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Grammys 2017: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

Our predictions for who will take home the gold on Monday.

Part of the fun of watching the Grammys is trying to read the minds of the Recording Academy voters and guess which artists they’ll choose to recognise. Another part is rooting for your favourites to win, no matter what the odds. And maybe most fun of all is griping about who should have been nominated but wasn’t.

Below, we’ve indulged in all three Grammy-related pastimes, guessing who will win, weighing in on who should and stumping for the unjustly excluded. Follow along on Sunday night to see how we did.

Album of the Year

25, Adele
Lemonade, Beyoncé
Purpose, Justin Bieber
Views, Drake
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson

WILL WIN: 25, Adele
It’s hard to think of Beyoncé as an underdog, but she squares off in almost every major Grammy category this year against a singer who’s at least equally beloved – and who sells loads more CDs and downloads. This category is all Adele’s. Her 25 LP sold 20 million albums worldwide, and broke single-week sales records in the U.S. – like last year’s Album of the Year winner, Taylor Swift’s 1989, Adele is keeping these folks in business.

SHOULD WIN: Lemonade, Beyoncé
And yet, 25 is a straight hits-plus-filler job, while Lemonade is an actual album – not to mention an instantly iconic multimedia opus. If nothing else, Bey deserves this for losing to Beck’s (perfectly fine but come on, really …) Morning Phase two years ago.

ROBBED: Anti, Rihanna
Rihanna’s most accomplished album, Anti found her flexing her developed singing chops, expanding her emotional range and even pulling off a six-and-a-half-minute Tame Impala cover. She hasn’t had an Album of the Year nomination since Loud in 2011, and it’s time.

Song of the Year

“Formation,” Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles and Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“Hello,” Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
“I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” Mike Posner, songwriter (Posner)
“Love Yourself,” Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin and Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Bieber)
“7 Years,” Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard and Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)

WILL WIN: “Hello”
This category honors the song as written, rather than the recording we know it by. That means melody takes precedent over rhythm, and that means Adele wins over Beyoncé. Every lyric in “Formation” is a gem, but its chanted chorus isn’t something your average Grammy voter can hum – it requires Beyoncé in order to exist.

This is is one they’re going to get right. The Posner tune is cute but slight, “Love Yourself” is clever but anchored in bitchy misogyny, “Formation” will hopefully win another award, and “7 Years” is just bad luck.

ROBBED: “Humble and Kind,” Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw)
Americana stalwart and Music Row songsmith McKenna arranged a series of homey platitudes into a moving defence of old-fashioned values, and in last year’s rancid political climate, Tim McGraw’s hit version rang out as a genuine protest song. And it stands the test of a great composition: Different singers can interpret it differently. Both McGraw’s version and McKenna’s are aces.

Record of the Year

“Hello,” Adele
“Formation,” Beyoncé
“7 Years,” Lukas Graham
“Work,” Rihanna feat. Drake
“Stressed Out,” Twenty One Pilots

WILL WIN: “Formation,” Beyoncé
This category is Bey’s best bet to block an Adele sweep, though it’s possible R&B-favouring voters might split between “Formation” and “Work,” handing this award to Adele too.

SHOULD WIN: “Formation,” Beyoncé
The Record of the Year category is about performance and production. Though the tear-triggering vocal swells and haunting echo of “Hello” are hard to dislodge, “Formation” is a massive track, perfect in everything from beat to delivery.

ROBBED: “One Dance,” Drake feat. Wizkid and Kyla
Drake’s first time topping the pop charts on his own (though he’d been featured on other artists’ Number One songs before) is a moment that deserves acknowledgment. “One Dance” is an impressive aural passport with stamps from around the globe, its lilting beat and contributions from Nigerian superstar Wizkid and London diva Kyla playing off Drake’s languid vocal, the sigh of a world-weary traveler.

Best New Artist

Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance the Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson Paak

WILL WIN: The Chainsmokers
After years of mockery for picking flash-in-the-pan novelties, the Grammys learned to reward tasteful young folks who seem to have real career staying power and who can belt out the kind of hits that may net them the bigger Grammys one day – Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Adele. But neither of the two country stars here – the brilliantly genre-expanding Morris and the pleasantly spunky ingenue Ballerini – quite fits that mold, and they’ll split the vote, as could Paak and Chance. That leaves last year’s low-energy bro-pop breakout stars in a good place to win.

SHOULD WIN: Chance the Rapper
Either Morris or Paak (more on them below), both just starting off brilliant and unpredictable careers, would be deserving choices, but Chance’s ability to infuse rap with the indomitable ebullience of gospel without sounding like a cornball made him the most necessary artist of 2016.

The Minneapolis-spawned (and Prince-cosigned) trio has a well-deserved nomination for Best Urban Contemporary album, but their soulful harmonies and atmospheric yet melodic tracks deserve recognition outside of the genre categories.

Best Pop Vocal Album

25, Adele
Purpose, Justin Bieber
Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande
Confident, Demi Lovato
This Is Acting, Sia

WILL WIN: 25, Adele
It’s conceivable – though highly unlikely – that in those categories where Adele and Beyoncé battle it out, voters could split between the two superstars, leaving a dark horse a shot to win. But with no high-wattage competition from Bey here, it’s Adele in a walk.

SHOULD WIN: 25, Adele
One one hand, t
hese are all solid pop albums, with terrific hit singles, and Demi, Justin and especially Ariana are all developing as performers. On the other hand, Adele.

ROBBED: Glory, Britney Spears
Yes, Brit’s pipes can’t compete with any of the ladies here – she’s a creature of the studio. But she’s never sounded more vulnerable, seductive or human than she does on this sadly overlooked album.

Best Pop Solo Performance

“Hello,” Adele
“Hold Up,” Beyoncé
“Love Yourself,” Justin Bieber
“Piece By Piece (Idol Version),” Kelly Clarkson
“Dangerous Woman,” Ariana Grande

WILL WIN: “Hello,” Adele
Starting to see a pattern here? Adele may not pull off a clean sweep, but she’s gonna be up on that stage an awful lot. Fortunately she’s always a gracious, gabby and hilarious award-accepter. If we’re lucky, she’ll swear.

SHOULD WIN: “Hold Up,” Beyoncé
The overlap between Grammy categories can be confusing: What makes “Hold Up” a superior “performance” and “Formation” a better “song” and “record”? No denying that Adele sings the hell out of “Hello,” but “Hold Up” is a smashing showcase of Bey’s ability to channel pain and frustration into graceful swagger.

ROBBED: “Into You,” Ariana Grande
Sure, the theme for an imaginary James Bond film “Dangerous Woman” was a bigger hit and a chance for Ariana to flaunt her dramatic vocal skills, but the sensual throb of “Into You” made it one of the year’s best tracks.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Closer,” The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey
“7 Years,” Lukas Graham
“Work,” Rihanna feat. Drake
“Cheap Thrills,” Sia feat. Sean Paul
“Stressed Out,” Twenty One Pilots

WILL WIN: “7 Years,” Lukas Graham
This will be a tense showdown between the limp mediocrity of “Closer” and the overheated cheese of “7 Years.” The Chainsmokers’ monster hit is as gripping as the jingle to a build-your-own-website ad. It’s hard to imagine why voters would get excited about it, but then again, it was hard to imagine why so many listeners got excited about it. In the end, though, the precocious profundity of “7 Years” will seem monumental enough to deserve a trophy.

SHOULD WIN: “Work,” Rihanna feat. Drake
Rihanna’s nagging, wearied vocal, veering into patois out of need to express her frustration, summed up all that was enervating about 2016 without ever surrendering to despair.

ROBBED: “Never Be Like You,” Flume feat. Kai
The breakout single from the Australian electronic-music whiz Flume’s Best Dance/Electronic Album–nominated Skin is a contender for Best Electronic Recording, but it deserves recognition here as well. If he gets to be Calvin Harris, this will be where it all started.

Best Rock Album

California, Blink-182
Tell Me I’m Pretty, Cage the Elephant
Magma, Gojira
Death of a Bachelor, Panic! at the Disco
Weezer, Weezer

WILL WIN: Tell Me I’m Pretty, Cage the Elephant
Up against a metal record with no shot and three unremarkable comeback albums from recognisable veterans – Blink’s too bland, Panic! too overripe and Weezer too self-parodic – Cage, whose last album was nominated in the Alternative category, will likely take this one.

SHOULD WIN: Magma, Gojira
Not sure how this French metal band got invited to this lame party, but they blast out with an energy missing from every one of their competitors.

ROBBED: Dig in Deep, Bonnie Raitt
Sure, this lady hardly needs any more Grammys – she’s already got eleven. Her prior album, Slipstream, won for Best Americana Album in 2013, and she got a Hall of Fame award in 2015. But Dig in Deep is her most rocking in years, anchored by the steamy late-night sext she makes of INXS’ “Need You Tonight.”

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Lemonade, Beyoncé
Ology, Gallant
We Are King, KING
Malibu, Anderson Paak
Anti, Rihanna

WILL WIN: Lemonade, Beyoncé
It’s almost unfair how competitive this category is, especially compared to the lackluster rock nominees. The weakest album here (by Gallant) is no slouch. But this is where even those voters who worship Adele will pay their respects to Queen Bey.

SHOULD WIN: Lemonade, Beyoncé
You could have a personal preference for Rihanna’s serrated tour de force, or for Anderson Paak’s expansive G-funk revisionism or KING’s burnished quiet storm. But Lemonade is an event record that deserves to win.

ROBBED: A Seat at the Table, Solange
Bey’s little sis came into her own this year with a socially conscious masterwork that was maybe a little over the heads of the Recording Academy voters.

Best Rap Album

Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper
And the Anonymous Nobody, De La Soul
Major Key, DJ Khaled
Views, Drake
Blank Face LP, Schoolboy Q
The Life of Pablo, Kanye West

WILL WIN: Views, Drake
Sorry, Ye. We know how important these awards are to you, but you rub a lot of Grammy voters the wrong way. Views may be a bit rambling and overlong, but its hit singles will stick with voters and Drake’s melodic murmur has aged into an undeniable signature style.

SHOULD WIN: Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper
Sorry, Ye. We know how important artistic achievement is to you, but while Pablo is a brilliant late-period effort, Coloring Book bounds into the arena with the sound of an unstoppable upstart coming into his own. And let’s face it, Chance steals the show on “Ultralight Beam” anyway.

ROBBED: Islah, Kevin Gates
A little rough for the Grammy crowd, maybe, but the harried yet hopeful Baton Rouge rapper’s critical breakthrough was also a commercial smash, and “Two Phones” was a hit on rap radio.

Best Country Album

Big Day in a Small Town, Brandy Clark
Full Circle, Loretta Lynn
Hero, Maren Morris
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson
Ripcord, Keith Urban

WILL WIN: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson
This could be a close one. Lynn won Best Country Album for her last album, Van Lear Rose, way back in 2005, and voters might want to acknowledge her legendary status while she’s still with us. But like last year’s winner, Chris Stapleton, Simpson exudes a manly integrity that some fans and outsiders alike think country music needs, and the sweeping production of A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is ambitious.

SHOULD WIN: Hero, Maren Morris
In a better world, Maren Morris would have expanded the idea of pop country last year as dramatically as Garth, Shania and Taylor before her. Hero is a blueprint for how Nashville can sound worldly and contemporary but still country, without embarrassing itself.

ROBBED: Mr. Misunderstood, Eric Church
Church has snagged seven Grammy nominations in the past, so why stop now? The spare and quickly recorded follow-up to the more sprawling The Outsiders shies away from muscular anthems in favor of low-key introspective charm.

Best Americana Album

True Sadness, The Avett Brothers
This Is Where I Live, William Bell
The Cedar Creek Sessions, Kris Kristofferson
The Bird and the Rifle, Lori McKenna
Kid Sister, The Time Jumpers

WILL WIN: Kid Sister, The Time Jumpers
Vince Gill is a Grammy magnet. Dude’s racked up 20 of those suckers already – more than any other male country star. The crack Western-swing band that Gill fronts doesn’t bear his name, but voters are sure to know he’s the star attraction and mark their ballots accordingly.

SHOULD WIN: The Bird and the Rifle, Lori McKenna
McKenna’s been writing and recording for years, and back-to-back songwriting smashes – Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” – have brought her greater recognition just in time for the best album of her career.

ROBBED: Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, Margo Price
Smart and spunky, Price works in a traditional country style musically but writes lyrics set firmly in the present day, and it’s genuinely shocking that her smashing debut, with the muscle of Jack White’s Third Man Records behind it, didn’t earn a nomination.

Best Dance/Electronic Album

Skin, Flume
Electronica 1: The Time Machine, Jean-Michel Jarre
Epoch, Tycho
Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future, Underworld
Louie Vega Starring … XXVIII, Louie Vega

WILL WIN: Skin, Flume
This is a category that can seem to baffle voters, who have gravitated toward familiar names in the past: Daft Punk (makes sense), Lady Gaga (hmm) and, three times in the past five years, Skrillex. Flume himself might be an anonymous chap, but Skin is as much a pop album as a dance album, with a hit single attached, giving it a higher profile than its competitors.

SHOULD WIN: Skin, Flume
All respect due to Underworld’s comeback album, but Skin is a real joy, relishing an abrasive EDM wallop and revealing a crafty pop sensibility.

ROBBED: 99.9%, Kaytranada
The debut from this Haitian-born, Montreal-based producer, which won Canada’s Polaris Prize last year, ranges widely across electronic dance style and makes room for distinctive guest vocalists like Anderson Paak and Vic Mensa.

Best Alternative Music Album

22, A Million, Bon Iver
Blackstar, David Bowie
The Hope Six Demolition Project, PJ Harvey
Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop
A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead

WILL WIN: Blackstar, David Bowie
The Grammys overlooked Bowie during his heyday, choosing belatedly to honour him in his golden years with a Hall of Fame Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s the posthumously sentimental favourite whose album isn’t nominated for any other awards, so they gotta give him this one, right?

SHOULD WIN: Blackstar, David Bowie
But voting for Blackstar wouldn’t just be a nice gesture. Bowie’s final album darkly addresses death but pulsates with improvisational life, outpacing lesser PJ Harvey and Bon Iver efforts and distinguished comebacks from Radiohead and Iggy.

ROBBED: I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, The 1975
Is this band of wry Mancunians “alternative”? Or “rock?” Or “pop?” Maybe all of the above. Matt Healy’s lyrics dissect modern romance with insightfully jerky elan on an album that’s hooky and radio-ready one minute, ambiently synth-laden the next.