RECORD OF THE YEAR (given to those “responsible for the piece of recorded music deemed the best” of the period from Sept. 1, 2019, to Aug. 31, 2020)
Should win: Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé's “Savage” was the confidence-filled rallying cry that the quarantine era needed, a booming track filled with great one-liners that could turn even the dankest, most cramped living space into a flashbulb-illuminated runway.
Will win: Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” is a briskly bouncy throwback to the peak MTV era, and it’s performed by one of pop’s recently minted bona fide superstars.
Also nominated: Beyoncé, “Black Parade”; Black Pumas, “Colors”; DaBaby, featuring Roddy Ricch, “Rockstar”; Doja Cat, “Say So”; Billie Eilish, “Everything I Wanted”; Post Malone, “Circles”
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Should win: What an odd year for this category, especially given the number of albums that were ignored entirely. Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” is probably the best potential winner here; not only is it an excellent collection of songs that showcased the superstar’s growth as a songwriter and lyricist, it shook the world — and sold boatloads — when it was surprise-dropped last summer.
Will win: Your guess is as good as mine, but the way the “he’s a genius!” rhetoric around British Quincy Jones protégé Jacob Collier has been getting louder lately makes me feel like his fourth full-length, “Djesse Vol. 3,” is a dark horse, even if his polymath nature is far more interesting than any of the album’s songs.
Also nominated: Jhené Aiko, “Chilombo”; Black Pumas, “Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition)”; Coldplay, “Everyday Life”; HAIM, “Women In Music Pt. III”; Dua Lipa, “Future Nostalgia”; Post Malone, “Hollywood’s Bleeding”
SONG OF THE YEAR (given to songwriters)
Should and will win: H.E.R.’s protest song “I Can’t Breathe” is a message to the world from an artist who’s (deservedly) much-admired by the Recording Academy.
Also nominated: “Black Parade”; “The Box”; “Cardigan”; “Circles”; “Don’t Start Now”; “Everything I Wanted”; “If the World Was Ending”
BEST NEW ARTIST
Should win: Megan Thee Stallion’s rise over the nomination period culminated in two 2020-defining tracks, the boastful “Savage” and her deliriously dirty Cardi B collaboration “WAP.”
Will win: Ingrid Andress honed her songwriting chops helping pen pop tracks like Charli XCX’s giddy ”Boys,” and she then used her knowledge of hooks to cook up her own blend of country and R&B.
Also nominated: Phoebe Bridgers, Chika, Noah Cyrus, D Smoke, Doja Cat, Kaytranada
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE
Should win: Harry Styles’s “Watermelon Sugar” was one of the nomination year’s most irresistible chart-toppers, a breezy slice of soul-pop that showcased the British pop icon’s swagger and charm.
Will win: Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” still has a fresh-jam feel despite it being nearly a year and a half old and being such a convincing ’80s pastiche you’d swear it was wearing neon legwarmers.
Also nominated: Justin Bieber, “Yummy”; Doja Cat, “Say So”; Billie Eilish, “Everything I Wanted”; Taylor Swift, “Cardigan”
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE
Should win: Fiona Apple might have called out the Grammys for the multiple nominations given to Dr. Luke, who produced Doja Cat’s much-shortlisted “Say So” under his pseudonym Tyson Trax, but her album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” was one of the album of the year category’s biggest snubs, and its out-crowd musing “Shameika” stands out even in this category’s fairly strong field.
Will win: Phoebe Bridgers might have a big day Sunday; she’s up for best new artist and has three other rock-category nominations, including this one for her strummy single “Kyoto.”
Also nominated: Big Thief, “Not”; HAIM, “The Steps”; Brittany Howard, “Stay High”; Grace Potter, “Daylight”
BEST PROGRESSIVE R&B ALBUM
Should win: One of the newer categories on the Grammys’ roster (formerly best urban contemporary album) has a robust slate of nominees this year. Chloe x Halle’s “Ungodly Hour,” the second studio album from multi-hyphenates (and sisters) Chloe and Halle Bailey, builds on the promise that they’ve been showing in thrilling ways, with their blood harmonies mingling over forward-thinking R&B.
Will win: Jhene Aiko’s “Chilombo” is up for album of the year, the sort of inclusion that tends to hint at the outcome for the Grammys’ smaller categories.
Also nominated: Free Nationals, “Free Nationals”; Robert Glasper, “[Expletive] Yo Feelings”; Thundercat, “It Is What It Is”
BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE
Should and will win: Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me” is a home run, a master class in country storytelling that showcases the Texas singer-songwriter’s rich voice and fresh perspective.
Also nominated: Eric Church, “Stick That in Your Country Song”; Brandy Clark, “Who You Thought I Was”; Vince Gill, “When My Amy Prays”; Miranda Lambert, “Bluebird”