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Music

Our 2020 Grammy predictions: Will Billie Eilish, Lizzo or Lil Nas X win the night?

Lizzo
Lizzo leads all artists with eight Grammy nominations.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Ahead of Sunday’s ceremony at Staples Center, three of The Times’ music experts — August Brown, Randall Roberts and Mikael Wood — along with three-time Grammy-winning R&B star Ne-Yo — predict who’s likely to win music’s most prestigious awards.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish is nominated for six Grammys, including album, song, record and best new artist.
(Kenneth Cappello)

“I, I” — Bon Iver
“Norman F— Rockwell!” — Lana Del Rey
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” — Billie Eilish (predicted to win by Brown, Ne-Yo, Roberts, Wood)
“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

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Wood: “From Alanis Morissette to Taylor Swift, the Grammys have always loved a wunderkind, and never more than when the youngster in question, Eilish, has clearly been paying attention to history.”

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X’s six nominations include album and record of the year, as well as best new artist.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

“Hey, Ma” — Bon Iver
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish (Brown)
“7 Rings” — Ariana Grande
“Hard Place” — H.E.R.
“Talk” — Khalid
“Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus (Ne-Yo, Roberts, Wood)
“Truth Hurts” — Lizzo
“Sunflower” — Post Malone and Swae Lee

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Ne-Yo: “There was no escaping ‘Old Town Road’ last year. All good, didn’t want to.”

SONG OF THE YEAR

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift"s Lover” is nominated for song of the year.
(Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty Images)

“Always Remember Us This Way” — Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna, songwriters (Lady Gaga)
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish) (Wood)
“Bring My Flowers Now” — Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth and Tanya Tucker, songwriters (Tanya Tucker)
“Hard Place” — Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris, H.E.R. and Rodney Jerkins, songwriters (H.E.R.)
“Lover” — Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)
“Norman F— Rockwell!” — Jack Antonoff and Lana Del Rey, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)
“Someone You Loved” — Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn and Sam Roman, songwriters (Lewis Capaldi)
“Truth Hurts” — Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson and Jesse Saint John, songwriters (Lizzo) (Brown, Ne-Yo, Roberts)

Roberts: “‘Truth Hurts’ is the unifier in a field dotted with excellent genre songs, plus had the best couplet: ‘Why men great ‘til they gotta be great?/ Don’t text me tell it straight to my face.’”

BEST NEW ARTIST

Lizzo
Lizzo, who has seemed ubiquitous this year, is up for best new artist.
(Bill McCay / Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Black Pumas
Billie Eilish (Brown)
Lil Nas X
Lizzo (Ne-Yo, Roberts, Wood)
Maggie Rogers
Rosalía
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

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Wood: “Lizzo’s records aren’t always great. But at a moment when pop stardom is a multimedia pursuit, nobody takes better command of a platform.”

POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande is nominated for pop solo and pop duo/group performance.
(Mark Davis / Getty Images)

“Spirit” — Beyoncé
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish (Brown, Ne-Yo)
“7 Rings” — Ariana Grande (Roberts, Wood)
“Truth Hurts” — Lizzo
“You Need to Calm Down” — Taylor Swift

Wood: “A trap-pop banger built on an indelible Rodgers & Hammerstein sample, ‘7 Rings’ excites the kids and reassures the olds.”

POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

Jonas Brothers
The Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker” is nominated for pop duo/group performance. They were nominated for best new artist in 2009.
(Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

“Boyfriend” — Ariana Grande and Social House
“Sucker” — Jonas Brothers
“Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus (Brown, Ne-Yo, Roberts, Wood)
“Sunflower” — Post Malone & Swae Lee
“Senorita” — Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

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Roberts: “When Nashville oldster Cyrus saddled up to join Lil Nas X, the song galloped into the mainstream. That success should ensure a victory, though Mendes and Cabello were nearly as ubiquitous.”

POP VOCAL ALBUM

Beyoncé
Beyoncé is nominated for four Grammys this year, including pop vocal album.
(Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for NARAS)

“The Lion King: The Gift” — Beyoncé
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” — Billie Eilish (Brown, Ne-Yo)
“Thank U, Next” — Ariana Grande (Roberts, Wood)
“No. 6 Collaborations Project” — Ed Sheeran
“Lover” — Taylor Swift

Brown: “Few albums got snubbed harder than Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ this year. Does Grammy throw a crumb her way for pop vocal album? Probably not in a year with a groundbreaking act like Eilish.”

ROCK ALBUM

Cage the Elephant
L.A. band Cage the Elephant is nominated for rock album.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)

“Amo” — Bring Me the Horizon
“Social Cues” — Cage the Elephant (Roberts, Wood)
“In the End” — The Cranberries (Brown, Ne-Yo)
“Trauma” — I Prevail
“Feral Roots” — Rival Sons

Roberts: “With Imagine Dragons and Foo Fighters not on the ballot, expect voters to go with the L.A. band Cage the Elephant.”

ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend
Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, which is nominated for album of the year and alternative music album.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

“U.F.O.F.” — Big Thief (Brown)
“Assume Form” — James Blake
“I,I” — Bon Iver
“Father of the Bride” — Vampire Weekend (Ne-Yo, Roberts, Wood)
“Anima” — Thom Yorke

Brown: “In a category dominated by Gen X and Very Elder Millennials, beloved indie rockers Big Thief are the only act with any new buzz in this category.”

R&B ALBUM

Ella Mai
Ella Mai could walk away with the R&B album trophy.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“1123" — BJ the Chicago Kid
“Painted” — Lucky Daye (Ne-Yo)
“Ella Mai” — Ella Mai (Brown, Roberts, Wood)
“Paul” — PJ Morton
“Ventura” — Anderson .Paak

Brown: “Lucky Daye will please the purists and the multi-threat Anderson .Paak is now an arena star, but Ella Mai had the inescapable hit ‘Boo’d Up’ alongside a top five debut.”

URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

Steve Lacy
Compton’s Steve Lacy is nominated for his “Apollo XXI” album.
(Luis Sinco /)

“Apollo XXI” — Steve Lacy
“Cuz I Love You” (Deluxe) — Lizzo (Brown, Ne-Yo, Roberts, Wood)
“Overload” — Georgia Anne Muldrow
“Saturn” — NAO
“Being Human in Public” — Jessie Reyez

Roberts: “Lizzo’s a safe bet, even if singer-producer Muldrow and producer-songwriter Lacy issued more expansive ‘urban contemporary’ (whatever that is) albums last year.”

RAP ALBUM

Meek Mill
Meek Mill is in the mix for rap album.
(Jay L. Clendenin/ Los Angeles Times)

“Revenge of the Dreamers III” — Dreamville
“Championships” — Meek Mill (Ne-Yo)
“I Am > I Was” — 21 Savage
“Igor” — Tyler, the Creator (Brown, Roberts, Wood)
“The Lost Boy” — YBN Cordae

Ne-Yo: “Love to see the triumphant comeback. They tried to count out Meek Mill and he wouldn’t let them.”

COUNTRY ALBUM

Tanya Tucker
Tanya Tucker received four Grammy nominations for her first album in more than a dozen years.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

“Desperate Man” — Eric Church
“Stronger Than the Truth” — Reba McEntire (Ne-Yo)
“Interstate Gospel” — Pistol Annies
“Center Point Road” — Thomas Rhett
“While I’m Livin’” — Tanya Tucker (Brown, Roberts, Wood)

Wood: “Tucker’s self-conscious comeback effort would feel like a lock even without production by Grammy fave Brandi Carlile.”

LATIN ROCK/URBAN/ALTERNATIVE ALBUM

Rosalía
Rosalía is nominated for best new artist and Latin rock/urban/alternative album.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

“X 100PRE” Bad Bunny
“Oasis” — J Balvin & Bad Bunny (Ne-Yo)
“Indestructible” — Flor De Toloache
“Almadura” — iLe
“El Mal Querer” — Rosalía (Brown, Roberts, Wood)

Brown: “With Bad Bunny splitting his vote across two projects, Rosalía looks pretty strong after a huge year commercially and a Grammy-bait sound both classic and progressive.”


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