2021 Record of the Year Grammy Nominees:
• Black Parade, Beyonce
• Colors, Black Pumas
• Rockstar, DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
• Say So, Doja Cat
• Everything I Wanted, Billie Eilish
• Don’t Start Now, Dua Lipa
• Circles, Post Malone
• Savage, Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyonce
Beyonce had a relatively quiet year in 2020, releasing only a couple of singles and collaborations. Yet she still finds herself leading with 9 Grammy nominations, including two for Record of the Year. Her solo effort “Black Parade” raised a lot of awareness and money for Black-owned businesses, and her feature on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” was one of the biggest hits of the year.
Though she’s won 24 Grammys, Beyonce has never taken home Record of the Year. The double nomination may be her undoing here. “Savage” was a bigger hit than “Black Parade,” but the latter holds special significance to many as an anthem of Black solidarity. Both tracks will likely receive significant numbers of votes, and that split may keep either one from winning.
“Rockstar” by DaBaby and Roddy Ricch was one of the biggest hip-hop tracks of the year. It might’ve had a shot to win if it wasn’t competing against “Savage,” but it’s hard to see “Rockstar” securing enough votes since it’s competing against another top-notch rap song.
A lot of pundits are predicting that Dua Lipa could win some of the “Big Three” awards on Grammy night, including Record of the Year. But we think they’re overrating her appeal to the mainstream Grammy voter. Dua won Best New Artist a few years back, but that doesn’t automatically make her a Recording Academy favorite.
It’s true that Lipa is up for six awards this year, and “Don’t Start Now” was a big hit. But rank-and-file Grammy voters have never fully embraced dance-pop artists. We believe that the average Grammy voter sees Dua Lipa as a younger and less-accomplished version of Lady Gaga. Even at the height of her popularity, Gaga never won any of the Big Three. Lipa will have an uphill battle.
So who does that leave? Brace yourselves, because this may not be a popular answer. Last year’s Grammy teen queen, Billie Eilish, may just be the favorite to win Record of the Year for a second straight year.
It’s not unusual for Grammy voters to reward a “leftover” single from the previous album of an artist who won big the year before. It happened in 2002 when U2’s “Walk On” won ROY a year after the group won three Grammys. It happened again in 2006, when Green Day won ROY for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” which was their only nomination after American Idiot had earned six nominations the prior year.
“Everything I Wanted” is a beautifully understated pop song that’s even more accessible than “Bad Guy,” which won last year. It is everything that Grammy voters want in a Record of the Year.
As for the other contenders, Doja Cat’s “Say So” is a catchy tune that walks the line between pop and R&B and could be a dark horse. Post Malone’s “Circles” even has an outside chance, since the song is the most mainstream pop song he has ever recorded. Black Pumas’ “Colors,” meanwhile, is a solid track with no chance of winning.
Record of the Year Prediction
Few people really want to see Billie Eilish win Record of the Year again. Even those of us who love her music believe that she’s been rewarded enough already for this album cycle.
But, because Beyonce’s two tracks will cancel each other out, and because Dua Lipa isn’t quite a Record of the Year-level superstar just yet, and because Billie was so endearing when she won last year, Grammy voters are going to go with the familiar face. Expect Billie Eilish to join Roberta Flack and U2 as the only acts ever to win this category in consecutive years.
2021 Grammy Awards: Record of the Year Prediction
Deserves to win: Savage, Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyonce
Will win: Everything I Wanted, Billie Eilish
Should have been nominated: Blinding Lights, The Weeknd