Grammys 2024: Can anyone top Taylor Swift? Yes, we definitely think so

SZA leads the pack with nine nominations at the 2024 Grammy Awards, which certainly speaks to all that this amazing R&B vocalist has accomplished over the last year or so.

And she certainly could end up winning enough awards to fill a cabinet or two during “Music’s Biggest Night.”

Or, as shocking as it might sound, she could come up empty-handed when the trophies are handed out.

Yes, the level of competition at this year’s Grammy Awards is remarkably impressive. That’s especially true in the three of the evening’s biggest categories — album, song and record of the year — where SZA will go up against such heavyweights as Lana Del Rey, Olivia Rodrigo, Jon Batiste, Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus and, as you can probably guess, Taylor Swift.

So many great artists. So many compelling storylines.

And we won’t know how it all turns out until the last award is handed out on Feb. 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

Yet, that won’t stop us from trying to predict who will win the biggie “general field” categories, where artists from all different genres compete for top honors. Besides the three mentioned above, there is also the hotly contested best new artist category, where hip-hop star Ice Spice will square off against country/rap talent Jelly Roll, R&B/pop singer Victoria Monét and others.

Here are predictions for who will take home Grammy gold. Beyond the awards, the show will also feature performances by Dua Lipa, Eilish, Rodrigo, Luke Combs, Travis Scott and others. Follow all the action beginning at 5 p.m. on CBS and Paramount +.

Album of the Year

The nominees: “World Music Radio,” Jon Batiste; “the record,” boygenius; “Endless Summer Vacation,” Miley Cyrus; “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,” Lana Del Rey; “The Age of Pleasure,” Janelle Monáe; “GUTS,” Olivia Rodrigo; “Midnights,” Taylor Swift; “SOS,” SZA

The skinny: The music industry has finally realized something that fans have long known — Lana Del Rey is one of popular music’s greatest artists of the last 10-plus years. So, a victory for “Tunnel” would serve as further confirmation of that status.

There’s also a case to be mind for Olivia Rodrigo, who followed up the blockbuster debut “Sour” — and the resulting best new artist triumph at the 2022 Grammys — by releasing a sophomore effort that some consider to be the best album of 2023.

Of course, the indie supergroup boygenius — featuring Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus — is a massive critical favorite and can’t be counted out. Same for Batiste, who just won this category in ’22 with “We Are.”

Yet, none of those artists seem to have much a chance against Taylor Swift, who set record after record with her 10th studio album. Crowning Swift in this category — for a landmark fourth time — would serve as a fitting punctuation mark on what was most certainly the Year of Taylor.

So, why does it seem like the wrong choice?

The answer is “SOS.”

“Midnights” is a terrific effort, yet it doesn’t really stand out from Swift’s many other equally enjoyable albums. It’s just a piece of the puzzle in what is arguably the single best discography that any artist has put together in the 21st Century.

On the other hand, “SOS” feels like nothing short of a stone-cold classic, which people will long be referencing among the most soulful platters of the 2020s. It also was the album that really took its author to a whole new level of superstardom.

It’s wild to think that a win for such a wonderfully artistic and commercially successful album could be seen as an upset. Yet, in world that seems to view pop music as Taylor Swift and everyone else, that’s exactly what a “SOS” victory would be.

We’d be fine with “Midnights” winning. But that’s not were our vote would go. So, we’re calling the upset.

The winner: “SOS”

Record of the Year

The nominees: “Worship,” Jon Batiste; “Not Strong Enough,” boygenius; “Flowers,” Miley Cyrus; “What Was I Made For?” Billie Eilish; “On My Mama,” Victoria Monét; “Vampire,” Olivia Rodrigo; “Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift; “Kill Bill, SZA

The skinny: Award shows love Billie Eilish, who has already won seven Grammys (as well as an Oscar) in her still-quite-young career. Yet, she seemingly has a much better chance of winning her second Academy Award in March with her “Barbie” number than she does record of the year on Sunday.

And we don’t feel like “Anti-Hero” is anywhere close to first-tier Swift material, a statement that we realize probably will result in 418,467 angry emails from Swifties.

The category probably breaks down as a three-way race between “Kill Bill,” “Vampires” and “Flowers,” the last of which would seemingly be the favorite.

Although we prefer the SZA and Rodrigo offerings, “Flowers” is indeed exactly the type of empowering self-love anthem that Grammy voters tend to embrace.

The winner: “Flowers”

Song of the Year

(Award given to songwriters)

The nominees: “A&W,” Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey and Sam Dew, songwriters (Lana Del Rey); “Anti-Hero,” Jack Antonoff and Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift); “Butterfly,” Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson, songwriters (Jon Batiste); “Dance the Night,” Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Dua Lipa); “Flowers,” Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein and Michael Pollack, songwriters (Miley Cyrus); “Kill Bill,” Rob Bisel, Carter Lang and Solána Rowe, songwriters (SZA); “Vampire,” Daniel Nigro and Olivia Rodrigo, songwriters (Olivia Rodrigo); “What Was I Made For?” Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)

The skinny: “Dance the Night” and “What Was I Made For?” both hail from the same film so it’s easy to see those two numbers splitting the “Barbie” vote.” “Flowers” makes sense, but let’s assume that it won’t win both song and record of the year trophies. After all, there are just too many great artists deserving to be recognized on Grammy night, so we don’t see any one act dominating these biggie awards.

Along that same line of reasoning, we’d love to see “Kill Bill” get the “w,” but we’ve already placed our bet on “SOS” triumphing in the album category. “Vampire” could sneak out a victory here, though, for sure.

Yet, the safe money is that Jack Antonoff will end up with this award in his hand – for one of the two nominees that he co-wrote.

You already know our feeling on the Antonoff-Swift offering. Well, we feel the exact opposite way about the brilliant avant-garde work that he did with Del Rey.

But, come on. Is there any conceivable way that the mighty Swift ends up losing in all three of these general field categories?

Well, let us finish off our root beer floats and think about it for a minute.

The winner: “A&W”

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Best New Artist

The nominees: Gracie Abrams, Fred Again, Ice Spice, Jelly Roll, Coco Jones, Noah Kahan, Victoria Monét, The War and Treaty

The skinny: There are some fascinating choices here. Start with the country-folk-soul duo The War and Treaty, whose major label debut, “Lover’s Game,” is nothing short of astounding. Then there’s Jelly Roll, the Tennessee country/rap/rock artist who had millions singing along to “Son of a Sinner.”

And you can’t count out Noah Kahan, whose legions of fans don’t seem to realize that he’s really not all that good, or the talented Gracie “daughter of J.J.” Abrams.

If we had our druthers, the award would go to Victoria Monét, whose seven overall nods ties her with Phoebe Bridgers for second-most nominations this year. (In case you missed it up top, SZA leads all comers with nine nominations).

Still, the favorite in the race appears to be Ice Spice, who seemed to go from relative unknown to household name in the blink of the eye as she collaborated with Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj, charted several top 10 songs and had us all singing along to “Barbie’s World.”

It’s hard to call for an upset here — but “Lover’s Game” is such a great album and its authors could be making terrific music for decades to come. So, well, let’s go for it and hope voters agree.

The winner: The War and Treaty

Other races

Best Pop Vocal Album — Swifties need not worry that their favorite music star will go home empty-handed, since “Midnights” will likely triumph over Miley Cyrus’ “Endless Summer Vacation” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Guts” as the top pop platter.

Best Música Mexicana Album — Peso Pluma will win for the amazing “Génesis,” yet that won’t quite make up for the ridiculous snub of being left out of the best new artist category.

Best Rock Album — We’re partial to Metallica’s excellent “72 Seasons,” but our hunch is that the gold will go to the Foo Fighters, who dealt with the loss of Taylor Hawkins and still delivered a fine “But Here We Are.”

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song — So many great offerings here, including Cody Carnes’ “Firm Foundation (He Won’t)” and the For King & Country/Jordin Sparks collaboration “Love Me Like I Am,” yet Lauren Daigle’s “Thank God I Do” is the clear favorite.

Best R&B Performance — Sorry Robert Glasper, Coco Jones, Victoria Monét and Chris Brown, but nobody is beating SZA’s “Kill Bill” here.

Best Rap Album — We’re calling for Killer Mike to top the bigger names (like Drake, Travis Scott and Nas) and walk away with the trophy for “Michael.”

Best Musical Theater Album — “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” with Annaleigh Ashford and Josh Groban as the principal vocalists, will surely win. Yet, we much prefer “Kimberly Akimbo.”

Best Country Solo Performance — Anything other than Luke Combs’ cover of “Fast Car” is fine with us.

THE 66TH GRAMMY AWARDS

When: 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4

Where: CBS (KPIX-TV Channel 5); Paramount+; live.grammy.com

Host: Trevor Noah

 

 

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