Feb 2nd, 2017, 05:30 PM

Picking Winners: Grammy Awards 2017

By Gianni Harrell
This year's Grammy nominees. Image credit: Grammy Awards
Who's going to win at this year's Grammys — and why.

It's Grammy season again. On Feb 12 we'll know who this year's winners are in music genres ranging from rock and hip hop to country, folk and R&B. But you don't have to wait for the Grammy ceremony — I'm going to pick the winners right here. We'll see on Feb.12 how many I got right.

First, some quick background on the Grammy Awards. The Grammys — unlike Video Music Awards, or the American Music Awards — are not based on fan voting. Grammy winners are selected by members of the Recording Academy, which is comprised of hand-picked music industry executives and recording artists. In short, the Grammys are an industry event.

There are pros and cons to having the Recording Academy pick winners. On the plus side, the Recording Academy is made up of music industry professionals, which theoretically makes them the best judges of quality. They can filter out the low-quality songs that shoot up to number one due to Internet virality. On the negative side, in recent years the Grammys have been handing out awards to the same names instead of recognizing more innovative and exciting artists. The Recording Academy, which hosted the first Grammy ceremony nearly sixty years ago in 1958, has remained fairly conservative in their understanding of what is considered "good" music.

Okay, let's turn to this year's Grammys. As in the past, a lot of familiar faces are nominated. Beyonce, who leads the awards with nine nominations, has been nominated a whopping 57 times over the years. Other familiar artists like Adele, Kanye West, and Drake are  also on the list of nominees. There are a couple newcomers, including The Chainsmokers and Chance the Rapper.

Here are my picks, broken down down by category, with my Grammy winner selections in bold. 

Album of the Year:

25 — Adele
Lemonade — Beyoncé
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Views — Drake
A Sailor's Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson

Album of the Year is considered by many as the most coveted awards an artist can receive. Previous winners include Taylor Swift, Adele, Beck, and Daft Punk. The award usually goes to the artist who has either created a new wave in the industry (such as Daft Punk's return album Random Access Memories) or undeniable radio success as we saw with the Taylor Swift album, 1989, which contained six hit singles. Beyonce, who got snuffed last year by Taylor, will win Album of the Year. Following her strategy last year, not only did Beyonce release a hit-packed album with Lemonade, but the album contained a complete video film of each song. Beyonce not only received outstanding radio success on this album, she had one of the highest grossing tours of the year. Oh, and she's never won Album the Year. She's my pick for 2017. The Beyhive will be buzzing... 

Beyoncé - Hold Up


Record of the Year:

"Hello" — Adele
"Formation" — Beyoncé
"7 Years" — Lukas Graham
"Work" — Rihanna Featuring Drake
"Stressed Out" — Twenty One Pilots

Many get confused about the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the year. Song of the year is usually given to songs that are stronger in quality and message. Record of the Year usually goes to the song which receives the most radio play. So ok ladies, lets get in formation....Beyonce, you win again. 

Beyoncé - Formation


Song of the Year:

"Formation" — Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)
"Hello" — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
"I Took A Pill In Ibiza" — Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)
"Love Yourself" — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)
"7 Years" — Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)

Nobody loves Adele more then the Recording Academy. She's been nominated 18 times and won ten Grammys. This year she is getting snuffed by Beyonce in the Album of the Year category. But Song of the Year will go to "Hello", Adele's breakout song and one of the past year's biggest hits. The slow ballad mixed with Adele's powerful voice makes for a tear-jerking sonic experience. 

Adele - Hello


Best New Artist:

Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance The Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak

The real competition in the Best New Artist category is between three stars. One is Chance the Rapper, the young musician who's positive messages have inspired several youths in the hip hop community. Also The Chainsmokers, who've been dominating the EDM scene with their exciting performances and break out radio hits such as "Closer" and "Roses".  But this year's winner will be Anderson .Paak, who've been able to engineer a new style of sound, blending rock and rap, that fits this generation's new wave music scene. Previous winners in this category include: Sam Smith, Adele, Maroon 5, and Cristina Aguilera. This year it's going to Anderson .Paak.

Anderson .Paak - Come Down (Official Video)


Best Pop Vocal Album:

25 — Adele
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Dangerous Woman — Ariana Grande
Confident — Demi Lovato
This Is Acting — Sia

This is the part where I get frustrated about the Recording Academy. Bieber's album, Purpose, was a number-one selling album with Billboard-topping hit singles. However, Justin will not win because he's one of the most disliked people in the music industry. Adele's album 25, although it didn't have the rhythmic spark as her 21 album, will take the award. We were rooting for you Justin. Sorry bro. Adele will win because Adele is Adele.

Adele - Send My Love (To Your New Lover)


Best Pop Solo Performance:

"Hello" — Adele
"Hold Up" — Beyonce
"Love Yourself" — Justin Bieber
"Piece By Piece (Idol Version)" — Kelly Clarkson
"Dangerous Woman" — Ariana Grande

If we're talking pop music, and Adele's in the category... you got no chance. Adele again.

Adele - Hello


Best R&B Song:

"Come and See Me" — J. Brathwaite, Aubrey Graham & Noah Shebib, songwriters (PartyNextDoor Featuring Drake)
"Exchange" — Michael Hernandez & Bryson Tiller, songwriters (Bryson Tiller)
"Kiss It Better" — Jeff Bhasker, Robyn Fenty, John-Nathan Glass & Natalia Noemi, songwriters (Rihanna)
"Lake By the Ocean" — Hod David & Musze, songwriters (Maxwell)
"Luv" — Magnus August Høiberg, Benjamin Levin & Daystar Peterson, songwriters (Tory Lanez)

This song is the Jam! There's no stopping bad gal RiRi (unless Beyonce's in the category). She's been nominated 32 times and she's taking another trophy back to the crib. 

Rihanna - Kiss It Better (Explicit)


Best Urban Contemporary Album:

Lemonade — Beyoncé
Ology — Gallant
We Are King — KING
Malibu — Anderson .Paak
Anti — Rihanna

There's an unwritten rule that you can't win Album of The Year and not also receive the Grammy for the music genre your album is in. Another one for Bey. 

Beyonce - Lemonade ( Official Video )


Best Rap Performance:

"No Problem" — Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
"Panda" —Desiigner
"Pop Style" — Drake Featuring The Throne
"All The Way Up" — Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared
"That Part" — ScHoolboy Q Featuring Kanye West

Nineteen-year-old Brooklyn based rapper Desiigner was a breakout star this year with all of one song! PANDA PANDA PANDA! Panda topped the Billboard charts for at least ten weeks. This category also has the word Performance in it and that's what we'll make the young rapper victorious. In case you haven't seen it yet, you might want to check out one of Desiigners live performances of Panda.. There's nothing like it. 

Desiigner - Panda


Best Rap/Sung Performance:

"Freedom" — Beyoncé Featuring Kendrick Lamar
"Hotline Bling" — Drake
"Broccoli" — D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty
"Ultralight Beam" — Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream
"Famous" — Kanye West Featuring Rihanna

This one was hard. It was really between two songs: "Famous" and "Hotline Bling". To be fair, all these songs deserve to win but there can only be one winner. "Hotline Bling" was one of the most popular song on Drake's Views album. The song, which is great on its own, came to fruition with the release of the music video featuring Drake performing hilarious dance moves which inspired multiple internet memes. Going viral helped the song shoot up the Billboard charts. No matter, this award is going to Kanye. His song, Famous, received artistic backlash due to his portrayal of celebrity wax figures such as Anna Wintour, Ray J, Chris Brown, RIhanna, Kim Kardashian, and Donald Trump. The viral backlash to the song only made it explode even more. Not to mention controversial lines about American pop idol Taylor Swift and a private recording.  A genius marketing strategy coming from team Kanye. It is my hope that the Recording Academy will recognize this kind of artistry. "Famous" is my pick.

Kanye West - Famous


Best Rap Album:

Coloring Book — Chance The Rapper
And the Anonymous Nobody — De La Soul
Major Key — DJ Khaled
Views — Drake
Blank Face LP — ScHoolboy Q
The Life of Pablo — Kanye West

All these albums deserve credit. The dilemma for me was choosing between Views and Life of Pablo. Life of Pablo, which was a transparent look into Kanye's personal life, marked a  transition into a sound we are more familiar with from Kanye. But at the end of the day, I'm giving the Grammy to Drake. His album, Views, contained six Billboard-charting songs and was the most streamed album on Apple Music and Spotify. Drake had the highest-selling Hip Hop tour (86 million) and sold the most records amongst all of his competitors. For the second album in a row, Drake we'll be taking Best Rap Album. Sorry Ye. 

Drake - Hotline Bling


Best Rap Song:

"All The Way Up" — Joseph Cartagena, Edward Davadi, Shandel Green, Karim Kharbouch, Andre Christopher Lyon, Reminisce Mackie & Marcello Valenzano, songwriters (Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared)
"Famous" — Chancelor Bennett, Ross Birchard, Ernest Brown, Andrew Dawson, Kasseem Dean, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, Kejuan Muchita, Patrick Reynolds, Kanye West & Cydel Young, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring Rihanna)
"Hotline Bling" — Aubrey Graham & Paul Jefferies, songwriters (Drake)
"No Problem" — Chancelor Bennett, Dwayne Carter & Tauheed Epps, songwriters (Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)
"Ultralight Beam" — Chancelor Bennett, Kasseem Dean, Mike Dean, Kirk Franklin, Noah Goldstein, Samuel Griesemer, Terius Nash, Jerome Potter, Kelly Price, Nico "Donnie Trumpet" Segal, Derek Watkins, Kanye West & Cydel Young, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream)

Previous winners of this category include Kendrick Lamar, Mackelmore, Kanye West, and Jay Z. The Recording Academy usually gives this award to the artist whose rap song is best in quality rather than popularity. Kanye West and Jay Z are the leading contenders overall in this category. Kanye well receive another trophy this year due to the success of his gospel-inspired song, "Ultra Light Beam", featuring Grammy-nominated best new artist, Chance the Rapper. 

Chance the Rapper - Ultralight Beam

Well, those are my picks. Tune in February 12th on CBS to see if I was right.