Patterns, history, tradition. These are often the only tools that showbiz awards prognosticators have at their disposal. But tell that to Ben Affleck. As last year's Oscars reminded everyone, sometimes it's best to cast aside all those charts, lick your finger, and stick it out the window to see what's in the air.
The Song of the Year Grammy has never been quite so married to its fraternal twin Record of the Year in the same way Best Picture and Best Director almost always go hand in hand at the Academy Awards. But the two overlap often enough that you have to at least give the benefit of the doubt to Lorde and Bruno Mars. That Grammy voters just want to blow raspberries on the latter's cute little Billboard-Artist-of-the-Year tummy is obvious. That they're ready to hand over the gold is less so. The 14 nominations he racked up in the previous three years are as impressive as his solitary win is not. The derivative "Locked Out of Heaven" smartly channels the Police as its spirit animal, but retro doesn't usually play as well in this category as timelessly boring. So he'll have his day.
Conversely, all signs seem to point toward Lorde having her day right here and right now. As odd as that seems to say about someone who's only 17 years old, just look at the credentials behind "Royals" and see if you don't tremble symbiotically for her contemplating her next move. Not just a smash hit, but also a cultural touchstone in a way that, say, "Roar" is unquestionably not, "Royals" spent eight weeks at the top of the Hot 100 (second only to "Blurred Lines" last year) and just surpassed Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" for the longest stretch atop the alternative chart by a female artist. Slam dunk, right?
And yet, in the time that's elapsed since the start of this year's eligibility period and when ballots were due, the number of states achieving marriage equality more than doubled, and the number of citizens living in states where same-sex marriage is available went from roughly 36 million to 121 million, largely due to the death of California's Prop 8. One historic turn of events deserves another. So while no rap song has ever won in this category before, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert's "Same Love," which is practically a message ballad in hip-hop drag, has enough timeliness and unassailable feel-good liberal credentials to break through any residual stodginess. And in this case, Macklemore's dopey softball approach (his eyes were opened when he saw people leaving mean comments on YouTube), only bolsters his bid. It may seem like a wobbly proposition right now, but so were Argo's Best Picture chances, and you can bet that Oscar is still keeping Affleck warm.
Will Win: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Same Love"
Could Win: Lorde, "Royals"
Should Win: Lorde, "Royals"