RCL Breaks Down the 2016 Grammy Awards Nominations

December 7, 2016 5:00 am
Beyoncé and Adele Will Duke It Out at the 2016 Grammys
(Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
Beyonce and Adele to Duke It Out at the Grammys
Singers Adele (left) and Beyoncé attend the 55th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 10, 2013, in Los Angeles, California (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)


Next year’s Grammy Awards should be dubbed the “Second American Revolution.” That’s because pop powerhouse Adele, representing the red coats, will be battling it out with American revolutionary, Beyoncé, for the most coveted of golden gramophones: Album of the Year. (The two will also be duking it out for Record of the Year and Song of the Year honors.)

The Grammys will take place next year on February 12, 2017, in Los Angeles. They’ll be hosted by “Carpool Karaoke” star James Corden. Below is a full list of nominees in the most prominent categories—as well as RealClearLife‘s picks, along with a short explanation for why we think the winner takes all.



Adele, 25

Justin Bieber, Purpose

Drake, Views

Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

RCL’s Pick: Beyoncé, Lemonade – Look, Adele‘s “Carpool Karaoke” video has been viewed by 135 million people at this point, and everyone on Earth knows the first word of single “Hello” (mainly because it’s “hello”). But Beyoncé’s “visual” concept album is a multi-genre affair, the likes of which only come around once in a lifetime—sort of like a Stevie Wonder album or a Super Moon.



RECORD OF THE YEAR (best overall song)

Beyonce, “Formation”

Lukas Graham, “7 Years”

Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”

Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”

Adele, “Hello” – We’re going to call an international draw between Adele and Beyoncé with this one. You probably remember where you were when the video for “Hello” dropped. That old-fashioned cell phone. That insanely catchy hook. It’s definitely the ear-worm of the year.



SONG OF THE YEAR (songwriting)

Adele, “Hello”- songwriters Adele and Greg Kurstin.

Mike Posner, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.”

Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself.” Songwriters Bieber along with English star Ed Sheeran and producer Benny Blanco.

Lukas Graham, “7 Years.” Songwriters are band frontman Lukas Forchhammer and keyboardist Morten Ristorp along with producer Stefan Forrest and composer Morten Pilegaard.

Beyoncé, “Formation” – songwriters Beyoncé, with Khalif Brown, rap duo Rae Sremmurd, Asheton Hogan, and Mike Will Made It – This is different than Album of the Year, because it’s about the songwriting. During last year’s Super Bowl halftime show, Beyoncé performed the song—and sparked some controversy in the process, with her backup dancers dressed in the style of Black Panthers. Clearly, she was making a statement on the world’s stage. Whatever you think you feel about Beyoncé, the greatest songs are the ones that have a life beyond the words being sung by the artist. Do you get that from “Hello”? Nope.




Kelsea Ballerini

The Chainsmokers

Chance the RapperChance the winner. (Listen to his new album in full below.)

Maren Morris

Anderson .Paak




De La Soul, And the Anonymous Nobody

DJ Khaled, Major Key

Drake, Views

ScHoolboy Q, Blank Face LP

Kanye West, The Life of Pablo

Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book – Hopefully, there won’t be any “Ima let you finish” moments at next year’s Grammys, during which Kanye West extols the virtues of his latest album. Despite being in the “Best New Artist” category, Chance the Rapper is far from an up-and-comer. His third full album—and first that’s been traditionally released, qualifying him for a nomination— is a refreshing export from a genre that’s shown fits of brilliance, but remains lack luster this year.




Blink-182, California

Cage the Elephant, Tell Me I’m Pretty

Gojira, Magma

Panic! At The Disco, Death of a Bachelor

Weezer, Weezer – The fact that Blink-182 is even on this list is a pock on the music industry. Gojira as well (i.e. French heavy metal). No offense to the other nominees, but by process of elimination, Weezer wins for being 100 percent better than any of the other artists combined.




Bon Iver, 22, A Million

PJ Harvey, The Hope Six Demolition Project

Iggy Pop, Post Pop Depression

Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool

David Bowie, Blackstar  – It’s going to be a tossup between Bowie and Radiohead, but we’re giving Bowie the benefit of the doubt. His untimely death helped kick off 2016, the Worst Year in History. And his final album is pretty incredible.




Jean-Michel Jarre, Electronica 1: The Time Machine

Tycho, Epoch

Underworld, Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future

Louie Vega, Louie Vega Starring…XXVIII

Flume, Skin – The only album nominated in this category that transcends the usual audience for electronic dance music, which often errs on the side of pop. Toeing along that line, while truly remaining original, Flume’s latest elevates the genre.

—Will Levith for RealClearLife

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.