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Monday, April 22, 2024

Avenue roundtable: We may know the Grammys results ‘all too well’

The Avenue analyzes its predicted and hopeful picks for the 2024 Grammys

<p>FILE - This Nov. 22, 2011 file photo shows singer Taylor Swift performing at Madison Square Garden in New York. Six-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift will perform at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards next month. Comedian Kevin Hart will host the VMAs live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 6. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, file)</p>

FILE - This Nov. 22, 2011 file photo shows singer Taylor Swift performing at Madison Square Garden in New York. Six-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift will perform at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards next month. Comedian Kevin Hart will host the VMAs live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 6. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, file)

The 66th Grammy Awards are gearing up to be the most competitive ceremony to date, with today's most decorated artists in contention for the crown jewel of mainstream music. 

This year’s awards come after a groundbreaking season of pop-artist supremacy – female powerhouses like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé establishing themselves as matriarchs of modern music in their respective “The Eras” and “Renaissance” world tours. Following close behind are young rising stars such as Ice Spice and Gracie Abrams, as well as Troye Sivan as an up-and-coming voice for the queer community.  

In anxious anticipation for Sunday night, the Avenue team has listed its predicted and desired outcomes for the three-and-a-half-hour televised event, with consideration to the quintessential criteria of the following categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Music Video and Best Solo Pop Performance. 

So what does it take to be an award-winning legend in the modern music industry? You heard it here first from the Avenue. 

Album of the Year 

By Tanya Fedak 

Predicted Grammys Pick: “Midnights” by Taylor Swift 

Tanya’s Pick: “Midnights” by Taylor Swift 

2023 was undeniably the year of Taylor Swift. With her launch of The Eras Tour, she practically became untouchable. The reign of Swift will not come to an end at the Grammy awards, and she will unquestionably take him the coveted award of Album of the Year. 

One of the reasons she is so successful is her bewitching lyricism and her vivid storytelling. Her album, “Midnights,” is no exception. Her carefully selected words and melodies place her leaps and bounds ahead of her fellow nominees. 

Each of her songs have a clear message while simultaneously managing to be open to the listener’s interpretation. They not only tell Swift’s story, but they also enable the audience to relate to niche experiences. The other albums nominated in this category do not offer this opportunity as in depth as “Midnights” does. 

It is also important to note that this album has also received a variety of awards since its debut, including Album of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards. 

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When listening to Swift’s tenth studio album, you are transported to another world. It is effortless to “drop everything now” and scream the words to “Karma,” reminisce on your situationship to “Hits Different” or feed into your delusions with “Mastermind.”

This album is not a mere collection of songs — it’s an experience. 

Record of the Year 

By Jared Teitel 

Predicted Grammys Pick: “Anti-Hero” by Taylor Swift 

Jared’s Pick: “Kill Bill” by SZA 

Although it’s true nominees like Victoria Monét's “On My Mamma” and boygenius’ “Not Strong Enough” don’t get talked about as much as they should, my picks for Record of the Year come from pop culture icons whose discography have left my lips during a road trip home or an evening shower session a time or two. 

The award for Record of the Year, distinguished from the coveted Song of the Year trophy, goes to the vocal artist and audio engineers behind the most listened to recordings of the century. 

Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero,” released in 2022, still manages to grace the motor vehicle radio stations and mobile Spotify playlists of all who fan for her. The recording has arguably contributed to her cultural relevance evidenced by her TIME Person of the Year title in December. Her global dominance and production team’s prowess may make her a standout in the eyes of the Recording Academy, choosing to bestow her a victory. 

However, it is Swift’s fellow 1989-born, SZA, whom I believe deserves the ‘W’ for her recording of “Kill Bill,” coming from the 2022 album, “SOS.”

SZA’s soft tone coupled with the whistling notes provided by the backtrack gives this seemingly twisted murder ballad a feel-good innocence you can’t help but slightly shimmy to. If anything’s a guilty pleasure, it’s undoubtedly “Kill Bill.”

If not Record of the Year holder, I humbly grant SZA, along with producer and engineer Rob Bisel, the title of pure genius. 

Song of the Year

By Bonny Matejowsky

Predicted Grammys Pick: “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish

Bonny’s Pick: “A&W” by Lana Del Rey

Song of the Year is arguably a flashy award in the music industry. With hits by artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and SZA, it’s sure to be a nail-biting decision for the members of The Recording Academy to make. But for me, it was a much easier decision. 

“What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish will likely win Song of the Year. Though she faces contenders with equal talent, I believe the almost-seismic impact of Greta Gerwig’s 2023 blockbuster, “Barbie” will be enough to push Eilish’s work to the top of the list. 

And, when was the last time Billboard’s Top 100 was graced with a haunting piano ballad? It’s definitely a refreshing song to hear against today’s formulaic pop hits. 

Another thing important to consider is the piece, which is co-written by Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, has already won Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards

But in my humble opinion, this year’s award deserves to go to Lana Del Rey for her song, “A&W.” 

Coming in at over seven minutes long, this ambitious genre-bending song is my pick for the Grammys Song of the Year. “A&W” is a song co-written and produced by Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff for the singer’s ninth studio album, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.” 

Maybe my decision is fueled by nostalgia for 2014 Tumblr, but I firmly believe Del Ray displays poetic self-awareness and lyrical talent that distinguishes her from most popular artists.

Best New Artist 

By Benjamin Miller

Predicted Grammys Pick: Ice Spice

Ben’s Pick: Ice Spice

This year’s Grammy nominations for Best New Artist are a tight race. With familiar faces like Noah Kahan and Ice Spice gracing the list of contenders, the vast differences in genre between the nominees range from electronic/house to hip-hop and drill. 

Within the list of talented musicians, one in particular stands out due to her dominance of the charts. 

Between going viral on multiple media platforms and charting on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, she has since then become a household name. Even my mom knows about her, and I think she still listens to music on the YouTube app.  

Without a doubt, this is Ice Spice.

Ice Spice exploded onto the scene with her single “Munch (Feelin’ U)” in early August, 2022 followed by her debut EP “Like..?” in late January, 2023 with standout singles such as “Bikini Bottom” and “In Ha Mood.”

Ice Spice has remained a staple in the rap community with her untouched stage presence and catchy lyricism. Because of this, she is my personal and overall prediction for who will win Best New Artist for the 66th Grammy Awards. Her media presence as an artist and cultural icon speaks volumes about what she’ll accomplish in the future.

Best Rap Album

By Bea Lunardini

Predicted Grammys Pick: “Her Loss” by Drake and 21 Savage

Bea’s Pick: “Heroes & Villains” by Metro Boomin; honorable mention to “Like..?” by Ice Spice

The Best Rap Album category at the 2024 Grammys is probably the most wide-open of the awards. 

Frontrunners include “King’s Disease III” and “Her Loss.” Nas’ nomination comes after 25 years of a career in rap, including solo projects and collaboration in groups. “Her Loss” marks one of the most notable collaborations in modern rap, uniting powerhouses Drake and 21 Savage for 16 songs. The album was ranked fourth best overall in 2023 by Billboard and netted nominations in other categories for singles “Spin Bout U” and “Rich Flex,” which makes it the most likely winner. 

Of the albums nominated, my favorite to win is “Heroes & Villains” by Metro Boomin. Every song told an individual story with strong, personal lyrics, and the album’s overall message was powerful. 

In addition, the features that Metro Boomin got, from John Legend to Future, round out the album and bring interesting perspectives to each song. 

But, my true pick for Best Rap Album actually wasn’t nominated: “Like..?” by Ice Spice. 

The album was released in July and immediately became a fan favorite. Singles like “Deli,” “In Ha Mood” and “Munch (Feelin’ U)” topped charts around the world and exploded on social media. 

Best Music Video 

By Emilia Cardenas-Perez 

Predicted Grammys Pick: “Count Me Out” by Kendrick Lamar 

Emilia’s Pick: “Count Me Out” by Kendrick Lamar 

My prediction for the Best Music Video category’s champion is Kendrick Lamar’s “Count Me Out.”

The video's visual elements make it a standout piece in terms of artistic and impactful expression. Video clips of a religious ceremony, an ultrasound, a mountain landscape and Lamar’s daily life are superimposed on a black-and-white color composition of a therapy session. 

The cinematography is both captivating and evocative, creating a visual narrative that complements the depth of the song's lyrics. It's simple enough to allow the focus to stay on the song’s lyrics while still furthering the story. In comparison to the other nominees, Lamar’s video has the visual and artistic value to match up to his lyrical work. 

Additionally, the music video distinguishes itself not only for its technical excellence but also for its social relevance. 

Lamar consistently uses his platform to address social issues. The themes explored in the video resonate with contemporary concerns, adding a layer that strongly resonates with a wide audience. 

The combination of Lamar's lyrical prowess, coupled with the video's artistic excellence and social relevance, positions "Count Me Out" as a strong contender for a Grammy. However, I would also be happy with Troye Sivan winning for “Rush”, but I think the people who make up the Recording Academy’s jury might be too prudish for that. 

Best Solo Pop Performance

By Alexandra Burns

Predicted Grammys Pick: “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo 

Alexandra’s Pick: “What Was I Made For?” [From The Motion Picture "Barbie"] by Billie Eilish 

The Best Solo Pop Performance category awards artists for the year’s best new vocal or instrumental pop single.

The artists in this year’s category hold a tight race, with well-known and talented artists Miley Cyrus, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift, Olviai Rodrigo and Billie Eilish competing for the much coveted Grammy. 

Given her high popularity among Generation Z, I predict Olivia Rodrigo will sweep the Grammys yet again this year. Her single “Vampire” proves to speak a powerful message, especially for young listeners. 

Rodrigo sings about her experiences with dating an older man who took advantage of her, a message necessary today and something many listeners can relate to. The single hit just 35.5 million streams within its first week, according to Billboard

Rodrigo uses strong vocals in “Vampire,” and it presents itself as something different from her typical discography. The single  introduces us to often unheard parts of vocal range and how she's developed as a young artist.

Despite Oliva Rodrigo’s record breaking single, I think Billie Eilish’s song “What Was I Made For” from the motion picture “Barbie” is the most deserving of the Grammy. 

Eilish and her brother Finneas wrote the song for the ending scene in “Barbie,” and it perfectly matches the themes and messages of the film. She accompanies the powerful lyrics with breathtaking and emotional vocals that really allow one to feel the message of the song and Barbie’s emotions. For these reasons, I believe this is the strongest song in the Grammy category. 

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