Album of the Year
To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence and the Machine
Montevello – Sam Hunt
1989 – Taylor Swift
Beauty Behind The Madness – The Weeknd
Alternatives: Traveller – Chris Stapleton, Uptown Special – Mark Ronson, Title – Meghan Trainor
Closing my series of Grammy Award 2016 Predictions we have the big one, Album of the Year. I’ll leave the usual intro of mentioning the massive crossover with the other categories behind and get straight to the albums.
First off we have the biggest early favourite, of course Taylor Swift’s 1989. It’s crazy to think back to 2 years ago when I was saying the exact same thing about her Red album, which looked like the obvious choice for this award in 2014. 1989 took things to a whole new level, both across the globe and on the US charts, smashing records week after week and giving Taylor 3 more Hot 100 number 1 singles, the Record/Song of the Year nominee Shake It Off and potential 2016 nominees Blank Space and Bad Blood. Her first album to be entered into the Pop album category I imagine all of us will be very shocked if Taylor doesn’t score her 3rd Album of the Year nomination next month.
While Taylor may seemingly have left Country behind for good, this year looks to be another where a Country album will make the cut here. If the CMA awards had happened a bit sooner I’d say that the overnight rise of Chris Stapleton would make him a strong choice here, but given that the voting has been open for a while now I think he’ll miss out. His potential voters may be split between Sam Hunt and Little Big Town here, where I think the former will edge it in the end. Sam Hunt could be nominated for all 4 main awards, following the likes of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Fun. I think Montevello has a big chance for a nomination here.
Another obvious choice would be Kendrick Lamar, who scored 7 nominations in 2014. I’d expect To Pimp a Butterfly to follow suit of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City in a nomination here. The album is the most critically acllaimed of the bunch above, so I doubt voters would forget about it. On the opposite side of things is Florence and the Machine, who I imagine could edge out more obvious picks like Meghan Trainor and Mark Ronson for this award shortlist. How Big, How Blue, How Beautful may not have produced a massive #1 hit, but it seems to have cemented Florence and the Machine as an act who are here to stay. Moving their sound forward, while still remaining entirely distinctive, it’s my outside pick here.
That leaves just one name to mention, one that has been inescapable in coverage of the upcoming Grammys. The Weeknd will be nominated here, for his 3rd full length major label release and I think he’s being set up to win the prize come next year. The stars seem to have aligned for The Weeknd in 2015, with 2 huge long running number 1 hits, records broken across the globe and a dedicated fan base who seem to have held on never accusing him of ‘selling out’. It’s an interesting situation where people who would never have been exposed to the music of The Weeknd have discovered him 5 years after his debut set of mixtapes took the web by storm. Beauty Behind the Madness may not be his best album, but it’s a moment in time that just works. If the voters are definitely against awarding Taylor Swift with Album of the Year for the second time I’d say The Weeknd is the winner of this award already.