On January 28th, the 60th annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast live from Madison Square Garden in New York City — a milestone ceremony for what is arguably the music industry’s biggest night of the year.
For the past six decades, the Recording Academy, an organization comprised of over 13,000 musicians and other industry professionals, has been responsible for music’s only peer-based award. Since 1958, members have been nominating, voting on, and handing out music’s highest honor to each year’s outstanding artists. At that first ceremony, 28 Grammys were awarded. Over the years, the number of awards given out has grown and fluctuated. This year, awards will be given out in 30 fields (and over 80 categories within those fields), though it is the General Field — or “Big Four” — that piques most people’s interest. Unlike the other award categories, these four awards (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist) do not restrict nominees by genre or other criteria, meaning that the nominees can be quite varied and that the final decision is often hotly debated.
The Grammys are well-known for their snubs and surprises, not to mention the amount of criticism they have received over the years for being overly commercial in their focus and for the considerable lack of diversity in the winner’s circle. Perhaps the most notable example came last year when Beyoncé’s Lemonade lost out to Adele’s 25 for Album of the Year. While Beyoncé delivered what was inarguably one of the most provocative and thematically powerful records of the year, Adele still beat her out.
Critics are quick to point to a pretty clear racial divide amongst those who are nominated and those who win in these categories. Only two rap-related albums have won Album of the Year in the last 40 years. Sine 2000, only three black artists or groups have won the award, even though at least one has been nominated every year save two. Last year, Frank Ocean chose not to submit his album Blonde for consideration, explaining to the New York Times that the Academy was not “representing very well for people who come from where [he comes] from.”
In response to critics, Neil Portnow, chairman and CEO of the Recording Academy, suggests that the underlying issue is less about a racial bias, and more about lack of participation on the side of the critical. “I understand that people might feel left out,” he explained. “But it’s really simple: Participate and vote, and then you’re part of the conversation. Not only do we encourage and welcome that, we need it.”
This year, the majority of nominees for the “Big Four” are people of color, representing a wide variety of genres. Could this be the year that needed changes in diversity really begin to take root?
Below, we look at the odds currently on offer from PaddyPower and sort out the best value bets for the 60th annual Grammys.
Record of the Year
Record of the Year actually refers to the best single of the year, not the best album — a fairly common misunderstanding which stems from a time when singles were released on vinyl.
If you remember 2017 at all, you will recall that Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber’s single Despacito tore it’s way to the top of the charts and stayed there for an astonishing 16 weeks. PaddyPower’s odds on the smash-hit might be short, but they don’t seem too short, considering how inescapable the song was this past year. Regardless of whether we’re all sick of the song by now, this is still a safe bet to make.
That being said, surprises happen all the time at the Grammys. Kendrick Lamar’s HUMBLE. could become the first rap song to win this award, depending on what is driving voters’ decision-making process. HUMBLE. became Lamar’s biggest single, and one of his most critically acclaimed, so while it would be a first for the Academy to vote in his favor, it would by no means be a huge surprise. We are actually inclined to shorten Lamar’s odds and lengthen Despacito‘s.
Childish Gambino’s Redbone would have shorter odds in a just world. It stands apart from the pack both artistically and acoustically, and is the sort of dark horse we wish we could comfortably bet on. However, it is much more likely for Bruno Mars to take the dark horse win than it is for Gambino.
Song of the Year
In the Song of the Year category, Despacito is again PaddyPower’s odds-on favorite. And, again, we say it was truly inescapable. So, yes — it would be a safe bet, there is no doubt about that. If you are planning to put money down on this, you can feel good about choosing Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s summer hit. But let’s talk about the other nominees for a second, shall we? They deserve a bit of our attention, too.
Logic’s 1-800-273-8255 (ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid) is getting decently short odds here at 10/3, but in our opinion, deserves shorter. Commercially, Despacito was a force to be reckoned with in 2017, however Logic’s suicide-awareness anthem packs quite the punch. It debuted at a lowly no. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100, but climbed the charts all the way up to the top three.
Jay-Z, who actually leads the Grammy pack this year with eight nominations, was a bit of a surprise in this category, with his song 4:44 receiving a nod. The song, which is his response to Beyonce’s Grammy-nominated album Lemonade, is not likely to earn Jay the Grammy for Song of the Year, however, it feels good to see his genre represented in a category that celebrates artists for their song-writing contributions.
Best New Artist
Females lead the way in the Best New Artist category, and justifiably so. SZA, Alessia Cara, and Julia Michaels have all made incredibly successful debuts this past year, and while Khalid and Lil Uzi Vert deserve their nominations, it is the women who have been lighting up the room this year.
It will be a close race between the three ladies — we think that Khalid and Julia Michaels could comfortably switch odds here — but we agree with PaddyPower that SZA will be taking home the statuette January 28th.