GRAMMY 2017 Picks

What an odd year. It was rap’s year. Well, every year seems to be rap’s year. Rap consistently breaks more new ground than any other genre. Still. Trap music prevailed, and influenced rock, pop, R&B, and dance so much so that I don’t think there’s any coming back from it. More than just rap, it was a year for Black artists. Beyoncé put out a record, so I think that’s proof enough of my statement. More than just music, it was a year for Black People, in both positive and negative ways. We could not escape day after day of news of the killings of unarmed black citizens. And we could not escape white people talking about how racist Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance was (white people will make anything racist; white people are so privileged, they feel the need to be included in oppression just so they can stake claim to more things). My picks this year reflect that. And as always, these are picks of who will win, not who I think should win.

Record of the Year (A Producer and Engineer’s Award)

“Hello” – Adele
“Formation” – Beyoncé
“7 Years” – Lukas Graham
“Work” – Rihanna Drake feat. Drake
“Stressed Out” – twenty one pilots

It was Beyoncé’s year. ‘Nuff said. The only thing that could have come close was “Hello,” and despite its ubiquity, the quality of the record itself does not compare to that of “Formation”.

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Album Of The Year

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

See above.

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Song Of The Year (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Formation” – Beyoncé
“Hello” – Adele
“I Took A Pill In Ibiza” – Mike Posner
“Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber
“Seven” – Lukas Graham

This is a tough category. I think that the scansion problems in “Hello” should keep it out of the running. But I do think the song’s ubiquity will prop it up, even though the songwriting and instrumental accompaniment isn’t as strong as “Formation”.

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Best New Artist

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

Look, Anderson is great. What a strong debut. But Chance, although he’s not exactly new, deserves the win here for exactly that reason. He has a refined rawness that comes from having been able to cultivate his product over many years to great success. (Personally, I would have chosen Gallant to win this category, but he’s still fairly unknown.)

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Best Pop Solo Performance

“Hello” – Adele
“Hold Up” – Beyoncé
“Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber
“Piece By Piece (Idol Version)” – Kelly Clarkson
“Dangerous Woman” – Ariana Grande

Nobody is hitting these vocals like Beyoncé. I am NOT a Stan for Beyoncé, but this was the song that made me look at her in a different light. Her vocals are effortless, whereas Adele’s are labored. Justin doesn’t do anything with his. I hate Kelly Clarkson. And Ariana’s are overproduced. Hands down: Bey.

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Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Closer” – The Chainsmokers
“7 Years” – Lukas Graham
“Work” – Rihanna feat. Drake
“Cheap Thrills” – Sia feat. Sean Paul
“Stressed Out” – twenty one pilots

This is tough because I can see reasons for all of these artists to take this award. But there’s an effortlessness in both Rihanna’s and Drake’s performances that take this track to another level. As much as I despise them, I might have almost picked twenty one pilots to take this category, were it not for my favorite shipped couple, RiRi and 6 God.

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Best Pop Vocal Album

25 – Kelly Clarkson
Purpose – Justin Bieber
Dangerous Woman- Ariana Grande
Confident – Demi Lovato
This Is Acting – Sia

First off: Is Demi Lovato still a thing? Secondly: I’m not a huge fan of The Biebs, but he really had me bobbin’ out to a lot of his tracks, and that’s saying something.

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Best Rock Performance

“Joe (Live from Austin City Limits)” – Alabama Shakes
“Don’t Hurt Yourself” – Beyoncé fest. Jack White
“Blackstar” – David Bowie
“The Sound of Silence (Live on Conan)” – Disturbed
“Heathens” – twenty one pilots

It is strange to see Beyoncé nominated in this category, but she and Jack White knocked it out of the park on this song. That same effortlessness I spoke about earlier is apparent on almost every track on Lemonade, this song being no exception. Bisturbed’s cover of the classic Simon and Garfunkel song tries so hard to be something important and it fails. The same goes for “Heathens” (and every other song twenty one pilots puts out). Yes, I think a broader definition of what Rock is might been needed to give Bey the win here, but I think that’s important, right?, that we pay attention to artists and song that break boundaries and not give them awards simply because they do that, but because they do it well.

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Best Rock Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Blackstar” – David Bowie
“Burn The Witch” – Radiohead
“Hardwired” – David Bowie
“Heathens” – twenty one pilots
“My Name Is Human” – Highly Suspect

It is ENTIRELY possible that the Academy will give this to Bowie because he died. And they probably will. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think Radiohead deserves this over everyone else. Nevertheless, here I am, giving my pick to Bowie.

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Best Alternative Album

22, A Million – Bon Iver
Blackstar – David Bowie
The Hope Six Demolition Project – PJ Harvey
Post Pop Depression – Iggy Pop
A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

To be clear, I really dislike Bon Iver’s latest project, and I can’t say that I much care for Bon Iver at all (except when he’s singing with Francis). But, he’ll get the aware for being…I don’t even know…Bon Iver?

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Best R&B Performance

“Turnin’ Me Up” – BJ The Chicago Kid
“Permission” – Ro James
“I Do” – Music Soulchild
“Needed Me” –  Rihanna
“Cranes In The Sky” – Solange

Ugh…Solange. Ugh. 😒

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Best R&B Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Come And See Me” – PARTYNEXTDOOR feat. Drake
“Exchange” – Bryson Tiller
“Kiss It Better” – Rihanna
“Lake By The Ocean” – Maxwell
“Luv” – Tony Lanez

For me, this is a toss up between PARTY and Rihanna. And I’m tempted to say that Rihanna will win this. But there’s something about Drake’s influence, especially this year. If it weren’t Beyoncé’s year, it would have been Drake’s year. Also, I like to imagine a scenario where DNCE and Maxwell put out their songs on the same day and they both went: “Fuck…”.

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Best Urban Contemporary Album

Lemonade – Beyonce
Ology – Gallant
We Are King – King
Malibu – Anderson .Paak
Anti – Rihanna

Fuck.
Do I think that Gallant’s record is better than Beyoncé’s? Yes.
Do I not understand how it’s even possible to have that many incredible songs (every song, in fact) on a debut record? Yes.
Will Beyoncé win this award? Yes.

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Best Rap Performance

“No Problem” – Chance The Rapper, feat. Lil Wayne and 2Chainz
“Panda” – Desiigner
“Pop Style” – Drake feat. The Throne (Jay Z, Kanye West)
“All The Way Up” – Fat Joe and Remy Ma, feat. French Montana and Infared
“THat Part” – ScHoolboy Q feat. Kanye West

First: I had no idea Jay and Kanye referred to themselves as “The Throne” apart from that album. This is weird to me.
Second: This isn’t even a contest.

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Best Rap/Sung Performance

“Freedom” – Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar
“Hotline Bling” – Drake
“Broccoli” – D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty
“Ultralight Beam” – Kanye West feat. Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and The Dream
“Famous” – Kanye West feat. Rihanna

If “Ultralight Beam”, “Famous” would have won. So…I guess the was Kanye’s category all along. And it’s not even Kanye’s verses that win this award for him, it’s Chance’s verse. Best verse of the year.

Side note: Drake doesn’t rap once on “Hotline Bling”, why is this song nominated in this category. They should have replaced it with “Freestlyle 4”.

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Best Rap Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“All The Way Up” – Fat Joe and Remy Ma, feat. French Montana and Infared
“Famous” – Kanye West feat. Rihanna
“Hotline Bling” – Drake
“No Problem” – Chance The Rapper, feat. Lil Wayne and 2Chainz
“Ultralight Beam” – Kanye West feat. Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and The Dream

See above.
And if “Ultralight Beam” weren’t in this category, “No Problem” would win.

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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

I think The Life of Pablo might be a better album than Coloring Book, but I just know Chance is going to win this. And he deserves it. His first major release is one of the strongest records of the year, comparable to Lemonade, TLOP, and others.

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I wrote this post a little too late and they already gave the award for Best Music Video to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. But we all know I would have picked this to win anyway, so I’m giving myself a point regardless.

 

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