My 2019 GRAMMY predictions

I love watching award shows. I like to root for people but I also like to find the patterns in how the winners are chosen.  I like to make predictions every year and then I watch the show to see how close I am — so here they are.

General

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, Music From and Inspired By — Various Artists

Who should win: Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves/Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By — Various Artists

Who will win: Scorpion — Drake

The Academy expanded the pool of the Big Four categories from five nominees to eight, which was a good decision. Will 2019 be the year where Kendrick Lamar earns his way-overdue AOTY win? Probably not. The past four AOTY winners have been disappointing to say the least. The Grammys have shown that they like to pick the safe choice, i.e. Bruno Mars (2018) or Adele (2017) for the ceremony’s highest honor and I’m not expecting this year to be any different. This year, that slot is filled by Drake, whose Scorpion spawned three number one hits in 2018 and while it has certainly proved to be successful, it falls short of the unique production of both Golden Hour and Black Panther — not to mention that it is nowhere near as emotional.

Golden Hour is one of those albums that just sticks with you once you listen to it. Yes, it’s country, arguably the most “controversial” genre in terms of likability, but it isn’t the recycled “bro-country” radio murmur that has taken over airwaves. It’s fresh, inventive and tells a story of a woman finding her way through the relationships in her life. I’ve liked Kacey Musgraves’ last two albums, but Golden Hour surprised me, and I think it’s high-time for it to shine.

What can I say about Black Panther? Both the movie and album took the world by storm — it’s been a while since a non-musical movie soundtrack made such an impact on the music industry. Lead by Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther fit perfectly into the atmosphere of the movie, but is also strong enough to stand on its own. You could listen to this album without having ever seen the movie and the experience would be similar. The album shows us the story of a man coping with the loss of his dad and exploring a world previously unknown to him. I think the GRAMMYs owes an AOTY award to Lamar but if they did give it to him, it would still be deserved.

Last year, Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic took the night’s highest honor over Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and Lorde — all of whom were more deserving. I expect Drake’s Scorpion to follow suit. It’s not that the album’s bad, it’s not at the bottom of my list of AOTY nominees, (*cough, Post Malone, cough*) but it’s… meh. Not Drake’s best work, and certainly not the best of the year.

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 & SZA
  • “Rockstar” — Post Malone featuring 21 Savage
  • “The Middle” — Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey

Who should win: “All the Stars” — Kendrick Lamar & SZA/ “This is America” — Childish Gambino

Who will win: “God’s Plan” — Drake

I’m not overly impressed with the slate of nominees for ROTY, but there are some great songs that I know I’ll be listening to for years to come. “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar & SZA was one of my favorite songs of 2018 — it would bring me joy to see it win a GRAMMY. I can’t say that I’ve heard a song like “Stars” before — a testament to the production team.

“This is America” by Childish Gambino has a good shot at taking home this award as well and I wouldn’t mind that. The production of “America” is also very unique and its message had a palpable cultural impact when it was released, and I can’t say that for the other nominees. “Stars” and “America” are both poignant songs that were highlights of the music scene in 2018. With that being said, just because a song is smart or unique doesn’t mean the GRAMMYs will award them.

Take last year’s ceremony for example — Kesha was nominated for her comeback ballad “Praying” in the Best Pop Solo Performance category but lost to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” — a good song, but nothing worth remembering. Kesha’s piece about overcoming her struggles and telling her story 100 percent deserved that GRAMMY, but it was easier to give it to Sheeran. I suspect that will happen this year with ROTY. Drake’s “God’s Plan” dominated radio stations but it’s just that — a radio song. No ingenuity or originality, or anything that would make it memorable aside from its chart record. But it’s the safe choice.

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
  • “This is America” — Childish Gambino
  • “Shallow” — Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

Who should win:“Shallow” — Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

Who will win: “Shallow” — Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

Unlike ROTY, Song of the Year goes solely to the songwriters, meaning that if the artist who performs the song did not write it, they do not win the GRAMMY. SOTY is more about lyrics than musical production so it isn’t uncommon that songs that were nominated here weren’t nominated for ROTY and vice-versa.

The world may have fallen in love with A Star is Born in 2018, but it’s been in love with Lady Gaga for a decade. Lady Gaga proves time and again that she has the pipes to belt out ballads, powerhouse pop and even jazz, but also has the writing skills to back it up. “Shallow” is a beautiful song lyrically, and where it may have fallen short in musical production, it’s more than enough in its words. I can’t imagine the academy giving this award to any other nominee, hopefully I’m right.

Best New Artist

  • Luke Combs
  • Dua Lipa
  • Bebe Rexha
  • Jorja Smith
  • Greta Van Fleet
  • Chloe x Halle
  • H.E.R.
  • Margo Price

Who should win: Greta Van Fleet

Who will win: Dua Lipa

The Best New Artist award has a reputation for being a curse — those who win it do not go on to find further success. Winners like Evanescence, Bon Iver, Milli Vanilli and Arrested Development (to name a few) did not have the same success after winning the award as they had prior — never say never, but some artists never have a comeback.

However, the curse has been disproven as many times as it’s been proven. Artists like John Legend, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey and Carrie Underwood only gained in success after winning BNA. So, the jury’s still out on whether or not the “curse” actually exists.

If the curse does exist, I hope it skips Greta Van Fleet. They’ve been called a Led Zepplin tribute band, but I don’t find that to be true. With their unique style, (musically and fashion-wise) the band has managed to make a well-deserved splash on the rock music scene and I don’t think they’ll fade away anytime soon.

But if we’re looking at overall popularity and radio play, Dua Lipa is probably going to win. She’s not undeserving of the award but Greta Van Fleet need to take this home.

Pop 

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

Who should win: “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” — Lady Gaga

Who will win: “God Is a Woman” — Ariana Grande

This category had the most disappointing slate of nominees for this year’s ceremony, hands down. I’m not sure why Beck is here — he’s a good artist and “Colors” is fine but there were plenty of songs that could’ve taken that place and made much more sense.

I’ve also never understood when the GRAMMYs nominates a live version of a song — is the studio version of “Havana” not enough? It’s a catchy song but for that reason, I hate it. Its incessant radio play made me hate it which is unfortunate.

Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” is the only song with real substance here and to me, it’s not really a pop song. I like “God Is a Woman” but that’s about all I can say about it. I’m about 80 percent sure that Ariana Grande will win this award which is fine I guess.

This category is so meh. “God Is a Woman” is the only entry on this list that really makes sense. I’m not sure what happened this year but usually this category is more competitive and exciting.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

  • “Fall in Line” — Christina Aguilera featuring Demi Lovato
  • “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” — Backstreet Boys
  • “‘S Wonderful” — Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
  • “Shallow” — Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
  • “Girls Like You” — Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B
  • “Say Something” — Justin Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton
  • “The Middle” — Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey

Who should win: “Shallow” — Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

Who will win: “Girls Like You” — Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B

There are only really three nominees here that could win — “Shallow,” “Girls Like You,” and “The Middle.”

I’ve already said my piece about “Shallow,” it’s a damn good song and it deserves recognition.

However, I have a sinking feeling that “Girls Like You” will take this. I’m not a fan of this song, in fact I though it was one of the worst songs of 2018. Between it’s radio play and star power, though, it has what it needs to win.

As with many categories this year, I’m disappointed. Either music wasn’t as good as I thought last year, or the GRAMMYs is picking the wrong people. Hm.

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

Who should win: Sweetener — Ariana Grande

Who will win: Reputation — Taylor Swift/Sweetener — Ariana Grande

I thought Taylor Swift would dominate the GRAMMYs this year because she always does. I never thought I’d say this, but in some of these categories, I think she was robbed (hello, “Delicate,” anyone?).  Although I could say the same for Ariana Grande — #JusticeForSweetener.

Swift and Grande are definitely the front-runners in this category and even though the GRAMMYs snubbed Swift, I think they still love her and she could easily walk away with this trophy.

But man if Ariana Grande hasn’t had one hell of a year. As she said herself, it’s been the best in her career and the worst in her personal life. Sweetener encapsulates how Grande is at the top of her game — the songs are good, catchy and meaningful — the ingredients are there.

Rock 

Best Rock Performance

  • “Four Out of Five” — Arctic Monkeys
  • “When Bad Does Good” — Chris Cornell
  • “Made an America” — The Fever 333
  • “Highway Tune” — Greta Van Fleet
  • “Uncomfortable” — Halestorm

Who should win: “Highway Tune” — Greta Van Fleet

Who will win: “When Bad Does Good” — Chris Cornell

“Highway Tune” is my favorite out of this category. It feels new and fresh and I can see myself listening to it again and again for years to come.

The GRAMMYs will probably take this opportunity to recognize Chris Cornell, I’m about 90 percent sure they will.

Best Rock Song

  • “Black Smoke Rising” — Greta Van Fleet
  • “Jumpsuit” — Twenty One Pilots
  • “Mantra” — Bring Me the Horizon
  • “Masseduction” — St. Vincent
  • “Rats” — Ghost

Who should win: “Masseduction” — St. Vincent

Who will win: “Jumpsuit” — Twenty One Pilots

“Masseduction” was one of my favorite songs of 2017 and I’m glad it’s getting it due nomination. St. Vincent is an amazing artist. She’s funky, unique and music is something to celebrate.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure how Twenty One Pilots is considered rock, but I don’t make the rules here. The last time they were nominated in this category, they won, so I expect them to do the same this year.

Alternative

Best Alternative Music Album

  • Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino — Arctic Monkeys
  • Colors — Beck
  • Utopia — Björk
  • American Utopia — David Byrne
  • Masseduction — St. Vincent

Who should win: Masseduction — St. Vincent

Who will win: Colors — Beck

The Arctic Monkeys are one of my favorite bands and I wished I liked Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino more, but I just couldn’t get into it, which is disappointing.

Like I mentioned before, I’m a fan of St. Vincent and she deserves to win this category and I do think she has a good chance of winning but I’m also feeling like this could be the same as when Beck won over the more deserving Beyoncé.

R&B

Best Urban Contemporary Album

  • Everything is Love — The Carters
  • The Kids Are Alright — Chloe x Halle
  • Chris Dave and the Drumhedz — Chris Dave and the Drumhedz
  • War & Leisure — Miguel
  • Ventriloquism — Meshell Ndegeocello

Who should win: Everything is Love — The Carters

Who will win: Everything is Love — The Carters

The Carters will win this hands down and they deserve to. Nothing more to say.

Rap

Best Rap/Sung Performance

  • “Like I Do” — Christina Aguilera featuring Goldlink
  • “Pretty Little Fears” — 6lack featuring J. Cole
  • “This is America” — Childish Gambino
  • “All the Stars” — Kendrick Lamar & SZA
  • “Rockstar” — Post Malone featuring 21 Savage

Who should win: “All the Stars” — Kendrick Lamar & SZA

Who will win: “This is America” — Childish Gambino

I love “All the Stars.” There’s really nothing more I can say — I hope the song wins a few awards tomorrow night.

But “This is America” does deserve love as well and if it wins this category, you won’t hear any complaints from me.

Best Rap Song

  • “God’s Plan” — Drake
  • “King’s Dead” — Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake
  • “Lucky You” — Eminem featuring Joyner Lucas
  • “Sicko Mode” — Travis Scott, Drake, Big Hawk & Swae Lee
  • “Win” — Jay Rock

Who should win: “King’s Dead” — Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake

Who will win: “God’s Plan” — Drake

“King’s Dead” is a prime example of what Kendrick Lamar does best. He can tell a meaningful story with great music that makes an unforgettable experience.

I think Drake will walk away with this award because, again, it’ll be quantity over quality.

Best Rap Album

  • Invasion of Privacy — Cardi B
  • Swimming — Mac Miller
  • Victory Lap — Nipsey Hussle
  • Daytona — Pusha T
  • Astroworld — Travis Scott

Who should win: Daytona — Pusha T

Who will win: Swimming — Mac Miller

I think Mac Miller will win this award so that the GRAMMYs can pat itself on the back for giving him recognition even though they didn’t while he was alive.

Daytona is genius in its simplicity and I would love nothing more than to see Pusha T accept this award with Drake in the audience.

Country

Best Country Solo Performance

  • “Wouldn’t It Be Great?” — Loretta Lynn
  • “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” — Maren Morris
  • “Butterflies” — Kacey Musgraves
  • “Millionaire” — Chris Stapleton
  • “Parallel Line” — Keith Urban

Who should win: “Butterflies” — Kacey Musgraves

Who will win: “Butterflies” — Kacey Musgraves

All I’m going to say is that Kacey Musgraves deserves to win every award she’s up for this year.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • “Shoot Me Straight” — Brothers Osborne
  • “Tequila” — Dan + Shay
  • “When Someone Stops Loving You” — Little Big Town
  • “Dear Hate” — Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill
  • “Meant to Be” — Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

Who should win: “Tequila” — Dan + Shay

Who will win: “Meant to Be” — Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

“Tequila” is a classic country love song — it’s catchy and a great slow-dance song, but “Meant to Be” dominated the airwaves so it’s pretty easy to assume that it’ll take this award.

Best Country Song

  • “Break Up in the End” — Cole Swindell
  • “Dear Hate” — Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill
  • “I Lived It” — Blake Shelton
  • “Space Cowboy” — Kacey Musgraves
  • “Tequila” — Dan + Shay
  • “When Someone Stops Loving You” — Little Big Town

Who should win: “Space Cowboy” — Kacey Musgraves

Who will win: “Space Cowboy” — Kacey Musgraves

Of all the great songs on Golden Hour, “Space Cowboy” is the tear-jerker. This is the moment on the album where we see Musgraves’ journey from heartbreak to eternal love.

Best Country Album

  • Unapologetically — Kelsea Ballerini
  • Port Saint Joe — Brothers Osborne
  • Girl Going Nowhere — Ashley McBryde
  • Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves
  • From A Room: Volume 2 — Chris Stapleton

Who should win: Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves

Who will win: Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves

See previous Kacey Musgraves comments.

Music for Visual Media

Best Song Written for Visual Media

  • “All the Stars” (from Black Panther) — Kendrick Lamar & SZA
  • “Mystery of Love” (from Call Me by Your Name) — Sufjan Stevens
  • “Remember Me” (from Coco) — Miguel featuring Natalia Lafourcade
  • “Shallow” (from A Star is Born) — Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
  • “This is Me” (from The Greatest Showman) — Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble

Who should win:

Who will win:

Oddly, this is the most competitive category of the year. Every single one of these songs should win the award and anything could win at this point. I honestly can’t decisively say what I think will win but either “Shallow” or “All the Stars” should win.

Music Video/Film

Best Music Video

  • “Apeshit” — The Carters
    • Director(s): Ricky Saiz
  • “This is America” — Childish Gambino
    • Director(s): Hiro Murai
  • “I’m Not Racist” — Joyner Lucas
    • Director(s): Joyner Lucas & Ben Prouix
  • “Pynk” — Janelle Monáe
    • Director(s): Emma Westenburg
  • “Mumbo Jumbo” — Tierra Whack
    • Director(s): Marco Prestini

Who should win: “This is America — Childish Gambino, dir. Hiro Murai

Who will win: “This is America — Childish Gambino, dir. Hiro Murai

Out of all of these videos, none of them made the cultural impact that “This is America” did. It deserved all of its hype and it deserves to live on in GRAMMY history.

The GRAMMYs are tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

 

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