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Grammy predictions: Who will win the 2016 awards?

Last year, it was “Morning Phase” by Beck upsetting Beyoncé’s self-titled album. The year before, it was Daft Punk doubling up with Record and Album of the Year. And the year before that, it was the coronation of Gotye, winner for Record of the Year with “Somebody That I Used to Know” (which was followed by the disappearance of Gotye from the American music scene).

Predicting the Grammys can feel akin to predicting the result of a roulette spin.

The arrival of the 2016 edition of the Grammys brings with it some intriguing questions. Has Taylor Swift fully earned the love of the Academy? Will voters finally recognize Kendrick Lamar as, at worst, one of the two most vital hip-hop artists working today? And do the powers-that-be hear “Uptown Funk” and think of it as an homage or a rip-off of 1980s R&B?

Here’s a guide to the “big four” categories, along with samples from the genre-specific awards, with one foolhardy set of predictions based on history, chart performance and a sneaking suspicion that this is the Year of the #Squad

Album of the Year

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Graham Denholm

"Sound and Color," Alabama Shakes

"To Pimp a Butterfly," Kendrick Lamar

"Traveller," Chris Stapleton

"1989," Taylor Swift

"Beauty Behind the Madness," The Weeknd

WINNER: "1989," Taylor Swift

She's been here before, winning in 2010 for "Fearless," and hip-hop rarely gets a fair shake in the album category (making "To Pimp a Butterfly" tough to pick).

Record of the Year

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian

"Really Love," D'Angelo

"Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars

"Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran

"Blank Space," Taylor Swift

"Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd

WINNER: "Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars

If it wins, the omnipresent hit would extend a recent trend: Two of the last three Record of the Year winners have a credited featured artist.

Song of the Year

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jason Merritt

"Alright," Kendrick Lamar

"Blank Space," Taylor Swift

"Girl Crush," Little Big Town

"See You Again," Wiz Khalifa feat. Charile Puth

"Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran

WINNER: "Blank Space," Taylor Swift

The songwriter's award has never gone to a rap song, meaning Lamar may again be denied his due. If that's the case, expect another shocked Swift face (a perennial award show favorite).

Best New Artist

Courtney Barnett James Bay Sam Hunt Tori Kelly
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Santiago Felipe

Courtney Barnett

James Bay

Sam Hunt

Tori Kelly

Meghan Trainor

WINNER: Meghan Trainor

Barnett should win the award going away, but she would be the least pop music industry-friendly artist to do so since Esperanza Spalding in 2011 if she did. Trainor's had more success than everyone on the list combined, and when all else fails, follow the money.

Best Rock Performance

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mike Lawrie

"Don't Wanna Fight," Alabama Shakes

"What Kind of Man," Florence and the Machine

"Something From Nothing," Foo Fighters

"Ex's & Oh's," Elle King

"Moaning Lisa Smile," Wolf Alice

WINNER: "Don't Wanna Fight," Alabama Shakes

The voters will want to give powerhouse Shakes vocalist and guitarist Brittany Howard some sort of trophy. This may, however, also be the best chance for Florence and the Machine to win something; watch for the English band to win either this or Best Rock Song.

Best Rap Performance

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Christopher Polk

"Apparently," J. Cole

"Back to Back," Drake

"Trap Queen," Fetty Wap

"Alright," Kendrick Lamar

"Truffle Butter," Nicki Minaj feat. Drake and Lil Wayne

"All Day," Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney

WINNER: "All Day," Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney

Yes, the Academy can be this tone-deaf. This award absolutely should go to Lamar (and Best Rap Album will), but if the voters have the chance to give an award, even partially, to a Beatle...

Best R&B Performance

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bryan Steffy

"If I Don't Have You," Tamar Braxton

"Rise Up," Andra Day

"Breathing Underwater," Hiatus Kaiyote

"Planes," Jeremih feat. J. Cole

"Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)," The Weeknd

WINNER: "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)," The Weeknd

Considering that the Canadian R&B superstar is in the show's promotional materials, one would think he has to win something. Day provides the biggest obstacle here.

Best Pop Solo Performance

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Phil Walter

"Heartbeat Song," Kelly Clarkson

"Love Me Like You Do," Ellie Goulding

"Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran

"Blank Space," Taylor Swift

"Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd

WINNER: "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran

Does it make sense that "Blank Space" would lose here but win Song of the Year? It shouldn't. But Pharrell's "Happy" won the category a year ago, beating out "Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)," the eventual Record and Song of the Year, so there's precedent.

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