We asked three Grammy-nominated vets to share their picks (and unvarnished opinions) on this year's winners. Here's what they had to say.

By EW Staff
January 21, 2020 at 04:19 PM EST
Jason Kempin/Getty Images; Steve Jennings/WireImage; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images; Paras Griffin/Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It’s become an annual EW tradition: Three industry insiders — past winners and current nominees — share their unfiltered opinions about who they think (and hope!) will take home the big prizes at the Grammys. Our anonymous participants for the 2020 ceremony include THE MAESTRO, a Grammy nominee and veteran producer for A-list pop, rock, and country artists; THE TUNESMITH, one of Nashville’s most highly decorated and respected songwriter-producers; and THE CRAFTSMAN, an owner of a caseful of golden gramophones and a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer for today’s biggest acts in pop, alt-rock, and country. You can find out the real winners when the 62nd Grammy Awards air Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

As told to EW’s Sarah Rodman and Alex Suskind.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

• “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 feat. Billy Ray Cyrus

• “Truth Hurts” — Lizzo

• “Sunflower” — Post Malone & Swae Lee

THE MAESTRO: It’s going to be between Billie Eilish and H.E.R. But let’s go with Billie. I think she’s representing a change, and in [this] climate, we are looking for change across the board.

THE TUNESMITH: I mean, “Old Town Road,” if they gave him that many nomi- nations, it could go that way. It’s hard for me to say that, but man, I guess it’s what people vote on. But I think “Truth Hurts” will win.

THE CRAFTSMAN: “Old Town Road.” We could not escape that song. It’s a hip-hop track with a Trent Reznor sample with country lyrics and melody. It covers everything.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

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 — Lizzo

Father of the Bride — Vampire Weekend

THE MAESTRO: I’m going to give that one to H.E.R. She’s like the female Prince and Lauryn Hill put together. The songs are strong. I love the emotional content. Musically, it’s at a whole other level.

THE TUNESMITH:  I don’t understand that [Lil Nas X] nomination. If I was Taylor Swift, that would feel like a serious punch in the gut, because it’s [an EP], not a record. My personal pick is Ariana Grande.

THE CRAFTSMAN:  As far as what I would pick, I love the Vampire Weekend album. Thinking about the industry and how it usually votes, I think it’s between Lizzo and Billie.

SONG OF THE YEAR

• “Always Remember Us This Way” — Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Lori McKenna

• “Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell

• “Bring My Flowers Now” — Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Tanya Tucker

• “Hard Place” — Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris, H.E.R. & Rodney Jerkins

• “Lover” — Taylor Swift

• “Norman F—ing Rockwell” — Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey

• “Someone You Loved” — Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn & Sam Roman

• “Truth Hurts” — Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson & Jesse Saint John

THE MAESTRO: Lewis Capaldi, H.E.R., or Billie are the frontrunners. I mean, “Bad Guy” is a great song. So, I’ll go with Billie.

THE TUNESMITH: “Always Remember Us This Way” from A Star Is Born is the best song in that category. I don’t think people are taking it as a serious contender because they [nominated] “Shallow” last year.

THE CRAFTSMAN: Going off of the atmosphere and what’s really making a big impact, I just feel [it’s] Billie Eilish.

BEST NEW ARTIST

• Black Pumas

• Billie Eilish

• Lil Nas X

• Lizzo

• Maggie Rogers

• Rosalía

• Tank and the Bangas

• Yola

THE MAESTRO: Billie is going to get that. She’s getting it. We don’t even have to talk about it.

THE TUNESMITH: I feel like they’re going to go with Lizzo because of her overall impact. People love a Cinderella story.

THE CRAFTSMAN: This is a really hard one, because there’s so many new artists that really made a big splash. I mean, we got Maggie [Rogers] and Rosalía, but…I think Billie is going to win.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

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

THE MAESTRO:  I’m going to give that one to Tanya Tucker. She is a legend in country music, and it’s a great comeback story. It’s an amazing record.

THE TUNESMITH: I think “should win,” Eric Church; “will win,” Tanya Tucker.

THE CRAFTSMAN: I am going to go with Eric. There’s something raw and organic about the album, and it just seemed like the kind of record that could win a Grammy. I’ve just got a feeling.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

The Lion King: The Gift — Beyoncé

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? — Billie Eilish

Thank U, Next — Ariana Grande

No. 6 Collaborations Project — Ed Sheeran

Lover — Taylor Swift

THE MAESTRO: They’ll probably give it to Ed Sheeran. I mean, it’s either to Ed because he deserves it, or to Beyoncé because they think they should give it to her.

THE TUNESMITH: There is no other nominee in that category but Ariana Grande to me. And it sucks for Taylor because I actually think Taylor really deserves to be in Album of the Year.

THE CRAFTSMAN: I’ve listened to all these and I think Billie’s going to win this one just because of the impact of what she’s doing. I just feel like it’s her time.

BEST SPOKEN WORD ALBUM

Beastie Boys Book — Various Artists

Becoming — Michelle Obama

I.V. Catatonia: 20 Years as a Two-Time Cancer Survivor — Eric Alexandrakis

Mr. Know It All — John Waters

Sekou Andrews & the String Theory — Sekou Andrews & the String Theory

THE MAESTRO: Of course it’s going to go to Michelle Obama. She’s got a wonderful message, and [it’s] a great “f—k you” to put on there right now where we are [in] politics.

THE TUNESMITH: If anybody says anybody other than Michelle Obama, they’re lying. I mean, come on.

THE CRAFTSMAN: There’s a lot of people who grew up listening to the Beastie Boys, and because we’re talking about the Grammys and music, I feel like [they] would win this category.

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