Grammy awards 2023: who will win – and who should?

Record of the year

Abba – Don’t Shut Me Down • Adele – Easy on Me • Beyoncé – Break My Soul • Brandi Carlile – You and Me on the Rock ft Lucius • Doja Cat – Woman • Harry Styles – As It Was • Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 5 • Lizzo – About Damn Time • Mary J Blige – Good Morning Gorgeous • Steve Lacy – Bad Habit

Related: World exclusive: Super troupers! Abba on fame, stress, ageing backwards – and why they’ve returned to rescue 2021

Record of the year has been a particularly unsettled category at the Grammys of late. Over the past few years, voters have vacillated between relatively on-trend picks such as Billie Eilish’s Everything I Wanted and Childish Gambino’s This Is America, and more traditional Grammys fare – namely, anything by Bruno Mars. That being said, there’s a case to be made that Eilish and Gambino are both, in certain senses, traditionalists: Eilish sings like an old–school crooner, and Gambino nods heavily to funk and soul classics.

With that in mind, it seems that the most likely Grammy picks here would be Lizzo and Harry Styles, who offer extremely traditional sounds in fresh, TikTok–friendly packages. Steve Lacy’s sound probably skews a little too homespun to truly connect with voters, despite the brilliance of his shy–guy anthem, and although Kendrick Lamar netted a lot of nominations, the Grammys have a strong history of voting against him – he’s never won in any of the big four categories. Same goes for Brandi Carlile, who is beloved by the Grammys but has trouble winning any non–genre categories.

Though this could be Beyoncé’s year – she has been nominated six times and never won. Of course, there’s an elephant in the room: Adele hasn’t lost a Grammy since 2010, and even then she has won 15 out of her 18 career nominations. It’s a fool’s game to bet against her. Shaad D’Souza

Should win Steve Lacy
Will win Adele

Album of the year

Brandi Carlile at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Los Angeles, November 2022.
Brandi Carlile at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Los Angeles, November 2022. Photograph: Valérie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Abba – Voyage • Adele – 30 • Bad Bunny – Un Verano Sin Ti • Beyoncé – Renaissance • Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days • Coldplay – Music of the Spheres • Harry Styles – Harry’s House • Kendrick Lamar – Mr Morale and the Big Steppers • Lizzo – Special • Mary J Blige – Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)

Related: The 50 best albums of 2022, No 1: Beyoncé – Renaissance

There are some baffling entries in here: Abba’s Voyage had two great singles – the lesser of the two recognised in record of the year – but not much else. Lizzo’s Special was a critical and commercial disappointment: in the UK it only spent three weeks on the chart, which is shocking when you consider how long Cuz I Love You bobbed around the Top 100. And that Coldplay album is so bad that even my dad, an ardent fan, took to hate-tweeting the band about it. That said, last year Jon Batiste shocked by beating the likes of Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo to the award, so chaos is pretty much the order of the day here.

As are the Grammys’ bizarre historical hostilities to trailblazing Black artists: neither Beyoncé nor Kendrick Lamar has ever won this one, despite repeat nominations for respective albums widely agreed to be era-defining works. You’d hope one of them could bag it this year – or Bad Bunny, for his lovelorn masterpiece – but the Grammys also appear to think the best thing since sliced bread is sliced bread, so it could just as easily go to Harry Styles’ balmy AOR as Brandi Carlile’s somewhat overwrought country. Plus, as Shaad says, never bet against Adele, who’s won this twice before. At least 30 is her best album, even if record buyers disagreed. Laura Snapes

Should win Kendrick Lamar
Will win Harry Styles

Song of the year

Adele – Easy on Me • Beyoncé – Break My Soul • Bonnie Raitt – Just Like That • DJ Khaled – God Did ft Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay–Z, John Legend and Fridayy • Gayle – ABCDEFU • Harry Styles – As It Was • Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 5 • Lizzo – About Damn Time • Steve Lacy – Bad Habit • Taylor Swift – All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)

Related: ‘My mom thinks I’m doing drugs but I’m at home baking cookies’: Steve Lacy on his breakout year

Slim pickings: the most boring songs on the otherwise great Adele and Beyoncé albums; the focus-grouped “empowerment” of ABCDEFU and About Damn Time. Of the biggest hits here, Steve Lacy’s appealingly scruffy breakout anthem pips Harry Styles’ seductive but weightless As It Was. Bonnie Raitt’s Just Like That is the outlier, a heartfelt country song about telling a bereaved mother about the life saved by her late son’s donated heart; DJ Khaled’s overstuffed eight-minute track would have been better cut to the four minutes it takes Jay-Z to claim his dues on a – fairly rare nowadays – verse.

That leaves Kendrick Lamar’s pre-album opus, which switches between empathy and indictment as he mounts a complex consideration of the balance between personal agency and social conditioning, and Swift’s expansion of a 2011 song of heartbreak into a sharp-toothed condemnation of the age and power imbalance in that relationship. Swift has had six total nominations for this category and never won; Lamar three. His is arguably the more trenchant song, but Lamar has never won any Grammys outside the rap categories (other than for the music video award) while Swift is a Grammys darling – and besides, this award has previous for picking crowdpleasers, so prepare to watch Styles or Lizzo walk off with it. LS

Should win Kendrick Lamar
Will win Lizzo or Harry Styles

Best new artist

Latto performing in Detroit, Michigan, October 2022.
Latto performing in Detroit, Michigan, October 2022. Photograph: Aaron J Thornton/Getty Images

Anitta • Domi and JD Beck • Latto • Måneskin • Molly Tuttle • Muni Long • Omar Apollo • Samara Joy • Tobe Nwigwe • Wet Leg

Related: Gen-Z jazz prodigies Domi and JD Beck: ‘It was insane to see Herbie Hancock solo in front of us’

The past three best new artist Grammys have been won by artists who were already genuine titans by the time the ceremony came around: Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Olivia Rodrigo. There’s been no such breakout among this year’s cohort, which makes it a little harder than usual to predict. The last time the Grammys went with someone other than a straight-down–the–line pop or pop–adjacent star was in 2012, when they crowned Bon Iver, so it’s hard to see Wet Leg, Domi and JD Beck, Samara Joy or Molly Tuttle taking this home. Of the remaining six, I think Latto, who had a massive hit with Big Energy, has the best chance, or Måneskin, a Gen Z–friendly streaming success who make accessible radio rock. SD

Should win Latto
Will win Latto

Best pop solo performance

Adele – Easy on Me • Bad Bunny – Moscow Mule • Doja Cat – Woman • Harry Styles – As It Was • Lizzo – About Damn Time • Steve Lacy – Bad Habit

Adele turns in the biggest performance here, a classic belter that acted as a bit of a red herring to an album on which she tried lots of different styles. Her tenor is also out of step with most of the rest of this category – Lizzo’s forthright About Damn Time aside – and therefore with pop at large over the last 12 months, which has prized more nuanced, slinkier performances, so it would be jarring (if classic Grammys) if she won. Styles’s As It Was is a little bland, but you can’t deny that he sells luxurious unease well. Lacy’s delivery is all false starts and shoe-scuffing, an endearing embodiment of being tongue-tied. Best of all are Bad Bunny and Doja Cat’s respective pitches to get into someone’s life: his drawling, a little skeevy and yet revealingly desperate; hers cool and confidently aware of the prowess she has to offer. LS

Should win Bad Bunny
Will win Harry Styles

Best rock performance

Brendan Yates of Turnstile performing in Switzerland, July 2022.
Brendan Yates of Turnstile performing in Switzerland, July 2022. Photograph: Laurent Gilliéron/EPA

Beck – Old Man • The Black Keys – Wild Child • Brandi Carlile – Broken Horses • Bryan Adams – So Happy It Hurts • Idles – Crawl! • Ozzy Osbourne – Patient Number 9 ft Jeff Beck • Turnstile – Holiday

Related: Tea with Ozzy Osbourne: ‘I’ve sung that song for 55 years. I’m not going to forget the words’

This category is an odd one – generally, it goes to an old–timer such as David Bowie or Leonard Cohen, both of whom have won posthumously in recent years. But Fiona Apple also won for her oddball Fetch the Bolt Cutters track Shameika, so who knows? Although many hailed Ozzy’s latest as a return to form, and it would be brilliant to see hardcore upstarts Turnstile receive some mainstream acclaim, it seems like this will most likely go to the Black Keys – throwback rockers who have won in this category before. SD

Should win Turnstile
Will win The Black Keys

Best rap performance

GloRilla at the American Music awards in Los Angeles, November 2022.
Glorilla at the American Music awards in Los Angeles, November 2022. Photograph: Aude Guerrucci/Reuters

DJ Khaled – God Did ft Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay–Z, John Legend and Fridayy • Doja Cat – Vegas • Gunna and Future – Pushin P ft Young Thug • Hitkidd and Glorilla – FNF (Let’s Go) • Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 5

This is a truly bizarre nomination list. You have God Did, a superstar team-up featuring a handful of rap old–timers; Vegas, which was featured in the Elvis biopic and interpolates Mama Thornton; Pushin P, seemingly a wan industry concession to the fact that Gunna and Young Thug were imprisoned on gang–related charges that have been widely questioned; FNF (Let’s Go), a gruff viral sensation; and The Heart Part 5, a Kendrick Lamar outlier that served as a prelude to his latest record but which wasn’t included on it. Although awarding Vegas seems like the kind of wild choice the Grammys would make, it feels like this is the place where the voting body will choose to honour Lamar instead of the main categories. SD

Should win Hitkidd and Glorilla
Will win Kendrick Lamar

Best country solo performance

Kelsea Ballerini – Heartfirst • Maren Morris – Circles Around This Town • Miranda Lambert – In His Arms • Willie Nelson – Live Forever • Zach Bryan – Something in the Orange

The most solid of the genre categories, containing five songs it’s fairly hard to argue with (although notably the nominees are all white – last year Mickey Guyton became the first Black woman to be nominated in a country solo performance category). There are first-time nominations for Kelsea Ballerini, with a cute song about diving head first into a crush, and Zach Bryan, with a raw and heartfelt plea to a lover with one foot out of the door. Willie Nelson won this award in 2020, and reappears this year with a cover of a Billy Joe Shaver song from a tribute album to the late star that also embodies the 89-year-old’s enduring creative spirit.

The competition ups with Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert. This is Morris’s fourth nod, for a song that references her previous win for 2017’s My Church: an appealingly world-weary recollection of what brought her to Nashville and how success didn’t look how she imagined. Meanwhile it’s the sixth nomination for Lambert, who has failed to win this prize with far more gripping fare than this acoustic number from her earthy Palomino album. For a country award – one inaugurated in 2012 – there has been an unusually even split between male and female winners: six men and five women to date. But I’d bet on the rightly acclaimed, thoughtful newcomer Bryan tipping that balance, and fairly enough. LS

Should win Zach Bryan or Maren Morris
Will win Zach Bryan