Since the 2021 GRAMMY nominations came out last year in 2020, I wanted to try something new. In the past few years, I would look at the nominations and forget about it and would have like a few albums that I know, but this year I wanted to listen to all major categories and the few song nominations specifically in the pop music categories. So, with this year’s GRAMMYs coming up. I would like to share my predictions of who will win among the nominees for the following categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and Best Pop Vocal Album.
I will rank them based on my enjoyment of the albums/song and provide a short explanation at the end for my picks/rankings.
Out of all the albums in the nominees, this list Black Pumas’s album is the one I enjoyed the most. This pick might be a bit biased because I prefer music performed on instruments but the beat and the feel of the Black Pumas (Deluxe) is superb. I never really got into the eligibility of the Black Pumas album, some people say it’s not supposed to be on here because it was not released during the period of eligibility but I do not care about that, I’m just here for the music.
Few notes on the other nominees, Everyday Life by Coldplay may be cheesy for some listeners but it’s maybe one of their most inspired works. Jacob Collier’s Djesse Vol. 3 is what you expect from him: crazy harmonies and complex music theory, but for me, it gets old, like he’s saying: “Look at this music theory gimmick we used for this song.” The others are just well-produced pop albums or albums with good writing but never really gets going and keeps on playing the same-sounding song over and over again.
“Colors” by Black Pumas is my most enjoyed record out of all the nominees this year. This songs’ elements, the guitars, the bass, the keys, the vocals, and drums are recorded wonderfully, and it feels like it’s a live performance and it doesn’t sound like it comes from a laptop.
“Don’t Start Now,” “Say So,” and “Savage (Remix)” had a gigantic 2020. In terms of the recording aspect of this category, “Don’t Start Now” has a killer bassline, that propels not just this song, but the entirety of Dua Lipa’s sophomore release. “Say So” by Doja Cat is driven by the vocals and the masterful use of post-production effects on it (especially on the chorus). “Savage (Remix)” maybe my least enjoyed song (might be because of being overplayed, thanks to TikTok), but the chords and rhythm are unique.
This category is a two-horse race between Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift, if we are all being honest. I picked Billie Eilish because I feel like it’s a much stronger song, writing-wise, and the creative production (i.e. EQ change on the vocals to make it sound like Billie is singing underwater to accent a line). FINNEAS and her are on a streak of musically and sonically interesting songs but still palatable to the general public. Taylor may not be the best chord progression writer (it hasn’t been her strong suit), but her lyrics make up for it and this single from her first surprise quarantine album shows it. When you strip away all the production and focus on the lyrics, the detail that she goes into to get her point across in this track shows how easy it is for her.
Billie wins this category again based on the reasons laid out in the Song of the Year category of this article. I can see any song on this category winning this category except for “Yummy.” That song shouldn’t even be considered for any award but it’s here 🤷♂️.
“Exile” wins this category by a lot. Combine Taylor’s superb lyric writing and having Bon Iver for her to have a sort of dialogue in the song elevates it. “Dynamite” by BTS is just a catchy song with a hook in the chorus but has no main point but to have it ingrained in your ears for BTS to have a more international audience. “Intentions” by Justin Bieber is just poorly written, it is bad when Quavo says “asset” like “skkrt” to hype the song up because you have no engaging words in that line except for “asset” or “equity.”
Harry Styles’ album was a surprise during my listen, the project wasn’t just catchy but musically interesting. Songs like “Golden,” “She,” and “Falling” are the best on the record. It seems musically similar to Carly Rae Jepsen’s recent works but the type of music and vibe is different. Future Nostalgia and folklore have this problem of all the songs sounding the same, the former just being one disco track after another and your ears are tired of hearing the same tropes after four songs, and the latter has the opposite problems. Taylor’s folk songs never get into another gear like she’s stuck on a tempo and style of folk. “Chromatica” is Gaga’s return to form after “Joanne.” This release was hampered by the COVID pandemic, not having live shows for promotion, and people being stuck at home this year. It means that this wasn’t the album that the people needed during this time, so it hampered the success this album might have had culturally. Gaga goes full camp on some of the tracks on this record where it almost laughable (i.e. “Unwrap Me” line from “Sour Candy”). There are good tracks on there like “Enigma” which shows Gaga’s powerful vocals, and “Babylon” and the wordplay in that song (Babble-On, Babylon).
In all honesty, I am more excited about the performances this year. Especially from Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak) and others. Let’s take the awards with a grain of salt, especially with The Weeknd’s boycott of the Recording Academy following the snub of his recent project “After Hours,” and simply enjoy the industry’s so-called “Biggest Night.”
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