As award season draws ever closer, it is once again that time to think about who will be a major player at music’s biggest night. Last year was one of complete unpredictability but with the expansion of the main four categories to 8 nominees instead of the usual five, it is slightly easier to take a stab at guessing who will be honoured at this year’s ceremony. Here are Alternatively Pop’s predictions for the 2019 Grammy Award Nominations:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Album of the Year is the biggest award of the night and arguably the least competitive this year. There seems to be no clear frontrunner with every contender being hampered by some aspect or another. The closest thing to a frontrunner is The Carters’ Everything is Love which received critical acclaim, although slightly less so than Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Jay-Z’s 4:44. The pair should be a lock for a nomination, with five nominations between them in just the last ten years. The biggest obstacle in the way of music’s reigning king and queen is that the album was not received well commercially, opening at number two behind 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood, with 123,000 units of which only 70,000 were pure, marking a huge decline from both artists previous efforts. Given the Academy’s tendency to award big commercial hits such as Bruno Mars last year, Adele in 2017 and Taylor Swift in 2016, this could be one obstacle The Carter’s can’t clear. Speaking of Swift, she’s back in the ring for the first time since her Album of the Year win with 2014’s 1989. 2017’s reputation was a divisive piece of work but still garnered enough acclaim to grab a nomination. The album was a commercial powerhouse and it’s supporting tour was even more so and that should be enough to give her a lock and her fourth nomination, but given her recent win, don’t expect her to take home the award. Another commercial success is Drake’s Scorpion, which debuted to huge sales earlier this year and spawned three number one hits. Unfortunately for the rapper, the album received underwhelming reviews from critics. That combined with the recent report that 82% of the album’s total streams are made up of six of its twenty-five tracks, could be enough to deter a Drake win here, and in fact may be enough to knock him out of the top eight completely should the academy choose to go a more alternative route. Other contenders include Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy and Ariana Grande’s Sweetener, with both artists coming off huge years. However, with IOP being Cardi’s debut and Grande’s upcoming follow-up Thank U, Next threatening to overshadow Sweetener, I can’t see either of them walking home with the award. Grammy favourite Sam Smith could be in with a chance with The Thrill of It All getting good reviews and decent commercial success, but would be an underwhelming winner given the inoffensive nature of the record and with neither huge sales or huge critical support to propel him to the front of the pack, he’s another nomination with no win. After a controversially male year last year, the Grammys will be looking to include a more female presence this year, which could be wonderful news for critical darlings Kacey Musgraves and Janelle Monae. Musgraves Golden Hour is her most critically adored album of her career and would also be a winner that would be supported by the industry and fans alike. Although not a huge commercial success, Musgraves did take home Album of the Year at the CMA’s, indicating strong industry support. Monae’s Dirty Computer has also been critically adored and given her veteran status in the industry and the comparisons to her late mentor Prince, Dirty Computer could be a dark horse in this race yet. Alongside the more traditional albums, soundtracks had a big year. The Greatest Showman was a runaway hit and should be a huge contender in the Motion Picture categories, while Black Panther offers the Academy to honour one of the most commercially and culturally significant movies in history.
Final Predictions: Everything is Love, reputation, Invasion of Privacy, Golden Hour, Scorpion, The Thrill of it All, Dirty Computer, Black Panther
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Unlike Album of the Year, Record of the Year has a clear frontrunner. Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ is everything the academy could want. Massively successful and critically adored, it should be a slam-dunk. However, many would have said the same about Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Humble’ last year and he left without the award. If the Academy decides that ‘This is America’ is too politically charged for them to award, they could turn to equally popular efforts in Cardi B’s ‘I Like It’ and Drake’s ‘God’s Plan’ which provided each artist with huge hits this year. Neither have the critical support of ‘This Is America’ but neither were close to panned, being received similarly to last year’s winner ‘24k Magic’. Many are predicting that Maroon 5’s ‘Girl Like You’ could also be a contender for Cardi B, but given the unoriginality of that track, and the fact that there are other ways to award Cardi, I don’t see ‘Girl Like You’ giving the band it’s first main field nomination since their first and last with Best New Artist thirteen years ago. The Carters’ ‘Apesh*t’ should also be in with a shot of a nomination, but given its lack of commercial support and no major critical push, I would say nomination is all it will get. Beyoncé’s duet with Ed Sheeran on ‘Perfect’ could grab the pair a nod, but given the fact that Sheeran was completely shut out of the main field last year despite much buzz, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The pop field should produce a number of contenders – Ariana Grande’s ‘God is a Woman’ could be nominated, but given its slightly controversial nature, it probably won’t be enough for a win. Zedd’s ‘The Middle’ could be one that sneaks into that top eight with ease, along with Bebe Rexha’s ‘Meant to Be’ and Post Malone’s ‘Rockstar’. Finally, soundtracks could provide a number of potential nominees here as well. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s ‘Shallow’ could be a dark horse here, particularly given that the pair will be running the song’s Oscar campaign simultaneously. The track was also released just as the eligibility period closed, so it’s fresh in the voter’s minds. Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s ‘All The Stars’ and Keala Settle’s ‘This is Me’ could also contend for those top eight spots.
Final Predictions: ‘This is America’, ‘I Like It’, ‘God’s Plan’,’Apesh*t’, ‘The Middle’, ‘All The Stars, ‘God is a Woman, ‘Meant To Be’
SONG OF THE YEAR
Song of the Year is an odd category this year. Like Album of the Year, there is no clear frontrunner but there are a number of tracks in contention for the award. Again ‘This Is America’, ‘Apesh*t, ‘The Middle’ and a variety of others from Record of the Year will contend here as well, but other tracks will most definitely break through. Breakout star Ella Mai could well be in the race with ‘Boo’d Up’ being a huge hit for her. While Record of the Year has favoured more R&B tracks in the past few years, Song of the Year has embraced other genres particularly pop. Maroon 5’s ‘Girls Like You’ could fare better here given its message and its mass appeal. Ariana Grande’s ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ could be a major player for a nomination, and even the award should the Academy decide that this is the year to anoint her. My only pause for concern is the mammoth success of her latest effort ‘Thank U, Next’, both commercially and critically, which could lead to the Academy regulating Grande to nominations or a win in the pop field, instead choosing to award her in the main field next year. Additionally, Grammy favourite Taylor Swift could be in the mix with ‘Delicate’. While she fell out of favour last year with the controversial ‘Look What You Made Me Do’, ‘Delicate’ has been critically acclaimed and was a big enough hit with the industry with massive radio play and holding strong on the hot 100 for 35 weeks. Although this isn’t the flashiest of entries, Swift has never won here despite being a three-time nominee in this category, and this could be the Academy’s chance to award one of this generation’s greatest songwriters. ‘This is Me’, ‘All The Stars’, and ‘Shallow’ could all be in with a shot here as well. Drake could also contend with ‘God’s Plan’ and even ‘Nice For What’. XXXTentacion could also be in with a chance at a posthumous nomination here with ‘SAD!’ and given his polarising career, it will be interesting to see if the Grammys are able to ignore him. Fringe contenders such as Kacey Musgraves (‘High Horse’), Sam Smith (‘Pray’), Demi Lovato (‘Sober’) and Dan + Shay (‘Tequila’) could also factor in if the Academy decides to snub some of the more heavy hitters.
Final Predictions: ‘This is America’, ‘No Tears Left To Cry’,’Boo’d Up’, ‘Nice For What’, ‘Delicate’, ‘The Middle’, ‘Shallow’, ‘Girls Like You’
BEST NEW ARTIST
Best New Artist finds itself in the same situation as it always does. The rules are messy and poorly applied, leaving the top contenders out of the running after Cardi B, Post Malone and XXXTentacion were all deemed ineligible for the award. That leaves it as a two horse race between pop’s latest princess Dua Lipa and R&B breakout Ella Mai. Both have had monumental years, with a number of hits under each of their belts. Lipa would probably be my choice for the frontrunner but Mai is nipping at her heels. This award has often been the kiss of death for a number of artists, while a number of the world’s biggest stars have been nominated and not won in the past, so the pair may be wishing the other luck in the end. While Lipa and Mai are in a tight race for the award, there aren’t too many other locks for a nod. Juice Wrld could be their closest competition but I can’t see the Academy awarding him. There is often a country nominee and with eight nominees this year, a few will certainly be in contention. Luke Combs, Brett Young and Carly Pearce could all fill that slot or even take more than one spot. Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko, Bebe Rexha, Marshmello and Billie Eilish will all be aiming to get into those pop slots, while niche artists H.E.R and Greta Van Fleet will also be hoping to garner genre bids.
Final Predictions: Dua Lipa, Ella Mai, Juice Wrld, Luke Combs, Troye Sivan, Great Van Fleet, Carly Pearce, Bebe Rexha
Nominations for the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards will be announced in all 84 categories on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018.