Let’s take a look at the eight categories in which Beyoncé is nominated.
Record of the year: Beyoncé has two nominations in this category: for Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” on which she was featured, and her own “Black Parade.” This is only the second time an artist has had two nominations in the same year. Pharrell Williams achieved the feat seven years ago, though he was the featured artist on both records: Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which won, and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
With this year’s nominations, Beyoncé tied Frank Sinatra as the artist with the most record of the year nods in history: seven. But she has yet to win in this category. That may well change this year — but with which record? A win for “Black Parade” would probably be more meaningful to her, but “Savage” was a much bigger hit. “Savage” would be the first all-female collab to win record of the year. And it would be just the second hip-hop smash to win record of the year, following Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” two years ago.
Don’t rule out Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted” and Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now.” Eilish, who won last year for “Bad Guy,” is vying to become just the third artist in Grammy history (following Roberta Flack and U2) to win in this category two years running. And Lipa is fast becoming a Grammy favorite. She won two Grammys, including best new artist, two years ago.
The other contenders are Post Malone’s “Circles,” Doja Cat’s “Say So,” Black Pumas’ “Colors” and DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch’s “Rockstar.”
Likely winner: “Savage”
Song of the year: For the first time in Grammy history, two song of the year nominees — “Black Parade” and H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe” — focus on race matters. Either could win — or they could split the votes. Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” won in this category 11 years ago. If “Black Parade” wins, she’ll become just the second female songwriter (following Adele) to win twice in this category.
Eilish and Finneas, last year’s winners for “Bad Guy,” are back in the running with “Everything I Wanted.” If they win, they’ll become the first songwriters in Grammy history to win back-to-back awards in this category. (Of course, in that event, Eilish, not Beyoncé, would be the second female songwriter to win twice in this category.)
Taylor Swift has her fifth nomination in the category with “Cardigan” (which she co-wrote with Aaron Dessner.) Swift has yet to win in this category. As with Beyoncé in the record of the year category, that could change this year. There’s a growing sense that Swift’s success stems from her songwriting. Possible hitch: Swift’s Folklore album seems to be the front-runner to win album of the year. Knowing that Swift is likely to win that award, voters might choose to share the wealth and look elsewhere here.
Post Malone’s “Circles” is a superb song, but it was passed over for a nomination for best pop solo performance, which may be a bad sign.
The other contenders are Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now,” Julia Michaels & JP Saxe’s “If the World Was Ending” and Ricch’s “The Box.”
Likely winner: “Everything I Wanted”
Best R&B performance: Jhené Aiko and Jacob Collier are both nominated with collabs from album of the year contenders, so they can’t be easily dismissed, but this still feels like an easy win for “Black Parade.” This would be Beyoncé’s second win in the category. She won here six years ago for “Drunk in Love,” a collab with her husband, Jay-Z.
Likely winner: “Black Parade”
Best R&B song: Another easy win for “Black Parade.” This would be Beyoncé’s fifth win in the category, extending her lead as the songwriter with the most wins in the category’s history. (Beyoncé is likely to beat her protégés Chloe x Halle, but that’s show-biz, kids.)
Likely winner: “Black Parade”
Best rap performance: Pop Smoke and Nipsey Hussle are both nominated posthumously, but the top contenders seem to be “Savage” and Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture.” Lil Baby’s hit, which became an important Black Lives Matter anthem, could win both awards, or the two hits could split them. “Savage” would be the first all-female collab to win in this category.
Likely winner: “Savage”
Best rap song: As the only best rap song nominee that is also nominated for song of the year, Ricch’s “The Box” is ostensibly the front-runner. But “The Bigger Picture” is so meaningful and timely, it probably has an edge. And you can’t rule out “Savage.”
Likely winner: “The Bigger Picture”
Best music video: The top contenders appear to be Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl” (featuring Blue Ivy and Wizkid), the engaging Future/Drake clip for “Life Is Good,” in which the superstars try their hands at average-joe jobs, and Harry Styles’ fish saga, “Adore You.” Beyoncé won in this category four years ago with “Formation.” She would be the second female artist — following Janet Jackson — to win twice in the category. Blue Ivy, the daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, would become one of the youngest winners in Grammy history. Blue Ivy turns 9 on Jan. 7; Leah Peasall was 8 when Peasall Sisters won album of the year trophies as featured artists on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Likely winner: “Brown Skin Girl”
Best music film: Beyoncé won in this category last year with Homecoming. If she wins again for Black Is King, she’ll become the first artist to win two years running in this category. (Madonna and Sting have each won twice in the category, but not in back-to-back years.) But Beyoncé faces a formidable challenge from Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, an account of the singer’s many triumphs and the grace she has shown in dealing with the loss of her voice due to Parkinson’s. This would be Ronstadt’s 11th Grammy; her first in 21 years. Another top contender: Beastie Boys’ Beastie Boys Story, directed and co-produced by Spike Jonze, who won a 2001 Grammy for best short form music video for directing Fatboy Slim featuring Bootsy Collins’ “Weapon of Choice.”
Likely winner: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
Conclusion: Beyoncé seems likely to win five Grammys, which would bring her career total to 29 — second most in Grammy history, behind Solti, who amassed 31 Grammys between 1962 and 1997. The Hungarian-born conductor died in 1997 at age 84.
If Beyoncé wins five (or even four) awards, it will be her biggest night at the Grammys in 11 years. She took six awards at the 2009 Grammys.