GRAMMYS 2019: Who Should Win and Who Will Win?

The 61st Grammy nominations are officially here, and with them came mass uproar, shock and questions about the changing industry. While the hours since the reveal of the nominations have been spent discussing who got snubbed, who wasn’t deserving and who exactly some of the nominees even were, it’s time to turn our attention to an even more important question – in a  very different race than many thought it would be, who is taking home those megaphones come next year?

RECORD OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:

Cardi B – I Like It

Brandi Carlile – The Joke

Childish Gambino – This Is America

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow

Drake – God’s Plan

Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars

Post Malone & 21 Savage – Rockstar

Zedd & Maren Morris – The Middle

Probably one of the least shocking categories this year was Record of the Year, where really the only major players who missed being Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran (and Beyoncé), and Ariana Grande. Without them it seems like this is even more of a landslide for Gambino’s ‘This is America’. Drake and Kendrick Lamar could give him a run for his money given the support the academy has shown the two in this year’s nominations. Same could be said for Carlile who came out of nowhere to secure this nod, but at the end of the day, ‘This is America’ is the deserving, and most likely winner.

SHOULD WIN: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino
WILL WIN: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino

SONG OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:

Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars

Ella Mai – Boo’d Up

Drake – God’s Plan

Shawn Mendes – In My Blood

Brandi Carlile – The Joke

Zedd & Maren Morris – The Middle

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow

Childish Gambino – This Is America

This one was a bit more shocking than the Record. Major players that missed were pop’s main girls Taylor Swift’s ‘Delicate’ and Ariana Grande’s ‘No Tears Left To Cry’. Another contender should have been Maroon 5’s ‘Girl Like You’, which was relegated to the pop field. Again, this seems like a slam-dunk for Gambino, particularly given the trend of awarding one artist both awards in the past few years. However, in a ridiculously unpredictable year, anything could happen. Carlile’s support here is shocking and could well give her a win. Lady Gaga is having an amazing year and that could get her over the line. Additionally, Lamar and Drake are always there in the background. Given Lamar’s status as one of the most snubbed artists in recent memory, and SZA losing all five nominations last year, it could be ‘All The Stars’ that takes it home.

SHOULD WIN: ‘The Joke’ – Brandi Carlile
WILL WIN: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:

H.E.R. – H.E.R.

Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You

Drake – Scorpion

Various Artists – Black Panther: The Album

Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

Post Malone – Beerbongs & Bentleys

Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

Arguably, the most shocking of all the nominations from this morning was Album of the Year. Album of the Year staple Taylor Swift missed with reputation, her first LP since 2010’s Speak Now to fail to secure a nod here. Beyoncé and Jay-z’s Everything is Love also didn’t get a nod, despite their status as music’s king and queen. Elsewhere, Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Vol 2, as well as Grande’s Sweetener and a number of other contenders. Instead, the 8 nominees are divided into commercial smashes and critical darlings and it’s hard to know who will prevail. Drake’s Scorpion was the second highest selling album of the past year, while Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy and Post Malone’s Beerpongs and Bentleys had solid debuts with huge hits to help bolster their profile here. Perhaps its Lamar’s years to finally take the trophy home for Black Panther, which was also one of the biggest movies of the year and is set to be a huge awards contender itself. On the other hand, Musgraves produced one of country’s finest LP’s in a long time, H.E.R’s self-titled debut was critically adored, and Carlile appears to have huge industry support. In the end, one LP stands well above the rest. Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer was a masterful exploration of sexuality, race and patriotism that is perfect from top to bottom and is more than deserving of the trophy.

SHOULD WIN: Dirty Computer – Janelle Monae
WILL WIN: Black Panther: The Album – Various Artists

BEST NEW ARTIST

The Nominees:

Chloe x Halle

Luke Combs

Greta Van Fleet

H.E.R.

Dua Lipa

Margo Price

Bebe Rexha

Jorja Smith

This was Dua Lipa’s to lose from the get-go. With the snub of her biggest contender Ella Mai, Lipa seems like a sure thing. Best New Artist is an odd category given its ever-changing rules, but realistically, her only competition here is Rexha and H.E.R. As for who should win, Chloe x Halle had a wonderful debut album, Luke Combs had some big songs on the country charts and Jorja Smith got acclaim for her debut album. However, the Academy likes to award the next big thing here, and that is most certainly Lipa. Don’t be surprised if you see a major upset given this year’s unpredictability, but for now, it’s Lipa’s to lose.

SHOULD WIN: Dua Lipa
WILL WIN: Dua Lipa

Leave your predictions for the 61st Grammy Awards below.

 

Advertisements

GRAMMYS 2019 Predictions: Beyoncé, Gambino and more eye the Big Four

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

the carters

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

gambino

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

Delicate-Video

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

Dua-Lipa-New-Rules

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.

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Shallow’ – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

In 2008, a pop phenomenon broke industry record after industry record on her way to the peak of pop culture. With the rise of Lady Gaga, the singer, a star was born. Now, ten years later, Lady Gaga is being reborn – this time, as an actress. After a rocky number of years and interesting career choices, the once pop enigma, has stripped herself of all façade and spectacle, and after receiving raves and Oscar buzz out of the festival circuit for her silver screen, Lady Gaga finds herself in the same situation as she did ten years ago – on a rocket straight to the top of yet another industry. However, she hasn’t left music behind her, instead using it to propel herself once again. The first cut from the upcoming A Star Is Born soundtrack, shows exactly why Gaga became the icon she is today.

While Gaga shines, ‘Shallow’ isn’t exactly the slam dunk that was expected from the snippet used in the film’s trailer, but instead, it is a weird concoction of odd production choices and seemingly unfinished lyrics. The track opens slowly, with the dull roar of an audience, which pops up in odd parts of the song, which results in a jarring contrast between what is obviously supposed to seem like a live performance and the parts that are very obviously the studio recording of the track. Lyrically, the song is nothing special, it’s the same old doomed love song that has been heard a million times over. However, the tracks lyrical construction is also quite grating, never feeling smooth and structured, instead failing to find any structure whatsoever. The first two verses are sung back to back before immediately going into the first chorus, without as much as a whisper of a pre-chorus to be heard.

However, the cut somehow manages to work because of one reason – Ms Lady Gaga. While Bradley Cooper’s country croon is hauntingly beautiful, ‘Shallow’ is a showcase of Gaga’s masterful vocal, which soars and crushes and all the right moments, sounding both strong and vulnerable at the same time. Here, Gaga’s two worlds collide. Her vocals are as much of a musical achievement as an acting performance as each note, each lyric oozes the emotions of her character, and while ‘Shallow’ isn’t quite the crowning jewel in Gaga’s rebirth – or her writing credits, for that matter – she can be damn proud her talent, as both a singer and an actress, is unquestionable.

 

Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Songs of 2017

We count down our picks for the top 10 tracks of 2017

2017 was an… interesting year. Albeit not the best year in other areas, at least the music was good, even great in some cases. We were blessed with some brilliant songs this year. These are (subjective to opinion) the best of those.

  1. Praying – Kesha

Simultaneously, a piercing battle cry and heart-breaking anthem of pain, Kesha’s first release in almost five years came as nothing less than a triumph.  A stunning return to the industry and a musical 180, ‘Praying’ was the perfect encapsulation of the hurt and rage that the Trump-era has brought upon the world, as well as the personal turmoil of the voice that brought the track to life.

2. Bad Liar – Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez is not the first name that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to experimental pop songs. However, Gomez’s ‘Bad Liar’ was an immaculate pop song that stopped critics in their tracks with its simplistic production paired with Gomez’s sensual and breathy vocals. Written over the bassline of the Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’, Gomez put herself well and truly on the map with this one.

3. Green Light – Lorde

A champion of everything weirdly brilliant, Lorde knocked everything she had done out of the water when she returned with ‘Green Light’. Marvellously rousing, ‘Green Light’ is like a jigsaw put together incorrectly but fitting perfectly all the same. Mismatched song writing over a flawlessly building pop beat, Lorde made sure her return was as perfect as it could be.

4. Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift

Although it’s follow-up ‘…Ready For It?’ is sonically superior, it is ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ that truly shows off the brilliance of its creator. Arguably the most divisive song of the year, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was the comeback heard on every corner of the globe, and only in the wake of its flickering and savage arrival, could one appreciate the genius behind it. From the choice to make the pre-chorus build to nothing to the risk of interpolating Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy’, Swift made sure her return came singed with the rage and anger only pop’s most hated person could muster.

5. The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home – Declan Mckenna

On ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, Mckenna perfectly captured what it is to be tethering on the line between youth and adulthood in a world where so much is so unsure. The raw vocal of Mckenna paired with the pondering almost conversational lyrics make for an impeccable indie-rock track that sounds like stepping into someone’s thoughts.

6. City Lights – Blanche

The Eurovision song contest is assured to give you two things – camp over the top performances and awkward instances of countries giving their neighbour points. However, every year, there is some songs that stand out among their sub-par competitors. Belgium’s entry to the 2017 contest was one of those rare shining diamonds. An impeccably crafted pop song, ‘City Lights’ relies on its simplicity, in both production and vocals to truly make it epic and god, does it succeed.

7. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles

God only knew what the hiatus of the world’s biggest boyband would bring about and while his bandmates went in reasonably predictable routes, Harry Styles shed his mainstream cocoon and dove head first into the world of rock. A sweeping soft rock ballad that Bowie would have been proud of, Styles showed exactly what he was capable and flexed his creative muscles to their full extent for what may well have been first time in years.

8. Love – Lana Del Rey

On the lead single from her fourth full length, Del Rey returned to the vintage greatness of tracks such as ‘Young and Beautiful’. ‘Love’ arrived wrapped in a bow and dripping with Hollywood glamour to deliver an awe-inspiringly cinematic testament to the beauty of young love in a way that only the voice of Del Rey can conjure.

9. Disco Tits – Tove Lo

A sexually charged club anthem, ‘Disco Tits’ held nothing back as Tove Lo bared it all. The EDM tinged dance-pop pounds and bounces unapologetically and lets it all hang out – literally. The song draws on disco as well as more modern influences and explores a care free attitude and approach to the world – and its fabulous.

10. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

A retro track from a little known alternative band is an odd thing to find within the top 40, never mind the top 10, and yet that’s exactly where Portugal. The Man found themselves this year with ‘Feel It Still’. This funky hit harkens back to 60’s groove in both production and lyrically, resulting in an impossible to ignore earworm.

11. Love is Alive – Lea Michele

Michele truly created something special with the release of ‘Love is Alive’. A stunning broadwayesque power ballad that reaches to the skies and fabulously showcases the vocal talent of Michele, the track perfectly captures the essence of the star who created it.

12. Watch – Billie Eilish

Speaking of talent, this fifteen-year-old singer-songwriter is one of the best things to emerge in music in 2017. Perfectly capturing the dramatic nature of teenage love and over the top feelings that come along with it, Eilish displays a masterful touch on this pop masterpiece that throbs as though it is a recording of the broken heart that inspired it.

13. Lost Without You – Freya Ridings

In a similar vein to Blanche’s ‘City Lights’, Riding’s heart-breaking ballad thrives on its simplicity. Reduced to merely a piano and the gut-wrenching voice of Ridings, ‘Lost Without You’ displays the brilliance in the less is more mantra as its quietest moments are in fact, its loudest.

14. The Cure – Lady Gaga

After the dramatic departure from pop that Joanne took, Gaga returned to her comfort zone with this track. Debuted during her Coachella set, The Cure is a flawlessly fashioned radio hit with a chorus that is undeniably addictive and annoyingly irresistible.

15. Uh Huh – Julia Michaels

One of pop’s most prolific songwriters, Michaels had one of the best breakouts of the year with her hit ‘Issues’. However, it is its follow-up ‘Uh Huh’ that impeccably shows off her genius as a pop mastermind. With a guitar instrumental backing up the verses, it is the drop right into the chorus that makes this one of those unskippable ones that sneaks into very corner of your brain.

16. ’71 Charger – Loreen

Rooted in alternative music, ‘’71 Charger’ broke new ground for the Swedish hit maker. The track draws heavily on minimalistic beats and production, showcasing the voice of Loreen, who makes the bold choice to match and double down on her minimalistic production, with an equally minimalistic but mystifying vocal performance that can only be described as brilliant.

17. Drew Barrymore – SZA

I always believed that Drew Barrymore was the superior Charlie’s Angel and thankfully, R&B’s newest prodigy agrees. SZA cites Barrymore as an inspiration as she played the roles that SZA herself identified with such as the girl who couldn’t get the guy and the track perfectly captures that as SZA asks her lover is she is enough for him.

18. Waking Up Slow – Gabrielle Aplin

A brilliant and overlooked talent, Aplin has developed and coined a unique sound since her debut English Rain. ‘Waking Up Slow’ is fabulous new-age synth driven dance track that is alight with euphoria as bright as the sun.

19. I Know – Aly & AJ

From the pop royalty that brought us the legendary track that is ‘Potential Break-up Song’, Aly & AJ continued to deliver on their potential a decade after their last release. The track was yet another notch in the marvellous year that experimental female pop music has had. A dream pop song that has its head in the clouds and its production in 80s synth pop, ‘I Know’ plays like candy floss and vintage shops.

20. Lost in Your Light – Dua Lipa

Another breakout star of 2017, Lipa’s ‘New Rules’ was absolutely everywhere as it dominated airwaves, its predecessor was equally worthy of adoration. A catchy hook, peppy beat and interesting feature from Miguel makes for an all-around dance-pop banger that was, sadly, ignored.

Listen to all the tracks on this list on Spotify here