The 11 Grammy categories we’re paying most attention to
It’s about Beyoncé — but Drake, Rihanna, Adele, Kanye and and Chance have lots on the line as well
All hail Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. The nominations for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards were announced Tuesday, and Queen Bey leads the 2017 field with nine nominations for Lemonade. The on-and-off-again couple everyone wants to stop messing around and be together, Drake and Rihanna, each received eight nods for Views and for Anti, respectively, while Kanye West also notched eight for The Life of Pablo and Chance The Rapper’s fairytale year continued with seven for both his work with West and Coloring Book, a project he’ll empathically tell you was a mixtape, not an album.
Beyoncé now has 62 total nominations in her career — more than any other female artist in history. It’s a tall task, but if she wins eight out of nine in February, she’ll pass Alison Krauss as the most-awarded woman in Grammy history. As the #BeyHive will tell you, there’s nothing Beyoncé can’t do, but standing in her way of musical immortality is no other than Adele, whose diamond album 25 earned her five nominations.
There are 84 categories at the Grammys, but here are the 11 we’re paying attention to the most:
RECORD, ALBUM AND SONG OF THE YEAR: Beyoncé vs. Adele
There are some great nominations in the top three categories — from Drake’s long-awaited ode to Toronto Views, to his smash summer with Rihanna, Work (which to my chagrin only got nominated once), to even Justin Bieber’s track Love Yourself, which had one of my favorite lines of 2015: “My mama don’t like you, and she likes everyone.” But everyone knows the Big 3 — record, album and song of the year — is a battle between Beyoncé and Adele. Lemonade vs. 25. Formation vs. Hello. It might be hard for Bey to take down the behemoth that was 25 in the album of the year category, but a win for Formation as the song of the year would also be cause for celebration for Khalif Brown, aka Swae Lee from Rae Sremmurd, who co-wrote the track.
At last year’s Grammys, Taylor Swift’s 1989 won album of the year over Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. There’s zero chance the outcome of the faceoff between Beyoncé and Adele will disappoint as much as that one did.
BEST NEW ARTIST: Chance’s blessings could continue
Praises to the most high for the new rule that allows streaming-only projects such as Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book mixtape to be considered for awards. And shout-out to Chance for a little self-promotion.
— Frank DiGiacomo (@frankdigiacomo) October 6, 2016
Seems like everything the Chicago artist touched in 2016 turned to “endless fields of daffodils and chamomile.” (Still upset his original version of Waves didn’t make it onto The Life of Pablo.) Also look out for Anderson .Paak in this category. His second studio album, Malibu, was several flames emojis.
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE: Solange’s first Grammy nomination
Rihanna’s Needed Me is sensual and relatably intoxicating. But the music world always needs a little something different, and Solange gave us just that in September with her album A Seat At The Table, which NPR recently named the best album of 2016 over her older sister Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Cranes in the Sky, which Solange performed on Saturday Night Live, is the project’s best track. It’s beautiful.
BEST R&B SONG: Loaded category too close to call
This is a tough one. Some great tracks in this category from PartyNextDoor, Rihanna, Maxwell and the young bull Bryson Tiller, whose nominated Exchange was on repeat in the fall of 2015 — Lord please save her for me / Do this one favor for me. The Drake feature on PND’s Come and See Me could push him over the top for the win. Then there’s Rihanna’s guitar-laced Kiss It Better and Maxwell came back on the scene with Lake By The Ocean. Excited to see how this one plays out.
BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM: Can an artist besides Adele take Bey down?
Probably not. Anderson .Paak’s with Malibu and Rihanna with Anti will go toe-to-toe with Beyoncé’s Formation. Godspeed.
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE: One word for this category: loaded
No Problem, Panda, Pop Style, All The Way Up and That Part were all absolute bangers in 2016, meaning this award could go in any direction. But part of me is hoping Panda wins, simply so we can all be blessed with an acceptance speech from Desiigner. It be the most incoherent yet glorious speech in Grammy history, and sound a little something like this: I lksdflk WANT sfhfhkllsk TO lskflkfslk THANK lskflkfslk GOD!
BEST RAP/SUNG PERFORMANCE: Kanye West doubles up
Remember when Kanye West said he would boycott the Grammys if Frank Ocean’s album didn’t receive any nominations? Well, the awkward thing is Ocean didn’t even submit his album for Grammy consideration. Whether West will still boycott or even attend — given his recent cancellation of the remaining dates of his tour, and his hospitalization — is unclear. Regardless, he’s got eight nominations, including two in this category for Famous and Ultralight Beam. It’d be poetic justice if West won for Famous, a year after Swift threw shade at him during her album of the year acceptance speech. West responded in 2016 with “I made that b—- famous!”
BEST RAP SONG: Chance the triple-threat
Chance The Rapper wrote on Kanye West’s Famous, performed No Problem with 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, and both wrote and performed on West’s Ultralight Beam. All three are nominated in this category. If there’s one takeaway from the 2017 Grammy nominations, it’s that Chance is the future of hip-hop.
BEST RAP ALBUM: Anxiously awaiting DJ Khaled’s acceptance speech
Matching up with the likes of Coloring Book, Views and The Life of Pablo, it doesn’t appear that DJ Khaled’s collaboration album Major Key will be named the top rap album of the year. But, boy, do we want it to be, for the simple fact that DJ Khaled would put on a show — for the crowd and his Snapchat — if he won. You can hear him now: “They didn’t want us to make a Grammy Award-winning album, so we made a Grammy Award-winning album.”