TAKE #26: 2021 grammys predictions [but only the categories i care about and i could be 100% wrong :) ]

Here we are another week closer to the 2021 Grammy Awards on March 14th, and I’m here to share my predictions for who will be taking home some Grammys this year. Now, since there are a bunch of categories I know nothing about, I’m only including the categories that I have at least a 1% clue about (some of these I did have to listen to some songs for though). I’ll update this the Monday after the Grammys with the results. But let me reiterate that the entire 2021 Grammys Award season and ceremony is completely irrelevant because Abel “I’ve been in this red suit for a whole year” Tesfaye was not nominated for a single award and will not be performing. You can read more on why I have beef with the Grammys here.

“Song of the Year”

  • “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé
    • Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Shawn Carter, Brittany Coney, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim “Kaydence” Krysiuk & Rickie “Caso” Tice, songwriters
  • “THE BOX” by Roddy Ricch
    • Larrance Dopson, Samuel Gloade, Rodrick Moore, Adarius Moragne, Eric Sloan & Khirye Anthony Tyler, songwriters
  • “CARDIGAN” by Taylor Swift
    • Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, songwriters
  • “CIRCLES” by Post Malone
    • Louis Bell, Adam Feeney, Kaan Gunesberk, Austin Post & Billy Walsh, songwriters
  • “DON’T START NOW” by Dua Lipa
    • Caroline Ailin, Ian Kirkpatrick, Dua Lipa & Emily Warren, songwriters
  • “EVERYTHING I WANTED” by Billie Eilish
    • Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters
  • “I CAN’T BREATHE” by H.E.R.
    • Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. & Tiara Thomas, songwriters
  • “IF THE WORLD WAS ENDING” by JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels
    • Julia Michaels & JP Saxe, songwriters

Since “The Box” was the only song on this list that I’d heard before today, I had to go through and listen to all of these, which meant that I had to listen to Taylor Swift for the first time in like 10 years. I didn’t hate it, but it gave me Lana Del Rey vibes, and I don’t know how to feel about that. I really really didn’t like “Black Parade,” though. Part of that might be because Beyoncé’s music doesn’t typically appeal to me (though I will give her B’Day (2006) and some of the songs on 4 (2011), but the song just felt very phoned in. “Motherland, motherland drip on me”…??? What?? All of those writers, and the song didn’t really give what it was supposed to give. The other songs on the list were pretty good for different reasons. As far as what song I think will win, I think I’ll have to give it to H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe.” I feel like the message of the song is undeniably important and deserves recognition, and H.E.R.’s spoken word moment at the end of the song made it that much more powerful of a moment. Assuming these songwriter-specific awards are based more on lyrics, I think H.E.R. beats these other songs out easily. BUT I could see Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, of Billie Eilish winning.

Who I Think Will Win:

“I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R.

Who I Want to Win:

“I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R. (but also….”The Box” by Roddy Ricch lol)


“Record of the Year”

  • “BLACK PARADE” by Beyonce
    • Beyoncé & Derek Dixie, producers; Stuart White, engineer/mixer; Colin Leonard, mastering engineer
  • “COLORS” by Black Pumas
    • Adrian Quesada, producer; Adrian Quesada, engineer/mixer; JJ Golden, mastering engineer
  • “ROCKSTAR” by DaBaby Featuring Roddy Ricch
    • SethinTheKitchen, producer; Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, Chris Dennis, Liz Robson & Chris West, engineers/mixers; Glenn A Tabor III, mastering engineer
  • “SAY SO” by Doja Cat
    • Tyson Trax, producer; Clint Gibbs & Kalani Thompson, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer
  • “EVERYTHING I WANTED” by Billie Eilish
    • Finneas O’Connell, producer; Rob Kinelski & Finneas O’Connell, engineers/mixers; John Greenham, mastering engineer
  • “DON’T START NOW” by Dua Lipa
    • Caroline Ailin & Ian Kirkpatrick, producers; Josh Gudwin, Drew Jurecka & Ian Kirkpatrick, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
  • “CIRCLES” by Post Malone
    • Louis Bell, Frank Dukes & Post Malone, producers; Louis Bell & Manny Marroquin, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer
  • “SAVAGE” by Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé
    • Beyoncé & J. White Did It, producers; Stuart White, engineer/mixer; Colin Leonard, mastering engineer

Since it seems like this is a production-based award, I’m gonna have to go with “Savage,” “Say So,” or “Colors” for this one. “Say So” and “Savage” have extremely recognizable production (and they’re catchy songs in general), so one of the two of them could get the award off the strength of that, but “Colors” has the more dynamic production (to meeee), so I could see Black Pumas snatching the award.

Who I Think Will Win:

“Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion, “Say So” by Doja Cat, or “Colors” by Black Pumas

Who I Want to Win:

“Colors” by Black Pumas


“Best New Artist”

  • INGRID ANDRESS
  • PHOEBE BRIDGERS
  • CHIKA
  • NOAH CYRUS
  • D SMOKE
  • DOJA CAT
  • KAYTRANADA
  • MEGAN THEE STALLION

I don’t know who out of this list has had a bigger year than Miss Megan. Doja Cat has had a decent sized year as well, but Meg has been that chick. So I gotta go with her. Kaytranada, Chika and D Smoke are all extremely talented, though (and I’ve heard some good things about Phoebe Bridgers), so it’s a pretty stacked list.

Who I Think Will Win:

Megan Thee Stallion

Who I Want to Win:

Miss Meg ❤


“Best R&B Performance”

  • “LIGHTNING & THUNDER” by Jhené Aiko ft. John Legend
  • “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé
  • “ALL I NEED” by Jacob Collier ft. Mahalia & Ty Dolla $ign
  • “GOAT HEAD” by Brittany Howard
  • “SEE ME” by Emily King

Oof the songs in this category – sans “Black Parade” – are great. I really have no clue which way things will go. I do think that Brittany Howard is an incredibly talented musician, so a big big part of me wants her to win. But I also really enjoyed “All I Need” and “See Me.” And Jhené and John were nice on “Lightning & Thunder.” I’m gonna go with “Goat Head” for this one. I feel like I heard a lot of great things about Jaime (2019) when it came out (mostly from the vinyl collecting community), and I’m gonna assume that the vinyl collecting community is tapped into what the Grammy Award voting people want. BUT I could see any of these songs winning for different reasons, so I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them won.

Who I Think Will Win:

“Goat Head” by Brittany Howard (but all of them really have a decent chance of winning)

Who I Want to Win:

“Goat Head” by Brittany Howard


“Best Traditional R&B Performance”

  • “SIT ON DOWN” by The Baylor Project Featuring Jean Baylor & Marcus Baylor
  • “WONDER WHAT SHE THINKS OF ME” by Chloe X Halle
  • “LET ME GO” by Mykal Kilgore
  • “ANYTHING FOR YOU” by Ledisi
  • “DISTANCE” by Yebba

All of these songs are amazing, but “Anything for You” by Ledisi and “Let Me Go” by Mykal Kilgore sound the closest to “traditional R&B” to me. Like, when I think of R&B in the classical sense, those two songs really embody that. “Distance” and “Sit On Down” aren’t that far off, though. “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” feels like it would be a little too “contemporary” and modern to win it, but it’s a good song regardless.

Who I Think Will Win:

“Let Me Go” by Mykal Kilgore or “Anything for You” by Ledisi

Who I Want to Win:

all of these songs are great, so I’m fine with any of them!


“Best R&B Song”

  • “BETTER THAN I IMAGINED” by Robert Glasper ft. H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello
    • Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters
  • “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé
    • Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Shawn Carter, Brittany Coney, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim “Kaydence” Krysiuk & Rickie “Caso” Tice, songwriters
  • “COLLIDE” by Tiana Major9 & EARTHGANG
    • Sam Barsh, Stacey Barthe, Sonyae Elise, Olu Fann, Akil King, Josh Lopez, Kaveh Rastegar & Benedetto Rotondi, songwriters
  • “DO IT” by Chloe x Halle
    • Chloe Bailey, Halle Bailey, Anton Kuhl, Victoria Monét, Scott Storch & Vincent Van Den Ende, songwriters
  • “SLOW DOWN” by Skip Marley & H.E.R.
    • Nasri Atweh, Badriia Bourelly, Skip Marley, Ryan Williamson & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters

“Do It” was all over the place for a nice stretch of a few months, “Better Than I Imagined” is a gorgeous song (Robert Glasper, H.E.R., and Meshell Ndegeocello are all so talented on their own and the three of them together on this track is A LOT), and “Collide” and “Slow Down” are great in their own right. I’ve already expressed my dislike for “Black Parade,” so that ones off the list of possibilities for me. I think I’m gonna go with “Do It” because of how popular it was. But “Better Than I Imagined” is so good and has some all-star songwriters on it, so I might have to keep both as possible winners. Rooting for any song other than “Black Parade,” though.

Who I Think Will Win:

“Do It” by Chloe x Halle or “Better Than I Imagined” by Robert Glasper, H.E.R., and Meshell Ndegeocello

Who I Want to Win:

any song other than “Black Parade” is fine 🙂


“Best Progressive R&B Album”

  • CHILOMBO by Jhené Aiko
  • UNGODLY HOUR by Chloe X Halle
  • FREE NATIONALS by Free Nationals
  • F*** YO FEELINGS by Robert Glasper
  • IT IS WHAT IT IS by Thundercat

I’ve only heard about Ungodly Hour out of the albums on this list, but this category is stacked with talent. I’d be fine with any of them winning, but I feel like it’s gonna go to Chloe x Halle.

Who I Think Will Win:

Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

Who I Want to Win:

any of them!


“Best R&B Album”

  • HAPPY 2 BE HERE by Ant Clemons
  • TAKE TIME by Giveon
  • TO FEEL LOVE/D by Luke James
  • BIGGER LOVE by John Legend
  • ALL RISE by Gregory Porter

I haven’t heard any of these projects, but I’m gonna go with Giveon’s project for this one because that’s the only album I’ve heard anything about up until this point ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Who I Think Will Win:

Take Time by Giveon

Who I Want to Win:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


“Best Rap Performance”

  • “DEEP REVERENCE” by Big Sean Featuring Nipsey Hussle
  • “BOP” by DaBaby
  • “WHATS POPPIN” by Jack Harlow
  • “THE BIGGER PICTURE” by Lil Baby
  • “SAVAGE” by Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé
  • “DIOR” by Pop Smoke

The only song on this list that I don’t think is a true contender is “What’s Poppin” by Jack Harlow. The song is fine, but it feels like it was just thrown in there at the last minute. I feel like it’s going to be between “Deep Reverence” and “Dior.” Pop Smoke isn’t nominated for any other Grammy Award, so they could potentially be giving it to him as a sort of moment of recognition. Plus, he was at the head of a wave of Brooklyn drill that has emerged over the past couple years or so. I do feel like “Deep Reverence” has the strongest potential for a win, though. It’s a great song featuring some deep self-reflection from Sean and a strong verse by Nipsey; the two of them sound really good together on this track.

Who I Think Will Win:

“Deep Reverence” by Big Sean and Nipsey Hussle (or “Dior” by Pop Smoke)

Who I Want to Win:

“Deep Reverence” or “Dior”


“Best Melodic Rap Performance”

  • “ROCKSTAR” by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
  • “LAUGH NOW CRY LATER” by Drake Featuring Lil Durk
  • “LOCKDOWN” by Anderson .Paak
  • “THE BOX” by Roddy Ricch 
  • “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM” by Travis Scott

I think that “Lockdown” is the song that best expresses what this category is supposed to be. Part of me feels weird about it being nominated for this category in the first place because it feels more jazz, BUT I do get it. It weaves between jazz, hip hop, and R&B fluidly, instead of just relying on having a singer (or a person sing) in the chorus after a rap verse. And it masterfully represents what was going on in the world when the song was made, despite it probably not being the most popular on the list. I’d be super shocked if it didn’t win because if that song isn’t what this category is supposed to empower, I don’t know what is.

Who I Think Will Win:

“Lockdown” by Anderson .Paak

Who I Want to Win:

“Lockdown” by Anderson .Paak


“Best Rap Song”

  • “THE BIGGER PICTURE” by Lil Baby
    • Dominique Jones, Noah Pettigrew & Rai’shaun Williams, songwriters
  • “THE BOX” by Roddy Ricch
    • Larrance Dopson, Samuel Gloade, Rodrick Moore, Adarius Moragne, Eric Sloan & Khirye Anthony Tyler, songwriters
  • “LAUGH NOW CRY LATER” by Drake ft. Lil Durk
    • Durk Banks, Rogét Chahayed, Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Ron LaTour & Ryan Martinez, songwriters
  • “ROCKSTAR” by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
    • Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, Ross Joseph Portaro IV & Rodrick Moore, songwriters
  • “SAVAGE” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé
    • Beyoncé, Shawn Carter, Brittany Hazzard, Derrick Milano, Terius Nash, Megan Pete, Bobby Session Jr., Jordan Kyle Lanier Thorpe & Anthony White, songwriters

This is another songwriter’s award. This one seems like it could go one of four ways: 1) “Savage” will win because Beyoncé, Jay-Z, The-Dream, and Brittany Hazzard all helped write that song, 2) “The Bigger Picture” could win because of the social commentary that Lil Baby offers in the song (and the Grammy folks might try to use the song as a way to prove they care about Black folks), or 3) “The Box” could win because who wasn’t listening to “The Box.” The writing on “Laugh Now Cry Later” is lazy (but I wouldn’t be surprised if it won), and DaBaby didn’t really give us a lot on “Rockstar,” but Roddy Ricch did, but at that point, you might as well give it to “The Box.”

Who I Think Will Win:

“Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé

Who I Want to Win:

“The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby or “The Box” by Roddy Ricch


“Best Rap Album”

  • BLACK HABITS by D SMOKE
  • ALFREDO by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist
  • A WRITTEN TESTIMONY by Jay Electronica
  • KING’S DISEASE by Nas
  • THE ALLEGORY by Royce 5’9″

So, I’ve heard every album on this list, except The Allegory, and after listening to all of them, I feel like Alfredo has to win. King’s Disease was trash, there was a lot of controversy around Jay Electronica and some of the lyrics on A Written Testimony, and I didn’t really hear as much about The Allegory and Black Habits (before listening to Black Habits on my own). Freddie Gibbs and the Alchemist were both all over the place musically this year, so it only seems right that the work that the two of them did together wins, especially since it was so well-received. Read my First Listens on Alfredo, King’s Disease, and A Written Testimony.

Who I Think Will Win:

Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist

Who I Want to Win:

Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist


The last thing I’ll add is that SO MANY of the same songs are nominated for these awards! And maybe that’s normal for the Grammys – I can’t really remember – but this just feels like such a lazy way of giving out awards. Like, of course songs can be great for multiple reasons and can be nominated for multiple awards, but there are so many amazing albums and songs that I came out between September 2019 and August 2020 that could have been nominated that got skipped out on. I looked at the ratings for the Grammys, and they’ve been declining every year. I think them both shrinking and expanding how they do the nomination and voting processes could make for a better experience. Shrink down the number of categories because there are just too many and expand who they look at and how the music gets picked. I’m sure they’ve tried iterations of both of those things, but they have more work to do. But at the same time, there’s the question of why the Grammys still matter. If anything, I feel like most people would prefer to watch clips of the performances on YouTube the next day and read the list of winners after that. Plus, with all the criticism award shows have gotten for the lack of diversity and dwindling relevancy, I don’t know if changing anything would make a difference.

And that’s not just the Grammys; a lot of award shows feel outdated. I remember talking on the phone with my friends for two or three hours, while we watched the VMAs (the specific moments I’m thinking about are when Lady Gaga wore that meat dress in 2010 and when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift in 2009). Back then, it felt like it was necessary to watch it because you didn’t want to miss anything that happened live, and it was so much fun talking about things with my friends in real time instead of waiting until we got back to school. There’s just not that urge anymore. And the awards have continued to not represent what real life people (not folks who get paid to be “experts”) think about the content they consume along with the inability of the folks in charge of the nomination process to recognize art/artists that aren’t white (in a way that maintains the complexities of their work). And with the internet driving our lives as much as it does, we just don’t need awards shows the same way that we did before.

It’s a game of evolve or get left behind, and award shows are starting to get left behind.


here’s something else you might like…

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