Graham: Beyoncé, Adele, Sturgill: Who will win Grammys?

Taking a look at several top categories, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist, heading into Sunday’s show

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Sunday night should be Beyoncé’s big night at the Grammys, and if that sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve been through this song and dance before.

It’s not that Bey is exactly hurting for trophies. She’s a 20-time Grammy winner, placing her 12th on the list of the awards show’s most-celebrated artists, and she’s the most-nominated artist going into Sunday’s ceremony, with a total of nine nods.

But the vaunted Album of the Year trophy continues to allude her. She was seen as a lock for the award two years ago for her self-titled set, but in a shocker, Beck swept in and grabbed the award for “Morning Phase.”

Beyoncé gets another shot at Album of the Year on Sunday, but the competition is stiff. Is this the year she triumphs, or is another upset in the works? Here’s a look at Album of the Year and some of the other top categories heading into Sunday’s Grammys show:

Album of the Year

Nominees: Adele, “25”; Beyoncé, “Lemonade”; Justin Bieber, “Purpose”; Drake, “Views”; Sturgill Simpson, “A Sailor’s Guide to the Earth”

Should win: Pour yourself a big glass of “Lemonade.” Beyoncé’s set of scorned love songs was the year’s most important album, turning the pop culture world on its axis when it was surprise-released (via an accompanying HBO special) last April, and it was also its best. Kanye West says he won’t be at the show, but he may drive down to the Staples Center and crash the stage if Beyoncé’s name isn’t read in this category — and no one would blame him.

Will win: Don’t count your lemons before they’re squeezed. You can rule out Drake and Bieber; the Canadian superstars are also-rans here. (It’s doubtful even Drake liked the bloated “Views.”) Adele’s “25” was front-loaded with “Hello,” but as an album it didn’t measure up to her previous set, “21” (although it sold a gazillion copies, which still counts for something in an industry desperately short on hits). That leaves Beyoncé and rootsy country singer Sturgill Simpson, who is just the kind of “authentic,” “credible” artist the Grammys love to honor. It wasn’t that long ago, remember, that Mumford & Sons won the evening’s big prize. Beyoncé has the edge here, but don’t be surprised if Simpson makes out with a big win (and causes “who is Sturgill Simpson?” to be Monday’s most-Googled search).

Record of the Year

Nominees: Adele, “Hello”; Beyoncé, “Formation”; Lukas Graham, “7 Years”; Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”; Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”

Should win: After “21,” the pressure on Adele to deliver a monster follow-up was immense. That she somehow managed to deliver a heartbreak anthem that even surpassed those mighty expectations is no small feat; combined, the other songs in this category can’t measure up to the weight of “Hello’s” first two piano notes alone.

Will win: Hello Adele, goodbye everyone else.

Song of the Year

Nominees: Beyoncé, “Formation”; Adele, “Hello”; Mike Posner, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”; Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself”; Lukas Graham, “7 Years”

Should win: This award honors songwriters, not performers, and for the sheer fact that he’s the only artist in the category credited as the sole writer on his song, we’re going with our hometown boy Mike Posner.

Will win: We’re pulling for the Posner upset, which would indeed be a shock to the system. “Hello,” however, is the more likely winner.

Best New Artist

Nominees: Kelsea Ballerini, The Chainsmokers, Chance the Rapper, Maren Morris, Anderson .Paak

Should win: Although he released “Acid Rap” — the mixtape that put him on the map and made him a staple of the summer festival circuit — back in 2013, Chicago’s Chance the Rapper is still a “new” artist in the eyes of the Grammys and should therefore win this category. He helped instill a new Grammy rule that streaming-only albums could be eligible for awards, so his impact on the show at-large is already being felt.

Will win: Country newcomer Maren Morris would be a fine choice, although bro duo the Chainsmokers — despite being derided by music fans as the Nickelback of EDM — have the best shot at winning this category (“Don’t Let Me Down” and “Closer” were gigantic hits).

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Nominees: The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, “Closer”; Lukas Graham, “7 Years”; Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”; Sia featuring Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”; Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”

Should win: “Work” managed to sound tossed off and vital at the same time. After all those years of hitmaking, Rihanna showed she can’t help but make smashes even if she’s just flipping syllables. (The song spent nine weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.)

Will win: Lukas Graham’s “7 Years” packed a lifetime into four minutes and offered the kind of profundity — even if it was unearned — that Grammy voters love.

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Nominees: Beyoncé, “Lemonade”; Gallant, “Ology”; King, “We Are King”; Anderson .Paak, “Malibu”; Rihanna, “Anti”

Should win: “Lemonade.” Rihanna’s “Anti” was plenty rich, but “Lemonade” was the kind of full album experience that Rihanna has yet to deliver.

Will win: Even if she doesn’t triumph elsewhere, Beyoncé will score here.

Best Rap Performance

Nominees: Chance the Rapper featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, “No Problem”; Desiigner, “Panda”; Drake featuring the Throne, “Pop Style”; Fat Joe and Remy Ma featuring French Montana and Infared, “All the Way Up”; Schoolboy Q featuring Kanye West, “That Part”

Should win: Teaming with “Collegrove” duo Chainz and Wayne gave Chance his biggest hit off of “Coloring Book,” and the track became the album’s signature song. The other nominated songs were hits, but nothing else registered quite as memorably as 2 Chainz’ “No Problem” couplet, “Aye, aye, captain, I’m high, captain/ I’m so high me and God dappin’.”

Will win: The marquee value of Drake, Kanye West and Jay Z on “Pop Style” is too big for Grammy voters to overlook (even though disputes between the artists eventually led to the featured version of the song being dropped from Drake’s album).

Best Country Album

Nominees: Brandy Clark, “Big Day in a Small Town”; Loretta Lynn, “Full Circle”; Maren Morris, “Hero”; Sturgill Simpson, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”; Keith Urban, “Ripcord”

Should win: Other artists before her have pulled hip-hop and R&B influences into the country world, many with shudder-inducing results, but Morris does so in a way that sounds natural and linear and, well, not embarrassing. This would be a good way to show her work is appreciated.

Will win: Although it’s difficult to overlook 84-year-old living legend Lynn, Simpson has the edge here.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘The 59th Annual

Grammy Awards’

Live performances by Beyoncé, Adele, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Metallica, The Weeknd, Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Sturgill Simpson, John Legend, Chance the Rapper, A Tribe Called Quest, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban.

8 p.m. Sunday

CBS (Channel 62)

Come back to detroitnews.com Sunday for coverage of the Grammy Awards.