The 65th Grammy Awards take place on Sunday 5 February, with music fans preparing for the rematch of the century: Adele vs Beyoncé.
Both artists are up for Album of the Year, six years after Adele took home the top prize for her third record, 25. The win over Beyoncé’s critically adored surprise album Lemonade was highly controversial; Adele herself famously declared that Beyoncé deserved the prize during her acceptance speech.
This year, the British singer is competing with her record-obliterating fourth album, 30, released in 2021. A four-star review in The Independent praised the songs as “handsomely crafted ballads about love and its various agonies”, with Adele’s voice, as ever, the main draw. “Adele possesses that perfectly imperfect voice, gargantuan and frail all at once,” critic Annabel Nugent wrote. “It’s epic without resorting to showy, melismatic affectations. It yawns into unexpected shapes and makes intonation fun.”
Beyoncé, meanwhile, surprised fans and critics with her disco and house-influenced album Renaissance. “In a catch-all spirit of musical modernism, trap, house, glitchtronica, disco, ragga, South African gqom and future funk are all lobbed into a heady mix, with songs blending into each other and shifting course mid-flow,” critic Mark Beaumont said in his four-star review.
Also battling out for Album of the Year are rapper Kendrick Lamar, Adele’s fellow Brits, Coldplay and Harry Styles, pop star Lizzo, Abba, Mary J Blige, Brandi Carlile. Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny completes the list of 10 nominees, and makes history with his album Un Verano Sin Tee, which is the first ever Spanish-language record nominated in the AOTY category.
Here’s a look at the runners and riders for the “Big Four” categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.
Album of the Year nominees
30 – Adele
Voyage – ABBA
Un Verano Sin Tee – Bad Bunny
Renaissance – Beyoncé
Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe) – Mary J Blige
In These Silent Days – Brandi Carlile
Music of the Spheres – Coldplay
Mr Morale & The Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar
Special – Lizzo
Harry’s House – Harry Styles
Verdict: Kendrick Lamar has multiple Grammys to his name but has been snubbed a painful three times for Album of the Year, in favour of Daft Punk, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. His fifth album, Mr Morale & the Big Steppers, is more than worthy of the accolade, with its thoughtful and often tender ruminations on childhood, celebrity culture, infidelity and fatherhood. In the battle of the pop titans, Beyoncé must surely triumph over Adele with her dazzling disco-inspired album Renaissance. A curveball (but still well-deserved) would be Bad Bunny with his swaggering, sun-drenched Un Verano Sin Tee.
Will win: Beyoncé
Should win: Beyoncé
Record of the Year nominees
“Don’t Shut Me Down” – ABBA (Benny Andersson, producer; Benny Andersson & Bernard Lohr, engineers/mixers; Bjorn Engelmann, mastering engineer)
“Easy on Me” – Adele (Greg Kurstin, producer; Julian Burg, Torn Elmhirst and Greg Kurstin, engineers/mixers; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer)
“Break My Soul” – Beyoncé (Beyoncé, Terius “The-Dream” Gesteelde-Diamant, Jens Christian Isaksen and Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, producers; Brandon Harding, Chris McLaughlin & Stuart White, engineers/mixers; Colin Leonard, mastering engineer)
“Good Morning Gorgeous” – Mary J Blige (D’Mile and HER, producers; Bryce Bordone, Serban Ghenea and Pat Kelly, engineers/mixers)
“You and Me on the Rock” – Brandi Carlile Featuring Lucius (Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings, producers; Brandon Bell, Torn Elmhirst and Michael Harris, engineers/mixers; Pete Lyman, mastering engineer)
“Woman”– Doja Cat (Crate Classics, Linden Jay, Aynzli Jones and Yeti Beats, producers; Jesse Ray Ernster and Rian Lewis, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer)
“Bad Habit” – Steve Lacy (Steve Lacy, producer; Neal Pogue and Karl Wingate, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer)
“The Heart Part 5” – Kendrick Lamar (Beach Noise, producer; Beach Noise, Rob Bisel, Ray Charles Brown Jr, James Hunt, Johnny Kosich, Matt Schaeffer and Johnathan Turner, engineers/mixers; Michelle Mancini, mastering engineer)
“About Damn Time” – Lizzo (Ricky Reed and Blake Slatkin, producers; Patrick Kehrier, Bill Malina and Manny Marroquin, engineers/mixers; Michelle Mancini, mastering engineer)
“As It Was” – Harry Styles (Tyler Johnson and Kid Harpoon, producers; Jeremy Hatcher and Spike Stent, engineers/mixers; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer)
Verdict: For the uninitiated, or anyone confused about the Grammys’ differentiation between “album” and “record”, the latter acknowledges the producers, mixers and engineers who helped create these hit songs, along with the artist or band themselves. There are plenty of big names among this year’s nominees, including Greg Kurstin, who produced Adele’s comeback single “Easy on Me”, Abba’s Benny Andersson on the Swedish pop group’s own comeback, and The Dream for Beyoncé’s empowering anthem “Break My Soul”. Sitting quietly among those lush offerings, though, is Brandi Carlile’s beautiful, finely wrought “You and Me on the Rock”, produced by Dave Cobb, one of the finest producers in Nashville today.
Will win: “Easy on Me” – Adele (Greg Kurstin, producer; Julian Burg, Torn Elmhirst and Greg Kurstin, engineers/mixers; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer)
Should win: “You and Me on the Rock” – Brandi Carlile Featuring Lucius (Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings, producers; Brandon Bell, Torn Elmhirst and Michael Harris, engineers/mixers; Pete Lyman, mastering engineer)
Song of the Year
“abcdefu” – Gayle
“About Damn Time” – Lizzo
“All Too Well” (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film) – Taylor Swift ”
“As It Was” – Harry Styles
“Bad Habit” – Steve Lacy
“Break My Soul” – Beyoncé
“Easy on Me” – Adele
“God Did” – DJ Khaled
“The Heart Part 5” – Kendrick Lamar
“Just Like That” – Bonnie Raitt
Verdict: It’s interesting to see a song that found viral fame on TikTok making its way on to such a prestigious list. With almost a billion streams on Spotify, “abcdefu” is probably one of the most successful, too. But does it hold a candle to the other nominees? Not a chance. It’s catchy, sure, but Gayle’s slouchy delivery is torn right from the Billie Eilish playbook, while its lyrics are clumsy at best, childish at worst. Judges would be better casting their votes in favour of Lizzo, with her defiant single “About Damn Time”, Kendrick’s “The Heart Part 5”, or Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul”.
Will win: “Break My Soul” – Beyoncé
Should win: “Break My Soul” – Beyoncé
Best New Artist
DOMi and JD Beck
Verdict: A real mixed bag here, including a rare triumph for the Brits in the form of Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg. The last UK act to win this prize was Dua Lipa in 2019, with Sam Smith before that in 2015. Another four years later, maybe they have a shot? They’ve got stiff competition, though, from US singer-songwriter Omar Apollo and world-dominating Italian rockers Måneskin.
Will win: Måneskin
Should win: Måneskin
Winners will be announced on 5 February 2023 during the ceremony, which will broadcast live from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. US audiences can tune in on CBS and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+.