —  to be underwhelming when it came to nominations in context of all the music produced in 2020. 

“Honestly, I’m disappointed in the picks for Album of the Year, and if we’re talking about Album of the Year, every album should be great,” Drew said. “There was no shortage of great L.P.s this year, but none of these albums I would consider the best of this year or the best in general if I’m honest; none of these albums are even the best of what each of the individual artists has put out in their careers. If I had to guess who’s going to win in this category, my guess is on either Post Malone’s ‘Hollywood is Bleeding’ or Taylor Swift’s ‘folklore’ regardless if I think they should win or not. Though it would be nice if HAIM’s L.P. took the award.”

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The 2021 Grammy Awards kick off at 5 p.m. Tune in to see who wins, see performances from some of the world’s biggest artists, and celebrate a year of music.