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60th annual Grammy Award predictions

The Spectrum's takes on music's biggest night

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The Grammy Awards are back in the Big Apple for the first time in 15 years.

The nominations for next year’s Grammys were announced on Nov. 28. As the ceremony next month approaches, we’re sharing our predictions on who will be crowned some of music’s top dogs.

Record of the Year

Brenton: “Redbone” – Childish Gambino

Donald Glover is a man of many talents. He’s a TV star, a cinematic hero and everyone’s favorite rapper-turned-R&B-sensation.

And he deserves to be a Grammy winner.

Popularity is a telling sign for the Grammys, and although Gambino’s popularity is nowhere near that of his competition, “Redbone” itself was huge this year. It’s beautiful, engaging and had us all hitting our falsettos throughout 2017. But none of us can hit them quite like the man himself.

Ben: “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars

As much as I love “Redbone” –– and love to hear it distorted from inside the bathroom at a party ­­–– Bruno took the year by storm. It’s a magical, vintage, upbeat jam and one of the more infectious songs I’ve heard in pop that I haven’t become sick of.

Symbolically, songs like JAY-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” winning would be huge, but it’s highly unlikely. Bruno’s throwback soundscape is the perfect track to get in the groove and the sound he and his team created is a pitch perfect, feel-good bop.

Album of the Year

Ben: “‘Awaken, My Love!’” – Childish Gambino

After a huge Golden Globes night, Gambino –– the mastermind –– will certainly take some Grammys home next January. The multi-platform creative has flexed his muscles in comedy, film and now R&B.

“‘Awaken, My Love!’” is straight out of George Clinton’s playbook, a 21st-century ode to the Bootsy Collinses and Curtis Mayfields of music’s past. Besides “California” –– the worst track on the record –– cuts like “Baby Boy” and “Stand Tall” feature Gambino using his sweet serenades to provide beautiful, sugary scents of soul and R&B.

Gambino is the Will Smith of this generation, minus the corniness, and he deserves all the awards he can get.

Brenton: “Damn” - Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar’s year to win big at the Grammys was 2016.

Everything was lined up in his favor. “To Pimp a Butterfly” was relevant, inventive and enjoyable in every sense. But Taylor Swift and “1989” took home Album of the Year. Swift’s pop perfection took home the major category wins, while Lamar was left with the awards in the rap category.

Two years later and the rapper is bigger than he’s ever been. I personally don’t think “Damn” matches the musical excellence Lamar’s last release showcased, but album sales disagree.

This is the Grammys opportunity to make up for 2016, and they’re not going to let Lamar leave without the grand prize this time.

Song of the Year

Ben: "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (featuring Justin Bieber)

First off, Justin Bieber is a clown. If you’re going to be on a hit Spanish song, conjured by two Puerto Rican musicians, at least have an understanding of the chorus.

The chorus is unforgettable and after this summer, unforgettably annoying. But it’s deservingly so. The reggaeton aura and irresistibility of Fonsi’s crooning helped parade the song to number one in the United States and charts around the world.

Minus the Bieber feature on the number, the song easily jumps out as the most memorable hit of the past year.

Brenton: “Issues” by Julia Michaels

Song of the Year is all about songwriting, and no artist is more deserving of this award than rising star Julia Michaels.

Michaels started years back and spent her time behind the scenes, writing for pop stars like Justin Bieber, Gwen Stefani and Selena Gomez. Her debut single, “Issues,” was the first track she’s written that was too personal to give to anyone else, and she made the right decision.

“Issues” is intimate, honest and highlights Michaels’ storytelling gift. Nobody can do it like her, and the Recording Academy will recognize that.

Best New Artist

Ben: SZA

After years of fans waiting for a follow-up to her project “Z,” SZA’s “Ctrl” made necessary waves in 2017. It’s vulnerability –– edged with themes of womanhood and sexuality –– mimic the lore of other popular R&B albums like Janet Jackson’s “The Velvet Rope” and Beyoncé’s “Lemonade.”

By incorporating a team of musicians to assist her on “Ctrl” like Pharrell Williams and Travis Scott, her hip-hop heavy influences blend well with her brushes of soothing soul on tracks like “Go Gina” and “Doves in the Wind.”

Following her big year, a few Grammys for the singer will be the icing on the cake.

Brenton: Alessia Cara

This is what I call the Meghan Trainor theory.

In 2016, Trainor took home Best New Artist after being nominated the year before.

Alessia Cara wasn’t nominated for a Grammy before this year, but she has a massive advantage over her opponents. Her debut album, “Know-It-All,” was released two years ago and she’s been popular since. She was even nominated for New Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards in 2016.

Although I have great respect for Cara and am a big fan of her music, SZA and Julia Michaels really deserve this one. But the Recording Academy will say differently.

Snubs

Ben: A Tribe Called Quest

As much as the Grammys are a victory for musicians of color, with no white males nominated for album of the year, they missed the mark in the biggest way. A Tribe Called Quest, as its legendary member Q-Tip noted in an Instagram rant, received zero nominations.

Aside from JAY-Z’s career reboot on “4:44,” “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” was the most important black album to be released in the past year. The sting of A Tribe Called Quest’s lack of nominations would be lessened if JAY-Z were to win, but the empty void will be highly felt in their hometown come January.

Brenton: Tyler, the Creator, Dua Lipa

I’m pretty satisfied with this year’s nominees. The Grammys put an emphasis on hip hop this year, and rightfully so.

I just wish Tyler, the Creator’s “Flower Boy” made its way to the major categories. “Flower Boy” is Tyler’s best work and my favorite album this year. And if the Recording Academy thinks Alessia Cara is eligible for Best New Artist, I would’ve preferred they nominated Tyler. He’s never been nominated before, just like Cara, and this is the best his music has ever sounded.

I also think Dua Lipa was paid dust after a wildly successful year. Her self-titled debut album was hands-down the most cohesive pop record of the year, but she was nowhere to be found in the pop categories. And as an actual new artist, it would’ve made more sense to incorporate her in the category than an industry regular like Alessia Cara.

Benjamin and Brenton Blanchet are arts editors and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.


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