Gambling on the Grammys? Here’s How
Photo Credit: Robert Hanashiro – USA TODAY
If waiting another week before getting the opportunity to wager on an event featuring a performance by Pink is just too much to handle, you happen to be in luck. The Super Bowl 52 anthem singer will take the stage at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, where she’s among a list of performers that includes Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Cardi B, who won’t be the only one with the ability to “make money moves” at the show.
The Grammys don’t allow the extensive wagering options that you’ll find for the Academy Awards, but sportsbooks have annually posted odds on the show’s four biggest general awards.
You might not be able to bet on props like “Will someone disrupt an acceptance speech to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Wu-Tang is for the children‘ moment?” but the potential to win money in these four categories could make it worth having to sit through an inevitable Grammy installment of “Carpool Karaoke” sketches with host James Corden.
While we haven’t developed any sort of special algorithm for awards show betting (at least not yet), I did go back and look at the pre-show odds for each category over the past five years to see if there’s anything that would help predict how this year will go.
The biggest lesson? The odds are there for a reason. Very few long shots ever come through (more on that below), no matter how much better you might think one song or artist is than another. Sure, it’s still a crime against music that Kendrick Lamar (+700) lost the Best New Artist award to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (-400) in 2014. But you aren’t betting with your ears here.
Record of the Year
“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber (-250)
“Humble” – Kendrick Lamar (+500)
“24K Magic” – Bruno Mars (+550)
“Redbone” – Childish Gambino (+1000)
“The Story of O.J.” – Jay-Z (+1200)
This is the only one of the four categories where the expected winner has won every time in the past five years. While “Despacito” isn’t as big of a favorite as Adele’s “Hello” was last year (-500, with Beyonce’s “Formation” the next closest at +500), it’s a heavier frontrunner than any of the four winners before that. In a year where the Grammys have been championing the diversity of the nominations, it’s unwise to bet against the first Spanish-language song ever in this category.
The pick: “Despacito” (-250)
Album of the Year
“DAMN” – Kendrick Lamar (-150)
“24K Magic” – Bruno Mars (+250)
“Melodrama” – Lorde (+600)
“Awaken, My Love” – Childish Gambino (+1000)
“4:44” – Jay-Z (+1000)
This category paid off the biggest long shot bet of the past five years when Beck’s “Morning Phase” (+700) surprised Beyonce, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran in 2015. Even Adele’s win last year (+200) over Beyonce’s “Lemonade” (-200) was a little surprising, although it may have started a trend that could work in Kendrick’s favor. In the past two years, both Taylor Swift and Adele won this award after opening the show with their respective performances. This year’s opener? None other than Kung-Fu Kenny himself.
The pick: “DAMN” (-150)
Song of the Year
“That’s What I Like” (+350)
Favorites have come though in this category, which celebrates the song writing rather than the overall song (Record of the Year), four of the past five years. The only exception came in 2016, where Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” (+200) beat Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” (-140). And that wasn’t that big of an upset. In a year where Grammy voters are looking to appear progressive, it’s hard to bet against the over-the-top sentimentality of an entire song dedicated to suicide prevention.
The pick: “1-800-273-8255” (-225)
Best New Artist
Alessia Cara (-200)
Julia Michaels (+1500)
Lil Uzi Vert (+2000)
The favorites have won this award each of the past four years, with co-favorites Fun (+175) edging Frank Ocean (+175) in 2013. That said, Cara isn’t as heavy of a favorite as each of the past four winners. SZA’s late-2017 momentum (a Saturday Night Live performance, multiple year-end critics awards), not to mention four other Grammy nominations, could make her a reasonable pick to end that trend.
The pick: SZA (+200)
Photo Credit: Robert Hanashiro – USA TODAY