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Dua or Taylor? Billie or Megan? Here's a rundown of who will (and should) win the big categories on Sunday.

By Alex Suskind
March 12, 2021 at 12:25 PM EST
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When music's biggest night airs during a pandemic, does it still make a sound? If its awards brethren are any indicator, the answer is… sort of. The CMAs, Emmys, and Golden Globes — which have trotted out modified versions of their telecasts since you-know-what began last March — all saw drop-offs in ratings. Then again, that downward slope pre-dates COVID-19. And having fewer eyeballs shouldn't excuse the boring pitfalls the Grammys have consistently fallen into. (Remember the "I Sing the Body Electric" cover in hour 4 of last year's Grammys? I wish I didn't.) If the show — which has also lost viewers over the years, likely due to a combination of A-list music stars boycotting and the perception that the Recording Academy is out of touch — hopes to stay relevant, it needs to at least learn from other virtual ceremonies: Double down on shots of stars hanging at home, skip the shoddy production that reminds us of work Zoom calls, and lean heavily on new music, preferably performed live, in a safe environment (the third ask seems to be coming to fruition this year). Simple? Yes. But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that the smartest choices don't need to be the most complicated.

Speaking of choices, there are plenty of difficult ones to make for who wins come Sunday. Beyoncé has the most nods of the evening, a number that made her the most nominated female artist in Grammys history. But will her appearance in the big categories be enough to beat Dua's dance-dance revolution? Or Taylor's comeback tale? Things get even more interesting on the below-the-line picks (Fiona or Phoebe? Balvin or BTS?). Ahead of Sunday's ceremony — which was originally supposed to take place in January before it was delayed due to the coronavirus — EW has taken the liberty of predicting who and should win Grammys at this year's show. We'll find out for sure when the telecast kicks off on Sunday.

Grammy Predictions
Dua Lipa, Megan thee Stallion, and Maren Morris are all up for Grammy awards this year
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Aaron J. Thornton/WireImage; RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Record of the Year

"Black Parade" — Beyoncé
"Colors" — Black Pumas
"Rockstar" — DaBaby Featuring Roddy Ricch
"Say So" — Doja Cat
"Everything I Wanted" — Billie Eilish
"Don't Start Now" — Dua Lipa
"Circles" — Post Malone
"Savage" — Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé

WHO SHOULD WIN: Beyoncé's evening-best nine nominations include two in this category. The first, "Black Parade," delves into African history and the strength and struggles of Black America. But it's her and Meg Thee Stallion's work on the braggadocious "Savage" remix that deserves gold.

WHO WILL WIN: Don't start thinking anyone other than Dua Lipa's pitch-perfect club anthem (that silky smooth bass line! the punctuated piano chords! that insatiable hook!)  is going to come away with a win.

Album of the Year

Chilombo — Jhené Aiko
Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition) — Black Pumas
Everyday Life — Coldplay
Djesse Vol. 3 — Jacob Collier
Women In Music Pt. III — Haim
Future Nostalgia — Dua Lipa
Hollywood's Bleeding — Post Malone
Folklore — Taylor Swift

WHO SHOULD WIN: The best of the bunch belong to friends/recent collaborators Swift and Haim. Women In Music Pt III is the trio's finest album to date, filled with dusty horns and devilishly good lyrics. But this one should go to Folklore, which marked a major shift for Swift — both as a songwriter (less personal anecdotes, more fantasy) and businesswoman (her first surprise album drop).

WHO WILL WIN: Sorry, Tay's Album of the Year comeback tale, but Dua's disco revival will get the win; in a year where clubs were closed, the pop star brought the dance floor home.

Song of the Year

"Black Parade" — Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Shawn Carter, Brittany Coney, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim "Kaydence" Krysiuk & Rickie "Caso" Tice, songwriters (Beyoncé)
"The Box" — Samuel Gloade & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Roddy Ricch)
"Cardigan" — Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
"Circles" — Louis Bell, Adam Feeney, Kaan Gunesberk, Austin Post & Billy Walsh, songwriters (Post Malone)
"Don't Start Now" — Caroline Ailin, Ian Kirkpatrick, Dua Lipa & Emily Warren, songwriters (Dua Lipa)
"I Can't Breathe" — Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. & Tiara Thomas, songwriters (H.E.R.)
"If The World Was Ending" — Julia Michaels & JP Saxe, songwriters (JP Saxe Featuring Julia Michaels)

WHO SHOULD WIN: Is there anything more indelible than the "eeee errr" window-washing effect on Roddy Ricch's "The Box"?

WHO WILL WIN: Alas, the Grammys aren't progressive enough to award their second SOTY in three years to a rap song. And though it's tempting to think the Billie Eilish Grammy train will keep on rolling with her second Song of the Year in a row, it won't. Swift's comfy "Cardigan" FTW instead.

Best New Artist

Ingrid Andress
Phoebe Bridgers
Chika
Noah Cyrus
D Smoke
Doja Cat
Kaytranada
Megan Thee Stallion

WHO SHOULD WIN: Doja's made noise, but no one's had a bigger year in music than Meg.

WHO WILL WIN: Only one of these nominees has pioneered a catchphrase and had two No. 1 hits. Megan, come on down!

Best Pop Vocal Album

Changes — Justin Bieber
Chromatica — Lady Gaga
Future Nostalgia — Dua Lipa
Fine Line — Harry Styles
Folklore  — Taylor Swift

WHO SHOULD WIN: One of the year's most surprising snubs — outside of The Weeknd's After Hours — was the big-category shutout of Styles' Fine Line, which saw the former One Directioner continue to dip his toes in the 1970s pop-rock bucket. You'd think the Academy would reward that type of nostalgia further...

WHO WILL WIN: ...But they won't. Instead, third year's the charm for three-times-in-a-row Pop Vocal Album nominee Swift.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

"Un Dia (One Day)" — J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny & Tainy
"Intentions" — Justin Bieber Featuring Quavo
"Dynamite" — BTS
"Rain On Me" — Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande
"Exile" — Taylor Swift Featuring Bon Iver

WHO SHOULD WIN: It's hard to go wrong with the insatiable (and fittingly titled) "Dynamite" — the first nomination for K-pop superstars BTS — but Swift and Bon Iver's offbeat duet deserves the accolade.

WHO WILL WIN: "Exile" no more.

Best Rock Album

A Hero's Death — Fontaines D.C.
Kiwanuka — Michael Kiwanuka
Daylight — Grace Potter
Sound & Fury — Sturgill Simpson
The New Abnormal — The Strokes

WHO SHOULD WIN: The Mercury Prize-winning project from Kiwanuka, who is known to American audiences for singing the theme song to HBO's Big Little Lies, is the best of the bunch.

WHO WILL WIN: This category saw wins from Led Zeppelin in 2014 and Cage the Elephant twice in the last four years, so don't expect any left-field surprises. In other words: it's a toss-up between the two artists with the most name recognition — the Strokes and Sturgill — with Abnormal eeking out the win.

Best Rock Performance

"Shameika" — Fiona Apple
"Not" — Big Thief
"Kyoto" — Phoebe Bridgers
"The Steps" — HAIM
"Stay High" — Brittany Howard
"Daylight" — Grace Potter

WHO SHOULD WIN: A first for the Grammys: every nominee in Best Rock Performance is a woman or a group fronted by a woman (it's a first for Best Country Album this year too). These are all great options, but Howard's exquisite "Stay High" deserves the gramophone.

WHO WILL WIN: Consider this the consolation prize for HAIM missing out on an Album of the Year win.

Best Alternative Music Album

Fetch the Bolt Cutters — Fiona Apple
Hyperspace — Beck
Punisher — Phoebe Bridgers
Jaime — Brittany Howard
The Slow Rush — Tame Impala

WHO SHOULD WIN: Fiona Apple, who released the best album of 2020.

WHO WILL WIN: Fiona Apple, who released the best album of 2020.

Best R&B Album

Happy 2 Be Here — Ant Clemons
Take Time — Giveon
To Feel Love/d — Luke James
Bigger Love — John Legend
All Rise — Gregory Porter

WHO SHOULD WIN: Luke James' Feel Love/d is the lone eccentric in this otherwise mundane selection of 2020 R&B records.

WHO WILL WIN: There are few artists the Grammys love more than 11-time EGOT winner John Legend.

Best R&B Song

"Better Than I Imagine" — Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters (Robert Glasper Featuring H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello)
"Black Parade" — Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Shawn Carter, Brittany Coney, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim "Kaydence" Krysiuk & Rickie "Caso" Tice, songwriters (Beyoncé)
"Collide" — Sam Barsh, Stacey Barthe, Sonyae Elise, Olu Fann, Akil King, Josh Lopez, Kaveh Rastegar & Benedetto Rotondi, songwriters (Tiana Major9 & EARTHGANG)
"Do It" — Chloe Bailey, Halle Bailey, Anton Kuhl, Victoria Monét, Scott Storch & Vincent Van Den Ende, songwriters (Chloe X Halle)
"Slow Down" — Nasri Atweh, Badriia Bourelly, Skip Marley, Ryan Williamson & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters (Skip Marley & H.E.R.)

WHO SHOULD WIN: "Black Parade"'s multitiered approach to melody and messaging deserves the gold.

WHO WILL WIN: And it will get it, as the Academy continues its recent run of rewarding Beyoncé with only below-the-line Grammys.

Best Progressive R&B Album

Chilombo Jhené Aiko
Ungodly Hour — Chloe X Halle
Free Nationals — Free Nationals
F*** Yo Feelings  — Robert Glasper
It Is What It Is — Thundercat

WHO SHOULD WIN: Chloe X Halle made phenomenal creative strides with their sophomore effort Ungodly Hour.

WHO WILL WIN: Jhené's Album of the Year nod gives her the edge in this one.

Best Rap Song

"The Bigger Picture" — Dominique Jones, Noah Pettigrew & Rai'shaun Williams, songwriters (Lil Baby)
"The Box" — Samuel Gloade & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Roddy Ricch)
"Laugh Now, Cry Later" — Durk Banks, Rogét Chahayed, Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Ron LaTour & Ryan Martinez, songwriters (Drake Featuring Lil Durk)
"Rockstar" — Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, Ross Joseph Portaro IV & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (DaBaby Featuring Roddy Ricch)
"Savage Remix" — Beyoncé, Shawn Carter, Brittany Hazzard, Derrick Milano, Terius Nash, Megan Pete, Bobby Session Jr., Jordan Kyle Lanier Thorpe & Anthony White, songwriters (Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé)

WHO SHOULD WIN: Made in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing, "The Bigger Picture," saw Lil Baby stretch his wings by delving into the destructive effects of police brutality.

WHO WILL WIN: "Savage."

Best Rap Album

Black Habits — D Smoke
Alfredo — Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist
A Written Testimony — Jay Electronica
King's Disease — Nas
The Allegory — Royce Da 5'9"

WHO SHOULD WIN: Jay Electronica's return was one of the most surprising moments of the decade. Even more shocking: the album he returned with — the long-delayed, highly anticipated A Written Testimony — was good.

WHO WILL WIN: Nas — because most Academy voters probably haven't heard of any of the other nominees.

Best Country Album

Lady Like — Ingrid Andress
Your Life Is A Record — Brandy Clark
Wildcard — Miranda Lambert
Nightfall — Little Big Town
Never Will — Ashley McBryde

WHO SHOULD WIN: Kudos to the Grammys for nominating so many women in a category that's seen more than its fair share of testosterone. The edge belongs to McBryde's Never Will, a fierce and catchy collection that cuts against the rest of the usual pop-country sound.

WHO WILL WIN: Ashley McBryde.

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical

Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
Dave Cobb
Flying Lotus
Andrew Watt

WHO SHOULD WIN: That Flying Lotus nod is a long time coming, but the one-two punch of Gaslighter and Folklore (yes, I know, Evermore too, but that wasn't eligible) makes this Jack Antonoff's year.

WHO WILL WIN: Jack Antonoff.

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