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The Degenerate Gambler’s Guide to the 2022 Grammys

Yeah, we’re still talking about the Slap, but there’s another awards show this Sunday. From Olivia Rodrigo to Billie Eilish to Kanye, we’ve got your cheat sheet for the ceremony—plus a few bets sure to lose you some money.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

You likely missed it amid all the talk this week about that other awards show, but the Grammys take place this weekend. Seriously. Originally slated to go down in January in Los Angeles before the omicron variant spike, the 64th annual ceremony rumbles into the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sunday, with the broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and Paramount+. And while there’s likely to be nothing as controversial as the Slap during the show, there are plenty of storylines. Will Olivia Rodrigo become just the third person to sweep the four major categories (and the second in three years after Billie Eilish in 2020)? Will Eilish—somehow now the underdog—play spoiler and win Record of the Year for an unprecedented third year in a row? Can Taylor Swift beat long odds to become the first four-time Album of the Year winner? How long will host Trevor Noah go without making a Will Smith–Chris Rock joke? How weird will it be when everyone realizes that Stephen Colbert’s band leader got nearly as many nominations as Michael Jackson did in his Thriller year?

But while much of this is fun to debate, we have something more important on our minds here at The Ringer: Namely, how can we make money off The Biggest Night in Music™ with a few simple wagers? It’s not easy, especially this year. The Big Four awards—Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist—all have a clear front-runner or a joint-favorites situation that would scare off most reasonable bettors. And that’s even if you can get reliable odds—Ringer partner FanDuel doesn’t list Grammy wagers on its website, and most offshore operations don’t offer all of the main categories. But thanks to perseverance and perhaps a little stupidity, we’ve found some odds we like, and we’re ready to forge ahead. And we’re sharing our thoughts with you so you can also make regrettable decisions. After all, what better way to try win back the money you lost on your March Madness bracket than throwing a sawbuck on Saweetie?

Before we begin, a few disclaimers: This is not financial advice; no reasonable person would advise you to gamble on an awards show, so if you place a $10,000 four-leg parlay bet on Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X pole-slides his way to an upset, you have only yourself to blame. Second, we’re mainly running through the major awards, as the genre ones are difficult to find online. (With a little Googling, you can track down lines for Best Country Album, but you’re on your own there.) Lastly, all odds are current as of Thursday afternoon and come from a variety of surely reputable sources, including BetOnline, MyBookie, and Bovada.

So without further ado, let’s lose some money together.

Best New Artist

Nominees: Arooj Aftab, Jimmie Allen, Baby Keem, Finneas, Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast, The Kid Laroi, Arlo Parks, Olivia Rodrigo, Saweetie

The favorite: Olivia Rodrigo (-1400 on BetOnline)

Intriguing option: None

Let’s start this with the biggest lock of the night. Rodrigo is either the favorite or cofavorite in the other three major categories. For Best New Artist, she laps the field. BetOnline has Rodrigo at -1400 to take home the award, meaning a $100 bet would net you a paltry $7.14. For comparison, The Kid Laroi, whose Justin Bieber–assisted “Stay” charted at no. 1 for seven weeks in 2021, has the second-best odds in the category at +800. This is a clear stayaway.

Rodrigo is certainly deserving of pole position in this category. No artist—new or otherwise—had as impressive a 2021 as the former Disney star, who began the year as an unknown pop commodity before “Drivers License” took over TikTok, streaming, and then the charts. She captivated Gen Z and old millennials alike (though some would argue there’s no discernible difference between those groups), and popped up everywhere, from Jimmy Fallon to the Brit Awards to IMAX. Her debut album, SOUR, was a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Rodrigo is the music industry’s greatest success at the moment, so expect the Recording Academy to recognize her as such.

On some level, however, Rodrigo’s megawatt star blocks out what’s actually an interesting slate of nominees. British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks released one of last year’s best LPs in Collapsed in Sunbeams, an album that melded neo-soul, folk, and breakbeats into an infectious exploration into love and loss. Japanese Breakfast is on a run of excellent projects that includes 2021’s Jubilee and a New York Times bestseller. Baby Keem showed that he’s more than just Kendrick Lamar’s little cousin, and Saweetie broke out as one of the year’s most exciting new rappers (though by all means, avoid her cooking).

Of course, Rodrigo’s coronation would also cover up the awkward reality of this award: The Best New Artist nominees ain’t always that new. Take Finneas, who already has eight Grammys for his production work for his sister, Billie Eilish, but is up in this category for his solo work. Or even worse, look at Glass Animals, a group of dudes in their early 30s on their third album who had a viral hit back in 2014 with “Gooey.” Beyond the massive success, Rodrigo also has the most reasonable claim to being a “new” artist, so be prepared for her to win. Just don’t bet on it at those odds.

Album of the Year

Nominees: Jon Batiste, We Are; Justin Bieber, Justice: Triple Chucks Deluxe; Doja Cat, Planet Her Deluxe; Billie Eilish, Happier Than Ever; Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Love For Sale; H.E.R., Back of My Mind; Lil Nas X, Montero; Olivia Rodrigo, Sour; Taylor Swift, Evermore; Kanye West, Donda

The favorite: Olivia Rodrigo, Sour (-110 on MyBookie)

Intriguing option: Billie Eilish, Happier Than Ever (+600)

Here’s our best piece of advice for Grammys betting: If you can find a way to short Donda, do it. Kanye West’s overstuffed, occasionally beautiful, occasionally messy 2021 LP was added to the Album of the Year nominee list at the last minute alongside Taylor Swift’s Evermore. But while Swift is a three-time AOTY recipient (and the reigning champion for 2020’s Folklore), Kanye has yet to win the big award. Couple this with the Grammys reportedly nixing a Ye performance because of his “concerning online behavior” toward ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her new partner, Pete Davidson, among others—something the Recording Academy likely wouldn’t have done if it looked like he had a reasonable chance of winning a major award. While that decree could be subject to change, Kanye’s chances in this category still ought to be buried alongside Claymation Skete.

As for artists who have a realistic chance to win Album of the Year, Rodrigo is again the favorite, albeit by far lesser odds than in the BNA category. Behind her are Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga (+400), Eilish (+600), Lil Nas X (+750) and Taylor Swift (+800). The Recording Academy could choose to honor the retiring 95-year-old Bennett one last time for his album of pop standards with Gaga, but newly minted Oscar winner Eilish has been a Grammy darling for the past two years, posting one of the biggest nights in the ceremony’s history in 2020 and then unexpectedly winning Record of the Year in 2021 during a relatively quiet year for her. Her sophomore album, Happier Than Ever, didn’t reach the same stratospheric heights as her 2019 debut, but it positioned her as a more mature, world-weary singer on the edge of adulthood. That could resonate with a sizable portion of voters, and in a category with 10 nominees, it may not take much to come out on top, especially for someone as familiar to the Academy as Eilish. The +600 line may be the best value bet of the night.

Song of the Year

Nominees: Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”; Alicia Keys featuring Brandi Carlile, “A Beautiful Noise”; Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License”; H.E.R., “Fight For You”; Billie Eilish; “Happier Than Ever”; Doja Cat featuring SZA, “Kiss Me More”; Silk Sonic, “Leave The Door Open”; Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”; Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon, “Peaches”; Brandi Carlile, “Right on Time”

Favorite: Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License” (-225 on BetOnline)

Intriguing option: Silk Sonic, “Leave the Door Open” (+450)

Did you know that Brandi Carlile was nominated twice in the Song of the Year Category? In 2022? Wild. But don’t be fooled by the dual nods for Brandi—this one is Olivia’s category to lose. Once again, she’s a heavy favorite, as she should be given the ubiquity of “Drivers License,” a song that inspired countless TikToks and an SNL skit. (Again, bridging the age gap as well as anyone ever has.)

Let’s pretend for a moment Rodrigo wasn’t a near-lock here, though. The next-best odds belong to Eilish, at +400 for Happier Than Ever’s title track. And while it’s a great song—a somber and soaring portrait of heartbreak and reclamation—it didn’t quite break through in the same way that, say, “Bad Guy” did. If you’re looking for a song that was nearly as big as “Drivers License” that may entice voters, consider Silk Sonic, which offers slightly more favorable odds at +450. Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars’s bargain-bin Delfonics impression spent two nonconsecutive weeks at no. 1 on the Hot 100 in mid-April and late May last year—a sign of the song’s longevity—and has been certified two-times platinum. It’s also the kind of retro-soul throwback that the Academy loves to reward (see: Winehouse, Amy; Stone, Joss). Plus .Paak and Mars performed the song at last year’s ceremony and are slated to appear again on Sunday. Olivia seems unstoppable in this category, but don’t discount the voting body’s appetite for a retro-soul feel-good moment.

Record of the Year

Nominees: ABBA, “I Still Have Faith in You”; Jon Batiste, “Freedom”; Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, “I Get a Kick Out of You”; Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon, “Peaches”; Brandi Carlile, “Right on Time”; Doja Cat featuring SZA, “Kiss Me More”; Billie Eilish, “Happier Than Ever”; Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”; Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License”; Silk Sonic, “Leave the Door Open”

Cofavorites: Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License”; Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, “I Get a Kick Out of You” (+200 on BetOnline)

Intriguing bet: Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” (+1000)

OK, for those still having trouble getting this straight: Song of the Year is for the composition of the song and recognizes the songwriters, while Record of the Year recognizes all the artists, producers, and engineers that crafted the recording. It’s fine if you think you’ll need another reminder in 2023. It’s confusing stuff. Which fits in with a very confusing slate of nominees in this category. Sure, Olivia, Billie, Doja Cat, Bieber, and Silk Sonic are all here. But there’s Brandi Carlile again. Plus Late Show band leader Jon Batiste, somehow the leading nomination-getter at this year’s ceremony with 11. Plus fucking ABBA, nabbing their first Grammy nod five decades into their career, for a new song that didn’t chart in the U.S. and that currently has nearly 30 million streams on Spotify compared to 1.35 billion for “Drivers License.”

But perhaps the most confusing thing about this category is the betting odds. This is the one major category where Rodrigo isn’t the outright favorite. As of Thursday morning on BetOnline, “Drivers License” was tied for the best odds with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s cover of “I Get a Kick Out of You,” a song that’s only a few years younger than Tony Bennett himself. Sentimentality may play a role here—this is almost assuredly Bennett’s final nomination, there are few pop standards considered as classic as this one, and Gaga has ascended to the flanking–Liza Minnelli–on-stage-at-the-Oscars level of celebrity that bodes well considering the older voting body. But it would still be strange to see the pair beat out a song that launched the biggest new face in music, on a night when Rodrigo is expected to sweep every other category she’s in. In fact, it seems so strange that the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.

Our take: Sit this one out, and if you feel extra compelled to bet Rodrigo, bet her for Song of the Year or Album of the Year. If you want to get a little spicy, chaos agent Lil Nas X’s “Montero” is sitting there at +1000. Few songs garnered as much attention last year as the conservative-baiting troll job—and it has roughly the same amount of Spotify streams as “Drivers License”—so perhaps its chances are better than what the oddsmakers think.

Will Any Grammys Presenter Be Slapped on Stage During the Show?

Yes (+2500)
No (-100000)

This one comes courtesy of Bovada. And while it’s tempting to vote yes at +2500, remember that scripted moments and parody won’t count. This needs to be a pure, visceral reaction, and unless host Trevor Noah comes out firing with hardcore Tony Bennett slander—would love to see Gaga march on stage with the same fury as Will Smith—we’re probably not getting that. Which is fine. I’m not sure the Discourse could survive it.

Prop Bets We Just Made Up That We’d Wager on If We Could

Kanye Gets Shut Out of the Rap Categories (+350)

Beyond Album of the Year, Ye is up for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song (for “Jail,” Donda’s Marilyn Manson–and-DaBaby-cowritten, Phil Collins–esque opener), and Melodic Rap Performance (for “Hurricane,” probably Donda’s best song, though by no means a hit). But despite being one of the few rap performers to get a nod in a Big Four category, Ye’s got stiff competition for the genre awards. In rap album, he’s up against reigning champ Nas and 2020 winner (albeit against his wishes) Tyler, the Creator, who delivered the best full-length of 2021, according to the brain trust here at The Ringer. In the song categories, he has to beat out Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, Saweetie, J. Cole, Baby Keem, and departed legend DMX. (Although there’s one person Ye won’t have to beat: former rival Drake, who withdrew his two nominations shortly after they were announced.) Four nominations would seem to give West a good shot at winning something, but it’s not inconceivable that Ye goes home with nothing but a Stem Player in his hands.

Your Mom Texting You to Ask Who Jack Harlow Is (-500)

This year’s list of scheduled performers includes Rodrigo, Eilish, ​​Chris Stapleton, Silk Sonic, Nas, and a bunch of other household names and perfectly benign artists. And then there’s Jack Harlow, supposed burgeoning rap star, co-lead of the upcoming White Men Can’t Jump reboot, and the most popular white dude from Louisville to get rich off of a predominantly Black craft since Rick Pitino. While Harlow isn’t nearly as controversial as the disgraced college basketball coach, he’s sure to stick out on Sunday night as he performs his alleged hit song “Nail Tech.” When the iMessage from Mom hits, let her know that the ones that hate him the most look just like him and see how she responds.

BTS Making History (+1000)

The K-pop band was shut out of the major categories despite releasing one of the biggest songs in the world last year with “Butter” (and, by all metrics, being one of the biggest acts in the world for a few years running). They did receive one nomination, albeit for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. To become the first K-pop group ever to take home a Grammys statue, they’ll have to beat out Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Bennett and Gaga, and Coldplay. Sadly, the Bangtan Boys may have to wait another year or two for their American coronation.

Dedication to Taylor Hawkins Making Us Emotional (-50000000)

Foo Fighters have canceled both their scheduled performance at Sunday’s Grammys and their upcoming tour dates following the death last week of their longtime drummer Hawkins. The band is up for three awards at the ceremony: Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Album. No word yet on whether they’ll be on hand to collect their awards should they win, but a CBS executive said last week there’s a Hawkins tribute in the works. It could be an emotional evening. Prepare accordingly.