"Drake is a potato without salt compared to Kanye's basket of seasoned nuts."

A pandemic pivot pushed the 2022 Grammys back two months (and about 300 miles northeast, from Los Angeles to Las Vegas) — but Omicron be damned, the show will go on.

This year, as part of an "ongoing commitment to evolve" following accusations of gatekeeping, the Recording Academy scrapped Nominations Review Committees and instead determined the finalists for all 86 (yes, 86) categories by "a majority, peer-to-peer vote." With the nominees set, EW persuaded three voters to share their unfiltered thoughts as they cast their 2022 ballots:

  • The Songsmith, a three-time nominated producer who's spent 20 years working with the biggest names in almost every genre.
  • The Pop Poet, a prolific and previously nominated songwriter who's had their own radio hit.
  • The Countryman, a singer, songwriter, and producer with Southern roots and two golden gramophones.
Grammy Secret Ballot
From left: 2022 Grammy nominees Kanye West, Olivia Rodrigo, Justin Bieber, and Kacey Musgraves
| Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Mike Coppola/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images; Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Getty Images

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

  • The Songsmith: "Peaches" had the largest ripple effect on music. It was a hit around the world, and I felt like it was a breath of fresh air.
  • The Pop Poet: "Montero" and "Kiss Me More" are absolute bangers that I think we'll be listening to for years to come. It's a toss-up for me!
  • The Countryman: "Right on Time." I think — besides this song being just a knockout — if it wins, pop music is going to get a lot deeper and more organic.

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

  • The Songsmith: Justice has its seventh single on the charts right now. You can't say that about any of these other albums.
  • The Pop Poet: Montero: writing on point, artistry on point, production on point. This album lifted a lot of spirits in a weird year.
  • The Countryman: Donda. With as brash and off-the-map as Kanye can be, he turned around and delivered one of the most addictively fresh hip-hop albums in years.

Song of the Year

"Bad Habits" — Ed Sheeran, Fred Gibson, Johnny McDaid

"A Beautiful Noise" — Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, Ruby Amanfu, Brandy Clark, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Linda Perry, Hailey Whitters

"drivers license" — Olivia Rodrigo, Daniel Nigro

"Fight for You" — H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas

"Happier Than Ever" — Billie Eilish O'Connell, Finneas O'Connell

"Kiss Me More" — Amala Zandile Dlamini, Solána Rowe, Rogét Chahayed, Lukasz Gottwald, Carter Lang, Gerard A. Powell II, David Sprecher

"Leave the Door Open" — Bruno Mars, Brandon Anderson, Christopher Brody Brown, Dernst Emile II

"Montero (Call Me by Your Name)" — Montero Hill, Denzel Baptiste, David Biral, Omer Fedi,
Roy Lenzo

"Peaches" — Justin Bieber, Giveon Dezmann Evans, Ashton Simmonds, Louis Bell, Bernard Harvey, Felisha "Fury" King, Matthew Sean Leon, Luis Manual Martinez Jr., Aaron Simmonds, Andrew Wotman, Keavan Yazdani

"Right on Time" — Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth

  • The Songsmith: I have to say "Peaches" again, because you can't produce the best record without it being the best[-written] song.
  • The Pop Poet: "Door Open" feels like an instant classic, and "Kiss Me More" is a bop and a half, but "drivers license" stole everybody's broken little hearts.
  • The Countryman: "Right on Time." Brandi and her co-writers deliver another instant classic, hearkening back to the types of songs written in the first half of the 20th century.

Best New Artist

Arooj Aftab

Jimmie Allen

Baby Keem


Glass Animals

Japanese Breakfast


Arlo Parks

Olivia Rodrigo


  • The Songsmith: With the right budget and campaign, you can make any artist popular — but the Kid LAROI genuinely connects with people.
  • The Pop Poet: My bet is Olivia Rodrigo, and it would be well deserved. But Japanese Breakfast is my personal favorite of the bunch.
  • The Countryman: FINNEAS single-handedly transformed the sound and the style of an entire generation.

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

  • The Songsmith: Ariana is amazing, but sometimes she can do a bit too much. Justin's vocals are better than ever — better than everybody on this list — so Justice.
  • The Pop Poet: Sour. Ariana's vocals are perfect, and her runs tumble effortlessly like a nimble forest nymph. But there's just something about Olivia Rodrigo's ability to flip from cut-like-a-diamond angst to doe-eyed daydreamer that keeps my attention.
  • The Countryman: Planet Her. Doja Cat's performances and style have allowed her to stand out in a crowd of the same-old-same.

Best Country Song

"Better Than We Found It" — Maren Morris, Jessie Jo Dillon, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz

"camera roll" — Kacey Musgraves, Ian Fitchuk, Daniel Tashian

"Cold" — Chris Stapleton, Dave Cobb, J.T. Cure, Derek Mixon

"Country Again" — Thomas Rhett, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley

"Fancy Like" — Walker Hayes, Cameron Bartolini, Josh Jenkins, Shane Stevens

"Remember Her Name" — Mickey Guyton, Blake Hubbard, Jarrod Ingram, Parker Welling

  • The Songsmith: I just like the title "camera roll." I've never heard that [concept] in a song, so it's pretty original.
  • The Pop Poet: "Camera roll" is a beaut, and "Fancy Like" is a hoot, but "Better Than We Found It" hits the hardest.
  • The Countryman: "Cold." Chris Stapleton brings the blue-eyed soul and swagger of classic R&B to country. From the moment he popped on the scene, his voice shot out like a rocket and redefined what "country soul" was all about.

Best Rap Album

The Off-Season — J. Cole

King's Disease II — Nas

Call Me if You Get Lost — Tyler, the Creator

Donda — Kanye West

  • The Songsmith: The Off-Season. Comparing lyrics, metaphors, and actual bars, it's J. Cole. He's a pure rapper.
  • The Pop Poet: Call Me if You Get Lost is a refreshing, carefree escape — and it sounds like they had fun making it.
  • The Countryman: Donda. Kanye is the innovator when it comes to rap. Drake is a potato without salt compared to Kanye's basket of seasoned nuts.

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling)

Aftermath — LeVar Burton

Carry On: Reflections for a New Generation From John Lewis — Don Cheadle

Catching Dreams: Live at Fort Knox Chicago — J. Ivy

8:46 — Dave Chappelle & Amir Sulaiman

A Promised Land — Barack Obama

  • The Songsmith: 8:46. I'm going to go with Dave Chappelle. He's my favorite comedian of all time. He's just brilliant and witty, and he touches on so much. He makes jokes out of so many different, important, serious issues in our world and brings light to them in the most humorous way.
  • The Pop Poet: 8:46 is a powerful piece that deserves to be remembered and cemented in American history.
  • The Countryman: 8:46. The best comedians are the ones that can make the hair on your neck stand up and your heart drop. Dave Chappelle was just the voice America needed to hear after George Floyd was senselessly murdered on the streets of Minneapolis. This one is one for the halls of history. Whether comedy or social justice, Dave Chappelle is the type of beacon that helps bring the world through the hells we may find ourselves living through.

The Grammys air April 3 on CBS.

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