When deliberating over how we expected the general field to go down this year, the question was never trying to figure out why Taylor Swift would win. Rather, it was: How could she not win? It may seem like eons ago in this current era of welcoming Adele to our collective heaving bosom to the tune of eight million albums, but for a brief while her publicists were doing a pretty bang-up job of selling the entire industry on Swift as their cute, crossover savior. The sentiment of “How many Grammys can we give you?” hangs thick in the air despite her nomination haul of seven seeming rather paltry against Kendrick Lamar’s 11.
In the moment, Lamar has momentum on his side, both for the leftover goodwill from his seven-times-nominated but scratch-scoring Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and for the critical ubiquity of his Pazz & Jop-slaying To Pimp a Butterfly. That Lamar’s expansive epic “Alright,” a mission statement in maximalism, managed a nomination is a reward in itself, given this category’s historic indifference to rap. (Song of the Year’s spotless record of refusing a trophy to the genre overcame even the ludicrously of-the-moment qualifications of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love” two years ago.) Of his chances here, let’s just say Lamar’s masterstroke should at least bury Wiz Khalifa’s tribute to Paul Walker driving cars through skyscrapers on the other side. Ditto Little Big Town’s low-key doo-wop affair “Girl Crush,” which, well, let’s just say it probably wouldn’t get Mulholland Drive’s Betty and Rita altogether hot and bothered.
If anyone’s in a position to capitalize on the possibility that some voters aren’t exactly ready to toss every available tiara at Swift’s head, it’s Ed Sheeran, whose tastefully chaste love ballad “Thinking Out Loud” is already a daddy-daughter dance classic. But trust this: “Blank Space” winning here is a free space in your Grammy Bingo card.
Will Win: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
Could Win: Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
Should Win: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”