The Beyhive is excited about the possibility that Beyoncé will have a chance to make Grammy history this year, which should make for an exciting awards show when she takes on heavyweights Adele, Kendrick Lamar and Harry Styles.
She only needs four more trophies to rise to the Recording Academy’s top honored artist. The odds are in her favor in most of the categories she’s nominated for, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
Associated Press Entertainment writers Jonathan Landrum Jr. and Kristin M. Hall break down the extremely close race to Grammy glory. The 65th Annual Grammy Awards will air Sunday on CBS and Paramount+.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: “Voyage”, ABBA; “30”, Adele; “Un Verano Sin Ti”, Bad Bunny; “Renaissance,” Beyoncé; “Good Morning Lovely” (Deluxe), Mary J. Blige; “In These Quiet Days”, Brandi Carlile; “Music of the Spheres”, Coldplay; “Mr. Morals & the Great Steppers”, Kendrick Lamar; “Special”, Lizzo; “Harry’s House”, Harry Styles.
LANDRUM: Beyoncé wants her Grammy throne back. With the superstar singer on the verge of becoming the most-awarded artist in Grammy history, it’s no coincidence that Queen Bey is making her debut in four years with a spectacular, star-studded performance at Dubai’s newest luxury hotel Live show stage returned month. She even hosted a two-day Club Renaissance event in Los Angeles last month with Amazon Music to celebrate her seventh album Renaissance, a contender for Album of the Year. Beyoncé’s lead-up game is strong, and her two notable performances feel like a grand tour to her multiple Grammy crowning glory. No disrespect to the other more than worthy nominees in the category, but Beyoncé is an easy pick here. It just makes sense.
HALL: The last time Adele and Beyoncé were both nominated in this category, the British singer-songwriter used her acceptance speech to praise Beyoncé and call her the “artist of my life.” It’s one of the toughest years in this category with so many deserving albums from the biggest names. It would be amazing if Bad Bunny took home the award for his incredibly popular “Un Verano Sin Ti,” but I agree Jonathan, all signs point to a record year for Beyoncé.
RECORDING OF THE YEAR: “Don’t Shut Me Down”, ABBA; “Already to me”, Adele; “Break My Soul,” Beyoncé; “Good Morning Gorgeous,” Mary J. Blige; “You and Me on the Rock”, Brandi Carlile with Lucius; “woman”, Doja Cat; “Bad Habit”, Steve Lacy; “The Heart Part 5”, Kendrick Lamar; “About damn time,” Lizzo; “As it was,” Harry Styles.
HALL: So many danceable bops to choose from this year! Lizzo is a powerhouse when it comes to delivering high spirits with catchy lyrics, and Harry Style’s pop rock jam “As It Was” is an undeniable hit and fan favorite. While Adele absolutely kills her performance of “Easy on Me,” I don’t think she has the dominance of her other hit, “Hello.” The top two in the category for me are “Break My Soul” and “Bad Habit”. Inspired by ’90s house music, “Break My Soul” captures a whole vibe and exciting pivot for Beyoncé, so she’ll likely add this award to her Grammy wall.
LANDRUM: I rode the Beyoncé Album of the Year train, but in that category I ride Harry Styles’ As It Was. Kudos to the other nominees of Kendrick Lamar, Steve Lacy and Adele – who are also worthy of this award. But “As It Was” was just too massive in a category that usually puts commercial greatest hits first. To me, it seems like I’ve been hearing its infectious jam whenever I go out. Even my 2-year-old daughter perks up when she hears the song, sings along and asks to hear it again and again.
SONG OF THE YEAR (Songwriter’s Award): “abcdefu”, Sara Davis, GAYLE and Dave Pittenger; “About Damn Time”, Melissa “Lizzo” Jefferson, Eric Frederic, Blake Slatkin and Theron Makiel Thomas; “All Too Well (10 Minute Version – The Short Film)”, Liz Rose and Taylor Swift; “As It Was,” Tyler Johnson, Kid Harpoon, and Harry Styles; “Bad Habit”, Matthew Castellanos, Brittany Fousheé, Diana Gordon, John Carroll Kirby and Steve Lacy; “Break My Soul”, Beyoncé, S. Carter, Terius “The Dream” Gesteelde-Diamant and Christopher A. Stewart; “Easy on Me,” Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin; “God Did,” Tarik Azzouz, E. Blackmon, Khaled Khaled, F. LeBlanc, Shawn Carter, John Stephens, Dwayne Carter, William Roberts, and Nicholas Warwar; “The Heart Part 5”, Jake Kosich, Johnny Kosich, Kendrick Lamar and Matt Schaeffer; “Just like that,” Bonnie Raitt.
LANDRUM: I might have picked Harry Styles to win Album of the Year, but Beyoncé’s powerful words on “Break My Soul” spoke to me — especially in a category for songwriters who wrote the lyrics or melody to a song . Her tune became a dancefloor hit in the wake of the pandemic thanks to the attractive, upbeat tune and well-written lyrics from the impressive writing team comprising Beyoncé, her husband Jay-Z, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart – who is behind the writing of great singles. anthem, including Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine”. In this collaboration, the writing quartet created a collection of inspirational words fit for Beyoncé, who took the proverbial baton and sang with beautiful authority. In the end, “Break My Soul” should be the first to cross the finish line as song of the year.
HALL: If you’ve only heard the TikTok snippet of Steve Lacy’s dreamy confessional song, do yourself a favor and listen to the whole thing, and then his full album as well. The song, like Lacy, is experimental and intricate, and the song twists and distorts into something entirely new, while his voice is charmingly disarming. However, I think he’s a dark horse in that category, going up against so many crazy talented songwriters.
BEST NEW ARTIST: Anitta; Omar Apollo; DOMi & JD Beck; muni long; Samara joy; latto; Manekskin; Tobe Nwigwe; Molly Tuttle; wet leg
HALL: I usually feel like there’s a heavyweight or two in this category riding the wave of a big debut hit, but that category is wide open this year. Bluegrass musician Molly Tuttle and R&B singer-songwriters Muni Long are well-established in their respective fields of music and it would be great for them to receive the wide attention they deserve with a win in this category. But I think Anitta has a huge edge with her multi-platinum world hit “Envolver,” though she may not be as familiar to American audiences.
LANDRUM: Anitta certainly feels like the leading choice in this loaded category. The Brazilian was nothing short of phenomenal with her trilingual album Versions of Me, which was spearheaded by her single Envolver. Månekskin, Muni Long and Latto can also assert themselves here. But I’m going with a dark category horse: Tobe Nwigwe. He broke through with “I Need You To,” a 44-second song that drew attention to the Kentucky police killing of Breonna Taylor. It’s been reposted by big names like LeBron James, Madonna and Diddy. Additionally, the Nigerian singer and rapper has been posting an original song and video on social media every week for the past few years. He performs with his wife Fat Nwigwe and their ballad “Fye Fye” is a hit.
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE: “Easy on Me”, Adele; “Moscow Mule”, Bad Bunny; “woman”, Doja Cat; “Bad Habit”, Steve Lacy; “About damn time,” Lizzo; “As it was,” Harry Styles.
LANDRUM: That’s a difficult question. Every song is a certified hit. My gut tells me Adele or Steve Lacy could win in a category full of strong competitors. But my mind, heart and soul are screaming “HARRY STYLES”. I leave with my last feelings. “As it was” for me please.
HALL: Adele is likely to win here if voters are more inclined to vote for Beyoncé in the top categories.
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE: “GOD DID”, DJ Khaled with Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend & Friday; “Vegas”, doja cat; “Press P”, Gunna & Future with Young Thug; “FNF (Let’s Go)”, Hitkidd & GloRilla; “The Heart Part 5”, Kendrick Lamar
HALL: I gotta give all the love to Memphis native GloRilla for her first Grammy nomination for her breakout hit “FNF (Let’s Go)” which proves she can go as hard as any male rapper.
LANDRUM: Kendrick Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5” will win, but DJ Khaled’s “GOD DID” should win. Why? Because with Khaled bringing Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Mr. EGOT John Legend and Rick Ross together on one track, God certainly did!
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE: “VIRGO’S GROOVE”, Beyoncé; “Here With Me,” Mary J. Blige with Anderson .Paak; “Mrs & Hrs”, Muni Long; “Over”, Lucky Daye; “It hurts me so much,” Jazmine Sullivan
LANDRUM: Jazmine Sullivan could do a repeat with “Hurt Me So Good” after winning in the same category for “Pick Up Your Feelings” last year. The sheer pull of Beyoncé’s “VIRGO’S GROOVE” gives her a strong chance of winning, too. There are other viable contenders, including Mary J. Blige and Lucky Daye, who have had big hits of their own. But if I were a bettor, my money would be on Muni Long’s “Mr & Hrs,” a breakthrough for Best New Artist contender. Having maintained a strong momentum throughout the year for Muni (pronounced as money) I believe he will be poised to cash in as the category winner.
HALL: When Muni Long begins the song by whispering, “Can I sing for you?” It’s clear in her breathy voice that she’s masterfully in control. I hope she gets that win.
BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE: “Heartfirst”, Kelsea Ballerini; “Something in the Orange”, Zach Bryan; “In His Arms,” Miranda Lambert; “Circles Around This Town”, Maren Morris; “Live Forever,” Willie Nelson
HALL: I think Recording Academy voters are trying to send a message by nominating “Live Forever” by Willie Nelson, who (remarkably) turns 90 this year and shows no signs of slowing down. But I think new artist Zach Bryan has momentum and a lot of buzz this year, so the slow-burning “Something In The Orange” should win.
LANDRUM: I think Zach Bryan is Willie Nelson’s biggest threat here. But with Nelson still performing at a high level at 90, his song “Live Forever” is an apt title for his musical legacy.
For more information on this year’s Grammy Awards, visit: www.apnews.com/GrammyAwards