Grammy Awards Preview

The 59th Grammy Awards will celebrate the best in music, from pop to country, Latin to classical and everything in between. With a whopping 84 awards up for grabs and performances that promise to be memorable, music’s biggest night is sure to be bursting with excitement. Let’s break down the potential winners in some of the Grammy’s biggest categories.

Album of the Year

Likely winner: 25Adele

Dark horse: A Sailor’s Guide to the Earth – Sturgill Simpson

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Album of the Year is one of Adele’s five nominations at this year’s awards, and she is hoping to have a sweep of them. Her third studio effort 25 was the best-selling album of 2015 and her second consecutive to be Diamond-certified with over 10 million copies sold in the U.S. alone. She is a favorite to win this category again, though will have stiff competition from fellow nominees Justin Bieber (Purpose), Drake (Views), and Beyonce (Lemonade).

Record of the Year

Likely winner: “Hello” – Adele

Dark horse: “Formation” – Beyonce

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Five years ago, Adele won this very award for “Rolling in the Deep,” and we wouldn’t be surprised to see her on stage accepting Record of the Year once again for “Hello.” Chosen based on overall production, instrumental and vocal performance, Record of the Year most often goes to songs with overwhelming commercial success, which would make “Formation” a surprise winner. The Beyonce single is the only of the five nominated songs to not crack the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at no. 10. “Hello,” Lukas Graham’s “7 Years,” and Rihanna’s “Work” each topped the chart while Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out” peaked at the second spot.

Song of the Year

Likely winner: “7 Years” – Lukas Graham

Dark horse: “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” – Mike Posner

This Grammy, which goes to a song’s writers, should recognize the team behind Lukas Graham’s breakout hit “7 Years,” as it is a poignant reflection on growing up and left a powerful impact on listeners. Mike Posner is hoping for a major win, but has an uphill battle to climb going up against Beyonce’s “Formation,” Adele’s “Hello,” and Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” which was co-written by Ed Sheeran, who took home this award last year for “Thinking Out Loud.”

Best New Artist

Likely winner: Maren Morris

Dark horse: The Chainsmokers

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Country newcomer Maren Morris seems most likely to be named Best New Artist, which Meghan Trainor was crowned last year. She goes up against fellow country artist Kelsea Ballerini, Top 40 hit makers The Chainsmokers, and rap/hip-hop artists Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak. Although DJ duo the Chainsmokers had tremendous breakout success with hit after hit (“Roses,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” and “Closer,” to name a few), it seems a little too radical for the Grammys to recognize EDM DJs as the year’s Best New Artist. Should Morris or Ballerini win, they would become the third female country artist to win the Best New Artist Grammy, following Leanne Rimes and Carrie Underwood.

Best Pop Vocal Album

Likely winner: 25 – Adele

Dark horse: This is Acting – Sia

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Compared to other nominees Justin Bieber (Purpose), Ariana Grande (Dangerous Woman), and Demi Lovato (Confident), Adele’s work on 25 is much stronger, although each were commercially successful in their own right. However, she could be given a run for her money from Sia, who  earned her first no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with her single “Cheap Thrills” this year.

Best Pop Solo Performance

Likely winner: “Hello” – Adele

Dark horse: “Piece by Piece (Idol Version)” – Kelly Clarkson

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Another tough field, but Adele seems like the top artist to beat here over Beyonce (“Hold Up“), Justin Bieber (“Love Yourself“), and Ariana Grande (“Dangerous Woman“).  However, original American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson could give her some competition with her moving piano rendition of  “Piece by Piece” while performing on the show’s final season.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Likely winner: “7 Years” – Lukas Graham

Dark horse: “Stressed Out” – Twenty One Pilots

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Each of the nominated songs in this field–“Closer,” “Cheap Thrills,” and “Work” along with the aforementioned tracks–reached either no. 1 or 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, making this an extremely close category to call. Given our prediction that “7 Years” will be named Song of the Year, we are giving Lukas Graham the edge again here.

Best Rock Performance

Likely winner: “Blackstar” – David Bowie

Dark horse: “Heathens” – Twenty One Pilots

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For the late David Bowie, a posthumous Grammy would be fitting for “Blackstar,” off his swan song album of the same name. Should the Grammy voters opt against Bowie, however, it seems like Twenty One Pilots‘ “Heathens” is the next best contender. Other nominees include Alabama Shakes (“Joe“), Disturbed (“The Sound of Silence“), and in a surprising twist, Beyonce with Jack White for “Don’t Hurt Yourself.”

Best Rap/Sung Performance

Likely winner: “Freedom” – Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar

Dark horse: “Broccoli” – D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty

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With three of the night’s most nominated artists (Kanye West, Beyonce, and Drake) competing in the same category, it’s nearly impossible to predict which one will come out on top. If forced to choose, we’d give an edge to Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar for “Freedom,” as it added to Lemonade‘s political prowess and was named one of the best musical collaborations of the year.

Best Rap Album

Likely winner: Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper

Dark horse: Major Key – DJ Khaled

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Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book has made history as the first streaming-only album to be nominated for a Grammy, and is poised to be victorious. It should be noted that Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo should not be dismissed, as West is one of the most decorated artists/producers in Grammy history, with 21 total wins.

Best Country Solo Performance

Likely winner: “My Church” – Maren Morris

Dark horse: “Church Bells” – Carrie Underwood

As one of country’s best new talents, Maren Morris could grab this Grammy. She will have to beat out Underwood (who won this award in 2015), Miranda Lambert (“Vice”), and Brandy Clark (“Love Can Go to Hell”). Keith Urban is the only male among the group, nominated for “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

Likely winner: “Think of You” – Chris Young with Cassadee Pope

Dark horse: “Jolene” – Pentatonix with Dolly Parton

For an award strictly for the country genre, the nominees straddle the line of country and pop. Dierks Bentley‘s collab with rocker Elle King, “Different for Girls,” Kenny Chesney and Pink’s “Setting the World on Fire,” and Dolly Parton’s chilling rendition of Jolene with a cappella group Pentatonix backing her up are all vying for the award. If the Grammys choose to stay true to the award’s distinct genre, Chris Young and Cassadee Pope’s “Think of You,” though it wouldn’t come as a major shock if the pioneering Parton earned yet another accolade.

Best Country Song

Likely winner: “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw

Dark horse: “My Church” – Maren Morris

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Songwriter Lori McKenna already nabbed the Song of the Year category at the CMA Awards for McGraw’s smash hit “Humble and Kind” and we’d expect her to take home the Grammy for the widely praised song about the Golden Rule. Maren Morris’ ode to the genre (“My Church”) could pull a victory, but Thomas Rhett‘s “Die a Happy Man” is still very much in the running, along with Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and Miranda Lambert’s “Vice.”

Best Country Album

Likely winner: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson

Dark horse: Ripcord – Keith Urban

Keith Urban is a four-time Grammy winner already, but never notched a victory in this category. His ninth album Ripcord could do the trick, as it held the hit singles “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” “Wasted Time,” and “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” The Aussie would have to beat out the relatively unknown Sturgill Simpson, who is also up for Album of the Year, giving all other nominees–Maren Morris’ Hero, Loretta Lynn‘s Full Circle and Brandy Clark‘s Big Day in a Small Town–a tough time.