#RSGrammyCentral: 2022 Album of the Year Grammy Nomination Predictions
With a larger voting body, the Album of the Year race is set to be all the more competitive, but will it be more eclectic?
The awards season is upon us, and after nearly two and a half decades, the final choices in the Big Four categories of the Grammys (Album, Record and Song of the Year and Best New Artist) will be voted on by over 12,000 voting members of the Academy. This will be quite a dramatic change as previously the Recording Academy had nomination review committees, and they would select the finalists based on the voter’s Top 20 choices. So are we ready for the shake-up?
It certainly seems to be more in favor of commercial fare than the previous years and is likely to be a lot more diverse. On the flip side, we’re likely to see Academy fan favorites get more love, while Top 40 hitmakers or “outsiders” who aren’t as connected get lost in the shuffle.
Whatever the result, when nominations are announced on November 23rd, we’re likely to see some surprises and some snubs.
One of the most competitive fields this year will be the Album of the Year category. Given the industry (and arguably generational) shift to streaming singles, albums have somewhat lost their mystique with individual tracks getting more love compared to collective work. Still, many artists fight for the creative vision to express themselves via an album and so we’ll get to see if artistry is rewarded or hitmakers are.
Adele’s 30 and Silk Sonic’s An Evening with Silk Sonic were released too late (but there’s no doubt she is THE frontrunner for next year) to compete this year, so let’s focus on our predictions for the eight albums that are likely to lock in a nomination next week, in no particular order.
Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
It almost seems a lock that newcomer Rodrigo will bag nominations in all of the Big Four categories this year. Will she win all of them as Billie Eilish did two years ago remains to be seen. Probably not since “Jagged Little Pill” has an album been so loved, charted as many big hits and launched a star as quickly and deservedly. Look for “Driver’s License” as one of the only surefire locks for Record and Song of the Year categories.
Taylor Swift – Evermore
She’s already won three Album of the Year Grammys, will she go home with a fourth one — her second consecutive statue? It is likely that may not be the case but the nomination seems next to guaranteed. Swift hasn’t just been creating new music; she’s been updating her old catalog and the fact that Taylor’s Version of Red has become the talk of the town thanks to a 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” shows the love for anything and everything Swift remains.
Lil Nas X – Montero
Just a couple of years ago, the industry had its doubts about Lil Nas X being a one-hit-wonder. They nominated the rapper for his EP “7” in the AOTY category and he did end up winning two Grammys. Of course, there’s no doubt now that the artist was no fluke. With his first album “Montero” now being a smash hit, and with two additional #1 hits from the record: “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and “Industry Baby” (Featuring Jack Harlow) and a third likely in the coming weeks “That’s What I Want”, Lil Nas X is sure to be rewarded with a deserved nomination.
Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
Gen Z’s Beyonce (in terms of far too much recognition given by the Grammys), Eilish, 19, will make an appearance here, whether deserved or not. That shouldn’t discount the fact that Happier Than Ever was a smartly-crafted, slickly-produced sophomore album for the singer – it’s just that this year, there’s another teen, a slightly younger one, who seems to have all the hype behind her.
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over
One of the beneficiaries this year of the more diverse voting board is going to be Stapleton. Loved by country music fans but adored by rock, pop and soul artists, Stapleton is likely going to get a nomination here for his nearly year-old Starting Over album. With gorgeous songwriting, raw vocals and vintage production, the album was a commercial and critical hit. It doesn’t hurt he is featured on Grammy goddess herself Adele’s 30 for a duet of the numberone hit “Easy on Me.”
Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight
They’ve won Rock Album of the Year four times but never won Album of the Year. If there’s one beloved rock star of our humble times, it’s Dave Grohl. With his recent excellent memoir out and another stellar album, Medicine at Midnight is likely to garner the band another nomination here. Given the larger voting block, we’re likely to finally even have the album be a legit contender to win!
Kacey Musgraves – Star-crossed
Just before Adele’s 30 was released, Kacey Musgraves also recorded an album talking about her messy divorce. While deemed ineligible for the Country Album of the Year category, that omission is likely to help Musgraves slide in here. With her unexpected but well-deserved win for Golden Hour in 2019 in the Album of the Year category, it seems unlikely she’ll repeat a win here. But in many ways, the nomination should suffice enough – the artist came back, created something special (albeit not as special as Golden Hour) and still found genre-bending love from the Academy.
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Love For Sale
Let me preface this by saying I’ve included several nomination spoilers below of which I’d be happy to see any of them in the Album of the Year category over this album, but sadly, I’m guessing we’re going to have this second collaborative studio album between living legend Tony Bennett and pop star Lady Gaga. Bennett’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and Gaga’s much-acclaimed performance in House Of Gucci will only help to make the album the frontrunner this year, yet again potentially spoiling what the Grammys hope doesn’t happen – nostalgia, legacy and overrated (or rather over-awarded) artists winning yet again, leaving little room for new artists and artist of color to shine.
Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over The Country Club
Kanye West – Donda or Drake – Certified Lover Boy (only one will get the love of the two, if either)
Justin Bieber – Justice
Doja Cat – Planet Her
Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power