NEW YORK (AP) — Though dozens are nominated at Sunday's Grammy Awards, we all know the real showdown is between Beyonce and Adele.
Both are nominated for the top three prizes — album, song and record of the year. Adele won all three honors with "21" and "Rolling In the Deep" in 2012, while Beyonce earned song of the year in 2010 for "Single Ladies." (Bey has earned multiple album and record of the year nominations, though.)
Putting their thinking caps on, while trying to put their personal feelings to the side, Associated Press music writers Mesfin Fekadu and Nekesa Mumbi Moody predict who will win big at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on music's biggest night.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: "25," Adele; "Lemonade," Beyonce; "Purpose," Justin Bieber; "Views," Drake; "A Sailor's Guide to Earth," Sturgill Simpson.
FEKADU: Sturgill, enjoy it while it lasts; Drake, congrats, but this will not be the first rap album to win album of the year since Outkast did in 2004; and Bieber, um, keep on beliebing. Now that that's out the way, let's talk A and B. I could write a thesis, and happily, too, about why Beyonce's tasty "Lemonade" deserves this prize. But unfortunately, she won't win. Academy voters are always happy to give Beyonce R&B awards, but they haven't given her artistic heft enough credit when she's put in categories with her rock, pop and country music peers. And when one of those peers is Adele — who saved the music industry with sales of her "25" album — it's hard to argue against her success.
MOODY: If success is what we're measuring here, Adele clearly gets this win. Artistry? As perfect as Adele sounds, "25" was a very conservative album, musically speaking. Not saying that there's anything wrong with putting out beautiful ballads, but "Lemonade" is a true art piece that engaged on a political and emotional level and with each listen revealed another layer. No other album in this category pushed our buttons or made us ponder the meaning of the world like "Lemonade." It deserves to win — but then again, I said that when Eminem's albums were nominated, and they went trophy-less in this category. So gotta agree here: Adele takes home her second trophy for album of the year.
RECORD OF THE YEAR: "Hello," Adele; "Formation," Beyonce; "7 Years," Lukas Graham; "Work," Rihanna featuring Drake; "Stressed Out," twenty one pilots.
MOODY: I'm "Stressed Out" trying to determine who's going to win this category. "Formation's" seismic funk and R&B was a revelation and really should win here, but will Grammy voters really appreciate a song that references "Jackson Five nostrils" and "Red Lobster"? Moreover, do they really appreciate Beyonce? She only won in a top category one time, and that was for the massively successful "Single Ladies," and that was for song of the year. Most other times, while she gets the nod, she doesn't get the win. Adele, on the other hand, had a comeback song that resonated with just about all groups — including the Academy. Adele for the win (again).
FEKADU: OK, this is when I think voters will get in formation and give Beyonce the win.
SONG OF THE YEAR (songwriter's award): "Formation," Beyonce, Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan and Michael L. Williams II; "Hello," Adele and Greg Kurstin; "I Took a Pill in Ibiza," Mike Posner; "Love Yourself," Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Benny Blanco; "7 Years," Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard and Morten Ristorp.
FEKADU: "Hello" wins here.
MOODY: Adele all the way.
BEST NEW ARTIST: Kelsea Ballerini; The Chainsmokers; Chance the Rapper; Maren Morris; Anderson .Paak.
MOODY: As omnipresent as The Chainsmokers have been over the past year on the charts, Chance the Rapper has that "it" factor that has made him a critic's darling. Even if Grammy voters don't know his raps, they know he's rubbed arms with former President Barack Obama, made a big splash with his own independent record on iTunes, is changing the way artists connect with the record industry and hey — he's also got a candy commercial! Add that he's what Kanye West was 13 years ago but happy and humble and he's a lock for this one, despite the charms and talent of Maren Morris and the funk of Anderson .Paak.
FEKADU: Chance has a really strong chance in this category, but because he doesn't have a huge hit or recognizable song, I think he's going to have a hard time winning here. Maren Morris, on the other hand, became a critical darling for her country hit, "My Church," and her album was praised for its sound and direct lyrics. Plus, Chance and Anderson will split the hip-hop/R&B vote. But wait, will Maren and Kelsea split the country vote and then give the win to The Chainsmokers? Voters, don't let me down!
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE: "Hello," Adele; "Hold Up," Beyonce; "Love Yourself," Justin Bieber; "Piece by Piece (Idol Version)," Kelly Clarkson; "Dangerous Woman," Ariana Grande.
FEKADU: Hello Adele. And goodbye to the rest of the competition.
MOODY: Ummm, wait Mesfin. Did you even consider any of the other nominees? I mean, did you hear the raw emotion of Kelly Clarkson, who can go toe-to-toe vocally with Adele? This might be her year. Ah, who am I kidding! Clarkson's pipes are amazing, but even she won't beat Adele here.
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE: "Joe (Live From Austin City Limits)," Alabama Shakes; "Don't Hurt Yourself," Beyonce featuring Jack White; "Blackstar," David Bowie; "The Sound of Silence (Live on Conan)," Disturbed; "Heathens," twenty one pilots.
MOODY: Some are already angered that David Bowie's last record missed the cut for album of the year. Would Grammy voters really pick anyone else but one of music's greatest legends in a category that he defined for years? I think not. The Thin White Duke wins by a landslide.
FEKADU: I am loving all the black-girl magic in this category! And kudos to Beyonce for finally getting credit for the genre-bending artist that she is. But another B is winning this award, and that's the late, great, iconic and missed Bowie.
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE: "Turnin' Me Up," BJ the Chicago Kid; "Permission," Ro James; "I Do," Musiq Soulchild; "Needed Me," Rihanna; "Cranes in the Sky," Solange.
FEKADU: Finally, Solange is nominated for a Grammy! And with all the attention she's received in the last few months, I think she'll actually best Rihanna in this category. Good thing big sister Bey isn't competing here.
MOODY: No one messes with Solange — even in this tough category. The critical darling wins.
BEST RAP ALBUM: "Coloring Book," Chance the Rapper; "And the Anonymous Nobody," De La Soul; "Major Key," DJ Khaled; "Views," Drake; "Blank Face LP," ScHoolboy Q; "The Life of Pablo," Kanye West.
MOODY: De La Soul have continued to innovate in rap some two decades after their debut. But do Grammy voters care about legacy? Not in the rap category, where hitmakers and hot new talent rule. That puts Chance the Rapper and Drake on a collision course, and I'm guessing Chance will upset Drake for a win here.
FEKADU: Drake is walking home with his second Grammy in this category.
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM: "Big Day in a Small Town," Brandy Clark; "Full Circle," Loretta Lynn; "Hero," Maren Morris; "A Sailor's Guide to Earth," Sturgill Simpson; "Ripcord," Keith Urban.
FEKADU: This is a tough category, but since Sturgill is nominated for album of the year, I'm going to go with him, although I want Maren Morris to win her first Grammy here.
MOODY: I like the buzz Maren is getting, and I think I'm not the only one that's been charmed, so I'm going for a win for Morris.