With the ushering in of a new decade, 2020 was supposed to be a fresh start. And then COVID-19 hit.
Throughout the past year, music has been one of the few saving graces in a time of uncertainty, mask-wearing and social distancing. New albums by Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and DaBaby kept Us going — and dancing! — while songs like Beyoncé’s “Black Parade,” Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” made one playlist after another.
Enter the 2021 Grammy Awards, a much-needed celebration of the artists who provided a hope-filled soundtrack to an otherwise grim and divisive pandemic. This year, as the vaccine rollout continues, music’s biggest night may look a bit different with only the nominees and performers in the audience, but the goal remains the same: to honor those who released timeless, game-changing albums, songs, videos and more.
Ahead of the 63rd annual ceremony, which airs on CBS Sunday, March 14, at 8 p.m. ET, Us Weekly predicts the winners in the top five categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album.
Album of the Year
Chilombo — Jhené Aiko
Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition) — Black Pumas
Everyday Life — Coldplay
Djesse Vol. 3 — Jacob Collier
Women in Music Pt. III — Haim
Future Nostalgia — Dua Lipa
Hollywood’s Bleeding — Post Malone
Folklore — Taylor Swift
Will Win: Folklore — Taylor Swift
Should Win: Folklore — Taylor Swift
This should be a given. Yes, Lipa singlehandedly revived disco, but no one owned 2020 like Swift. Her surprise quarantine album marked a new chapter for the singer-songwriter, who ditched not only her country-pop roots but also her signature autobiographical lyrics. The folky and fanciful byproduct made such an impact that Swift (already a two-time Album of the Year recipient) treated fans to a sister record, Evermore, only four months later.
Record of the Year
“Black Parade” — Beyoncé
“Colors” — Black Pumas
“Rockstar” — DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
“Say So” — Doja Cat
“Everything I Wanted” — Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now” — Dua Lipa
“Circles” — Post Malone
“Savage” — Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé
Will Win: “Don’t Start Now” — Dua Lipa
Should Win: “Don’t Start Now” — Dua Lipa
Don’t show up, don’t come out, don’t start caring about any song other than Lipa’s stellar Studio 54-inspired single, which brought the dance floor home at a time when club doors were indefinitely shut. The groovy kiss-off is the strongest, most irresistible contender of the bunch, though it just barely edges out Queen Bey’s all-important social justice anthem and DaBaby’s TikTok sensation.
Song of the Year
“Black Parade” — Beyoncé (songwriters Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Jay-Z, Nova Wav, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim “Kaydence” Krysiuk and Rickie “Caso” Tice)
“The Box” — Roddy Rich (songwriters Samuel Gloade and Rodrick Moore)
“Cardigan” — Taylor Swift (songwriters Aaron Dessner and Taylor Swift)
“Circles” — Post Malone (songwriters Louis Bell, Adam Feeney, Kaan Gunesberk, Austin Post and Billy Walsh)
“Don’t Start Now” — Dua Lipa (songwriters Caroline Ailin, Ian Kirkpatrick, Dua Lipa and Emily Warren)
“Everything I Wanted” — Billie Eilish (songwriters Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell)
“I Can’t Breathe” — H.E.R. (songwriters Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas)
“If the World Was Ending” — JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels (songwriters Julia Michaels and JP Saxe)
Will Win: “Cardigan” — Taylor Swift (songwriters Aaron Dessner and Taylor Swift)
Should Win: “Everything I Wanted” — Billie Eilish (songwriters Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell)
Swift is the queen of songwriting, so it should come as no surprise if she takes home this category too for her and Dessner’s slow-burning ballad. That said, Eilish was a Recording Academy favorite last year — when she became the youngest person to win the top four categories — and her tender alt-pop ditty deserves some any and all recognition.
Best New Artist
Megan Thee Stallion
Will Win: Megan Thee Stallion
Should Win: Megan Thee Stallion
Bridgers deservedly received widespread acclaim for her emo-folk album Punisher, but it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Megan shaking her body-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody all the way up to the Grammys stage to accept Best New Artist. Not since Nicki Minaj has a female rapper made such a splash.
Will Win: Folklore — Taylor Swift
Should Win: Fine Line — Harry Styles
Although Beyoncé is this year’s most-nominated artist, Swift’s magnum opus left too big of a mark to not sweep on Sunday night. Best Pop Vocal Album is surely hers for the taking, but the Grammy darling’s ex Styles is long overdue for his first win — and what better album to honor than Fine Line?