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Grammys 2016 Album of the Year Nominees, Who Should/Will Win: Can Kendrick Take on Taylor?

by Carolyn Menyes   Feb 14, 2016 11:00 AM EST

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Album of the Year is far and away the most elusive Grammy category. The thing about Album of the Year at the Grammys is, well, it can be a bit of a wildcard. Remember when Morning Phase beat Beyonce or when The Suburbs beat Teenage Dream? These things happen all the time. Trying to make a prediction almost seems... useless.

Yet, here we are. The big question of the 58th Annual Grammy Awards is... can anyone beat Taylor Swift? While she seems almost a lock for one of the big four awards, something like Album of the Year for 1989 may not be guaranteed. Can she beat the innovative rap of her "Bad Blood" collaborator Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly? Or, while alt-rock rule supreme once again, taking this award for Alabama Shakes?

Nominees:

Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes
To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar
Traveller, Chris Stapleton

1989, Taylor Swift
Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd

WHO SHOULD WIN: To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar

The accomplishments of To Pimp a Butterfly are undeniable. The album topped endless year-end best-of lists (including our own), did the seemingly impossible by fusing together rap, jazz and classical music all while spreading a social justice message and managed to be as commercially successful as it was critically. Name one other album that did that this year... Oh, you can't.

Though the sum of TPAB's parts may sound off-putting or odd, Kendrick Lamar was perfectly capable of including some bangers, all while tackling topics of self worth, what it means to be black in America. Genius yet important lyrics aside, listen to "King Kunta" or "Alright" and try not to bob your head along.

WHO WILL WIN: Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color

Despite the merits of To Pimp a Butterfly, is the notoriously out of touch Grammy voter ready to give a non-pop leaning rap album such a high award? We can't be too sure...

Right now, everything seems set up for Taylor Swift to win her second Album of the Year with 1989. She has been catering to Grammy voters for months, and her pop breakthrough album helped to redefine levels of superstardom in music. With crisp production and insatiable hits like "Blank Space" and "Wildest Dreams," how can you deny Swift her Grammy?

By appealing to the alt-leaning Album of the Year voters. That's how. In recent years, Beck, Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire, and Robert Plant & Allison Krauss have all won Album of the Year, for albums that were quite less famous than some of their fellow nominees. Precedent seems to indicate that Alabama Shakes may just pull a double sweep - taking this award from Lamar and Swift. That's not to say there aren't merits to Sound & Color too. The swift bluesy sounds and Brittany Howard's 100 percent GO FOR IT vocal performances make the record just the level of engaging, yet outside, that Album of the Year seems to go for.

Meanwhile, Chris Stapleton may be ruling the world of country, but he has yet to receive the name recognition that will help cross him over to such a big category. And, while The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness has some of the best singles of the year ("Can't Feel My Face," "The Hills") on it, the album as a whole is incredibly uneven and undeserving of this award.

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