Grammy predictions 2017: Who will and should win

A slew of mainstream favorites including Drake, Rihanna and Twenty One Pilots are vying for top prizes at Sunday's Grammy Awards.

A slew of mainstream favorites including Drake, Rihanna and Twenty One Pilots are vying for top prizes at Sunday's Grammy Awards (CBS, 8 ET/5 PT), but it's the diva showdown between Beyoncé and Adele that will have us on the edges of our seats. USA TODAY picks the likely winners in major categories and who we're rooting for in each:

Album of the year

Who will and should win: Beyoncé, Lemonade

The Recording Academy historically has been capricious in awarding its highest honor to an R&B/hip-hop album. In fact, the only two to manage that feat in the last two decades have been OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004 and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999. But even with stiff competition from Adele's pop steamroller 25 and Sturgill Simpson's country-rock opus A Sailor's Guide to Earth — both of which should play well with older, more conservative voters — we still think Beyoncé is going to win the gramophone.

With its searing narrative of infidelity, forgiveness and empowerment, a lyrical one-hour visual and genre-spanning track list, no one album captured the zeitgeist quite like Lemonade in 2016. It would be a long-overdue album-of-the-year win for the 20-time Grammy champ, whose similarly ambitious self-titled effort was contentiously passed over in 2015 for Beck's Morning Phase. We don't think Adele would feel short-changed, either. After all, she already earned the accolade in 2012 for her superior album, 21, and has repeatedly professed her love for Lemonade in interviews and on tour.

Song of the year

Who will and should win: Adele, Hello

If the Grammys follow the recent trend of awards shows making political statements, then Beyoncé's celebration of black womanhood, Formation, should be a shoo-in for song of the year. But we think Adele's less-divisive mega-hit Hello is a safer bet, having spent 10 weeks at No. 1 in late fall 2015 on its way to becoming an inescapable Internet meme and parody wellspring. If anything usurps the power ballad Sunday night, it could be Justin Bieber's acoustic kiss-off Love Yourself, which was co-written with Grammy favorite Ed Sheeran and helped cement the pop bad boy's remarkable comeback on fourth album Purpose.

Record of the year

Who will win: Adele, Hello

Who should win: Beyoncé, Formation

Record of the year — which rewards overall production and performance, rather than songwriting — has frequently overlapped with song, with recent double winners including Sam Smith (Stay with Me), Lady Antebellum (Need You Now), Amy Winehouse (Rehab), and yes, Adele (Rolling in the Deep). Although Bey's dynamic Formation delivery and swaggering production with Mike Will Made It is worthy of the trophy, we think that Adele and co-writer/producer Greg Kurstin have the upper hand with their sweeping, soulful work on the more accessible Hello.

Best new artist

Who will win: Chance the Rapper

Who should win: Anderson .Paak

Country singers Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris will cancel each other out, and unless your name is Daft Punk, the Recording Academy doesn't give major hardware to dance artists. (Sorry, The Chainsmokers.) That leaves us with Chance the Rapper, a well-regarded, extremely likable potential winner who broke boundaries of music consumption with his tonic, streaming mixtape Coloring Book. But the Chicago native already has ascended to the top of hip-hop's class, and with seven nominations, is likely to pull in other awards such as best rap album or rap/sung performance (Kanye West's Ultralight Beam). In that regard, we think up-and-comer Anderson .Paak could benefit more greatly from a high-profile win. Plus, his prowess as a multi-instrumentalist on genre-mashing second album, Malibu, could appeal to voters who are ambivalent to rap.



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