The R&B field features two of the most nominated arists of the year: Beyoncé in three out of the five categories and Pharrell Williams in one. There is not much competition; therefore, things would be very easy to predict here. Let’s now take a look at the odds in four of the categories of this field:
Best R&B Performance
- Beyoncé & Jay-Z — Drunk in Love
- Usher — Good Kisser
- Chris Brown, Usher & Rick Ross — New Flame
- Jennifer Hudson & R. Kelly — It’s Your World
- Ledisi — Like This
The front-runners for the Best R&B Performance award are Beyoncé and Jay-Z for “Drunk In Love”. This is the first time the duo is nominated in this category (which was revived three years ago). Beyoncé has won the now defunct Best R&B Female Vocal Performance and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group categories twice each. And this is Jay-Z’s third nomination in the R&B field. However, this same pair won the GRAMMY for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2004 for “Crazy in Love”.
The only former winner in this category this year is Usher, who is nominated twice; for his solo “Good Kisser” and for “New Flame” alongside Chris Brown and rapper Rick Ross. Therefore, he seems to be the only thread to Queen Bey and her hubby Jay. The rest of the nods have absolutely no chance against these giants: Jennifer Hudson, who has never won a performance award despite a previous nomination; R. Kelly who last won the Best R&B Male Vocal Performance back in 1998 for “I Believe I Can Fly”; and Ledisi has been nominated twice in this category with no luck.
Best R&B Song
- Drunk in Love by Shawn Carter, Rasool Diaz, Noel Fisher, Jerome Harmon, Beyonce Knowles, Timothy Mosley, Andre Eric Protor & Brian Soto (Beyoncé & Jay-Z)
- Good Kisser by Ronald “Flip” Colson, Warren “Oak” Felder, Jameel Roberts, Terry “Tru” Sneed, Usher & Andrew “Pop” Wansel (Usher)
- New Flame by Eric Belinger, Chris Brown, James Chambers, Malissa Hunter, Justin Booth Johnson, Mark Pitts, William Roberts, Maurice “Verse” Simmonds, Keith Thomas & Usher (Chris Brown, Usher & Rick Ross)
- The Worst by Jhené Aiko
- Options by Dominic Gordon, Brandon Hesson & Jamaica “Kahn-Cept” Smith (Luke James & Rick Ross)
Again the absolute favourite here is “Drunk in Love”; not only because it includes Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who won this category back in 2004 for “Crazy in Love”, but also last year’s winners, Jerome Harmon and Timothy Mosley (AKA Timbaland). Usher is making his third and fourth appearance in this category for “Good Kisser” and “New Flame” but he and his team of songwriters are not likely to beat the husband/wife duo and their collaborators. The rest of the nominees are first-timers and don’t seem to stand any chance.
Best R&B Album
- Robert Glasper Experiment — Black Radio 2
- Toni Braxton & Babyface — Love, Marriage & Divorce
- Aloe Blacc — Lift Your Spirit
- Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings — Give the People What they Want
- Bernhoft — Islander
There are two strong contenders that are likely to win: the Robert Glasper Experiment & the Toni Braxton/Babyface collaborative duo. Glasper is competing with Black Radio 2, the follow-up to his 2013 winning album, Black Radio. Therefore it could be the most likely winner. However, there is a strong support in betting odds and polls for Toni Braxton & Babyface and their album Love, Marriage & Divorce. Braxton is a 6-time GRAMMY winner, though she’s yet to win the Best R&B Album, a category that she was nominated once in 2000 for The Heat. Babyface, on the other hand, has won 7 GRAMMYs —mostly as a songwriter and producer, and this could be his first in this category. He was previously nominated for The Day in 1998.
The other three nominees; Bernhoft, Aloe Blacc, and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, are debutantes in this category. Among these, Bernhoft could make history if he wins as he will be the first non-American winner in this category.
Best Urban Contemporary Album
- Beyoncé — Beyoncé
- Pharrell Williams — G I R L
- Chris Brown — X
- Mali Music — Mali Is…
- Jhené Aiko — Sail Out
There are two of the Album of the Year nominees contending this category. Beyoncé’s self-titled album and Pharrell Williams’ G I R L. However, it should be an easy-win for Queen Bey as she’s also one of the favourites to take home the big prize. Both Beyoncé and Williams are first-time nominees in this category. Though Beyoncé has won the now discontinued (and related) Best Contemporary R&B Album award a total of three times, more than any other artist. The rest of the nominees are basically just ‘fillers’: Chris Brown with X, who holds a previous nod for his album Fortune, Mali Music with his gospel/hip-hop album, Mali Is and Jhené Aiko with the critically-acclaimed EP, Sail Out.