The Grammy Awards can usually be counted on for a good head-to-head showdown.

In 2017, the annual event put music’s preeminent divas, Adele and Beyoncé, against each other for album, record and song of the year; in 2018, Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar scored more nominations than anyone else, setting the stage for an East Coast-West Coast hip-hop battle. (Alas, Bruno Mars ended up taking the biggest prizes, a reminder of the Grammys’ predictable unpredictability.)

For the 62nd ceremony, set to take place Jan. 26 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the key rivalry is between Billie Eilish and Lizzo

Here’s an early guide to how that duel is shaping up and to a few other races worth watching as final-round voting gets underway.

Album of the year

Bon Iver, “i,i”

Lana Del Rey, “Norman F — Rockwell!”

Billie Eilish, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”

H.E.R., “I Used to Know Her”

Lil Nas X, “7”

Lizzo, “Cuz I Love You”

Vampire of the Weekend, “Father of the Bride”

Analysis: With no lead nominee over the age of 40 — and with three under the age of 25 — the Grammys’ flagship category clearly demonstrates the Recording Academy’s eagerness to shake its perception as a safe space for aging white rockers. Figure in that case that Eilish has the advantage here: At 18 by the time of next month’s show, she’d be the youngest album of the year winner in Grammys history (having bested Taylor Swift, who was 20 when “Fearless” won in 2010).

Frontrunner: Billie Eilish

Wild card: Lana Del Rey

Record of the year

Bon Iver, “Hey Ma”

Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”

Ariana Grande, “7 Rings”

H.E.R., “Hard Place”

Khalid, “Talk”

Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road”

Lizzo, “Truth Hurts”

Post Malone & Swae Lee, “Sunflower”

Analysis: The should-win nominee here (this award goes to the performing artist, producer, recording engineer and/or mixer) is obviously “Old Town Road,” which wasn’t merely the biggest single of the year (with a record-setting 19 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100

Frontrunner: Lil Nas X

Wild card: Ariana Grande, whose sampling of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic “My Favorite Things” provides a welcome flash of familiarity.

Song of the year

“Always Remember Us This Way,” written by Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna (performed by Lady Gaga)

“Bad Guy,” written by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (performed by Billie Eilish)

“Bring My Flowers Now,” written by Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth and Tanya Tucker (performed by Tanya Tucker)

“Hard Place,” written by Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris, H.E.R. and Rodney Jerkins (performed by H.E.R.)

“Lover,” written by Taylor Swift (performed by Taylor Swift)

“Norman F — Rockwell,” written by Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff (performed by Lana Del Rey)

“Someone You Loved,” written by Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn and Sam Roman (performed by Lewis Capaldi)

“Truth Hurts,” written by Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson and Jesse Saint John (performed by Lizzo)

Analysis: The messy public dispute over who precisely wrote “Truth Hurts” is likely to hurt Lizzo’s standing here, which improves Eilish’s chances and leaves an opening for Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved,”

Frontrunner: “Bad Guy”

Wild card: Tanya Tucker’s ragged country tune, which is ripe for the de facto lifetime-achievement treatment.

Best new artist

Black Pumas

Billie Eilish

Lil Nas X


Maggie Rogers


Tank and the Bangas


Analysis: From Jody Watley to Lauryn Hill to Shelby Lynne, plenty of secret veterans have been named best new artist at the Grammys, and this year’s not-quite-a-rookie is Lizzo, who’s been releasing music for the better part of a decade. Plus, winning this all-purpose prize (as opposed to album or song of the year) would better recognize Lizzo’s gifts as a multi-platform talent — y’know, the skills she’s been developing since the early 2010s.

Frontrunner: Lizzo

Wildcard: Maggie Rogers, an actual rookie whose slick but quirky pop recalls Grammy faves Alessia Cara and Alanis Morissette.

Best pop vocal album

Beyoncé, “The Lion King: The Gift”

Billie Eilish, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”

Ed Sheeran, “No. 6 Collaborations Project”

Taylor Swift, “Lover”

Analysis: Think of a nomination in this category as a consolation prize for each of the three superstars — Swift, Sheeran and Beyoncé — overlooked for album of the year. Of those, Swift’s “Lover” was the biggest critical and commercial success. Then again, her last disc, the triple-platinum “Reputation,” lost best pop vocal album to Grande’s “Sweetener” at the 61st Grammys in February.

Frontrunner: Ariana Grande

Wild card: Beyoncé, whose impressive but inessential “Lion King” soundtrack could garner votes from academy members desperate to award her something.

Best rap album

Dreamville, “Revenge of the Dreamers III”

Meek Mill, “Championships”

21 Savage, “I Am > I Was”

Tyler, the Creator, “Igor”

YBN Cordae, “The Lost Boy”

Analysis: Many Grammy prognosticators thought that Tyler, the Creator would notch an album of the year nod with “Igor,”

Frontrunner: Tyler, the Creator

Wild card: 21 Savage, whose much-publicized arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in February boosted his recognition (and his perceived seriousness) among progressive voters

Producer of the year, non-classical

Jack Antonoff

Dan Auerbach

John Hill


Ricky Reed

Analysis: With principal creative roles on both Swift’s and Del Rey’s albums, Antonoff is the studio whiz to beat this year — unless voters are charmed by the vision of Eilish and her brother, Finneas, recording a No. 1 smash mostly at home in the singer’s childhood bedroom.

Frontrunner: Jack Antonoff

Wild card: Dan Auerbach, the Black Keys frontman who also produced Yola’s rootsy-soulful debut


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