Who Should and Will Win the Grammys

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Kendrick Lamar performs "Alright" during the 2015 BET Awards in Los Angeles on June 28, 2015. Will he sweep the Grammys? Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

One of the music industry’s more old-school awards nights, the Grammys will be gracing your multiple screens next Monday, February 15. While it’s unclear whether we’ll get another side-eye from Prince, the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Chris Stapleton and “Mr. Worldwide” Pitbull are performing at the live-streamable ceremony, which kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

This year, Kendrick Lamar is nominated for a whopping 11 awards, including album of the year (for To Pimp a Butterfly) and for song of the year (for “Alright”). Will he beat out Taylor Swift, whose last album 1989 also swept the nominations? Will she be upstaged by the guy who still can’t feel his face, The Weeknd, who is also up for seven awards? Will Tame Impala’s disco-leaning Currents win the best alternative album? Will Kanye West get up onstage to almost interrupt someone else accepting an award, then burn them and apologize, as he did with Beck last year? Will I retain my sanity by the end of this paragraph?

We’ve compiled a list of the nominees in categories we’re most excited about below, and outlined who we think will take home a tiny metal statue of a gramophone—and who we think should.

Record of the Year

Nominees: “Really Love” (D’Angelo and the Vanguard); “Uptown Funk” (Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars); “Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran); “Blank Space” (Taylor Swift); “Can’t Feel My Face” (The Weeknd)

Who Should Win: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

Who Will Win: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

Why: This category is stacked with worthy contenders, especially D’Angelo and Taylor Swift. But we have to give it to Ronson and Mars for their funkadelic smash hit “Uptown Funk”: It’s got soul, staying power and is guaranteed to funk you up. Bruno Mars’s recent, tenacious Super Bowl performance is proof positive.

Album of the Year

Nominees: Sound & Color (Alabama Shakes); To Pimp a Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar); Traveller (Chris Stapleton); 1989 (Taylor Swift); Beauty Behind the Madness (The Weeknd)

Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar

Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar

Why: Alabama Shakes rattled and rolled with their sensational sophomore album Sound & Color, and country music’s reigning hero, Chris Stapleton, forged a formidable crossover album with Traveller. But this one’s a no-brainer: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is all at once defiant, transgressive and groovy. It’s the knotty album necessary for our knotty time.

Song of the Year

Nominees: “Alright” (Kendrick Lamar); “Blank Space” (Taylor Swift); “Girl Crush” (Little Big Town); “See You Again” (Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth); “Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran)

Who Should Win: Taylor Swift

Who Will Win: Taylor Swift

Why: Taylor Swift’s pop turn with the anthemic “Blank Space” has inspired countless memes parodying its music video, about a romance-to-rubble relationship that ends in tearing shirts with knives and slashing a painting with, um, knives. It made an anthem of something that before was just a colloquialism: “Nice to meet you, where you been?” Song of the year—or the century?

Best New Artist

Nominees: Courtney Barnett, James Bay, Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly, Meghan Trainor

Who Should Win: Courtney Barnett

Who Will Win: Meghan Trainor

Why: We’re pulling for Courtney Barnett, the droll Australian shredder whose album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit became a shining star for slackers everywhere last year. But Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” was an inescapable hit, as divisive as it was infectious.

Best Album—Rap

Nominees: 2014 Forest Hills Drive (J. Cole); Compton (Dr. Dre); If Youre Reading This Its Too Late (Drake); To Pimp a Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar); The Pinkprint (Nicki Minaj)

Who Should Win: To Pimp a Butterfly

Who Will Win: To Pimp a Butterfly

Why: This is maybe the most stacked category this year, but just give Kendrick’s album every last award. No offense to Nicki Minaj, though. You’re great.

Best Album—Rock

Nominees: Chaos and the Calm (James Bay); Kintsugi (Death Cab For Cutie); Mister Asylum (Highly Suspect); Drones (Muse); .5: The Gray Chapter (Slipknot)

Who Should Win: No one, don’t encourage this.

Who Will Win: Muse

Why: Do you remember rock 'n' roll radio? The Grammys don’t, apparently, with this egregiously out-of-touch category. Muse will probably take this one, given the topical theme Drones probes.

Best Album—Pop Vocal

Nominees: Piece by Piece (Kelly Clarkson); How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Florence & The Machine); 1989 (Taylor Swift); Before This World (James Taylor)

Who Should Win: Taylor Swift

Who Will Win: Taylor Swift

Why: Florence Welch wrote a gorgeous album, and it’s certainly hard to resist a good James Taylor tune. But 1989’s not only jam-packed with hits, it also served as Taylor Swift’s visceral transition from country darling into full-on pop star. It helps that Swift pulled off a massive tour with ample (and we mean ample) surprise guests onstage every night, bringing 1989 to life over and over. Hopefully Kelly Clarkson, Florence and James Taylor can shake off the loss.

Best Album—Alternative Music

Nominees: Sound & Color (Alabama Shakes); Vulnicura (Björk); The Waterfall (My Morning Jacket); Currents (Tame Impala); Star Wars (Wilco)

Who Should Win: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Who Will Win: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Why: The Grammys tend to reward artists for past efforts, even if their current one is lackluster. (What’s good, Beck?) Tame Impala’s Currents goes in a decidedly dancey direction unexpectedly, and sounds like something the Grammys might be into. But then again, it would also be very like the Grammys to give Wilco what would be their first Grammy for something that’s not Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or A Ghost is Born or any of the other times they’ve earned it already. People seemed to like Alabama Shakes’ album though, and Björk is still stunning and confusing. Too close to call.

Best Album—R&B

Nominees: Coming Home (Leon Bridges); Black Messiah (D’Angelo and the Vanguard); Cheers to the Fall (Andra Day); Reality Show (Jazmine Sullivan); Forever Charlie (Charlie Wilson)

Who Should Win: D’Angelo

Who Will Win: D’Angelo

Why: Leon Bridges is helping to bring neo-soul back, it’s true, and Jazmine Sullivan can sing the hell out of a slow jam. But D’Angelo’s comeback tour de force Black Messiah, which dropped as a surprise in late December 2014, is a political statement you can tap your toes to. And shouldn’t the best albums make us think and dance simultaneously?

Best Album—Improvised Jazz

Nominees: Giant Steps (Joey Alexander, soloist); Cherokee (Christian McBride, soloist); Arbiters of Evolution (Donny McCaslin, soloist) Friend Or Foe (Joshua Redman, soloist); Past Present (John Scofield, soloist)

Who Should Win: Joshua Redman

Who Will Win: Donny McCaslin

Why: In our new favorite category, John Scofield, occasionally of Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood, is being rightfully recognized for his soloing chops, and the same goes for Donny McCaslin, who’s recently been in the headlines for having collaborated with David Bowie on the late star’s final album, Blackstar. The saxophonist Joshua Redman merits the Grammy here, though, given the slow-burn panache and masterful tension he provides on “Friend or Foe.”