Grammy Nominations: My Picks, Who’s Likely To Win, and Who Got Snubbed

By: Ryan Croke

The opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions of GVHS. 

There has been lots of buzz in the music world recently with the release of the nominations for the upcoming Grammys, and after last year’s atrocity of an award show, there is much room for improvement. In this article, I’m going to give my picks for each category I feel I know enough about to make a decision on a nominee that deserves the win, inform you all on which nominee should be most expected to win, and which artists who did not receive nominations were snubbed. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the upcoming Grammys and see if the academy was able to redeem itself after last year.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

I Still Have Faith In You – ABBA

Freedom – Jon Batiste

I Get A Kick Out Of You – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

Peaches – Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon

Right On Time – Brandi Carlile

Kiss Me More – Doja Cat Featuring SZA

Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish

MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X

drivers license –  Olivia Rodrigo

Leave The Door Open – Silk Sonic

MY THOUGHTS:

There are plenty of nominations here that are worthy of this award, and for that, I applaud the committee. Tracks that stand out are drivers license, Happier Than Ever, Peaches, MONTERO, and Freedom, and I honestly would be fine with any of these winning. I think of those I just mentioned, I enjoy Peaches the most, but objectively speaking, it isn’t of the same quality as the rest. I think Happier Than Ever is the one I want to see earn the nod, as it is emotional and heartfelt while also being an incredible song  and one of the most popular to release this year. It has all the ingredients for an award-winning track, and it makes the most sense of the ones in contention. I do think drivers license will win, as it had a bit more popularity, a bigger impact on the music industry, and it propelled Olivia Rodrigo into the mainstream, introducing her to the world as an up-and-coming artist. I like Rodrigo’s track for the same reasons I like Happier Than Ever, but I feel that Eilish’s masterpiece is simply a better track, and deserves the award. As for who got snubbed, the only tracks I feel could’ve gotten a nomination are Come To Life by Kanye West,  SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE from Tyler, The Creator, and the Brent Faiyaz and Tyler, The Creator collaboration Gravity, but these are all just personal favorites of mine that I think would have fit the criteria, and I wouldn’t necessarily say any of these deserve the award over most of the tracks that were nominated. I am very impressed with the committee for the nominations, and I hope Happier Than Ever wins, although all of the nominees are solid picks.

MY PICK: Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: drivers license (Olivia Rodrigo)

SNUBS: Come To Life (Kanye West), SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE (Tyler, The Creator), Gravity (Brent Faiyaz feat. Tyler, The Creator)

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

We Are – Jon Batiste

Love For Sale – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe) – Justin Bieber

Planet Her (Deluxe) – Doja Cat

Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish

Back Of My Mind – H.E.R.

MONTERO –  Lil Nas X

SOUR – Olivia Rodrigo

evermore – Taylor Swift

Donda – Kanye West

MY THOUGHTS:

Again, a very impressive job from the committee when it comes to the selection of the nominees. The only choices I’m not particularly fond of are Planet Her, Love For Sale, and Justice, and everything else is, in my opinion, a valid selection. Based on personal preference, I want to see Donda take home the award, and I do think it would be the runaway winner if it were trimmed down to a more digestible record that didn’t feature some of Kanye’s worst songwriting to date. There are plenty of moments where we see Kanye tap into his songwriting ability, and the result is a collection of some of the best songs we’ve ever received from the rapper, but more often, he isn’t putting too much care into what he’s saying. I think Donda is strongest from a production and impact standpoint; the sound is unlike anything else that came out this year or that I’ve heard, and the record broke several streaming records and has exposed Kanye to a larger audience. I have found that many more people than I expected to listen to the LP ended up giving West’s music a try, and for that, along with the fact that it’s a very enjoyable record, I find it to be more than worthy of receiving this honor. However, I think that SOUR, MONTERO, evermore, and Happier Than Ever are all much more likely to be recipients of this award, for one simple reason: A win for these albums would please the general public more. After last year’s disaster, the committee needs to gain back the trust of their audience, and I think that any of those records getting the win will do that better than Donda earning the nod. If I had to pick one, I’d say MONTERO is the most likely winner, with SOUR not far behind. I don’t think anyone got legitimately snubbed in this category, and that’s a huge improvement from last year. 

MY PICK: Donda (Kanye West)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: MONTERO (Lil Nas X)

SNUBS: N/A

SONG OF THE YEAR

Bad Habits – Ed Sheeran

A Beautiful Noise – Alicia Keys Featuring Brandi Carlile

drivers license – Olivia Rodrigo

Fight For You – H.E.R.

Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish

Kiss Me More  – Doja Cat Featuring SZA

Leave The Door Open – Silk Sonic

MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) –  Lil Nas X

Peaches – Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon

Right On Time – Brandi Carlile

MY THOUGHTS:

There are also several nominees I would consider worthy recipients of this award should they win in this category, namely Happier Than Ever, MONTERO, Peaches, Leave The Door Open, and drivers license, although I could see an argument for Kiss Me More being deserving of the recognition. All of these tracks were on the top of the charts for quite some time and will be the singles that people most remember from 2021. I think Leave The Door Open deserves the win, as it made the biggest splash on the music industry among these songs. MONTERO and drivers license are close behind, but I think that Silk Sonic’s debut single is something so unique and genre-bending that it earns the win over its fellow nominees. The jubilant blend of soul, funk, and classic R&B is eerily reminiscent of the 70s while also sounding fresh, modern, and new, making it an easy favorite for me out of the list. I think that driver’s license is the most likely to win, as the song single-handedly propelled Olivia Rodrigo into the mainstream and was at the top of the charts for most of the year. I can’t think of any snubs off the top of my head, aside from SZA’s Good Days, another R&B cut that was popular with fans and critics alike. Again, I applaud the academy’s selection of nominees here.

MY PICK: Leave The Door Open (Silk Sonic)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: drivers license (Olivia Rodrigo)

SNUBS: Good Days (SZA)

BEST NEW ARTIST

Arooj Aftab

Jimmie Allen

Baby Keem

FINNEAS

Glass Animals

Japanese Breakfast

The Kid Laroi

Arlo Parks

Olivia Rodrigo

Saweetie

MY THOUGHTS:

Realistically, anybody besides Saweetie and The Kid Laroi could win this award and I’d be happy. To be more specific, I am pulling for Japanese Breakfast, an indie band led by Michelle Zauner whose 2021 LP Jubilee made waves with more than just the group’s cult fanbase. I am blown away by the band’s work on this project, and I think they blow any of the other nominees out of the water. I’d also like to see Glass Animals or Baby Keem earn the nod, as the alt-pop group and the up-and-coming rapper both grew substantially in popularity this year and also released quality music that has been in my rotation for a little while now. But nobody stands a chance against Olivia Rodrigo, who will surely walk away from the show with this award and I’m sure several other honors, and rightfully so, as her debut album was incredibly popular and impressive, two elements that are almost guaranteed to earn you a nomination and in this case, more than likely, a win. There is no question here as to who is going to win, although I do think Japanese Breakfast deserves the trophy. 

MY PICK: Japanese Breakfast

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: Olivia Rodrigo

SNUBS: N/A

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe) – Justin Bieber

Planet Her (Deluxe) – Doja Cat

Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish

positions – Ariana Grande

SOUR – Olivia Rodrigo

MY THOUGHTS: 

The unfortunate thing is I could see all of these records winning this award, as they all are incredibly popular and do just enough to maintain the attention of those who listen when in reality, almost all of them are, in my opinion, little more than half-baked pop records that have some interesting characteristics but only earn the recognition that they receive because of the artist’s name and already established fame. Despite this, all of these records have highlights, but the ones with the most highlights are easily SOUR and Happier Than Ever, although my personal preference says that Ariana Grande’s positions also has a solid amount of highlights. Despite this, an easy favorite for me is SOUR, as it is the most consistent nominee and it has more appeal as a pop album than Happier Than Ever, the only nominee that rivals it in quality. This is an easy choice for me, and I expect it to be the same for the academy, and I think Olivia Rodrigo will walk away from the Grammys with this award. As for snubs, nothing blatant comes to mind, and I am mainly disappointed that the pop genre didn’t give us too much to be excited about this year. Maybe evermore by Taylor Swift could’ve made an appearance, but I don’t know if one could classify that as a pop record.

MY PICK: SOUR (Olivia Rodrigo)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: SOUR (Olivia Rodrigo)

SNUBS: evermore (Taylor Swift)

BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC MUSIC ALBUM

Subconsciously – Black Coffee

Fallen Embers –  Illenium

Music Is the Weapon – Major Lazer

Shockwave – Marshmello

Free Love – Sylvan Esso

Judgment – Ten City

MY THOUGHTS:

I have not given an in-depth listen to any of these nominees, but from what I’ve heard, none of them compare to Porter Robinson’s Nurture, which is far and away my favorite EDM record of all time. I don’t know how it did not earn a nomination, and I think this is easily the biggest snub of this year’s award show. I can’t complain too much, as I am far from well versed in EDM, but from the limited amount of sound I’ve heard from the records nominated, Robinson more than deserved a nomination if not a win. I am not going to pick who I think should win or who is most likely to win as I simply do not know enough about these nominees to do that, but know that Nurture deserves this award more than any of them.

MY PICK: N/A

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: N/A

SNUBS: Nurture (Porter Robinson)

BEST R&B PERFORMANCE

Lost You –  Snoh Aalegra

Peaches – Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon

Damage – H.E.R.

Leave The Door Open – Silk Sonic

Pick Up Your Feelings – Jazmine Sullivan

MY THOUGHTS: 

Even though I love Peaches to death, every single one of the nominees competing with it for this honor is more deserving, and I am frankly surprised this track got the nomination considering the company it has in this category. I am, overall, impressed with the choices, and this is one of the hardest categories for me to decide a winner from. All of these songs, besides maybe Peaches, all feature incredibly heartfelt, emotional performances and you can tell each artist is pouring their heart and soul into their body of work. I think the two standouts from the nominees are Damage and Leave The Door Open, and of the two, I find Damage to feature the more impressive performance. The track has a more compelling narrative than Silk Sonic’s first single, and despite me enjoying Leave The Door Open more, I find that H.E.R puts more emotion into her performance here that gives it the slight edge. I do think Leave The Door Open will win, as Bruno Mars’ vocal talents are on full display along with those of Anderson .Paak, and it is the most sonically impressive track from the list of nominees. As for snubs, I think Brent Faiyaz and Tyler, The Creator’s Gravity more than missed out, especially considering Peaches earned a nomination, but the real crime here is that a career-defining epic for Kanye West like Come To Life, an emotional R&B cut from the renowned hip hop artist that is his most heartfelt piece to date, a song on which he has never sounded more invested in his work, does not receive the recognition it deserves. I would argue the track to be the crowning achievement in Kanye’s discography in terms of singular tracks, and for it to not earn at the very least a nomination is disgusting to me, especially when his half baked first attempt at gospel rap, JESUS IS KING, took home an award last year. I am not surprised, but I am disappointed.

MY PICK: Damage (H.E.R.)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: Leave The Door Open (Silk Sonic)

SNUBS: Come To Life (Kanye West)

BEST R&B SONG

Damage – H.E.R.

Good Days – SZA

Heartbreak Anniversary – Giveon

Leave The Door Open – Silk Sonic

Pick Up Your Feelings – Jazmine Sullivan

MY THOUGHTS: 

I can’t produce a single gripe with the nominees in this category. Each track offers something different and stands out from the other nominees which makes this decision a very difficult one for me. It comes down to personal enjoyment and that means I would like to see Leave The Door Open take home yet another award. I find it to be the most unique of these 5 tracks and is the only track here that does a lot of genre-bending. Knowing how popular SZA’s Good Days was, I fully expect it to win, although I wouldn’t count out Heartbreak Anniversary either. Leave The Door Open is a legitimate contender to win as well. I do think the nominees in this category could have been expanded a little bit, but I don’t think many other singles would measure up to the other nominees for this award other than the obvious choice, Come To Life, by Kanye West.

MY PICK: Leave The Door Open (Silk Sonic)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: Good Days (SZA)

SNUBS: Come To Life (Kanye West)

BEST PROGRESSIVE R&B ALBUM

New Light – Eric Bellinger

Something To Say – Cory Henry

Mood Valiant – Hiatus Kaiyote

Table For Two – Lucky Daye

Dinner Party: Dessert – Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder, & Kamasi Washington

Studying Abroad: Extended Stay – Masego

MY THOUGHTS:

I do not have the luxury of being able to give a valid opinion on all of these nominees, as I have only listened to one of them in full, but I feel so passionately about the one I have that it would be difficult for me to skip this category. Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder, & Kamasi Washington’s collab project is heavenly to listen to. It’s an instrumental masterpiece made even better by the guest appearances that all deliver uniquely. It’s beautiful to listen to, and every time I do I am blown away by the soulful instrumentals that give the project so much character in its short runtime of a little over 20 minutes. I hope to see it earn the recognition it deserves from the academy.

MY PICK: Dinner Party: Dessert (Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder, & Kamasi Washington)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: N/A

SNUBS: N/A

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE

family ties – Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar

Up – Cardi B

m y . l i f e – J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Morray

Way 2 Sexy – Drake Featuring Future & Young Thug

Thot S*** – Megan Thee Stallion

MY THOUGHTS:

This category leaves me with a difficult decision to make. I don’t feel the nominees in this category are all too strong, but of the choices available to me, it is a two-song race. family ties and m y . l i f e are both incredibly strong tracks that stand out from the rest in terms of the artists’ performance. I enjoy Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar’s collaboration more, but I think in terms of performance, the award has to be given to one of the most popular tracks off of J. Cole’s hit project The Off-Season. I think Morray’s chorus is just strong enough to make it more deserving than Keem’s hit single. I do, however, think Up will win, as the Grammys never fail to give one of the most popular female hip-hop artists in the world recognition when they can, and given that Cardi B has a track record to win awards at the Grammys despite not deserving them, I fully expect it to happen again. As for snubs, I think JID and Denzel Curry were robbed of a nomination for their cold-blooded collaboration Bruuuh (Remix). Denzel and JID deliver incredible performances that more than make up for the track’s abysmal name and showcase not only their talents as writers but their mastery of delivery, and I am disappointed the track did not receive a nomination.

MY PICK: m y . l i f e (J. Cole feat. 21 Savage and Morray)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: Up (Cardi B)

SNUBS: Bruuuh (Remix) (JID feat. Denzel Curry)

BEST MELODIC RAP PERFORMANCE

p r i d e . i s . t h e . devil – J. Cole Featuring Lil Baby

Need to Know – Doja Cat

INDUSTRY BABY – Lil Nas X Featuring Jack Harlow

WUSYANAME – Tyler, The Creator Featuring Youngboy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign

Hurricane – Kanye West Featuring The Weeknd & Lil Baby

MY THOUGHTS:

This category is the hardest one to choose a winner from. I don’t feel that there are any real snubs, as the nominees are all incredibly strong. The only track here I don’t care for is p r i d e . i s . t h e . d e v i l, but all the others are legitimate hits that are still in my rotation and have been since they were released. Being two of my favorite artists ever, I am inclined to narrow it down to Tyler, The Creator and Kanye West’s tracks that each earned a nod, but I think that Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow did just enough on INDUSTRY BABY to edge out both of them. The horns in the instrumental are infectious, Lil Nas X’s verse is killer and I love how he is rubbing it in the faces of all his doubters that he is more than just a one-hit-wonder. Jack Harlow also does a great job, and despite his verse not having too much substance, I didn’t expect it to, and he rides the beat perfectly. On top of that, many more people were talking about this track than any of the nominees here, and I don’t think that’s a mistake. When I remember this year, INDUSTRY BABY is for sure one of the first tracks that will come to mind, and that is a quality that cannot be overlooked. 

MY PICK: INDUSTRY BABY (Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: INDUSTRY BABY (Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow)

SNUBS: N/A

BEST RAP SONG

Bath Salts – DMX Featuring Jay-Z & Nas

Best Friend – Saweetie Featuring Doja Cat

family ties – Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar

Jail – Kanye West Featuring Jay-Z

m y . l i f e – J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Morray

MY THOUGHTS:

Another difficult category to choose a winner from, but not because the nominees are all so great. I feel there are a vast number of snubs here I could mention, but I will only list a few of the most egregious below. The best songs of this category are Jail and family ties, and the decision is quite a difficult one to make. I am inclined to lean towards family ties, as I listened to it more this year and personally vibe with it more than Jail, but I think Jail is the better track. Given that the category is “Best Rap Song” I think Jail would be the song I want to win and think will win, but I would certainly not mind seeing Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar take home this award. 

MY PICK: Jail (Kanye West feat. Jay-Z)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: Jail (Kanye West feat. Jay-Z)

SNUBS: Off The Grid (Kanye West feat. Playboi Carti and Fivio Foreign), M3tamorphosis (Playboi Carti feat. Kid Cudi), INDUSTRY BABY (Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow) Miss The Rage (Trippie Redd feat. Playboi Carti), Wants and Needs (Drake feat. Lil Baby), Seeing Green (Nicki Minaj feat. Drake and Lil Wayne)

BEST RAP ALBUM

The Off-Season – J. Cole

Certified Lover Boy – Drake

King’s Disease II – Nas

CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST – Tyler, The Creator

Donda – Kanye West

MY THOUGHTS:

I will give the committee credit for playing it safe with this category. After last year’s fiasco with Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist being robbed for their collaboration Alfredo, they chose to nominate the records released solely by the biggest names in hip hop, and I applaud them for it. I do think some people did miss out, but there aren’t any legitimate snubs that I could pick out besides the record that I would have given everything to see win, that being the enigmatic Whole Lotta Red from Playboi Carti. The album was released in late 2020, giving it more than enough time to be initially polarizing and almost universally hated to now being cherished by most hip hop fans. Of the rap albums to be released this year, none define this year more than Whole Lotta Red, and I am disappointed, but not surprised, to see it not earn a nomination. Of the albums that did earn a nomination, two stand out, those being Donda and CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, and it is certainly a difficult choice to make. On one hand, you have a release from the biggest hip hop artist of the past 2 decades that does not disappoint and continues to showcase his skill as a producer while also seeing him return to a form we haven’t seen him tap into in plenty of years as he makes some of his most heartfelt, impressive songs to date. On the other, we have another rapper who produces his own music, entirely self-made, who continues to enhance his skills with every release. I think the rightful winner of the award is the latter, Tyler, The Creator, as his record is simply tighter and cleaner and features none of the filler that brings Donda down. Make no mistake, if Kanye’s latest LP were trimmed and we were left with only the 12 or 15 best tracks, this would be no contest, as the best tracks on Donda more than outshine those on CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST. However, given that CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is simply more of a hip hop record than Donda, as it not only features more rapping but is a nice throwback to the late 2000s of hip hop as it is made out to be a DJ Drama-hosted Gangsta Grillz tape, I think it has enough to edge out Donda. I do think Donda will win, and I do personally prefer it to CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, but I want to see Tyler win another Grammy and I think his project simply fits the award better. This is an incredibly tough call, and you could go either way. I am very glad that the committee did not slip up with the nominees for this category, and no matter who wins, the hip-hop fan base will more than likely not be outraged, and that is the biggest win anyone could ask for after last year.

MY PICK: CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST (Tyler, The Creator)

MOST LIKELY TO WIN: Donda (Kanye West)

SNUBS: Whole Lotta Red (Playboi Carti)

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

I am quite impressed with the committee this year. They did an outstanding job of pleasing everyone, and I am glad to see they have, to some degree, learned their lesson. I still wish the fans could vote for songs to be nominated and then vote for those nominees to win, or at least display this along with who the committee chose to win, but I digress. I am for the first time in a while excited to see who wins out at the upcoming awards show, and that is the most I could have hoped for after last year.

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