Entertainment » Music

Lizzo or Billie Eilish? Handicapping the Upcoming Grammy Slugfest

by Christopher Ehlers
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jan 24, 2020
Billie Eilish and Lizzo
Billie Eilish and Lizzo  (Source:Associated Press)

I am great at predicting award shows, but I am terrible at predicting the Grammys. Most pundits are, it seems, year after year, nothing ever goes according to plan. It's this unpredictability that makes for good television, even though as I sit down to write this, I keep asking myself why I'm putting myself through this again.

Two years ago, the Recording Academy expanded the top fields to include eight nominees rather than the standard five, which makes this process even harder. That, coupled with a recent major push to diversify its members, being able to predict what old, white men like best is becoming less and less useful.

The big story this year—aside from the drama surrounding the just fired CEO Deborah Dugan—is that all four major categories are a slugfest between Lizzo, who leads with eight nominees, and Billie Eilish, who has six. Should either Lizzo or Eilish sweep the four general field categories—that is, Album, Song, Record, and New Artist—they will become only the third artist in history to do it since Christopher Cross swept in 1981. (Adele is the only other artist who has won in all four categories, but she did it across several years).

Both Lizzo and Eilish defined music in 2019, which makes choosing who will prevail even trickier. There's also the possibility that they will split the vote in all four categories, allowing for a dark horse to sneak in and upset. But we could see someone like Eilish make a clean sweep, which is what many are predicting. The Grammys have a history of doing black women wrong, so there is no reason to think that won't happen again this year.

Let's get this over with.


Record of the Year
Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus  

Record of the Year

"Hey Ma" - Bon Iver
"Bad Guy" - Billie Eilish
"7 Rings" - Ariana Grande
"Hard Place" - H.E.R.
"Talk" - Khalid
"Old Town Road" - Lil Nas x feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
"Truth Hurts" - Lizzo
"Sunflower" - Post Malone & Swae Lee

This award goes to the performers, producers, engineers, and mixers rather than the songwriters, so this is all about production and performance over content.

It seems that "Old Town Road" would have the edge here, and the fact that it blends several different genres, possibly shoring up both the country and the rap votes, could be enough to lasso a gold gramophone for breakout sensation Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, who after decades in the business would win his first Grammy. This line of thinking is what made recent frontrunners like "The Middle" and "Despacito" losing pics, but I'm picking it anyway because one, I never learn my lesson, and two, Lil Nas X inexplicably managed to score an Album of the Year nomination for his 19 minute-long EP, so that shows uncanny support among his peers.

But "Truth Hurts" and "Bad Guy" are huge threats, and for the last three consecutive years, the same artist has won both Record and Song of the Year, so this is what I mean when I say that if the Recording Academy really loves one of these women, they could have voted for them straight down the ballot.

It's too bad that "7 Rings" doesn't have a chance here, because it would easily get my vote.

Will Win: "Old Town Road" - Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
Should Win: "7 Rings" - Ariana Grande
Watch Out For: "Bad Guy" - Billie Eilish


Song of the Year
Billie Eilish  

Song of the Year

"Always Remember Us This Way" - Lady Gaga
"Bad Guy" - Billie Eilish
"Bring My Flowers Now" - Tanya Tucker
"Hard Place" - H.E.R.
"Lover" - Taylor Swift
"Norman Fucking Rockwell" - Lana Del Rey
"Someone You Loved" - Lewis Capaldi
"Truth Hurts" - Lizzo

This is an award for songwriting, and "Lover" seems to exemplify that. It's also the only one of these songs that was written by a single person. Swift's Album of the Year snub could spell trouble for her here, but it could work in her favor if voters want to reward her for something. Not to mention, Swift has never won Song of the Year.

There is also a case to be made for "Bring My Flowers Now," a simple, sweet, and devastating song co-written by Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile. Tucker is a 14-time Grammy nominee—her first nomination came almost 50 years ago—and she has never won.

I'm sorry to say that the smart money is on Eilish here, though my vote would go to "Always Remember Us This Way."

Will Win: "Bad Guy" - Billie Eilish
Should Win: "Always Remember Us This Way" - Lady Gaga
Watch Out For: "Bring My Flowers Now" and "Lover"


Best New Artist
Lizzo  

Best New Artist

Black Pumas
Billie Eilish
Lil Nas x
Lizzo
Maggie Rogers
Rosalía
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

What really needs to be said?

Will Win: Billie Eilish
Should Win: Lizzo
Watch Out For: Rosalía


Album of the Year
Lana Del Ray  

Album of the Year

"I, I" - Bon Iver
"Norman Fucking Rockwell" - Lana Del Rey
"When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" - Billie Eilish
"Thank U, Next" - Ariana Grande
"I Used to Know Her" - H.E.R.
"7" - Lil Nas X
"Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)" - Lizzo
"Father of the Bride" - Vampire Weekend

First of all, I just want to say that I actually sat through all of Bon Iver's "I, I" for the purpose of writing this article, and I will never do that again. Same with "7," though at least it kept me awake.

H.E.R. managed her second consecutive Album of the Year nomination, which is impressive for an artist that most people have never heard of. "I Used to Know Her" is a great album, but I don't think she can take down the other heavyweights.

I'm as thrilled as can be that Vampire Weekend scored their first Album of the Year nomination after disappearing from the scene for six years, but a win is a longshot.

It felt to me like this was Ariana Grande's award to lose until it wasn't anymore. "Thank U, Next" peaked really early, but it's the best album of her career and I would love to see her win this.

Poor Lizzo—"Cuz I Love You" is one of the most empowering, original, badass, and fun-to-listen-to albums of the last several years—but Billie Eilish will win this rather handily, it seems.

But the deserved Album of the Year winner is Lana Del Rey, who has released masterpiece after masterpiece ever since 2012's "Born to Die." "Norman Fucking Rockwell" is the best-reviewed album of her career, and it's also the best-reviewed album of this bunch. I would like to believe that Del Rey's overdue status could help her here, but you'd have to go back seven years to find an Album of the Year winner that did not also win the award in its respective genre, and she isn't nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album this year, which puts her at a disadvantage. And Taylor Swift was right when she said last month during her Billboard Woman of the Decade speech that Del Rey is the most influential artist in pop. "Her vocal stylings, her lyrics, her aesthetics: they've been echoed and repurposed everywhere in music," she said. I have been reading article after article that says the same thing: Billie will win this, but Lana deserves this. Could this be a signal that a lot of voters might also feel the same way? In Lana's name we pray.

Will Win: "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" - Billie Eilish
Should Win: "Norman Fucking Rockwell" - Lana Del Rey
Watch Out For: me throwing a wine bottle through my TV when Lana loses.


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