The 65th Grammys: Stats and Surprises

Ben Levy, Staff Writer

The Grammys happened again on Sunday, Feb. 5. The annual headache for anyone who listens to more music than the Hot 100 returned with some great and some questionable winners. Some smaller artists like Big Thief received nods, as well as household names like Adele. Last year was stellar for music, and although the nominations do not necessarily reflect the vast array of creative projects that were released (Ravyn Lenae, JID, and Alvvays, amongst others) they definitely have some highlights. Moreover, Beyoncé became the most Grammy-Winning artist of all time. She received her record-setting thirty-second trophy for Best Dance/Electronic Album.

Two weeks prior to the show, I decided to make predictions about who would win in four categories: Album Of The Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Rap Album of The Year, and Best Alternative Music Album. I averaged the Metacritic and Pitchfork reviews (both on one-hundred point scales) of the past three years nominees and winners, as well as this years, in order to predict who would win. Each category has three selections: who is predicted to win based on the data trends, which album deserves the award, and who finally won it.

Best Alternative Music Album
To start off, I examined Best Alternative Music Album. A mouthful of a title, the award pool usually has some incredible albums.The past three winners were Vampire Weekend in 2020, Fiona Apple in 2021, and St. Vincent in 2022. Weekend and Vincent were both rated low of the five nominees in their pools. I believe their selection was more of a popular choice, as VW was sweeping the alt-rock scene and SV’s album received a lot of year-end buzz. Fiona Apple, an outlier, simply had an incredible album, which was reflected by the reviews.
This year, it was a three way contest. By rating, Big Thief was first. The Brooklyn-based folk-rock group’s project was simply stunning. Second, we had Björk. An alternative pop legend, she is long overdue for a grammy, and released a great new project last year. In third we had Wet Leg. The more popular choice, I suspected they would take home the award for their grungy, whirlwind of a self-titled project. My prediction proved correct, and they took home the prize.

Predicted To Win: Wet Leg-Wet Leg
Should Win: Big Thief-Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Actually Won: Wet Leg-Wet Leg

Best Pop Vocal Album
Next up is Best Pop Vocal Album. The category is for modern pop, and always has at least three megastar names. The past three winners had a very clear trend, one which I failed to take into consideration for my prediction. Billie Eilish in 2019, Dua Lipa in 2020, and Olivia Rodrigo in 2021. All three were on the rise to be the superstars we know them as, but were not yet when they won. These albums swept the airwaves upon release and for months after, despite the relatively small stature of the artists at the time.

When I analyzed this year, it seemed as though this trend was not here, and the winner was clear. My thinking was that Adele, a consistent grammy favorite with the highest reviewed project should have been an easy win. Of course I ignored the trend of the past three years. Harry Styles is and has been a big star, but his rise to where he is now was meteoric after the release of Harry’s House. So, in line with the past couple years, he beat out a massive album to take the trophy.

Predicted: Adele-30
Should Win: Adele-30
Actually Won: Harry Styles-Harry’s House

Best Rap Album
The next category I analyzed was Best Rap Album. This category is statistically consistent, and the winner is always the highest reviewed except for extenuating circumstances, like in 2021. The past three winners were Tyler, The Creator in 2020 and 2022, and then Nas in 2021. The former two projects were both the highest reviewed in their pools, while the latter was the lowest. I think it was a case of legacy, as Nas, approaching the third decade of his career, did not have a Grammy yet. This illuminated the importance of the real-world context of the projects.

This year, it was a perfect tie between Grammy-favorite Kendrick Lamar, and 2018 Best Rap Album snub Pusha T. The answer to who would win lay in this conundrum. Would they play it safe with Lamar, or take a risk and give the equally-deserving Pusha T a long overdue award? In the end, they played close with Lamar, the safer of two phenomenal options.

Predicted: Kendrick Lamar-Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
Should Win: Pusha T-It’s Almost Dry…maybe
Actually Won: Kendrick Lamar-Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Album of The Year
Lastly, the biggest award of the night: Album of The Year. The prestigious prize has always been an enigma, baffling fans as it is often placed in less deserving hands (notably Mumford & Sons). The past three years have shown no consistent trend, and this year was no different. In 2020, Billie Eilish took it home in the whirlwind of her WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP… project sweeping the awards. It was her fifth grammy of the night, despite falling in the bottom half of the review pool. In 2021, Taylor Swift took it home for the masterful Folklore, which was second in the pool. Last year, the lesser-known Jon Batiste, leading (although with only review), took it home over a star-studded group, including Eilish, Lil Nas X, Justin Beiber, Swift and Kanye West.

In my predictions, I was actually stumped. Beyoncé was certainly going to take home an armful of awards, not to mention she had the highest scoring project. Adele had beat her in 2016 for the award, which definitely had a possibility of repeating. Behind them, I figured Kendrick and Bad Bunny had equal second-string chances of winning. It never even occurred to me that Harry could get it. The past data gave no sense of direction for this year, so I went on a limb and assumed they would stick with the critical acclaim. At about halfway in his group, behind three of the biggest projects of the year, Styles beat out two veterans to take home the final Golden Gramophone.

Predicted: Beyoncé-Renaissance
Should Win: Beyoncé-Renaissance
Actually Won: Harry Styles-Harry’s House