Entertainment » Music

Calling the Grammy Awards — Who Should|Would|Might Win

by Christopher Ehlers
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 8, 2019

It's that fruitless and frustrating time of year again where pundits, music lovers, and award show junkies do their best to predict the Grammy Awards, an award show that is infamous for being difficult to predict and perhaps more infamous for regularly crowning some truly head scratching winners (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis winning Best New Artist over Kendrick Lamar, Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran, Lorde, and Ariana Grande is one recent WTF moment).

Despite some PR blunders over the last couple years (including a controversial comment from the soon-to-step-down president Neil Portnow that women needed to "step up" if they wanted to receive as many nominations as men), the aging, white male voters who make up a sizable chunk of the academy are unlikely to begin voting differently. It is also unlikely that the 900 new members who were granted membership last year in an effort to diversify will bring about a new world in which people like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, and Drake triumph over the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift, and Bruno Mars. It is especially unlikely considering that the three main categories have been expanded to include more than the customary five nominees, further watering down the votes and paving the way for a win despite receiving less than 20% of the vote.

All of this is to say that the Grammys are harder than ever to predict. But we're going to take a stab at it anyway.

Record Of The Year

"I Like It" - Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin
"The Joke" — Brandi Carlile
"This Is America" — Childish Gambino
"God's Plan" - Drake
"Shallow" - Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
"All the Stars" - Kendrick Lamar and SZA
"Rockstar" - Post Malone featuring 21 Savage
"The Middle" - Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey

Remember that Record of the Year is awarded to the performers, producers, engineers, and mixers of the song rather than the writers. This is prime territory for the infectious and ubiquitous "I Like It" or viral sensation "This Is America" to take a top award. But taking history into account, both are unlikely. Last year, Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" beat "Despacito" and the year before, Adele's "Hello" triumphed over Beyoncé's "Formation." At the time, both "Despacito" (which was completely shut out) and "Formation" were thought to be shoo-ins.

"The Middle," a country-dance-pop earworm that spent the better part of the last year at the top of the charts, is in a great position to upset here. It took producers over a year to put this song together and they recorded the vocals with nearly a dozen singers (including Demi Lovato, Camila Cabello, and Bebe Rexha) before settling on country darling Maren Morris. Her presence on the track could be enough to sway the massive country vote their way, but the track was released over a year ago and we don't know anyone who isn't sick of it.

But "Shallow" is successful, beloved, and well on its way to winning an Oscar. But first, a sweep at the Grammys seems in order.

Should & Will Win: "Shallow"
Watch Out For: "The Middle"

Album Of The Year
"Invasion of Privacy" - Cardi B
"By the Way, I Forgive You" - Brandi Carlile
"Scorpion" - Drake
"H.E.R." - H.E.R
"Beerbongs & Bentleys" - Post Malone
"Dirty Computer" - Janelle Monáe
"Golden Hour" - Kacey Musgraves
"Black Panther: The Album" - Kendrick Lamar, featured artist

We can go ahead and eliminate Cardi B, Drake, H.E.R, and Post Malone right off the bat. Janelle Monáe's "Dirty Computer" is one of the most confident, fulfilling, and listenable albums of the year. Once thought of as this year's Album of the Year frontrunner, Monáe -an 8-time nominee—received only one other nomination this year, for her music video for "Pynk," making a big win here next to impossible.

A lot of pundits are predicting that Kendrick Lamar will triumph here after being passed over for Album of the Year in 2016 for "To Pimp a Butterfly" and in 2018 for "Damn," but we don't see that happening for a middling compilation album, despite the mammoth success of "Black Panther." Many are calling Lamar overdue, but that's not really true: he already has 12 Grammy Awards and will likely win a few more this Sunday.

In our mind, this is a two-way race between two very good albums. Brandi Carlile, up for 6 Grammys this year, has delivered the best work of her career with "By the Way, I Forgive You," and country darling Kacey Musgraves struck gold with her lovely "Golden Hour," an album that goes down easy and is pretty hard to hate.

Should Win: "By the Way, I Forgive You" - Brandi Carlile
Will Win: "Golden Hour" - Kacey Musgraves
Watch Out For: "Black Panther: The Album" - Kendrick Lamar

Song Of The Year
"All the Stars" - Kendrick Lamar & SZA
"Boo'd Up" - Ella Mai
"God's Plan" - Drake
"In My Blood" - Shawn Mendes
"The Joke" - Brandi Carlile
"The Middle" - Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey
"Shallow" - Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
"This Is America" - Childish Gambino

This should be no contest: "Shallow" will easily win here and Mother Monster will finally take home her first Song Of The Year award.

Should & Will Win: "Shallow"

Best New Artist
Chloe X Halle
Luke Combs
Greta Van Fleet
Dua Lipa
Margo Price
Bebe Rexha
Jorja Smith

The Best New Artist award is usually one of Grammy's largest dumpster fires. Statistically speaking, H.E.R. seems well positioned to take this being that she is up for five major awards this year including Album of the Year. But if we've learned anything from Bon Iver beating J. Cole and Nicki Minaj, Esperanza Spalding beating Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine, and Mumford & Sons, and Maroon 5 beating Kanye West, it's that all bets are off when it comes to quality and common sense.

Dua Lipa has proven herself to be a force of nature in pop music and Luke Combs did very well for himself this year on the country charts, but Chloe X Halle have the support of Beyoncé, which - let's be honest - isn't nothing. Bebe Rexha is talented, but she's been releasing music for over four years so it's puzzling that she's included here. And of course, we cannot rule out Greta Van Fleet, a rock revival band for the Urban Outfitters crowd that surprisingly picked up four nominations this year.

Should Win: Dua Lipa
Will Win: H.E.R.
Watch Out For: Greta Van Fleet

Best Pop Solo Performance
"Colors" - Beck
"Havana (Live)" - Camila Cabello
"God is a Woman" - Ariana Grande
"Joanne (Where Do You Think You're Goin'?) - Lady Gaga
"Better Now" - Post Malone

We're saying "thank u, next" to Beck and Post Malone and we are left with three very worthy entries from three of pop's best loved divas.

Camila Cabello saturated the airwaves this year with "Havana" and "Never Be The Same" and it's hard to imagine that voters won't be swayed by the popularity and sheer likability of this mammoth hit. She was mysteriously left out of bigger categories this year, so this might be her consolation prize.

Lady Gaga officially ended the Joanne era with the surprise release of this dialed back, acoustic version of the album's title track. It is a stunningly honest and disarming vocal performance that further goes to show just how versatile an artist she is and she could ride the "Shallow" wave to a win here, too.

But this award is Grande's to lose. She is having an uncommonly good year and has never won a Grammy.

Should Win: "Joanne"
Will Win: "God is a Woman"
Watch Out For: "Havana"

Best Pop Vocal Album
"Camila" - Camila Cabello
"Meaning of Life" - Kelly Clarkson
"Sweetener" - Ariana Grande
"Shawn Mendes" - Shawn Mendes
"Beautiful Trauma" - P!nk
"Reputation" - Taylor Swift

Kelly Clarkson, who holds the record for nominations in this category, has won this award twice before, but it's unlikely that her so-so "Meaning of Life" will bring her a third win. P!nk, on the other hand, has never won this award. In fact, it's been 15 years since she has won a Grammy for her own music. Coupled with her impressive record sales this year, this makes her a serious contender, especially if Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift split the vote.

Grande proved herself to be a pop music force with 2017's "Dangerous Woman," but over the last year has emerged as a different kind of hero, a strong and unrelenting young woman who plays by her own rules. From the terrorist attack at her Manchester Concert last May that left 23 people dead to the death of her longtime boyfriend Mac Miller in September (closely followed by the very public breakup with Pete Davidson,) she has risen when most pop stars would crumble and was one of 2018's most inspiring figures.

But "Sweetener" is a mixed bag, half marred by Pharrell's obnoxious and self-serving production, and we don't think that voters will look past that and reward Grande for being a survivor. Remember: voters passed over Kesha twice last year in favor of Ed Sheeran, and we think they'll do it again this year by giving Taylor Swift the only award she was nominated for this year.

Should Win: "Reputation"
Will Win: "Reputation"
Watch Out For: "Beautiful Trauma"


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