2020 Grammys: Who Will And Should Win

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2020 Grammys: Who Will And Should Win

This year’s Grammy awards ceremony is happening Sunday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS, and here’s what I know: The Academy should really get its sh*t together, the 2020 Album Of The Year nominees are actually pretty good and someone is going to have to hold me back from charging at the TV when Blake Shelton takes the stage with Gwen Stefani. No celebrity couple is more cursed! In addition to the low-down, cheating bastar—er, I mean, Shelton—and Stefani performance, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Tyler, The Creator, The Jonas Brothers and Bonnie Raitt, among others, are slated to perform during Sunday night’s telecast, which will be hosted by Alicia Keys for the second year in a row.

Sunday’s main event takes place following what you might call a rocky week for the Academy: CEO Deborah Dugan was ousted from her position late last week, just days before the 2020 hoopla is set to begin. There are rumors swirling, but don’t look to this weekend’s broadcast for answers. The show must go on, and the ceremony will likely be business as usual. The scandals likely won’t be mentioned. Dugan’s removal came only a few months after she took over for former CEO Neil Portnow, who famously advised female artists to “step up” following the 2018 awards, a comment that ultimately led to his demise.

But, like I said, carry on the show will, so we might as well hope for the best outcome possible for the artists we love. The Grammys remain a toss-up when it comes to which worthy albums will actually get recognized, either with nominees or wins. This year’s crop of noms is actually fairly good, at least in the four main categories. As for more niche sections like rock, folk and country, the selections get a little confusing. Not to mention, only 20 percent of this year’s nominees were women, and only 11 percent of nominations in the last seven years were women, per the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Those are some truly atrocious statistics. But that’s just the Grammys for you: The Recording Academy is ultimately a systematically sexist industry machine that serves its own before any others, and the commercially popular artists that you’d expect to do well usually do. In other words, don’t get your hopes up. Now, knowing full-well that our dreams will probably be crushed and without further grumbling, here are our hopes and wishes for the four big categories, as well as a few others of interest. May the best man—or woman, please, we’re begging you—win.

Record Of The Year Nominees

“Hey, Ma,” Bon Iver
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish
“7 Rings,” Ariana Grande
“Hard Place,” H.E.R.
“Talk,” Khalid
“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo
“Sunflower,” Post Malone & Swae Lee

Will Win: “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
The Paste Pick: “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

While we’re enormous fans of Lizzo here at Paste, as well as regular supporters of the one and only Billie Eilish, it would seem ludicrous to award this gramophone to anyone other than Lil Nas X and his bearded comrade Billy Ray Cyrus. “Old Town Road” smashed records, sweeped the nation and delighted even the stingiest of musical curmudgeons. Not to mention, it was just plain fun.

Album Of The Year Nominees

I, I, Bon Iver
Norman F—ing Rockwell!, Lana Del Rey
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish
Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande
I Used To Know Her, H.E.R.
7, Lil Nas X
Cuz I Love You (Deluxe), Lizzo
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend

Will Win: Cuz I Love You” (Deluxe), Lizzo
The Paste Pick: Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend

It was the year of Lizzo. While Ms. Eilish’s album was an equally impressive introduction to mainstream audiences, no one captured our hearts in 2019 quite like Lizzo. She was always there, with her flute, a smile and maybe a twerk or two, to provide unending positivity. While Vampire Weekend’s excellent Father of the Bride (in a dream world, they’d have their Arcade Fire moment!), Lana Del Rey’s solidly 8/10 NFR! and Bon Iver’s latest exposition i,i are all extremely worthy contenders, they probably don’t stand a chance. But if what we’re left with is Lizzo, things really aren’t looking so bad.

Song Of The Year Nominees

“Always Remember Us This Way,” Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Lori McKenna, songwriters (Lady Gaga)
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)
“Bring My Flowers Now,” Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Tanya Tucker, songwriters (Tanya Tucker)
“Hard Place,” Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris. H.E.R. & Rodney Jerkins, songwriters (H.E.R.)
“Lover,” Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)
“Norman F—ing Rockwell,” Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)
“Someone You Loved,” Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pere Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn & Sam Roman, songwriters (Lewis Capaldi)
“Truth Hurts,” Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson & Jesse Saint John, songwriters (Lizzo)

Will Win: “Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)
The Paste Pick: “Lover,” Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)

This probably won’t happen, but it’d be pretty damn charming to see Taylor Swift take home this one for her delightful bell-brushed Lover title track. Tanya Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now” definitely belongs among these other hits, but it’s not well-known enough. The same probably goes for H.E.R.’s “Hard Place.” “bad guy” will most likely come out on top here, but I’d be happy to see the Academy get in touch with their romantic side. “Lover” is pure bliss.

Best New Artist Nominees

Black Pumas
Billie Eilish
Lil Nas X
Maggie Rogers
Tank and the Bangas

Will Win: Billie Eilish
The Paste Pick: Yola

Easily one of the best-stacked categories this year, the Best New Artist slate is brimming with talent, some of whom (as usual) are far from new. Lizzo has been making music since 2014, maybe longer, and Maggie Rogers broke out in late 2016 with her viral sensation “Alaska.” Seeing either one win this year would still be incredible, but the newest, freshest blood is none other than Billie Eilish, set to reign supreme in most any category for which she was nominated. In a fairytale, British country-soul enigma Yola would receive this laurel, but we’ll settle for what the teens love on this one.

Best Pop Solo Performance Nominees

“Spirit,” Beyoncé
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish
“7 Rings,” Ariana Grande
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo
“You Need To Calm Down,” Taylor Swift

Will Win: “Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish
The Paste Pick: “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo

While Ariana Grande is an extraordinarily capable artist who has been wrongfully snubbed by the Grammys in the past, “7 Rings” is genuinely one of the most obnoxious songs I’ve ever heard. As for “You Need To Calm Down,” it’s a low-to-middle tier Swift song on a good day. “Truth Hurts” arrived in 2017 before gaining clout again this year thanks to its placement on Cuz I Love You, but I have a hard time believing it can outshine Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” here.

Best Alternative Music Album Nominees

U.F.O.F., Big Thief
Assume Form, James Blake
i,i, Bon Iver
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend
Anima, Thom Yorke

Will Win: Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend
The Paste Pick: U.F.O.F., Big Thief

Finally, some real music, am I right? I kid, I kid, but this year’s Best Alternative Music Album category (whatever that means—is it just music that’s thoroughly unplaceable somewhere else?) is fantastic, despite its glaring lack of women. It’d be stellar to see Father of the Bride win here, especially considering its AOTY nomination, but we’d obviously be thrilled to see Big Thief—one of the best active bands in rock and a deserving group of genuinely kind humans—win. But off-brand indie rock isn’t really the Grammys’ jam. This will ultimately go to a recognizable name, most likely.

Best Rap Album Nominees

Revenge Of The Dreamers III, Dreamville
Championships, Meek Mill
i am > i was, 21 Savage
IGOR, Tyler, The Creator
The Lost Boy, YBN Cordae

Will Win: i am > i was, 21 Savage
The Paste Pick: IGOR, Tyler, The Creator

Talk about a dismal dilemma. There’s not really a great choice here, besides, of course, IGOR, which contains about as much rapping as thank u, next—maybe less! But until the Grammys decides to look up the definition of a rap album and/or actually consider offbeat hip-hop releases for a major category like this one, it’s the best we’ve got. My hunch is 21 Savage’s release will take the cake here, which is not an awful pick, either. Just boring.

Best Country Album Nominees

Desperate Man, Eric Church
Stronger Than The Truth, Reba McEntire
Interstate Gospel, Pistol Annies
Center Point Road, Thomas Rhett
While I’m Livin’, Tanya Tucker

Will Win: Center Point Road, Thomas Rhett
The Paste Pick: While I’m Livin’, Tanya Tucker

While stacked with worthy candidates, this is one of the more unfortunate categories because of the glaring omission of Maren Morris’ critically acclaimed GIRL, which won the 2019 CMA award for Album of the Year. Because of the crapshoot Grammys eligibility period, the Pistol Annies and Eric Church both have nominations even though their records came out almost two years ago at this point. At least they’re some of the decade’s best. Thomas Rhett will probably win because he attends every awards show and walks the red carpet with his hot wife and adorable children. With all that being said, we still hope Tanya Tucker takes home this one. It’s been so lovely to watch her comeback this year, and she is so very deserving of every accolade made available to her.