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Grammys 2016 Predictions: The Album of the Year Best Bets

From "1989" to a neo-soul newcomer, here's who we think will be vying for the top prize

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Nominations for the 58th annual GRAMMY awards will be revealed on Monday (Dec. 7), so it’s time to start wrapping up the predictions for the big four categories: album of the year, record of the year, song of the year and best new artist. The album of the year trophy has two big front-runners--who were both competing for the 2014 award--and a whole mess of outsiders hoping to lock up a nod. Which five artists will be sending their respective works to the big dance? We'll find out in February, but we have some educated guesses as to what will be competing.

Here are our official predictions for the five albums that will have their titles called when the album of the year nominees are announced on Monday. Check out our forecast, and tell us what you think! Also, check out our best new artist predictions here and record of the year predictions here.

1 / 5

Taylor Swift, "1989"

With five Top 10 hits and even the anti-poptimists admitting that its Max Martin-produced tunes are among the best radio hits of the decade, Taylor Swift's blockbuster fifth album should net the singer the third album of the year GRAMMY nod of her career.

2 / 5

Kendrick Lamar, "To Pimp A Butterfly"

King Kendrick returned with a ton of pressure in following up the instant classic good kid, m.A.A.d city, and somehow exceeded expectations with a project as thoughtful and intricate as anything in hip hop. It's practically a guarantee that his sophomore LP will be the first album with "pimp" in its title to be nominated in the category.

3 / 5

Leon Bridges, "Coming Home"

The soulful debut of singer-songwriter Leon Bridges has been quietly gaining steam since its Top 10 debut in June, and with a recent Macklemore collaboration and SNL appearance, Bridges is quickly becoming a familiar name. We saw him snagging a best new artist nod, and Coming Home has the GRAMMY-approved throwback vibe to make the shortlist here, too.

4 / 5

Alabama Shakes, "Sound & Color"

Alabama Shakes and Florence + The Machine--both former best new artist nominees--are the best bets to lead the rock campaign in the album of the year category, as each scored a No. 1 album last spring. While Flo's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is a tremendous achievement, Sound & Color developed the Shakes in staggering new ways, and received more critical adoration.

5 / 5

D'Angelo and The Vanguard, "Black Messiah"

One of the most feverishly anticipated musical returns ever, one of the highest scores in Metacritic's modern history, one of the most socially charged albums of the decade, and one of most commercially successful R&B albums of the past 12 months? Yep, bet on D'Angelo to complete a triumphant victory lap with some well-earned GRAMMY love.

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