Album of the Year
25 – Adele
Lemonade – Beyoncé
Blackstar – David Bowie
Views – Drake
Stranger to Stranger – Paul Simon
Alternatives: Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper, Purpose – Justin Bieber, A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
Here we are, the final nominations predictions for the Grammy Awards 2017 and we have the big one, Album of the Year. Much was said of last year’s seemingly last minute inclusion of Chris Stapleton and predicting this year’s nominees could be as tricky. There’s a lot of potential albums here even with one or two dead-certs.
The first of these definite nominees and the obvious early favourite is Adele with 25. 4 years ago she cleaned up at the Grammy Awards 2012, winning in every category that she was nominated for. I’m not saying that the same will happen again this year, but the global success of 25 and the fact it was critically a worthy follow up to 21 makes her the only act that could possibly have a clean sweep twice in their career. As mentioned in my Song/Record articles though, I think that Hello is more likely to receive the push this year and perhaps the album itself could lose out on the big award.
The other woman who could fill this spot nicely is of course Beyoncé with her second ‘surprise’ album release Lemonade. Impressively even more cohesive than her self titled effort that was a hot favourite for this award 2 years ago, that album missed out on the night following a surprising win for Beck, Lemonade is surely set to give Beyoncé her 3rd Album of the Year nomination (With an additional featured nomination for The Fame Monster in 2011). A uniquely honest depiction of troubles between music’s biggest power couple Lemonade manages to shock while delivering even more of the killer hits that Queen Bey is known for. A genre bending record, it would be obscene to imagine Lemonade not among the nominees in 2017.
The final sure bet is tinged with sadness. Blackstar, released just 2 days before David Bowie’s death on 10th January stands as a fitting final musical statement from one of the industry’s most iconic figures. Baffling strange at times its an album that would have seen this success regardless of the timing. It’s the context though that makes Blackstar so poignant, it seems to document the end of Bowie’s life, as well as his death with an eerie prophetical outlook on everything. Bowie has previously been nominated for Album of the Year for 1983’s Let’s Dance, but across his entire career the only Grammy award he ever won was for the Jazzin’ for Blue Jean music video. With this stark absence of previous Grammy success, I’m undecided whether voters will see a win here make up for that, or whether his music has just never resonated with the voting audience. I think a nomination is certain and I’d expect Blackstar to be the bookies favourite next year.
This leaves the final two spots which could be filled by any of the 5 albums mentioned above. Justin Bieber’s Purpose would seem like the most obvious of these. With 3 Billboard number one singles it joins an elite club of recent albums (21, Loud and Teenage Dream) all of which have previously been nominated here. My only sticking point is Bieber himself, we’ve seen that voters had gotten over previous doubts earlier this year when Where Are U Now gave him his first trophy, but I’m not convinced by the biggest category. Chance The Rapper is an outside choice, more a hopeful alternative than anything else, while I think voters who could be getting behind Radiohead will be opting for Bowie instead.
Instead of these I’ve gone with the biggest seller of 2016 so far and a classic Grammy favourite who released one of the best albums of his long career. The success of Drake over the last 18 months has been undeniable and while many would argue that Views isn’t his strongest album a nomination here would top off a high moment in his career. Paul Simon may seem like the strangest inclusion, but Stranger to Stranger is the culmination of nearly 5 years of creation and recording and is the most currently relevant album I’ve ever heard from a 75 year old. Tracks like The Werewolf and the title track are electric, while Wristband recalls previous Album of the Year winner Graceland. Stranger to Stranger has ganered huge buzz going into this year’s voting season and I’m tipping Simon for a nomination here.
That’s it then, we just have to wait until December to see how many of my nomination predictions were complete rubbish and which surprises could throw a spanner into a Beyonce/Adele battle for the top prizes.