2016 was a big year in music, and the American Music Awards will celebrate it all in a star-studded show tonight. This year’s nominees all made waves with plenty of chart-topping songs, best-selling albums, and sold out tours. Let’s break down each category and the potential award winners.
Artist of the Year
Should win: Adele
Will win: Justin Bieber
Adele dove into 2016 on a high from the massive success of her third album 25, which charted at no. 1 in several countries and went on to be one of the best-selling albums of all time. However, as the nominee with the most social media followers, Justin Bieber’s fans will likely vote him victorious, just as past winners Taylor Swift and One Direction have achieved through their fan base.
New Artist of the Year
Should & will win: The Chainsmokers
DJ duo The Chainsmokers were inescapable on the radio all year, despite impressive debuts for fellow nominees Alessia Cara, DNCE, Shawn Mendes and Zayn. They are the clear winner of this category, which country artist Sam Hunt won last year.
Collaboration of the Year
Should win:Drake, Wizkid & Kyla – “One Dance”
Will win: Fifth Harmony & Ty Dolla $ign – “Work From Home”
“One Dance” was the undisputed song of summer 2016, with its catchy beat that fueled spontaneous dancing whenever it played. It landed Drake his first no. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and become the most-streamed song on Spotify with nearly 900 million listens. The ladies of Fifth Harmony are strong contenders to snag this award from Drake, given their large and dedicated fan base to vote them to victory.
Tour of the Year
Should & will win: Beyonce
Fellow nominees Madonna and Bruce Springsteen would be strong contenders for this award if Beyonce wasn’t in the same category. Her Formation world tour was announced the same day she dropped the single of the same name AND performed it during the Super Bowl halftime show, giving her tour plenty of hype, which only grew when her acclaimed album Lemonade was released.
Video of the Year
Should & will win: “Sorry” – Justin Bieber
Pitted against Desiigner’s “Panda” and Rihanna’s “Work,” “Sorry” is the clear winner of the category. The hit drew in nearly two billion views on YouTube, and is currently the site’s third most-viewed video. Next.
Favorite Male Artist – Pop/Rock
Should & will win: Justin Bieber
In addition to his loyal legion of Beliebers giving him an edge in the voting, Bieber is the only nominee to wholly fit the category, while Drake and The Weeknd are better suited in the rap/hip-hop and R&B genres. When it comes to pop music, no one can touch Bieber.
Favorite Female Artist – Pop/Rock
Should & will win: Adele
The British songstress is on another caliber compared to hopefuls Rihanna and Selena Gomez, smashing records every time she releases new music. Her music is far more authentic than the often over-produced works by her fellow nominees, and her overflowing charisma makes her lovable to millions. She has this award in the bag.
Favorite Duo or Group – Pop/Rock
Should win: The Chainsmokers
Will win: Twenty One Pilots
The Chainsmokers, Twenty One Pilots and DNCE all had hit songs this year, and while the EDM DJs gave Twenty One Pilots competition over the airwaves, the alternative/indie pop duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun will likely come out on top in this category. Their singles “Stressed Out,” “Ride,” and “Heathens” each hit no. 1 on the U.S. Alternative and Rock charts, earning them a horde of fans and the power to win this award.
Favorite Album – Pop/Rock
Should win: 25 – Adele
Will win: Purpose – Justin Bieber
Purpose was on track to become the biggest and best-selling album of the year when it was released last November, with millions of copies sold within its first week. However, that was halted when Adele’s 25 was released soon after. It was a smash hit for Adele which sold over 20 million copies, ranking it among the best-selling albums of all time. It is more than worthy of this award, but something tells us the Beliebers will vote nonstop to give Justin the edge.
Favorite Song – Pop/Rock
Should win: “Hello” – Adele
Will win: “Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber
Yet another category that comes down to Adele, Drake (for “One Dance”), and the Biebs, “Hello” is the ideal winner. Adele’s first single in four years was an international hit, breaking several records in the process in typical Adele fashion. “Love Yourself” was the year’s best kiss-off anthem, and will probably get enough votes to win from the people who still can’t get it out of their heads.
Favorite Male Artist – Country
Should & will win: Luke Bryan
Bryan has taken home this AMA every year since 2012, making him a shoo-in to win it again. Next.
Favorite Female Artist – Country
Should & will win: Carrie Underwood
After Taylor Swift made her transition from country artist to pop singer, Carrie Underwood has been the country queen to beat. Newcomer Kelsea Ballerini made a splash this year with her hit “Dibs” but the veteran Underwood has this one in the bag.
Favorite Duo or Group – Country
Should & will win: Florida Georgia Line
While fellow nominees Old Dominion and Zac Brown Band have made names for themselves as notable country groups, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of FGL have had a phenomenal year with the release of their album Dig Your Roots, which included the hit song “H.O.L.Y.”
Favorite Album – Country
Should win: Kill the Lights – Luke Bryan
Will win: Storyteller – Carrie Underwood
Luke Bryan saw great success with his album Kill the Lights, which topped the Billboard Hot 200 and U.S. Country charts, and produced four no. 1 singles. Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller earned her two more no. 1 singles with “Heartbeat” and “Church Bells,” and took home this award in 2012 for her fourth album Blown Away. As one of the biggest names in country, she will take home this category once more.
Favorite Song – Country
Should win: “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw
Will win: “H.O.L.Y.” – Florida Georgia Line
Each of the nominated songs (“Humble and Kind,” “H.O.L.Y.” and Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man”) were huge hits that left listeners feeling warm and fuzzy. McGraw’s no. 1 single was a crossover success, however Florida Georgia Line’s ballad pulled at more heartstrings and will take home the honor.
Favorite Artist – Rap/Hip-Hop
Should & will win: Drake
Compared to fellow nominees Fetty Wap and Future, Drake is in another league. All four of his albums have reached no. 1 on three different U.S. Billboard charts, and he took the radio by storm this year with “Hotline Bling,” “Summer Sixteen,” and “One Dance.” This will be one of the multiple AMAs he takes home.
Favorite Album – Rap/Hip-Hop
Should win: Fetty Wap – Fetty Wap
Will win: Views – Drake
Fetty Wap’s debut album not only reached topped the Billboard Hot 200 chart but produced the singles “Trap Queen,” “679,” and “My Way,” which sold over eight million copies collectively. As a new artist, he should take home this award, but due to Drake’s enormous popularity, Views is the winner here.
Favorite Song – Rap/Hip-Hop
Should & will win: “Hotline Bling” – Drake
There is no question that Drake’s infectious “Hotline Bling” takes home this award, seeing as it has become a chart-topper, YouTube sensation, meme, and fodder for a Super Bowl commercial. Next.
Favorite Male Artist – Soul/R&B
Should & will win: The Weeknd
The Weeknd took home this same award last year, and will likely be a repeat winner over fellow nominees Chris Brown and Bryson Tiller.
Favorite Female Artist – Soul/R&B
Should win: Beyonce
Will win: Rihanna
Perennial favorite Beyonce had a major year with the release of her visual album Lemonade and her worldwide Formation tour. She is always a strong contender for every award she’s up for, and may in fact be the winner of this AMA. However, with an equal amount of star power and plenty of hits on the radio this year, Rihanna has the chance to dethrone Queen Bey here.
Favorite Album – Soul/R&B
Should & will win: Lemonade – Beyonce
Rihanna’s Anti and Bryson Tiller’s TRAPSOUL don’t have the commercial and critical success that Lemonade earned, in addition to becoming a cultural phenomenon in its own right. Another award for Beyonce: check.
Favorite Song – Soul/R&B
Should win: “Work” – Rihanna ft. Drake
Will win: “One Dance” – Drake ft. Wizkid & Kyla
Did we mention that Drake would be a big winner at this year’s awards? He’ll snatch this one for “One Dance” quicker than it gets stuck in your head.
Favorite Artist – Alternative Rock
Should win: Twenty One Pilots
Will win: Coldplay
While Twenty One Pilots made a big debut this year, Coldplay has the confidence and experience of a 2o year career to earn them another big award.
Favorite Artist – Adult Contemporary
Should & will win: Adele
Newcomer Rachel Platten had a breakthrough year with her singles “Fight Song” and “Stand by You,” while fellow nominee Meghan Trainor continued to churn out playful hits and won a Grammy for Best New Artist. However, Adele cannot be touched in this category as the powerhouse artist of the genre.
Favorite Artist – EDM (Electronic Dance Music)
Should win: The Chainsmokers
Will win: Calvin Harris
While nominees Major Lazer and The Chainsmokers produced plenty of club-ready hits, Calvin Harris remains supreme in the genre and is set to take home the award for a third consecutive year.