Grammy Awards: who should win?

The 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held on April 3, 2022

The Grammy Awards are upon us once again, and although the Recording Academy has had a spotty track record with it’s picks over the years, (see the 2014 awards in the rap category for reference) local music aficionado Evan Fagen is here to ensure that you can find the best songs from this year’s nominees, regardless of the Academy’s potentially poor selections!


Record of the Year

ABBA – I Still Have Faith in You

Jon Batiste – Freedom

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – I Get a Kick Out of You

Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Cesar & Giveon – Peaches

Brandi Carlile – Right on Time

Doja Cat Featuring SZA – Kiss Me More

Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me by Your Name)

predicted winner: Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License

Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open


Song of the Year

Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits

Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile – A Beautiful Noise

predicted winner: Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License

H.E.R. – Fight for You

Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

Doja Cat Featuring SZA – Kiss Me More

Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open

Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me by Your Name)

Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Cesar & Giveon – Peaches

Brandi Carlile – Right on Time


Best Pop Solo Performance

Justin Bieber – Anyone

Brandi Carlile – Right on Time

Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

Ariana Grande – Positions

predicted winner: Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License

Olivia Rodrigo’s 2021 was one of the most dynamic debut years of all time. In an era where virality often results in short lived and extreme success based on singles designed for fifteen seconds of TikTok fame, Rodrigo released the most successful album of the year at only 18. Utilizing the power of social media, Rodrigo propelled the entirety of SOUR to the top of the charts, amassing critical acclaim and quickly becoming one of the most recognizable names in music today. Driver’s License, a single which boldly addressed her public relationship drama with “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” co-star Joshua Bassett, was without a doubt one of the most popular songs of the year, but it’s extreme success really overshadowed how good it actually was. After hearing the song countless times on social media, on the radio, in grocery stores, I was reluctant to listen to the track again for this article. However, after really listening to the song in its entirety – which I actually hadn’t done before – I was caught off guard by how solid the production and song structure was. There’s no hidden message in the lyrics, it’s a track about a breakup, but the “it” factor lies in it’s authenticity. If you are looking for a new track to listen to, I would also recommend Brandi Carlile’s “Right on Time.”


Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – I Get a Kick Out of You

Justin Bieber & Benny Blanco – Lonely

BTS – Butter

Coldplay – Higher Power

predicted winner: Doja Cat Featuring SZA – Kiss Me More

Doja Cat and SZA’s lascivious pop hit is the best song in one of the year’s most disappointing categories. I would not recommend any other songs in this section. Let’s move along.


Best Dance/Electronic Recording

Afrojack & David Guetta – Hero

Ólafur Arnalds Featuring Bonobo – Loom

James Blake – Before

Bonobo & Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Heartbreak

Caribou – You Can Do It

predicted winner: Rüfüs Du Sol – Alive

Tiësto – The Business

Rüfüs Du Sol’s majestic single is a wonderful listen, and is an easy pick in an otherwise underwhelming category.


Best Rock Performance

AC/DC – Shot in the Dark

Black Pumas – Know You Better (Live From Capitol Studio A)

Chris Cornell – Nothing Compares 2 U

predicted winner: Deftones – Ohms

Foo Fighters – Making a Fire

Deftones’ gritty guitar passionate vocals make Ohms the hardest – and best – rock song in an comparatively mellow category. Foo Fighters’ “Making a Fire” is also worth a listen, but it lacks the oomph deserving of the biggest award in music.


Best Metal Performance

Deftones – Genesis

predicted winner: Dream Theater – The Alien

Gojira – Amazonia

Mastodon – Pushing the Tides

Rob Zombie – The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition)


Best Rock Song

Weezer – All My Favorite Songs

predicted winner: Kings of Leon – The Bandit

Mammoth WVH – Distance

Paul McCartney – Find My Way

Foo Fighters – Waiting on a War

The star-studded list of nominees for best rock song seems like a tribute to rock legends of past decades – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, this category falls overwhelmingly flat in the lyrical category. “All My Favorite Songs” is a very catchy song, but has lyrics so juvenile and half-hearted that it seems barely plausible that it could have been written by Weezer, an iconic group now inseparable from the cultural zeitgeist of 90s and 00s rock. 

All my favorite songs are slow and sad

All my favorite people make me mad

Everything that feels so good is bad, bad, bad

All my favorite songs are slow and sad

Not to be outdone, Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters, who have consistently released music every few years since the 80s, have “Waiting on a War,” a song with a much fuller structure and buildup, but with an oddly blank chorus, considering the song’s anti-war sentiments.

Just waiting on a war for this and that

There’s got to be more to this than that

Just waiting on a war for this and that

There’s got to be more to this than that

Just waiting on a war for this and that

There’s got to be more to this than that

Just waiting on a war for this and that

There’s got to be more to this than that

… And so on. Kings of Leon may not be of the caliber of bands like Foo Fighters or Weezer, but The Bandit is a catchy, pleasant track that stands on its own and lets its quality speak for itself.


Best R&B Performance

Snoh Aalegra – Lost You

Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Cesar & Giveon – Peaches

H.E.R. – Damage

Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open

predicted winner: Jazmine Sullivan – Pick Up Your Feelings


Best Traditional R&B Performance

predicted winner: Jon Batiste – I Need You

BJ the Chicago Kid, PJ Morton & Kenyon Dixon Featuring Charlie Bereal – Bring It on Home to Me

Leon Bridges, Robert Glasper – Born Again

H.E.R. – Fight for You

Lucky Daye Featuring Yebba – How Much Can a Heart Take


Best R&B Song

H.E.R. – Damage

SZA – Good Days

predicted winner: Giveon – Heartbreak Anniversary

Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open

Jazmine Sullivan – Pick Up Your Feelings

By far this year’s strongest category, every track nominated in this category seems deserving of a win. Giveon’s fierce vocals make him my favorite for the win, but Silk Sonic’s irresistible “Leave the Door Open” looks to be this year’s favorite. Jazmine Sullivan’s passionate “Pick Up Your Feelings” and H.E.R.’s “Damage” (my personal favorite of the two songs she was nominated for in various categories) SZA’s summer hit “Good Days” proves the least notable of the group, which is very telling about the quality of this year’s selections. 


Best Rap Performance

predicted winner: Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar – Family Ties

Cardi B – Up

J Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Morray – ​​My Life

Drake, Featuring Future & Young Thug – Way Too Sexy

Megan Thee Stallion – Thot Shit


Notes: Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar (who are actually cousins, hence the title) teamed up to make a fiery rap anthem one of the most popular and well received singles of 2021, and deservedly so. The irresistibly catchy song is surprisingly complex, the track’s seven producers allowing Keem and Kendrick to flex their flow-switching abilities throughout the song’s varied beat switches. “Family Ties” is without a doubt the most interesting, unique, and exciting song in this category.


Best Melodic Rap Performance

J Cole Featuring Lil Baby – Pride Is the Devil

Doja Cat – Need to Know

Lil Nas X Featuring Jack Harlow – Industry Baby

Tyler, the Creator Featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ty Dolla $ign – WusYaName

predicted winner: Kanye West Featuring The Weekend & Lil Baby – Hurricane

Kanye West’s album “Donda” rode the wave of controversy that seems to constantly surround West’s persona to become one of the most well-known albums of the year. While it amassed significant acclaim (including nominations for album of the year and best rap album), the album was also critiqued for its density and problematic featured artists. However, if you can look through all the noise surrounding the project, there are some truly fantastic tracks to be heard. “Hurricane”, one of the album’s most popular songs, features The Weekend’s angelic vocals and Lil Baby’s slurry flow, which actually make Kanye’s verse the weakest aspect of the song. Still, the track flows beautifully, and I highly recommend listening to it with earbuds or headphones to fully immerse yourself in the ethereal production.


Best Rap Song

DMX Featuring Jay-Z & Nas – Bath Salts

Saweetie Featuring Doja Cat – Best Friend

predicted winner: Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar – Family Ties

Kanye West Featuring Jay-Z – Jail

J Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Morray – ​​My Life


Best Country Solo Performance

Luke Combs – Forever After All

Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name

Jason Isbell – All I Do Is Drive

predicted winner: Kacey Musgraves – Camera Roll

Chris Stapleton – You Should Probably Leave

Despite lyricism and structure that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Olivia Rodrigo album, Kacey Musgraves’ Texas twang seems to confine her to the country category.


Best Song Written for Visual Media

Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez Featuring Kathryn Hahn, Eric Bradley, Greg Whipple, Jasper Randall & Gerald White – Agatha All Along

predicted winner: Bo Burnham – All Eyes on Me

P!nk – All I Know So Far

H.E.R. – Fight for You

Jennifer Hudson – Here I Am

Leslie Odom, Jr. – Speak Now

Bo Burnham’s “Inside” will go down as one of the most important pieces of media produced about and during the COVID-19 pandemic. “All Eyes on Me” is one of the many gorgeous and ironically paradisiacal tracks off of the grand and nihilistic album made up of songs from his Netflix special entirely written, filmed, and produced by himself in his home. The song makes less sense while out of context, so I would recommend giving the special a watch, but be warned that the description of it as a comedy is quite misleading. It is occasionally funny, but there isn’t a better way to describe Burnham’s brutally cynical introspection and borderline misanthropic commentary that has only increased in severity since his 2013 special “what.” Some other beautiful tracks off of the album are “That Funny Feeling” and “Goodbye,” I would recommend listening to the “song only” version available on streaming services. 


Best Country Duo/Group Performance

Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood – If I Didn’t Love You

Brothers Osborne – Younger Me

Dan + Shay – Glad You Exist

Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris – Chasing After You

predicted winner: Elle King & Miranda Lambert – Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)


Best Country Song

Maren Morris – Better Than We Found It

Kacey Musgraves – Camera Roll

predicted winner: Chris Stapleton – Cold

Thomas Rhett – Country Again

Walker Hayes – Fancy Like

Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name

Chris Stapleton’s passionate and woeful ballad “Cold” is wonderfully orchestrated and written, layered with a multitude of instruments that give the somber track about heartbreak a very full and captivating sound.


Best American Roots Performance

Jon Batiste – Cry

Billy Strings – Love and Regret

The Blind Boys of Alabama & Béla Fleck – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free

Brandy Clark Featuring Brandi Carlile – Same Devil

predicted winner: Allison Russell – Nightflyer

Allison Russell’s peaceful and comforting performance is a great song, and it is in great company in this soulful category. 


Best American Roots Song

Rhiannon Giddens With Francesco Turrisi – Avalon

Valerie June Featuring Carla Thomas – Call Me a Fool

Jon Batiste – Cry

Yola – Diamond Studded Shoes

predicted winner: Allison Russell – Nightflyer


Best Instrumental Composition

Brandee Younger – Beautiful Is Black 

Tom Nazziola – Cat and Mouse

Vince Mendoza – Concerto for Orchestra: Finale

Arturo O’Farrill – Dreaming in Lions

predicted winner: Lyle Mays – Eberhard

Eberhard is a majestic 13 minute piece that completely envelopes the listener in a universe of sound. While most of the other tracks in this category hold their own (“Beautiful is Black” is another great contender), Lyle Mays’ composition has a trance-like quality that elevates it above the competition.


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