2 February 2024

Grammys 2024: Who will win and who should win?

The awards are just around the corner, and much like the previous ceremonies, there likely won’t be a shortage of controversial decisions.

A year after Harry Styles shocked-but-didn’t-surprise with his album of the year win over Beyoncé, the stars of the music world will gather with equal parts excitement and dread on Sunday night for the 66th Grammy Awards.

When it comes to the Grammys in particular, half of the fun is trying to understand the voting criteria, which remains elusive from year to year. Nailed on winners have been shafted for outsiders plenty of times before (who could forget Macklemore’s win over Kendrick Lamar for Rap Album of the Year back in 2014?), and at times, it honestly feels like voters just pull names from a hat and hope for the best. However, this year could be different as the Grammys added thousands of new voting members in an aggressive effort to make the voting membership younger and more diverse. 

In another major shift, the Recording Academy also lowered the number of nominees to eight from 10 in the four major categories of album, record and song of the year and best new artist. Top nominees include SZA, who’s up for nine awards; Phoebe Bridgers and Victoria Monét, both of whom have seven nominations; and Jon Batiste, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and Miley Cyrus, with six nods apiece. 

In anticipation of the big night, we’re taking a look at seven stacked nomination pools, and will distinguish which artists probably will win, and who probably should win that coveted Grammy gold ahead of Sunday’s (February 4th) ceremony. 

Song of the Year (awarded to the songwriter/songwriters)

‘A&W’, Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey and Sam Dew, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)
‘Anti-Hero’, Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
‘Butterfly’, Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson, songwriters (Jon Batiste)
‘Dance the Night’, (From Barbie the Album), Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Dua Lipa)
‘Flowers’, Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein and Michael Pollack, songwriters (Miley Cyrus)
‘Kill Bill’, Rob Bisel, Carter Lang & Solána Rowe, songwriters (SZA)
‘Vampire’, Daniel Nigro and Olivia Rodrigo, songwriters (Oliva Rodrigo)
‘What Was I Made For?’ [From the Motion Picture Barbie], Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)

Who will win: ‘Anti-Hero’

‘Anti-Hero’ marks the seventh time Taylor Swift has been nominated in this category, now a Grammy record. The single serves as the pulse of her LP, has been virtually inescapable for over a year, and shows the depth of her pen and personal glossary. A Swift win in this category would amplify the Grammy’s love of “making moments” at the ceremony.

Who should win: ‘What Was I Made For?’

However, the perfect, tear-jerking placement of ‘What Was I Made For?’ in Barbie solidifies the power of Billie Eilish and brother Finneas’ lyrical simplicity. The (potentially future Oscar-winning) song showcases what we love about Billie’s more subdued tracks: the palpable optimism underneath surface-level melancholia – which is befitting of the film’s underlying theme – as well as the general feelings of modern-day womanhood.

Record of the Year (awarded to the song itself)

‘Worship’, Jon Batiste
‘Not Strong Enough’, Boygenius
‘Flowers’, Miley Cyrus
‘What Was I Made For?’ [From the Motion Picture Barbie], Billie Eilish
‘On My Mama’, Victoria Monét
‘Vampire’, Olivia Rodrigo
‘Anti-Hero’, Taylor Swift
‘Kill Bill’, SZA

Who will win and who should win: SZA, ‘Kill Bill’

After years of sharing the spotlight with bigger names on huge songs (‘Love Galore’ with Travis Scott, ‘The Weekend’ with Calvin Harris, ‘All the Stars’ with Kendrick Lamar), SZA dominated the charts on her own with ‘Kill Bill’. Over atmospherics that are part movie soundtrack and part nightmare, SZA unfurls a modern murder ballad with a video that pays loving homage to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, culminating in a gruesome scene where a ninja SZA rips her ex’s heart out of his body and licks it. The song rose up the charts throughout early 2023, eventually knocking Morgan Wallen’s seemingly unstoppable ‘Last Night’ out of the top spot.

Album of the Year

World Music Radio, Jon Batiste
The Record, Boygenius
Endless Summer Vacation, Miley Cyrus
Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Lana Del Rey
The Age of Pleasure, Janelle Monáe
Guts, Olivia Rodrigo
Midnights, Taylor Swift
SOS, SZA

Who will win: Midnights

As mentioned earlier, the Grammys love “making moments.” Taylor Swift is far and away the biggest name in contemporary music, and a win in this category will provide the moment. If honoured with the biggest award of the night, Taylor could surpass Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Frank Sinatra for the most Album of the Year wins by any artist in history. However, some could argue that – though thematically sound – Midnights is not a career high. Although a win would be the cherry on top of her banner year, star power and fanfare don’t always warrant an automatic win.

Who should win: SOS

SOS on the other hand, is a true career high for SZA, solidifying her status as the reigning R&B superstar. It was her first No. 1 album, it nabbed the biggest streaming figures for an R&B album in U.S. history, and it’s the longest-running No. 1 album by a woman in this decade. A much-deserved win in this category would also create a “moment”: SZA would be the first Black woman since Lauryn Hill in 1999 to win Album of the Year, and only the fourth ever after Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, and Hill. The personal triumphs, coupled with the album’s successes, will feel like a win for all.

Best New Artist

Gracie Abrams
Fred Again..
Ice Spice
Jelly Roll
Coco Jones
Noah Kahan
Victoria Monét

Who will win: Gracie Abrams

Singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams had already headlined two tours and opened for Olivia Rodrigo by the time she released her debut album, Good Riddance, last February. With the help of the National’s Aaron Dessner, she crafted a masterfully vulnerable LP worth waiting for. And on top of all that, she spent her summer opening for Taylor Swift on the biggest tour of the year, a major boost for any prospective Best New Artist nominee. Despite all of these achievements, it’s almost impossible to compare her impact to that of the artist who should take home the award.

Who should win: Ice Spice

The New York-native rapper had four Top 10 hits this year, among them her remix of ‘Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2’ with PinkPantheress. Veteran hitmakers took the buzzy new star under their wing, with Taylor Swift adding her to a ‘Karma’ remix and Nicki Minaj jumping on a remix of Ice Spice’s ‘Princess Diana’. High honours here would crown the Bronx artist as the third woman rapper in history to win Best New Artist, which could be a controversial bestowment amongst rap purists who deem Ice to be “too pop” – but who cares when she’s making music this fun?

Best African Music Performance

‘Amapiano’, Asake and Olamide
‘City Boys’, Burna Boy
‘Unavailable’, Davido featuring Musa Keys
‘Rush’, Ayra Starr
‘Water’, Tyla

Who will win: ‘Water’, Tyla

A win by any of these artists would be a win for the culture, Africa, and Afrobeats, which continues to be overlooked by the Recording Academy in all-genre categories despite its influence. This is the first time this award will be presented, though few can deny the impact this style has made to the sonic landscape of modern-day music as a whole. This could become a massive moment for 21-year-old Tyla, who’s nominated for her massive hit ‘Water’, which spawned a viral dance movement after its release in 2023, and brought her “Popiano” sound to the world.

Who should win: ‘Unavailable’, Davido featuring Musa Keys

‘Unavailable’ in particular became the first song by a Nigerian act to hit 100 million streams on Spotify in 2023. This achievement is merely a footnote for Davido when observing the larger picture of his success and musical contributions, achieved through his artistic and cultural integrity. A Davido win would be incredibly overdue, considering he’s been pushing the afrobeats sound for well over 10 years, and continues to innovate still to this day.

Best Rap Song

‘Attention’, Doja Cat
“Barbie World’ Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice ft. Aqua
‘Just Wanna Rock’, Lil Uzi Vert
‘Rich Flex’, Drake & 21 Savage
‘Scientists & Engineers’, Killer Mike and André 3000 feat. Future and Eryn Allen Kane

Who should win: ‘Just Wanna Rock’, Lil Uzi Vert

It was hard to escape the jubilant allure of Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Just Wanna Rock’ last year. The Jersey club-infused hit was an unofficial Super Bowl anthem and managed to infect the whole of pop culture with a new sonic sensibility. It’s a rare example of a track with the power to reconfigure audiences’ tastes, sparking huge interest in Jersey club for the remainder of 2023.

Who will win: ‘Scientists & Engineers’, Killer Mike featuring André 3000, Future, Eryn Allen Kane

Killer Mike’s Michael checks all of the boxes for critical acclaim and “Scientists & Engineers” is suffused with the kind of biting social commentary he’s become known for, all interwoven in an intricately told narrative made all the more ethereal by the presence of rap’s foremost poet, André 3000. The song is one of those technically impressive and politically urgent singles that Grammy voters are sure to embrace.

Best R&B Song

‘ICU’, Coco Jones
‘Angel’, Halle
‘Back to Love’, Robert Glasper ft. SiR & Alex Isley
‘Snooze’, SZA
‘On My Mama’, Victoria Monét

Who will win: ‘Snooze’, SZA

As one of the highlights on an album full of highlights, the smoothness and soothing vibes found in SZA’s ‘Snooze’ would cap off an incredible year for the Jersey girl. It wouldn’t be disappointing to see the star take this one home, but if we’re talking pure R&B, there’s only one winner.

Who should win: ‘ICU’, Coco Jones

Though in her breakout single “ICU,” Coco Jones’ lower register and unbelievably velvety vocals display that the hallmarks of R&B live on in our newest stars. A win in this category for Jones would solidify her place among one of the brightest lights in the genre today, and would bring a happy ending to the former Disney darling’s Cinderella story.

  • Writer Chris Saunders

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