grammys 2023

Who Will (and Should) Win at the 2023 Grammys?

Photo-Illustration: Vulture. Photos: Getty Images

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The Grammys have finally returned to normalcy. The show is back indoors, in Los Angeles, for the first time since the pandemic, at its past home of the [checks notes] Arena. (Okay, not everything is back to normal.) And after years of high-profile snubs and boycotts, the 2023 ceremony will be the battle of the giants it ought to be, with Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Adele, and Harry Styles among the top nominees. But it wouldn’t be a normal Grammys without some wild cards, and we have those in droves too: Mary J. Blige and DJ Khaled overperformed in the nominations, while ABBA and Coldplay are inching closer to Brandi Carlile–level Grammy darling status. There are battles up and down the ballot, whether it’s for Beyoncé’s first Album of the Year award or between elder statespeople and new talent in fields like Rock and Rap.


Album of the Year
Voyage, ABBA
30, Adele
Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny
Renaissance, Beyoncé
Good Morning Gorgeous, Mary J. Blige
In These Silent Days, Brandi Carlile
Music of the Spheres, Coldplay
Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar
Special, Lizzo
Harry’s House, Harry Styles

Awards season loves a narrative — so ahead of the Grammys, the takes have abounded. With Beyoncé and Adele once again the favorites, even before nominations were announced, Variety asked if the show was “headed toward an awkward rerun of 2017,” while the Los Angeles Times predicted the matchup would make for the “most star-studded and fraught” recent Grammys. They were right, of course; as many more publications pointed out upon nominations, Beyoncé and Adele were indeed facing off in the same top categories after 25 previously beat out Lemonade in Album of the Year. But this time, things couldn’t be more different. Most notably, they’re now against eight, not three, other nominees, many of whom also dropped some of the year’s marquee albums. Harry’s House features one of the biggest hits of all time (more on that below); Mr. Morale was nearly as, if not more, anticipated as Renaissance or 30; and Un Verano Sin Ti was streamed by fans all year, becoming the first Spanish-language album nominated for AOTY.

With so much shiny competition — and opportunity to send a strong message — it’s hard for me to see the Academy settling for Adele once again (although I actually think 30 is her best album). A win for Kendrick Lamar would also recognize a wildly influential Black artist overdue for an AOTY trophy, while one for Bad Bunny would achieve leaps and bounds of progress in the Academy’s recognition of global music. Even awarding a white guy like Harry Styles would still at least show that the Academy is in touch with music that’s actually moving and shaking the industry at the moment. On the other hand, the Academy could finally give dark horse Brandi Carlile a top honor — after nominating her for at least one general award four out of the last five years — and affirm a different sort of message: that the Grammys don’t exist to reflect the culture of the moment, but to push against it, lifting up what they think is better. (This was the case with the 2022 AOTY win for Jon Batiste, who’d been fairly unknown before his 11 nominations — and who, like Carlile, found success in the American Roots field.)

That said, when my calculations get this complicated, I think it’s best to not overthink it. The Academy doesn’t always do well under the microscope, but at the same time, this Academy is younger and more diverse than the one of 2017. Renaissance splits the difference between almost everything I mentioned above, as a hotly anticipated, “they don’t make them like this anymore” good album that defined the year from a Black woman without an Album of the Year Grammy. Could the choice be any easier?

Will win: Renaissance
Should win: Renaissance

Record of the Year
“Don’t Shut Me Down,” ABBA
“Easy on Me,” Adele
“Break My Soul,” Beyoncé
“Good Morning Gorgeous,” Mary J. Blige
“You and Me on the Rock,” Brandi Carlile featuring Lucius
“Woman,” Doja Cat
“Bad Habit,” Steve Lacy
“The Heart Part 5,” Kendrick Lamar
“About Damn Time,” Lizzo
“As It Was,” Harry Styles

It’s hard to rely on rules when predicting the Grammys these days, but here’s one that’s pretty reliable: Record of the Year will go to a hit. The last winner to not chart in the top ten of the Hot 100 was “Please Read the Letter,” by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, more than a decade ago; before that, it was “Here We Go Again,” by Ray Charles and Norah Jones. Those wins both came as part of larger sweeps for the legends behind them, and also included an AOTY trophy. All to say, I don’t think we have to worry about something like an ABBA win here, despite their second appearance in a row. (Hey, Doja Cat is on her third ROTY nod in three years and seems less likely than before to win.) As far as hits go, this category has predictable ones (“Easy on Me,” “About Damn Time”), sleepers (“Bad Habit”), and comebacks (“Break My Soul”). But all those pale in comparison to the biggest of the group, “As It Was,” which, like an unstoppable rubber band, continued to bounce back on the Hot 100 months after its release and set a record for the longest No. 1 by a solo artist. Again, let’s not make this difficult. (But if we must, it’d be great to see the Beyoncé wave wash up here too — for a song that paid homage to the house legends that came before her and became her first No. 1 in over a decade.)

Will win: “As It Was”
Should win: “Break My Soul”

Song of the Year
“ABCDEFU,” Gayle
“About Damn Time,” Lizzo
“All Too Well (10-Minute Version),” Taylor Swift
“As It Was,” Harry Styles
“Bad Habit,” Steve Lacy
“Break My Soul,” Beyoncé
“Easy on Me,” Adele
“God Did,” DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend, & Fridayy
“The Heart Part 5,” Kendrick Lamar
“Just Like That,” Bonnie Raitt

ROTY may be locked up for Styles, but this award is far from it. The surprises here just feel more possible — chiefly “All Too Well,” which showed up despite a general lack of support for Swift’s rerecorded Red, and could be seen as a way to rectify the lack of a Song of the Year award for one of this generation’s best songwriters. Another of this generation’s best songwriters, Lamar, could be a threat too … unless Rap voters give into their nostalgia and focus on “God Did,” which features a lineup that would’ve been a flex in 2010. This could also be where we see just how extremely online our Grammy voters have become when it comes to recognizing a TikTok hit like “ABCDEFU.” (Yes, I know my pick, Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit,” is also a TikTok hit, but that’s the last thing it was written for — it’s one of the weirdest, catchiest, most refreshing pop songs I heard last year.) But then, there are just too many ways this vote could split. When in doubt, I’ll bank on voters not wanting to quibble about the difference between Record and Song of the Year.

Will win: “As It Was”
Should win: “Bad Habit”

Best New Artist
Omar Apollo
DOMi and JD Beck
Samara Joy
Muni Long
Tobe Nwigwe
Molly Tuttle
Wet Leg

For the first time in five years, and since the Grammys expanded the general categories, Best New Artist doesn’t feel like a done deal. After a year dominated by heavyweights, it’s been hard to identify the true breakouts, leaving room for some under-the-radar picks to sneak in: two jazz acts (DOMi and JD Beck, Samara Joy) and one folk (Molly Tuttle), to be exact. And while hitmaking pop and hip-hop acts have recently had a leg up in BNA, this could also be the year for a different sort of winner. Judging by the rest of the ballot, there seems to be a surge of support behind Wet Leg, who showed up in both Alternative categories, along with Best Engineered Album and Best Remixed Recording — a sign that they’re catching on across fields, not just among their peers in Alternative. They’re also pretty popular in the U.K., where their debut album hit No. 1, and on TikTok, which Academy voters apparently value; that popularity, and the strength of their hooks, could sway the pop crowd. If they’re the front-runners, Latto and Muni Long are their biggest competition. Each of those acts also has a hit — in “Big Energy” and “Hrs and Hrs,” respectively — and could win, but neither feels as unique and identifiable as Wet Leg. They got the Big D; now onto the Big G.

Will win: Wet Leg
Should win: Wet Leg

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach

I’ve seen some speculation that Silk Sonic earned their surprise Record and Song of the Year wins last year due to a wave of support from people like producers and engineers, who appreciated the detail-oriented old-fashionedness of “Leave the Door Open.” We’ll get a chance to test that theory this year. After Silk Sonic pulled out of contention for their full album, D’Mile, the producer behind An Evening With Silk Sonic, is the only nominee representing for the duo. Consider him a favorite here, especially after making an impact at last year’s awards by poignantly talking about his late mother, and with other R&B favorites like Mary J. Blige and Jazmine Sullivan in his portfolio. (I think the Grammys need a year off from Jack Antonoff after giving him his first award last year — especially ahead of 2024, when he’ll be the runaway favorite for his work on Midnights and the 1975’s Being Funny in a Foreign Language.) As varied as this category can get, there’s never enough due for hip-hop, so I’m pulling for Boi-1da, also the one producer here with cuts on both Renaissance and Mr. Morale.

Will win: D’Mile
Should win: Boi-1da

Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical
Amy Allen
Nija Charles
Tobias Jesso Jr.
Laura Veltz

I have to commend the Songwriters & Composers Wing for nominating such a strong, varied slate in this award’s first year. Everything from hip-hop to country is represented, and by a mix of established names and up-and-comers. If this category follows the path of Producer of the Year, I don’t think name recognition will hurt, both in terms of the nominee and their portfolio — which makes this pretty much a dead heat between Tobias Jesso Jr. and The-Dream. Jesso has cuts with Adele and Harry Styles, while The-Dream is the only nominee who also got a Song of the Year nod, for Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul.” I’ll give Jesso the edge for his variety, although The-Dream deserves the trophy as the biggest key player behind an Album of the Year front-runner.

Will win: Tobias Jesso Jr.
Should win: The-Dream


Best Pop Solo Performance
“Easy on Me,” Adele
“Moscow Mule,” Bad Bunny
“Woman,” Doja Cat
“Bad Habit,” Steve Lacy
“About Damn Time,” Lizzo
“As It Was,” Harry Styles

After this crowded category gave Styles a surprise first Grammy for “Watermelon Sugar,” consider him a lock for “As It Was,” which sat at No. 1 for 15 weeks in a row. He also has the most traditional pop song of this category, which takes a wide view of the genre, from Doja Cat’s Afrobeats-inflected “Woman” to Lacy’s slippery, uncategorizable “Bad Habit.” Then there’s “Moscow Mule” — one of the safer, more middle-of-the-road songs on Un Verano Sin Ti, but at the same time, the only song from that juggernaut to nab a nomination in pop, where it belongs.

Will win: “As It Was”
Should win: “Moscow Mule”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Don’t Shut Me Down,” ABBA
“Bam Bam,” Camila Cabello featuring Ed Sheeran
“My Universe,” Coldplay and BTS
“I Like You (A Happier Song),” Post Malone and Doja Cat
“Unholy,” Sam Smith and Kim Petras

What will it take for BTS to finally win a Grammy? Working with one of the Academy’s favorite bands could be a start. The Academy has really enjoyed reminding the world Coldplay still exists over the past few years while neglecting to acknowledge that BTS does. That puts them in a bit of a conundrum here, albeit one with an easy answer. (Hey, at least “My Universe” is better than “Unholy”!) But there’s a more deserving Grammy favorite in their midst: Ed Sheeran, even if it’s really Camila Cabello who makes their salsa-pop breakup anthem “Bam Bam” shine.

Will win: “My Universe”
Should win: “Bam Bam”

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Higher, Michael Bublé
When Christmas Comes Around …, Kelly Clarkson
I Dream of Christmas, Norah Jones
Evergreen, Pentatonix
Thank You, Diana Ross

This award pretty much exists for Michael Bublé to win it — or did, anyway, at his prime a decade ago. But Bublé hasn’t won since 2014, and a Christmas record has never, either (although they have also never been a majority of the nominees, until this year). Diana Ross, meanwhile, has never won a Grammy at all. No, not even with the Supremes; her last solo nomination was 40 years ago. Never bet against the Grammys trying to rectify a major error by honoring a star way too late, after recent cases like Nas and Tanya Tucker.

Will win: Thank You
Should win: When Christmas Comes Around …

Best Pop Vocal Album
Voyage, ABBA
30, Adele
Music of the Spheres, Coldplay
Special, Lizzo
Harry’s House, Harry Styles

It won’t be her year in the generals, but the Grammys also wouldn’t dare let Adele leave empty-handed. This seems her most likely award, with a hit like “As It Was” set to overshadow any love for “Easy on Me” (which also peaked much earlier than Styles’s song). It would be a deserving win for Adele’s most ambitious and poignant album yet.

Will win: 30
Should win: 30


Best Dance/Electronic Recording
“Break My Soul,” Beyoncé
“Rosewood,” Bonobo
“Don’t Forget My Love,” Diplo and Miguel
“I’m Good (Blue),” David Guetta and Bebe Rexha
“Intimidated,” Kaytranada featuring H.E.R.
“On My Knees,” Rüfüs Du Sol

Beyoncé is up against some tight competition for her first showings in the dance field. Still, I think the callbacks to ’90s house and “Show Me Love” give “Break My Soul” enough to bank a win on. Plus, surely the dance field will be excited to see one of their own in the generals, and that goodwill should trickle down to both categories. Look out for whether the Academy presents either of the dance awards during the main show — a pretty confident sign of a Beyoncé win.

Will win: “Break My Soul”
Should win: “Break My Soul”

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Renaissance, Beyoncé
Fragments, Bonobo
Diplo, Diplo
The Last Goodbye, Odesza
Surrender, Rüfüs du Sol

This is the easier of the two categories competition-wise, and the stronger of the two for Renaissance, which boasts exponentially more dance cred when you take its 16 tracks as a whole. (Honey Dijon! Nile Rodgers! Grace Jones (the way Beyoncé says it in “Move”)!)

Will win: Renaissance
Should win: Renaissance


Best Rock Performance
“So Happy It Hurts,” Bryan Adams
“Old Man,” Beck
“Wild Child,” the Black Keys
“Broken Horses,” Brandi Carlile
“Crawl!,” Idles
“Patient Number 9,” Ozzy Osbourne featuring Jeff Beck
“Holiday,” Turnstile

The good news: The rock field has improved since last year’s dismal, backward-looking nominations slate. There are a few legitimately needle-moving acts here in Idles and Turnstile, and a woman in Carlile, which is one more than last year’s entire field. But, the bad news: The Grammys still have a ways to go when they’re stretching the category to nominate a Beck cover of a Neil Young song. The clashing generations here make this category, and the field as a whole, pretty impossible to predict — I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these acts won (even genre outsider Carlile, who proved with last year’s Best Pop Vocal Performance nod that her goodwill extends far past roots and country). My head says Ozzy Osbourne will ride his comeback story to a few wins, but my heart wants a sweep for Turnstile, one of the easiest bands in rock to root for right now.

Will win: “Patient Number 9”
Should win: “Holiday”

Best Metal Performance
“Call Me Little Sunshine,” Ghost
“We’ll Be Back,” Megadeth
“Kill or Be Killed,” Muse
“Degradation Rules,” Ozzy Osbourne featuring Tony Iommi
“Blackout,” Turnstile

Here’s why Turnstile could actually leave with some hardware: The hard-to-place hardcore band somehow snuck into the metal category, a rare act to earn nominations both here and in the other rock categories. Also, it was their metal nom, not their rock one, that cracked Best Rock Song below! (At the end of the day, it’s harder to say whether one of those songs is heavier than the other, but both breakdowns unquestionably rip.) They’re not the only act to accomplish that feat this year, though, with Ozzy also showing up here, on his home turf. And that Black Sabbath reunion with Tony Iommi will be too good for voters to pass up.

Will win: “Degradation Rules”
Should win: “Blackout”

Best Rock Song
“Black Summer,” Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Blackout,” Turnstile
“Broken Horses,” Brandi Carlile
“Harmonia’s Dream,” the War on Drugs
“Patient Number 9,” Ozzy Osbourne featuring Jeff Beck

There’s an interesting amount of divergence here from the performance categories, which has me wondering if we’ll get a split. The War on Drugs deserved across-the-board nominations for their sweeping, career-best work on I Don’t Live Here Anymore, so I’d love to see them earn their first Grammy for a beautiful song with a fittingly beautiful name. But after a massive year of stadium shows and two double albums, it looks more likely that Red Hot Chili Peppers could sail their censor ship to their first win in over a decade.

Will win: “Black Summer”
Should win: “Harmonia’s Dream”

Best Rock Album
Dropout Boogie, the Black Keys
The Boy Named If, Elvis Costello & the Imposters
Crawler, Idles
Mainstream Sellout, Machine Gun Kelly
Patient Number 9, Ozzy Osbourne
Lucifer on the Sofa, Spoon

With Turnstile’s album ineligible, this should be the easiest win for Osbourne, whose album caught Academy members’ ears enough to earn multiple song nods. But that also makes this one of the more interesting rock categories, with some of the most talent. And as much as I want Machine Gun Kelly to carry the pop-punk revival to a win here, I have to put my hopes on stalwart rockers Spoon, who somehow earned their first nomination, but for one of their best albums.

Will win: Patient Number 9
Should win: Lucifer on the Sofa


Best Alternative Performance
“There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” Arctic Monkeys
“Certainty,” Big Thief
“King,” Florence + the Machine
“Chaise Longue,” Wet Leg
“Spitting off the Edge of the World,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs featuring Perfume Genius

What a great year for the Grammys to extend the Alternative field into a performance category. Giants like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arctic Monkeys returned to excited fans, while others like Big Thief hit career highs. And then there’s Wet Leg, one of the year’s biggest genuine breakouts and a bona fide alternative act. Showing up in Best New Artist alone makes them an odds-on favorite, but as I laid out above, those engineering nods could carry them even further. A much-deserved big night for Wet Leg starts here.

Will win: “Chaise Longue”
Should win: “Chaise Longue”

Best Alternative Album
We, Arcade Fire
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, Big Thief
Fossora, Björk
Wet Leg, Wet Leg
Cool It Down, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

For the love of God, Grammy voters, do not award Arcade Fire after their highly visible leader has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct. Take the easy route and give another trophy to Wet Leg — or recognize one of my absolute favorite albums of 2022 (by a previous nominee, too!), Big Thief’s sprawling Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You.

Will win: Wet Leg
Should win: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You


Best R&B Performance
“Virgo’s Groove,” Beyoncé
“Here With Me,” Mary J. Blige featuring Anderson .Paak
“Over,” Lucky Daye
“Hrs & Hrs,” Muni Long
“Hurt Me So Good,” Jazmine Sullivan

Wait, you’re wondering. Isn’t Renaissance an electronic album? Yes, but it’s also a Beyoncé album, and the R&B field never misses a chance to award Beyoncé. As I was going through Beyoncé’s Grammy history ahead of her likely breaking the all-time Grammy wins record (she’s just four trophies away, and I’m predicting more than that here), I learned that she has won more R&B awards than she’s lost. In other words, this field takes care of her, and don’t expect her dance-floor outing to change that.

Will win: “Virgo’s Groove”
Should win: “Virgo’s Groove”

Best Traditional R&B Performance
“Do 4 Love,” Snoh Aalegra
“Good Morning Gorgeous,” Mary J. Blige
“Keeps on Fallin’,” Babyface featuring Ella Mai
“Plastic Off the Sofa,” Beyoncé
“Round Midnight,” Adam Blackstone featuring Jazmine Sullivan

Come on — have you heard those vocal runs in “Plastic Off the Sofa”?

Will win: “Plastic Off the Sofa”
Should win: “Plastic Off the Sofa”

Best R&B Song
“Cuff It,” Beyoncé
“Good Morning Gorgeous,” Mary J. Blige
“Hrs & Hrs,” Muni Long
“Hurt Me so Good,” Jazmine Sullivan
“Please Don’t Walk Away,” PJ Morton

R&B does tend to be good about spreading the love, so maybe don’t expect a Beyoncé sweep. (She has done that twice, in 2004 and 2010, but both were when the field split Best R&B Performance by gender.) This field seems eager to recognize ascendant Muni Long somehow, and “Hrs & Hrs” is chiefly a writing feat, as a rare queer love song for the genre. (But again — have you gotten the “Cuff It” hook out of your head for more than 24 hours since you heard it?)

Will win: “Hrs & Hrs”
Should win: “Cuff It”

Best Progressive R&B Album
Operation Funk, Cory Henry
Gemini Rights, Steve Lacy
Drones, Terrace Martin
Starfruit, Moonchild
Red Balloon, Tank and the Bangas

“Progressive R&B” sounds like one of those phrases only label executives use, rather than a type of music that artists actually make. But in or out of this category, Steve Lacy’s music is definitely progressive — on Gemini Rights, his vision stretches across genre, style, tempo, and more, sometimes in the same song. For once, it’s the R&B part I’m not sure of. (I expected his music to show up in the Alternative field.) That’s a good problem to have, though.

Will win: Gemini Rights
Should win: Gemini Rights

Best R&B Album
Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe), Mary J. Blige
Breezy (Deluxe), Chris Brown
Black Radio III, Robert Glasper
Candydrip, Lucky Daye
Watch the Sun, PJ Morton

No, I didn’t forget that Mary’s back. Her new album, timed to her Super Bowl halftime show last year, led to a reevaluation of her career that crests at the Grammys, where she has six nominations. She shows up in R&B for the first time in over a decade, with so much support that swelled into Album and Record of the Year nominations. With Beyoncé out of the running here, the lane is clear for Blige to still have a good night. My should-win pick keeps the trend of uncategorizable albums going, though, with the latest from visionary jazz pianist and producer Robert Glasper.

Will win: Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)
Should win: Black Radio III


Best Rap Performance
“God Did,” DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend, & Fridayy
“Vegas,” Doja Cat
“Pushin P,” Gunna & Future featuring Young Thug
“F.N.F. (Let’s Go),” HitKidd & GloRilla
“The Heart Part 5,” Kendrick Lamar

Absent a breakout single from Mr. Morale, Team Kendrick is all in on “The Heart Part 5,” the fifth in Lamar’s series of check-in songs that preceded his new album and started a whole discourse cycle with its video. Last year, when Baby Keem and Lamar won for “Family Ties,” we learned that it doesn’t matter what Lamar is nominated for here — if his name’s on something, he’s winning. (He already has five wins in this category, all racked up in just the last eight years.) If anything, though, Lamar’s past dominance should be an excuse for the Grammys to break out of their comfort zone here. This category offers the best chance to recognize one of the emcees currently setting the pace in rap, in Gunna, or another who’s starting to, in GloRilla.

Will win: “The Heart Part 5”
Should win: “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)”

Best Melodic Rap Performance
“Beautiful,” DJ Khaled featuring Future & SZA
“Wait for U,” Future featuring Drake & Tems
“First Class,” Jack Harlow
“Die Hard,” Kendrick Lamar featuring Blxst & Amanda Reifer
“Big Energy (Live),” Latto

We simply cannot handle the level of discourse that will come with the Grammys awarding another undeserving white rapper, so I won’t entertain the Jack Harlow nomination here. This category seems to make the most sense for a Future win — the man practically invented melodic rap, yet has never been properly recognized by the Academy until this year, when he earned a surprise six nominations. But like much of the rest of the Academy, the Rap field is hung up on awarding legends (more on that below), especially ones they previously snubbed, rather than crowning new talent. Once again, no, I’m not talking about Harlow — I mean Latto, who made one of the biggest earworms of the year in any genre with “Big Energy,” her canny flip of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy.”

Will win: “Wait for U”
Should win: “Big Energy (Live)”

Best Rap Song
“Churchill Downs,” Jack Harlow featuring Drake
“God Did,” DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend, & Fridayy
“The Heart Part 5,” Kendrick Lamar
“Pushin P,” Gunna & Future featuring Young Thug
“Wait for U,” Future featuring Drake & Tems

The best explanation for the three Grammy nominations for a DJ Khaled song — including in Song of the Year! — may actually be an act of God. The second-best is that this is really a nomination for Jay-Z, who rapped a marathon four-minute verse on the song. But it once again spotlights some bigger problems in the Rap field: Namely, why is Jay-Z, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, still a favorite in these categories? (He also shared in last year’s win, for “Jail” with Ye.) He commands respect like few other figures in the genre, evidenced both by his holding the record for the most Grammy nominations and the critical adoration for his introspective, beef-ending verse here. Yes, I know, the Grammys should still recognize talent — that’s why I’m picking Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5,” another ambitious feat from one of rap’s greatest living writers.

Will win: “The Heart Part 5”
Should win: “The Heart Part 5”

Best Rap Album
God Did, DJ Khaled
I Never Liked You, Future
Come Home the Kids Miss You, Jack Harlow
Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar
It’s Almost Dry, Pusha T

This category has more fresh talent than it has in recent years, when the nominees included Nas, Royce Da 5’9”, and Kanye West. Just one problem: His name is Jack Harlow, apparently every label executive’s favorite new rapper. If rap voters are still looking to scratch that classic itch, It’s Almost Dry is the pick — an album that really feels like one, on which Pusha T finds surprising new ways to rap about coke over dueling Pharrell and Kanye West beats.

Will win: Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
Should win: It’s Almost Dry


Best Country Solo Performance
“Heartfirst,” Kelsea Ballerini
“Something in the Orange,” Zach Bryan
“In His Arms,” Miranda Lambert
“Circles Around This Town,” Maren Morris
“Live Forever,” Willie Nelson

In the run-up to Grammy nominations, Zach Bryan’s name was all over the forecasts. It made sense — he’s a strong songwriter, with even stronger support from his fans, whose music is country enough to fit here, but with enough folk and rock flair to appeal to “everything except country” listeners. But Bryan is also a Nashville outsider who openly criticizes the Establishment, and it looks like the Country field (which can have a more independent streak than the rest of Nashville) wasn’t ready for an insurgency yet. Bryan got just one nomination, in this category, which I would’ve thought to be an easy win months ago. It’s hard to tell who will win in his place — I’ll give the edge to Maren Morris, who speaks for the outsiders but is making some of the best songs in Nashville right now.

Will win: “Circles Around This Town”
Should win: “Something in the Orange”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Wishful Drinking,” Ingrid Andress & Sam Hunt
“Midnight Rider’s Prayer,” Brothers Osborne
“Outrunnin’ Your Memory,” Luke Combs & Miranda Lambert
“Does He Love You (Revisited),” Reba McEntire & Dolly Parton
“Never Wanted to Be That Girl,” Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde
“Going Where the Lonely Go,” Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Could a proper duet finally win this category? Since the advent of Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2012, the award has favored full-time duos and groups — only a handful of them, in fact, like Little Big Town, Brothers Osborne, and shudders Dan + Shay. Things look like they could finally break this year, where the Brothers O are the only group represented, with their eighth straight nomination. And that’s in a year when Little Big Town released an album, which I’ll take as evidence that Nashville is up for a change. It was a particularly strong year for duets, especially Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde’s poignant “Never Wanted to Be That Girl,” which became a rare country No. 1 by two women — and earned both the CMA and ACM awards for Musical Event of the Year.

Will win: “Never Wanted to Be That Girl”
Should win: “Never Wanted to Be That Girl”

Best Country Song
“Circles Around This Town,” Maren Morris
“Doin’ This,” Luke Combs
“I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” Taylor Swift featuring Chris Stapleton
“If I Was a Cowboy,” Miranda Lambert
“I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die,” Willie Nelson
“’Til You Can’t,” Cody Johnson

It’s taken the Grammys a bit of time to catch up to Luke Combs, the now two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year who can sell out a football stadium in his sleep. (And they’re still not fully there, judging by his snub in Best Country Solo Performance.) But the Academy is on its way now, with three nominations and a booking to perform on the main show. The win train could start here, with his first for “Doin’ This,” a heartfelt song about, well, how much he loves performing, and the highlight off his album Growin’ Up. This songwriting category is where Morris deserves her shine, though, for “Circles,” an even more personal account of her come-up in Nashville.

Will win: “Doin’ This”
Should win: “Circles Around This Town”

Best Country Album
Growin’ Up, Luke Combs
Palomino, Miranda Lambert
Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville, Ashley McBryde
Humble Quest, Maren Morris
A Beautiful Time, Willie Nelson

This might be an even easier category for Combs to win, with far and away the biggest new country album of the year. It’s even less easy for me to choose what should win, with so much talent represented in the Country field once again. (Rock and Rap, take notes.) Combs’s album is country comfort food; Miranda Lambert’s is a loose adventure from a generational talent; Morris’s is a feat of honesty and reflection. (Of course I love Willie Nelson, but it’s someone else’s turn here.) Somehow, they’re all second to Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville, by far the most creative country album I’ve heard in years — from a rising star at the top of her game, at that.

Will win: Growin’ Up
Should win: Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville


Best Latin Pop Album
Aguilera, Christina Aguilera
Pasieros, Rubén Blades & Boca Livre
De adentro pa afuera, Camilo
Viajante, Fonseca
Dharma +, Sebastián Yatra

Last year’s nomination for Selena Gomez’s (very good!) Spanish EP Revelación showed that being an A-lister isn’t enough for a win here. Christina Aguilera, though, has the cred — she first released music in Spanish back in 2000 (with a nod for this award), and even walked away with a few Latin Grammys for her new album, Aguilera. Time for her to finish what she started.

Will win: Aguilera
Should win: Aguilera

Best Música Urbana Album
Trap Cake, Vol. 2, Rauw Alejandro
Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny
LEGENDADDY, Daddy Yankee
La 167, Farruko
The Love & Sex Tape, Maluma

I’m usually against a Grammy winning streak, because the Academy can have a real problem with getting too comfortable. In this new category, though, I’m actively pulling for one for Bad Bunny, after he was the inaugural winner last year; few artists have more deserved the recognition of back-to-back years atop a genre. That’s not to say there isn’t strong competition, including from Daddy Yankee’s farewell and an EP by reggaeton futurist Rauw Alejandro. It’s just that Bad Bunny is in a class of his own.

Will win: Un Verano Sin Ti
Should win: Un Verano Sin Ti

Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album
El Alimento, Cimafunk
Tinta y tiempo, Jorge Drexler
1940 Carmen, Mon Laferte
Alegoría, Gaby Moreno
Los años salvajes, Fito Páez
Motomami, Rosalía

Once again, we’re back to the Rosalía predicament. She’s one of the most acclaimed musicians singing in Spanish, and to the Grammys, that means she belongs in the Latin field — despite being from Spain, not Latin America. And while, yes, she draws on Latin forms like reggaeton, she’s sprawled out into more genres than ever on Motomami, making for a pretty hard-to-slot album. (It surely doesn’t feel like rock or alternative.) So she’s stuck here, where she’ll likely win and once again face criticism for taking honors away from other Latinx artists — like Mon Laferte, a Chilean singer and bandleader who’s also consistently innovating.

Will win: Motomami
Should win: 1940 Carmen

Who Will (and Should) Win at the 2023 Grammys?