GRAMMY CHEW: THE SPIN ON RECORD OF THE YEAR

ROTY is an especially impressive field this time around, with a bevy of icons, superstars and young breakouts vying for the gold. What are the dynamics of the race at present? Here’s our take, with the oft-repeated caveat that Grammy does what Grammy wants.

Kendrick Lamar, “The Heart Part 5” (pgLang/TDE/Aftermath/Interscope): This powerful, soulful, anguished and hopeful cut exemplifies the impact of Kendrick’s hugely acclaimed work. It’s the best top-tier opportunity for Grammy to recognize him—at the moment, he looks like the front-runner.

Beyoncé, “BREAK MY SOUL” (Parkwood/Columbia): The club-ready smash that marked Queen Bey’s return to mainstream domination, “SOUL” is a celebration of ballroom culture that serves as a timely anthem of resilience. Is Grammy ready to anoint the most-nominated female artist once again?

Adele, “Easy on Me” (Columbia): One of the most massive songs of the year, megastar Adele’s return plays to all her strengths, delivering from-the-heart vocal fireworks and all the pleasures of classic popcraft. Is that enough to land her the prize in a very strong field?

Harry Styles, “As It Was” (Columbia): The charismatic Brit’s post-pandemic meditation is the year’s monster single, having amassed north of 1.6b streams on Spotify alone—and it’s still on fire. Could this be the one that brings Harry major-field glory?

Steve Lacy, “Bad Habit” (L-M/RCA): The inclusion of this left-field smash means Grammy has let the ultra-creative Lacy into the club. There’s no question that this artist has a great future ahead of him—does its next level start here?

Doja Cat, “Woman” (Kemosabe/RCA): Powerhouse entertainer Doja had a helluva year, scoring hit after hit. Her nomination for this smoky, grooving cut is well deserved. Is there a path for her to take the hardware amid such heavyweight company?

Lizzo, “About Damn Time” (Nice Life/Atlantic): This bouncy, disco-infused track captures the empowering sensibility that has made Lizzo a multimedia phenomenon. Grammy certainly wants her to bring that energy to the show. Will she be rewarded here or in genre?

Brandi Carlile, “You and Me on the Rock” (Low Country Sound/Elektra): The inclusion of this slice of roots-pop from trusty troubadour Carlile underscores how entirely beloved she is by the Grammy establishment. Could “Rock” score a stone upset?

Mary J. Blige, “Good Morning Gorgeous” (300): The revered vocalist serves up some classic-style R&B with a self-esteem-boosting message here. Her voice is surely in fine fettle, but is the Academy rewarding her for past successes?

ABBA, “Don’t Shut Me Down” (Capitol): This ultra-sentimental pop throwback has some of the Swedish legend's trademark sparkle, though once again it seems that Grammy is including the group as career-achievement recognition. Is that enough to get it to the podium?

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