Fiona vs. Gaga vs. Weeknd? Predicting the Grammys’ Album of the Year – Variety


The 2020 Billie Eilish Present was only some months in the past, however imagine it or not, we’re already greater than midway by the subsequent Grammy cycle. The eligibility interval for the 2021 ceremony is September 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020, which suggests lower than 5 months stay earlier than the subject is fastened in place.

Though the music {industry} has not been affected as closely as the movie and TV industries, the ripple impact nonetheless will affect the subsequent batch of Grammy nominees. Some artists we’d have anticipated to contend for a spot in the high class (like Alicia Keys, the Dixie Chicks and Sam Smith) have had their due dates delayed indefinitely, leaving album of the 12 months extra open than regular to earlier releases.

Hypothesis has been raised about whether or not the cutoff date is perhaps prolonged, as a result of of so many stars hitting the “maintain” button. If that had been to occur, it’d actually be a stretch — as a result of, because it stands, the eligibility interval this time is already 13 months lengthy. (This 12 months, the Grammy telecast was bumped up a number of weeks as a result of of conflicts associated to the Oscars and Tremendous Bowl, which meant the 2019 cutoff was a month sooner than regular, including an additional month to the calendar this go-round.)

The afterglow of Eilish’s Grammy coronation in January most likely gained’t push her into the operating except she’s sitting on a shock album drop, however she and her producer brother Finneas O’Connell have a shot at second consecutive wins for track and report of the 12 months for his or her James Bond theme “No Time to Die.” Final 12 months, Elish swept all 4 main classes, making her the first artist to take action since Christopher Cross in 1981, however no newcomer has emerged with the momentum to drag off that four-peat subsequent 12 months.

So which releases will make a bid to succeed Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, The place Do We Go?” as album of the 12 months when the awards are handed out on (presumably, nonetheless) January 31?

Let’s take into account first the class veterans who face lengthy odds in making it again in. Justin Bieber lastly bought nominated for his earlier album, “Function,” however this 12 months’s “Modifications” lacks the identical momentum, contemplating the less-than-stellar evaluations that greeted it when it dropped on Valentine’s Day. Kanye West’s “Jesus Is King” wasn’t as rapturously acquired as the controversial rapper’s previous releases, so it possible gained’t get a shot at extending or breaking his album of the 12 months dropping streak.

As for newcomers to the class, BTS devotees starvation to have the Ok-pop group get the identical recognition in industry-voted awards as the outfit does in fan-voted honors. Might this be their 12 months? The South Korean Beatles managed to safe vital acclaim with “Map of the Soul: 7,” an album that scored an 82 Metacritic ranking. Contemplating how the Oscars embraced Korean filmmaking this 12 months with 4 gongs for “Parasite,” it appears like the proper time for the Recording Academy to welcome BTS to the membership for his or her fourth Korean-language studio album. However the earlier tally of nominations for BTS in all classes is… zero. (That’s not counting a packaging nomination one of their albums picked up.) Are the Grammys’ nominating committees able to make the leap from no recognition to a slot in the most prestigious division?

Though it appears more and more possible BTS will decide up nods in pop classes, no less than, going ahead, it would take a giant overhaul of the make-up of the present committees for the group to lastly bust in. If the Academy had been to emerge from its current turmoil in time to shake up that established order, although, something might occur.

As for underdogs, control FKA Twigs. If voters needed to go much more adventurous than the uncompromising Fiona Apple, they might give Grammy props to this singer-songwriter who has been on-the-verge for many of the final decade and inched ever nearer to mainstream appreciation together with her sophomore studio album. The proficient Brit is perhaps a tad too avant-garde to develop into an album of the 12 months nominee — not even Kate Bush has ever managed to enter that hallowed circle — however an 88 Metacritic ranking and a heightened profile as a result of her function in the well-received indie movie “Honey Boy” would make her the good wild-card street-cred nominee.

Beginning in 2019, the album of the 12 months class was expanded to carry eight candidates as a substitute of the former 5. If we needed to lay bets at present, these could possibly be the last eight:

Infantile Gambino’s “3.15.20”

The artist also called actor Donald Glover struck Grammy platinum with “This Is America,” which gained track and report of the 12 months, amongst different trophies, in 2019. Final 12 months, “Feels Like Summer time,” a retro-soul single that seems on this album, swung a finest R&B track nomination, so voters are nonetheless paying consideration. Evaluations for “3.15.20” (named for its launch date) had been strong, however with no single as zeitgeisty as “This Is America,” it is perhaps a tougher promote for album of the 12 months. His earlier opus, “Awaken, My Love,” made the shortlist largely on the power of its greatest single (and a report of the 12 months nominee), “Redbone.” None of this album’s three singles have hit any of the main charts, however a smaller pool of releases from different Grammy darlings could possibly be Infantile Gambino’s ticket to his second nomination in the class.

Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia”

This 12 months, the British-Albanian singer made good on the promise of her 2019 finest new artist win together with her second studio album. It spawned the No. 2 single “Don’t Begin Now” and earned a whopping 89 rating on Metacritic, making it one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2020. If she makes it into the album of the 12 months race, it will be the second consecutive 12 months {that a} former finest new artist has competed there, following Bon Iver’s “i,i.” It occurs much less usually than you may suppose: Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey and Adele are the solely others who’ve pulled it off this century.

Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”

It’s not each week {that a} new album earns the first-ever good 100 rating on Metacritic, however that’s what occurred when a quarantined Apple launched her fifth album with quick discover on April 12, eight years after her final hurrah, “The Loafer Wheel…” Will the Recording Academy have the ability to cross over such a lauded opus from a reclusive, iconoclastic singer-songwriter who’s considered one of the most necessary voices of her technology? Apple has by no means competed in a serious class, however she does have Grammy historical past: She’s been nominated eight occasions, and she or he gained finest feminine rock vocal efficiency for her breakthrough hit, “Legal,” in 1998. If nothing else, the lady who declared “The world is bulls—” as a young person whereas accepting MTV’s finest new artist Video Music Award for “Sleep to Dream” in 1997 would maintain everybody’s consideration to see if she will be able to nonetheless ship a killer acceptance speech.

Harry Kinds’ “Superb Line”

Regardless of the early promise proven by Zayn Malik after his early departure from One Path, Kinds was all the time the member more than likely to get pleasure from Justin Timberlake-level solo success. Launched final December, his second solo album grew to become his second to hit No. 1 in the U.S., and it’s gone on to outsell his 2107 self-titled debut. Amongst its industrial, vital and chart feats: “Superb Line” loved the greatest debut week of any album by a British male artist in fashionable historical past, made a number of best-of-2019 lists and went down in chart historical past as the final No. 1 album of the 2010s and  first of the 2020s. If Kinds nabs a spot in album of the 12 months, he’ll be the first British male solo artist to take action since Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith in 2015.

The Highwomen’s “The Highwomen”

What do you get if you mix the appreciable skills of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires? Nation music’s most potent feminine supergroup since Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris united on 1987’s “Trio” and earned an album of the 12 months nomination. Will Grammy voters have the option to withstand? Between them, this quartet of women have 26 nominations and 7 wins, so their Grammy pedigrees are in the proper place. Voters have been more and more receptive to alt-country on this class in recent times, and if the Dixie Chicks stay sidelined throughout the eligibility interval, this September 2019 launch is perhaps nation music’s finest shot at the gong in 2021.

Girl Gaga’s “Chromatica”

By no means depend out Girl Gaga. The discharge of her sixth studio album was pushed again from April 10 to Might 29 as a result of the pandemic, however response was usually sturdy for the first single, “Silly Love,” even when it wasn’t one of her blockbuster hits. After the chilled country-pop of “Joanne” and “A Star Is Born,” the track was a return to the heroic stadium-pop sound that first made Gaga a star and a Grammy favourite. Over the final decade or so, she’s been nominated 27 occasions, together with three nods for album of the 12 months, and she or he’s taken dwelling 11 Grammys. It’s the one album on this record the world hasn’t heard but, of course. However “Chromatica” most likely solely must be pretty much as good as 2016’s “Joanne,” which scored a nod for finest pop vocal album, to make the last eight.

Submit Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding”

For as a lot chart success and as many nominations (six) as Submit Malone has had he’s nonetheless ready for his first Grammy win. Can his third album snag him his second consecutive album of the 12 months nomination, following the shortlisting of his final launch, 2018’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys”? In a traditional 12 months, his possibilities is perhaps slimmer, however that is no regular Grammy eligibility interval. His hip-hop-to-poppish evolution with an album launched means again in September of 2019 might land him in the operating as soon as once more.

The Weeknd’s “After Hours”

It’s already feeling a little bit like this 12 months’s “Thank U, Subsequent.” Abel Tesfaye’s fourth album carried out the same triple play: huge gross sales, two No. 1 singles, and important acclaim. Can he comply with Ariana Grande into the album of the 12 months race? He made it there with 2014’s “Magnificence Behind the Insanity,” and he’s since steadily constructed his popularity as a hitmaker and artistic visionary. Variety referred to as this his “most totally realized album but,” and voters could wish to reward him for breaking out the take a look at tubes — the new-wavey “Blinding Mild” might time-travel again to the early ‘80s and sound correct at dwelling — with out sacrificing his industrial clout.


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