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The 2016 Grammy Dark Horses, Snubs And Sure Things

We're hoping for wins for Elle King, Kehlani and Big Sean.

The lane seems pretty clear for Kendrick Lamar (this time) and Taylor Swift, who joined the Weeknd with the biggest haul of Grammy nominations this year (11, 7 and 9, respectively).

But it's when you start moving down the roster a bit that things get weird, names seem missing, others make you wonder, "wait, who?" and a few have you doing a happy dance for an artist you pump all the time but who you thought nobody else even knew existed.

Here, then, are a dozen dark horses, sure things and inexplicable snubs.

Dark Horses

Every year there are a few names that make the Grammy cut that feel out of nowhere but who you know totally deserve it, even if they have no chance of winning. Here are our 5 picks for this year's left-fielders.

  • Elle King - Best Rock Performance ("Ex's & Oh's")

    This one should really have landed in a pop category, but the first-time nominee can and totally should take it, even with stiff competition (Alabama Shakes, Foo Fighters).

  • Tame Impala - Best Alternative Album (Currents)

    A heavenly crush of psychedelic pop is just what the doctor ordered from this Australian one-man head trip band. It'll be hard to beat such heavy hitters as Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Bjork and Alabama Shakes, but a win would be... groovy.

  • Kehlani - Best Urban Contemporary Album (You Should Be Here)

    Welcome to the future (or maybe just the recent past), when a self-released mixtape can stand toe-to-toe with the Weeknd and Miguel.

Shoo-Ins

Some noms are just sure things.

  • Big Sean, Kanye West and John Legend - Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("One Man Can Change The World")

    The Grammys love a big idea song and this homage to Sean's grams is a slam dunk.

  • Diplo - Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical

    The Grammys have been trying to get a youth movement going for years and nothing screams "what do the kids like?" more than Dip's work this year. From Madonna ("Bitch, I'm Madonna") to Major Lazer ("Lean On") and the mega-smash "Where Are Ü Now" with Justin Bieber, it's Diplo's year.

  • Skrillex, Diplo, Justin Bieber - Best Dance Recording ("Where Are Ü Now")

    See above.

  • Taylor Swift - Best Pop Vocal Album (1989)
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    Sorry, not even a race.

  • Kendrick Lamar - Album Of The Year (To Pimp A Butterfly)

    Only two other rap artists have won the night's biggest honor (OutKast and Lauryn Hill), but in a field where he's battling a former winner in Taylor Swift and a new Grammy darling in the Weeknd, K-Dot's strong second effort should have no problem splitting the pop vote and scoring one for thoughtful social messaging at at time when we could use some healing.

Snubs

C'mon, really?

  • Fetty Wap - Best New Artist
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    Sure, he got 2 rap noms for his breakthrough "Trap Queen," but how did Fetty not make it into this category? Not for nothin', but he is the only artist on the list (Courtney Barnett, James Bay, Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly, Meghan Trainor) who actually released his debut album this year. None of them had a hit as big as "Queen," either.

  • Diplo - Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical

    The Grammys have been trying to get a youth movement going going for years and nothing screams "what do the kids like?" more than Dip's work this year. From Madonna ("Bitch, I'm Madonna") to Major Lazer ("Lean On") and the mega-smash "Where Are Ü Now" with Justin Bieber, it's Diplo's year.

  • Carly Rae Jepsen - Best Pop Vocal Album (Emotion)

    Yes, she didn't have a hit like "Call Me Maybe," but CRJ showed serious growth on her second album and while she probably wouldn't have stood a chance against Taylor, Mark Ronson and Kelly Clarkson, surely she could have given James Taylor a run for his money. And we love Florence & The Machine, but pop? Really?

  • Any Woman Not Named Taylor Or Florence
    Lorne Thomson / Redferns
    Sleater-Kinney came back this year, Fifth Harmony's debut?, JoJo's comeback?, a couple of Grammy darlings named Madonna (7 wins, 28 noms) and Mariah Carey (5 wins, 36 nominations), the solo debut from hugely popular Americana rocker Grace Potter and button-pushing albums from Lana Del Rey and Halsey. Take your pick.