Here Are Our 2017 Grammy Predictions

This Sunday, Feb. 12, the 59th annual Grammy Awards go down, settling battles between Adele and Beyoncé, Chance and Kanye, and more.

adele with many grammys
Image via Getty/Dan MacMedan
adele with many grammys

It's Grammy season again. The time where everyone pretends not to care—"I'm not really the intended audience, you know?" or "I met a Grammy voter once and he was weird"—but secretly hopes that their fave takes home a golden phonograph. Say what you will, but winning an award on the biggest stage in music is a nearly unparalleled career validation point, and one of the ways you judge an artist years after their career is over. These awards matter, and people—musicians especially—care about who these awards go to.

This year's slate is a doozy, with Adele and Beyoncé facing off in a truly staggering amount of categories, Chance the Rapper ready to capitalize on changing the game for good, and a few mystifying picks waiting in the wings (hi, Mike Posner!). We took a look at the nominees and came up with who's most likely to win, who would be winning in a better world, and the dark horses to look out for, in case you're one of those people who likes to be the contrarian during the viewing party. Salute.

Here are our 2017 Grammy predictions. 

Album of the Year

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Record of the Year

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Who Will Win: Adele, "Hello"

In the same way that, say, The King's Speech was Oscar-bait, Adele made great Grammy-bait with 25, and no song on that album was better than "Hello." It's a grand piece of music, immediate and unforgettable from the first time you hear it, and a virtuosic vocal performance that is absolutely the kind of thing that Grammy panels adore. Oh, and did we mention that Adele sold a lot of albums? Adele sold a lot of albums, and "Hello" was the tip of her spear.

Who Should Win: Beyoncé, "Formation"

​Adele may have this one in the bag for a host of pretty good reasons, but the fact of the matter is Beyoncé had the best song of the year. "Formation" is a tour de force, and if all was right in the world (it's not), this would win Record of the Year (it won't).

Dark Horse: Lukas Graham, "7 Years"

You never know, right? When it comes to the Grammys, dark horses, contrary to their name, are usually white men.

Song of the Year

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Who Will Win: Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, "Hello"

There are only so many ways to say "Adele is likely to sweep the hell out of the Grammys this year," so we'll keep it simple:

Adele is likely to sweep the hell out of the Grammys this year.

Who Should Win: Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin, and Ed Sheeran, "Love Yourself"

Song of the Year goes to the songwriters. That means it's about the actual songwriting more than the end product. Melody, verses, wordplay, structure—that's what you should be paying attention to here, and it's why songs like "Formation" are at a disadvantage. Beyoncé wrote an amazing song, but it's functionally structureless and adheres to few of the basic fundamentals of songwriting; the reason it's so compelling is because she broke all the rules and still made an incredible pop song. Justin Bieber, on the other hand, wrote a song filled with clever observational turns of phrase—"My momma don't like you, and she likes everyone" was the most cutting line on pop radio last year—a beautiful melody, and followed all the rules.

Dark Horse: Mike Posner, "I Took a Pill in Ibiza"

This sounds insane—cue the widespread head-scratching when the nominations were announced and this song was on it—but it's less counterintuitive than at first glance. First off, jettison the version of this song you've heard from your mind (the dance remix one) and focus on the songwriting in the original. It's a narrative that's self-aware and a little funny, and telling a story in a song is, to the Grammys, often the height of songwriting. This is basically a Billy Joel song for the millenial set; it's corny as hell, but a case could be made by a lot of Grammy voters that this is the song to take it.

Best New Artist

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Who Will Win: Chance the Rapper

Of the four major categories at the Grammys, Best New Artist is often the weirdest. Whether it's Macklemore winning over Kendrick or Esperanza Spalding beating Drake and Justin Bieber, this award is always a strange battle. This year, the lineup is stacked with Chance the Rapper, the Chainsmokers, Anderson .Paak, and more, in the running. Despite the tough competition, Chance takes home Best New Artist this year. His overall impact in terms of the Grammys changing the eligibility rules around streaming is a clear sign that they're taking notice of his movement. Throw in his crazy exposure via Apple Music, the ESPYs, Saturday Night Live, and his own festival, and you have a clear-cut case for his win.

Who Should Win: Chance the Rapper


Dark Horse: The Chainsmokers

Except recall that this category can be unpredictable. The group is popular as hell, having racked up multiple No. 1 hits, which manes a large percentage of voters will know them. This could spoil the party and ruin the fun. Don't do it, Grammys.

Best Rap Album

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Who Will Win: Drake, Views

Ah yes, Best Rap Album. Time for the Twitter debates to rev up, time for everyone to get angry. Drake, Kanye, Chance, De La Soul, Schoolboy Q, and DJ Khaled are all up for this award, which despite being important probably won't be televised. And Drake's Views album is going to win whether you like it or not. Its commercial success and Drake's high visibility makes this a lock (especially when you consider that it's also up for Album of the Year).

Who Should Win: Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book

Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book was the best rap album of 2016. We already told you that. Because of that, and Chance's overall impact over the past year, he should win Best Rap Album.

Dark Horse: Kanye West, The Life of Pablo

Kanye West reportedly won't be in attendance at the Grammys this year, but he could certainly crash the awards with a surprise win in the Best Rap Album category. While The Life of Pablo is certainly not the cream of 'Ye's catalog, it was a good, rewarding album that challenged how we think about the album format.


Best Rap Song

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Who Will Win: Drake, "Hotline Bling"

The fact that this song is even here when its window was last year is telling enough. This is what catapulted Drake into true household name levels of A-listery. Expect him to be crowned for it.

Who Should Win: Kanye West f/ Chance the Rapper, "Ultralight Beam"

The gospel that carried us through the year and an instant classic in the pantheon of Yeezy graciously ceding the spotlight to a well-deserved young blood. Let's get Kelly Price a gramophone gotdammit.

Dark Horse: Chance the Rapper f/ Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, "No Problem"

The hook on this song is just so damn ebullient. Chance's independent story is the most darling narrative at the awards this year, why not honor the song that raucously waves his freedom in the face of disgruntled soul-eating execs?

Best Rap Performance

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Best Rap/Sung Performance

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Who Will Win: Drake, "Hotline Bling"

The category for Best Rap/Sung Performance (previously Best Rap/Sung Collaboration) made a notable change in 2017: no longer would it exclude solo recordings. Without getting into specific verbiage, the adjustment is unofficially known as the "Drake rule." Hence why Drake will take the award this year.

Who Should Win: Kanye West f/ Chance the Rapper, "Ultralight Beam"

Even though Best Rap/Sung Performance is now the Drake featuring Drake award, that shouldn't distract us from the fact that "Ultralight Beam" was one of the absolute best records to drop in 2016. If we were going off quality > quantity, Kanye, Chance, and crew would walk away with the trophy.

Dark Horse: D.R.A.M. f/ Lil Yachty, "Broccoli"

First-time nominees D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty have an uphill battle for this award; however, they do have timing on their side to match the success of "Broccoli." "Hotline Bling" popped in late 2015, "Ultralight Beam" didn't gain much traction on the radio, while "Broccoli" peaked in late 2016. Also, wouldn't it be funny if D.R.A.M. beat out "Cha Cha 2.0"?

Best R&B Song

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Who Will Win: Rihanna, "Kiss It Better"

An accessible, appealing detour to molten cheese territory on an otherwise chilly, downbeat album, “Kiss It Better” had the big guitar riff and the sexy video (126 million plays) and the lyrics you shouted in public, pride be damned. Rihanna recorded an anthem about great dick and terrible male tendencies. Give the song the award already.

Who Should Win: Rihanna, "Kiss It Better"

See above.

Dark Horse: Bryson Tiller, "Exchange"

He doesn’t have the chart history of Rihanna or as successful a single as Tory Lanez, but Bryson Tiller is a young phenomenon in his own right. The desperately sincere Louisville crooner sold out Radio City Music Hall in 2016 and thought “Don’t” charted higher and longer, “Exchange” is the better song. A Grammy win is a long shot here, but so is Tiller's entire career. And that’s working out well.

Best Urban Contemporary Album

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Who Will Win: Beyoncé, Lemonade

Let's be honest: there's no possible way any of these albums beat out Lemonade.

Who Should Win: Beyoncé, Lemonade

Doubling down on the truth here. She's got rock and country on here. It does not get more urban contemporary.

​Dark Horse: Rihanna, Anti

For the sake of going against the grain, here's why Rihanna's Anti could win this award. For one, it's a great project—not better than Lemonade—but still great, and it birthed a much bigger hit than anything from Beyoncé's latest album. There's also this fact: Best Urban Contemporary Album has been on the books for four years so far. Beyoncé was nominated and LOST for her self-titled 2013 album. If the Recording Academy wants to get cute and snub Bey again, this is the category to do it in.

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