ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The nominees: “25,” Adele; “Lemonade,” Beyoncé; “Purpose,” Justin Bieber; “Views,” Drake; “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” Sturgill Simpson.
Our pick: It’s four bestsellers plus Simpson’s critically adored, adventurous Americana effort. Despite its blockbuster and industry-saving sales, Adele’s “25” is not as satisfying as its Grammys-sweeping predecessor, “21.” Let’s hope voters realize that and recognize a far worthier work, Beyoncé’s bold, ambitious and socially aware “Lemonade.”
BEST NEW ARTIST
The nominees: Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Chance the Rapper, Anderson .Paak, the Chainsmokers.
Our pick: The finals find two impressive country thrushes, two rising names in hip-hop and a Top 10 pop/electronica duo that needs a guest singer to deliver their hits, including Halsey on the chart-topping “Closer.” The hyper-creative Chance, who had a big-selling streaming album, deserves this prize. Grammys voters will reward him, as they did a few years ago with lesser known jazz musician Esperanza Spalding.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
The nominees: “Hello,” Adele; “Formation,” Beyoncé; “7 Years,” Lukas Graham; “Work,” Rihanna featuring Drake; “Stressed Out,” Twenty One Pilots.
Our pick: A year ago at the Super Bowl, Beyoncé introduced “Formation,” a declaration about how black lives matter. Since Grammy voters cast their ballots after the presidential election, her protest piece is even more relevant, and it will prevail with the Grammys electoral college.
SONG OF THE YEAR
The nominees: “Formation” sung by Beyoncé; “Hello” sung by Adele; “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” sung by Mike Posner; “Love Yourself” sung by Justin Bieber; “7 Years” sung by Lukas Graham.
Our pick: All these songs were cowritten by the singers who made them into hits. I think this category is going to deliver a surprise — either “7 Years,” a thoughtful pop reflection on what life looks like at different ages, or “Love Yourself,” an empowering anthem by, yes, Bieber (co-written with Ed Sheeran), is going to win over the more high profile efforts by Beyoncé, which is a better record than a song, and by Adele, which doesn’t measure up to her special efforts of the past.