Last Updated on December 7, 2022 by Scott Shetler
2023 Album of the Year Grammy Nominees:
• Voyage, Abba
• 30, Adele
• Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny
• Renaissance, Beyonce
• In These Silent Days, Brandi Carlile
• Music of the Spheres, Coldplay
• Harry’s House, Harry Styles
• Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar
• Special, Lizzo
• Good Morning Gorgeous, Mary J. Blige
Well, here we are. It’s the big Adele v Beyonce showdown for Album of the Year, Part II. Five years ago, when the whole world expected Beyonce’s Lemonade to claim the Album of the Year trophy, the Recording Academy instead rewarded Adele’s 25.
Adele felt compelled to apologize from the stage, saying that she thought Lemonade was the obvious choice. It was her second Album of the Year win, while Beyonce has yet to take home the big prize, despite her 28 career Grammys.
So what happens in 2023? Once again, Beyonce is the consensus critics’ pick for Album of the Year. Will the Academy finally reward her? Or will Adele play spoiler again?
Bey’s Renaissance was a remarkable celebration of Black dance music. It has the commercial success to match its critical acclaim, debuting at #1 and producing a #1 single in “Break My Soul.”
Adele has been a Grammy favorite for years. She swept all of the Big Three categories in both 2012 and 2017. She’s won a preposterous 15 career Grammys in just 18 total nominations. But this year could be different. Though her album 30 was mature and thoughtful, it didn’t have nearly the level of sustained success of her two previous albums.
Adele will still get a ton of votes. But the door is open for Beyonce, or perhaps someone else, to win the Grammy.
That someone else could be Brandi Carlile, the Americana singer with the booming voice. Carlile has turned in two incredible Grammy performances in recent years. She’s exactly the kind of artist the Grammys love to reward, in the same vein as multiple Grammy winners Kacey Musgraves, Sheryl Crow, and Alison Krauss. Carlile is very much a threat to win this award.
So is Harry Styles. The Grammys gave Styles their stamp of approval in 2021 when he won his first Grammy for “Watermelon Sugar.” He could win over some of the pop voters who previously went for Adele.
Bad Bunny is the other contender here. Un Verano Sin Ti was the first Spanish-language album to earn an Album of the Year nod, and it has the same mix of critical and commercial success that could carry it to victory if Adele and Beyonce split their votes evenly.
Kendrick Lamar is a long-time Grammy favorite, but he’s not going to win in a year in which his album drew mixed reviews, and much of the vote from the hip hop bloc in the Academy will likely go to Beyonce.
Lizzo’s Special is a solid album full of uplifting songs, and seeing Mary J. Blige in the category is a welcome surprise, but neither will be able to outduel Adele and Bey.
The presence of Coldplay in this category is confounding, while the presence of Abba is downright embarrassing. The less said about those two, the better.
Album of the Year Prediction
While the conventional wisdom holds this as an Adele vs. Beyonce race, I’m not convinced it will play out that way. Adele will lose some votes to Harry Styles. Beyonce will lose a few votes to Lizzo and Blige, and she’s never had the support in this category that one might expect anyway.
With a ridiculous 10 nominees in this category now, it may only take 15-20% of the vote to win. Both Carlile and Bad Bunny are capable of reaching that figure. Either could be poised to snag the trophy.
The social media backlash will be fierce and unrelenting if anybody other than Beyonce wins. I’d like to see Bey claim the award, but Carlile is the next-best choice.
Four years ago, I went with my gut and correctly predicted that the country, folk, and Americana contingents within the Recording Academy would join together to allow Kacey Musgraves to pull an upset Album of the Year victory.
This time, I believe those same groups, plus some rock voters, will be enough to propel Brandi Carlile to a surprise win, just barely edging out Beyonce and Adele. Get ready for the outrage machine to go into overdrive!
2023 Grammy Awards: Album of the Year Prediction
Deserves to win: Renaissance, Beyonce
Will win: In These Silent Days, Brandi Carlile
Should have been nominated: Motomami, Rosalia
See also our complete list of 2023 Grammy predictions.
What’s your Album of the Year prediction?