Picking the winners in this year's top Grammy Awards is a bit like choosing a Super Bowl champ: Chiefs or Eagles? Adele or Beyoncé?
Once again, those two musical and cultural tera-forces are battling it out at the Grammys.
Remember in 2017 when, in a teary speech accepting album of the year for "30," Adele gushed: "My idol is Queen Bey. You move my soul every single day. I can't possibly accept this. The 'Lemonade' album is so monumental and so well thought out and so beautiful and soul-baring. ... We [expletive] adore you, you are our light."
Time for the redux in 2023. Here are some predictions.
Album of the year
ABBA, "Voyage"; Adele, "30"; Bad Bunny, "Un Verano Sin Ti"; Beyoncé, "Renaissance"; Mary J. Blige, "Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)"; Brandi Carlile, "In These Silent Days"; Coldplay, "Music of the Spheres"; Kendrick Lamar, "Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers"; Lizzo, "Special"; Harry Styles, "Harry's House."
Although many of these nominees (especially Adele, Lizzo, Lamar and Coldplay) have issued superior albums in the past, all finalists are worthy save for ABBA.
Will win: "Renaissance." Some people might think of this as a make-good because Beyoncé has missed out four times in this category. There's no question "Renaissance" was the most artistically rewarding album of 2022. Can't believe the second-best album, Rosalia's "Motomami," didn't get nominated in this category, though it was encouraging to see another Spanish-language album, Bad Bunny's, make the finals.
Should win: "Renaissance." Enough said.
Dark horse: "In These Silent Days." The generous and supportive Carlile appears on every awards show and tribute concert. Her voice is powerful, her spirit irresistible and her popularity exploding.
Record of the year
ABBA, "Don't Shut Me Down"; Adele, "Easy on Me"; Beyoncé, "Break My Soul"; Mary J. Blige, "Good Morning Gorgeous"; Brandi Carlile and Lucius, "You and Me on the Rock"; Doja Cat, "Woman"; Steve Lacy, "Bad Habit"; Kendrick Lamar, "The Heart Part 5"; Lizzo, "About Damn Time"; Harry Styles, "As It Was."
It feels as if ABBA, which has never won a Grammy, is a finalist because of previous slights. Ditto for Blige and Lamar, who have collected Grammys but not in any of the Big Four categories.
Will win: "Easy on Me."
Should win: "Break My Soul."
Dark horses: "As It Was" and "Bad Habit."
Song of the year
Adele, "Easy on Me"; Beyoncé, "Break My Soul"; Gayle, "abcdefu"; DJ Khaled, "God Did"; Steve Lacy, "Bad Habit"; Kendrick Lamar, "The Heart Part 5"; Lizzo, "About Damn Time"; Bonnie Raitt, "Just Like That"; Harry Styles, "As It Was"; Taylor Swift, "All Too Well."
Grammy loves Taylor but would it be right to award a 10-minute rewrite of a 2012 song? "abcdefu" is an irresistibly clever kiss-off, and "God Did," with nine songwriters, would be an unprecedented triumph in this category for a rap pastiche. Styles is overdue for a big prize, but "As It Was" is a better record than song.
Will win: "Easy on Me."
Should win: "Just Like That." This powerful, heart-tugging, very special song is based on a true story of an organ transplant connecting two families struck by tragedies. By the way, it's the lone finalist that has only one songwriter.
Dark horse: "Bad Habit."
Best new artist
Anitta, Omar Apollo, DOMi and JD Beck, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Muni Long, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle and Wet Leg.
This is a challenging race to handicap. Usually, one or two acts have stood out with a blockbuster hit or two. Latto ("Big Energy") and Long ("Hrs and Hrs") each boasts one big hit. Wet Leg's eponymous debut made my 10-best list of 2022, but the duo might be a pop novelty. Brazilian hottie Anitta is a dance-music curiosity. Acoustic ace Tuttle is an impressive guitarist, but she's been around a while (she won best guitar player in 2017 from International Bluegrass Music Association). Jazz singer Joy, 23, is truly an emerging talent.
Will win: Måneskin. The Italian quartet with the Danish moniker rocks with panache. Many appearances on awards shows and late-night talk shows have given this alluringly visual group consistent visibility.
Should win: Samara Joy.
Dark horse: Latto.