After the submissions the R&B field became more competitive now that several ‘hip-hop’ records ended up in this field. This year we might also have a lot of big names in competition. It is also a field hard to predict as sometimes the Academy voters go for authentic R&B artists, but we’ve also had new ‘urban contemporary’ acts in the running.
Here are the predictions:
Best R&B Performance
- Beyoncé & Jay-Z — Drunk In Love
- Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & French Montana — Loyal (East Coast Version)
- Jhené Aiko — The Worst
- Ledisi — Like This
- Robert Glasper ft. Emeli Sandé — Somebody Else
The definite nominee here is, without a doubt, Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z for “Drunk In Love” —a track that could have been a top contender in the Rap/Sung collaboration category. In the three years of existence of this category, Queen Bey has never been nominated. But, 14 out of her 17 GRAMMY awards come from the R&B field. The other front-runner is another ‘hip-hop’ track: “Loyal” by 1- time winner, Chris Brown featuring rappers Lil Wayne and French Montana.
An entry that could be either completely ignored or endorsed for the R&B Performance award is “The Worst” by California-based hipster-R&B singer, Jhené Aiko. Aiko is the type of singer that the Academy wouldn’t normally look at it into this field for being too ‘urban’. But, she’s a megafavourite among other predictors. It wouldn’t be a surprise whether she gets nominated or not. Also in the running are 8-time nominee Ledisi for “Like This”; and Robert Glasper for “Something Else” from the second part of his award-winning collaborative project Black Radio  featuring British neo-soul singer, Emeli Sandé.
Other notable submissions include: Kelly Price for “It’s My Time”; Usher for “Good Kisser”; Pharrell Williams for “It Girl”; Fantasia for “Lose to Win”; Alicia Keys for “We Are Here”.
Best R&B Song
- “Drunk in Love” by Beyoncé, Boots, Noel Fisher, Jerome Harmor, Jay-Z, Brian Soko, Timbaland (Beyoncé & Jay-Z)
- “The Worst” by Jhené Aiko, Mac Robinson, Brian Warfield (Jhené Aiko)
- “Like This” by Ledisi
- “Lose to Win” by Fantasia Barrino, Frane Gold, Andrea Martin, Harmony Samuels, Emeli Sandé (Fantasia)
- “Na Na” by Sam Hook, Dijon McFarlane, Trey Songz (Trey Songz)
Once again “Drunk In Love” is the main contender for the songwriter’s award. And not only because Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the married couple of the year. But because of the quality of this sexually-explicit song that was co-written by last year’s winners Jerome Harmor and Timothy Mosley (aka Timbaland) as well as hip-hop producer Noel Fisher (aka Detail) and breakthrough songwriter Jordan Asher (aka BOOTS). The other two contenders are also in the running for the R&B performance: The alternative R&B tune, “The Worst” by Jhené Aiko with Mac Robinson and Brian Warfield; and singer-songwriter Ledisi for “Like This”, who holds a previous nod in this category.
The line-up could be completed by last year nominee, former winner and 2004 American Idol, Fantasia Barrino for “Lose to Win” co-written with Andrea Martin, Harmony Samuels, Frane Gold, and Emeli Sandé; and “Na Na” by 3-time nominee Trey Songz with Sam Hook and Dijon McFarlane.
Other notable submissions include: “It Girl” by Pharrell Williams; “Look Up” by Daley and Pharrell Williams (Daley); “Somebody Else” by Robert Glasper (Robert Glasper Experiment ft. Emeli Sandé); “Options” by Luke James (Luke James ft. Rick Ross); “Rollercoaster” by Babyface, Antonio Dixons, Daryl Simmons (Babyface & Toni Braxton).
Best R&B Album
- Robert Glasper Experiment — Black Radio 2
- Babyface & Toni Braxton — Love, Marriage & Divorce
- Jennifer Hudson — HUDD
- Aloe Blacc — Lift Your Spirit
- Aretha Franklin — Aretha Signs the Great Diva Classics
The frontrunner for this award is of course, the Robert Glasper Experiment for Black Radio 2 —the first part won Best R&B Album two years ago. His closest rivals are 10-time winner, and long-time GRAMMY-darling, Babyface (who won last year as the producer of Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire) and 6-time winner, Toni Braxton who partnered together to create the critically-acclaimed Love, Marriage, and Divorce. Another Academy favourite and former winner of this award, Jennifer Hudson is up with her third studio album JHUD.
Also leading the bet is new artist, Aloe Blacc for his breakthrough record Lift Your Spirit. And last but not least, Ms. Aretha Franklin for her rendition of classics Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics which features former GRAMMY-winning songs, Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”.
Other notable submissions include: The Truth by Ledisi; Promise to Love by Kem; Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse by Mariah Carey; Think Like A Man by Mary J. Blige; Days & Nights by Daley.
Best Urban Contemporary Album
- Beyoncé — Beyoncé
- Pharrell Williams — G I R L
- Chris Brown — X
- Jhené Aiko — Sail Out
- Trey Songz — Trigga
The Urban Contemporary Album is only on its third year (even though the very similar Best Contemporary R&B Album was awarded from 2003 to 2011). Therefore, it is hard to predict. Last year, two underground artists make the cut while the previous years it was totally mainstream. This category is also known for having the fewer submissions. Despite this, it contains the biggest names of the R&B field.
For the line-up we are looking at Beyonce’s self-titled album and Pharrell Williams’ G I R L; two of the top-selling records of the year. There’s also Chris Brown for his newest release X. Brown could also become the first artist to be nominated twice for this category. The other top contenders are newbie Jhene Aiko for her Sail Out EP and Trey Songz for Trigga.
Other notable submissions include: Art Official Age by Prince; Friends & Lovers by Marsha Ambrosious; Mali Is… by Mali Music; Luke James by Luke James; Journals by Justin Bieber.