TRACK REVIEW: ‘ME!’ (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco) – Taylor Swift

It’s hard to deny that reputation was a defining moment in Taylor Swift’s career. It may not have been as successful (critically or commercially) as 1989, but it was defining. It was dark and edgy and undeniably ballsy. A cathartic, 180 from the persona that made her famous, reputation was full of ambition. Now, on the dawn of her newest era, Swift returns to the aesthetic that made reputation a possibility, and turns it up to an 11. Unfortunately, in this case, it isn’t a good thing.

I feel the need to preface this review with a message: I’ve been a fan of Swift since Fearless, and have followed her career ever since. I consider her among the great legends of music, and always will. With that, comes the knowledge of Swift’s habits. For example, I am fully aware of her tendency to release catchy, fun and light hearted anthems with less than groundbreaking lyrics as the lead single. I am also fully aware of the fact that music can be all those things and still be brilliant, for example, her last three lead singles. In this case, however, I believe Swift has let the ball drop.

Featuring Brendon Urie (of Panic! At the Disco), the TS7 lead single, ‘ME!’, is the antithesis of everything ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was, not only in terms of sound and aesthetic, but in quality. The campy brilliance of ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ is missing on ‘ME!’, with a seemingly lack of thought to be the problem. Although catchy, ‘ME!’ seems too generic, too impersonal to be the work of Swift. It’s quite odd given the talent involved. Urie along with Joel Little (frequent collaborator of Lorde) share writing credits along with Swift. Despite her recent essay discussing how personal details make pop music great, ‘ME!’ lacks any of this, instead focusing on being relatable to its own detriment. Even Swift’s staple spoken bridge that features on her lead singles more so than not lacks all the iconic-ness of ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”s “so he calls me up…”, ‘Shake It Off”s “this sick beat” and ‘Look What You Made Me Do”s “cause she’s dead”. Instead she Best she could come up with was “Hey Kids! Spelling is Fun!” before launching into a god awful and nonsensical bridge made of tragic plays on spelling words with the song’s title (in Swift’s defence, she credits Urie as the mastermind behind the bridge, so at least the songwriter part of her reputation remains somewhat intact).

In the song’s favour, ‘ME!’ is rather catchy and features quite a good message, and must have been a relief for Swift to leave the persona of her reputation behind. It also features some great vocal work from both Swift and Urie, whose voices actually mesh better than one would expect. Their back and forth on the song’s second half is quite entertaining and appears and genuine collaboration between two artists, for which the pair has to be given credit given generic one verse feature that has become a trend for anyone looking to make a quick buck.

At the end of the day, ‘ME!’ serves a purpose. It’s designed by Swift and her collaborators to be a fun pop song with little depth other than to make you feel good about yourself. However, as well intentioned as it may be, ‘ME!’ is a poor attempt to recapture the brilliance of previous eras, made look only worse when considered against the body of work that is Swift’s discography with which it must compete.

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ALBUM REVIEW: ‘portraits’ – Greyson Chance

greyson-chanceGreyson Chance’s career has been one of turbulence. A child star who was left dissatisfied with his work as he developed from a child to an adolescent with his own thoughts. His first album since his debut 2011, Chance’s portraits is his return to music after leaving the industry for college. Since his debut, Chance has developed well beyond the artist he once was as a child star, having even said that he regards portraits as his actual debut album, and this can be felt on the record. Gone is the auto tune and artificial songs about defying the world, instead replaced with a thinly veiled look into Chance’s life framed by gorgeous synth-pop.

In a recent essay discussing song writing in pop music published in the March 2019 edition of ELLE UK, Taylor Swift said “I thrive on the challenge of sprinkling personal mementos and shreds of reality into a genre of music that is universally known for being, well, universal”. From portraits, it is clear Chance thrives on that exact same challenge. Following in the footsteps of artists like Swift and other queer artists like Hayley Kiyoko, Chance allows us an intimate look into his life across the 12 tracks on portraits, perhaps an even more intimate look than Swift or Kiyoko have ever given their audience. The album sounds like a diary put to music with a number of quick anecdotal interludes just to increase the intimacy.

For the most part, portraits is an album about love, as most records tend to be, but Chance manages to do what many fail to, making the subject feel fresh once more. The album is melancholy, heartbreak, love and anger all wrapped up in a beautifully produced and performed package. Chance’s writing is among the best, emulating Swift’s ability to drop small, undeniably personal details between the most relatable of hooks. Chance must be commended for his unrestrained use of male pronouns and exploration of the more intimate parts of same sex relationships such as on album highlight ‘black on black’. Chance’s own Justin-Timberlake-Sexy-Back moment, ‘black on black’ holds no punches as it slithers and slinks through a tale of sexuality and sensuality. While songs about sex aren’t hard to come by, it has to be said that songs like ‘black on black’ are breaking new ground in mainstream queer expression and will influence young queer people to not only express themselves but express themselves with the same unashamed attitude as their non-queer peers have done for decades.

Chance’s portraits is not only commendable for its themes though, instead being a well-constructed, sonically cohesive and all around brilliant piece of work. Every thud of a drum, every touch of a piano key and every falsetto is perfectly crafted to produce the most perfect sounds possible. portraits may not be his actual debut, but it is hard to debate the fact that this Greyson Chance is not an entirely different artist to the one who broke out eight years ago, and if this is the type of music he is going to produce, then thank god for that.

Watch the music video for Greyson Chance’s ‘yours’ now below:

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘thank u, next’ – Ariana Grande

Thank_U,_Next_album_coverAriana Grande is at an odd point. In the middle of her biggest era of her career thus, less than six months out from her last album release and at the very peak of the industry. Many woman have occupied that spot before her and it’s safe to assume many will after her. However, what goes up must come down. What was once endearing becomes annoying, what was once incredible becomes boring, and so the cycle continues. It will be. An interesting moment to see if, how and when Grande falls. However, with the release of thank u, next, it’s safe to say it won’t be her music that brings about her downfall.

Despite the pressure of all eyes being on her, Grande safely pulls off what could well be her defining album. Her fifth studio album thus far, thank u, next builds on her previous releases, taking the good from her hit and miss Sweetener and ramping up the experimentation. The first thing you notice on thank u, next is the cohesion. Thank u, next is wonderfully diverse yet cohesive unlike the homogeneous-ness of Sweetener that bordered on cannibalism. Here, Grande flicks between genuine ballads, back to fiery trap numbers and even throws it back to her Broadway roots. The album never feels clunky, even in its more filler-esque moments, of which there are a few. ‘ break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored’ is not the most endearing moment of Grande’s discography, instead coming off as bit of a nasty attempt to recapture the drama of lead single ‘thank u, next’. ‘make up’ isn’t anything particularly exciting and sounds a bit like a reject from the first half of Sweetener, while ‘bad idea’ is an ok track with no real purpose. The three tracks are quite out of place given the rest of the record, which has a very distinct, and very purposeful voice.  ‘imagine’ is a gorgeous opener that soars into the rafters before bringing us back down to earth and transitioning into the equally beautiful ‘needy’. Grande’s songwriting style is even more clear on the ballads here, as she refuses to switch away from the more informal writing that is typical of the more banger-trap moments. thank u, next’s superior ballad is appropriately haunting ‘ghostin’, which really showcases the emotion in Grande’s vocal, as well as skill of Max Martin and his team. Martin is also all over another album highlight ‘bloodline’, which is fierce, pop-reggaeton banger that offers a moment of pure fun in the album’s track-list. The album’s two singles, title track ‘thank u, next’ and ‘7 rings’ are easily the most commercial offerings here, with the former being arguably the easily marketed tracks ever, and the latter just being a straight up banger. ‘7 rings’ is probably the most out of place track, with its Sound of Music sample and complete display of richness in an otherwise quite emotional album, but the brilliance of the track makes it easy to overlook.

Overall, thank u, next seems as though it’s supposed to be Grande equivalent of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, but given that Grande has far less to say, thank u, next is ultimately more comparable to Rihanna’s Anti. Like Anti, thank u, next isn’t a perfect album, nor is it the industry changer that Lemonade was, however, it marks an important shift in Grande’s career. Here, she seems more in control, more sure of herself, of what she wants to sound like more so than what she needs to sound like. thank u, next probably won’t alter the world as we know it, but it certainly will alter Grande’s world and it’s truly a sight to behold.

Alternatively Pop’s Top 10 Albums of 2018

As the dawn of a new year begins, the world takes a moment to reflect on the year gone by. Here at Alternatively Pop, we take that as our chance to reflect on the music released this year. Without further ado, here are Alternatively Pop’s Top 10 Albums of 2018.

1. Dirty Computer – Janelle Monaé

dirty computerAfter topping our Top Tracks of 2018 list, Janelle Monaé proves once again as she takes the top spot here as well. An immaculate collection of fun, fierce and fabulous pop-funk-R&B magic layers itself over heartfelt, raw and pure lyricism, Monaé’s Dirty Computer perfectly captures the unique experience and outlook of Monaé, as a queer WOC in a culture that puts up walls against her. Dirty Computer isn’t just an album, it’s an experience, and only after you are done will you realize the masterpiece that Monaé has created.

2. Look Up Child – Lauren Daigle

220px-look_up_child_(official_album_cover)_by_lauren_daigleA stunning ode to the power of not only faith but pure belief, Lauren Daigle’s Look Up Child is an otherworldly set that doesn’t get bogged down in its desire to be overtly Christian. This, allows the album to serve multiple purposes, as an expression of Daigle’s own religious beliefs, as well as just a fabulous album about passion and faith for those who don’t practice. Look Up Child is a gorgeous album that showcases a voice that deserves to be heard.

3. Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves

golden hourCountry’s reigning queen of acclaim truly did it again with Golden Hour. With what may well be her crowning achievement, and is by far her most accomplished effort thus far, Musgraves has created an emotional knockout, a cohesive record full of heartbreak, healing and attempts to capture the beauty of life that picks you up, takes you in its arms and hugs you for 45 minutes before setting you gently down.

4. The Kids Are Alright – Chloe x Halle

the kids are alrightA mature debut from one of R&B’s most promising acts swings in many directions. From bangers to ballads, from catchy to pure experimental, the sister duo does it all and somehow retain cohesion. The album makes for a perfect breakthrough album that showcases the gorgeously diverse vocal ranges of the pair, and their ability to coin a lyric or two. If The Kids Are Alright is anything to go by, Chloe x Halle is a duo to watch.

5. Palo Santo – Years & Years

palo santoOne of the LGBTQ+ community’s most prominent acts, Years & Years have been producing great music for a while now. Palo Santo builds on that. A bare it all album, Palo Santo is pure pop escapism that aptly captures the experiences of the queer community. The record is sexy, intimate and vibrant from its get-go, and the band never second guess themselves, going all in with their explorations of sexuality and it’s complexities.

6. Expectations – Hayley Kiyoko

expectations2018 was a great year for Hayley Kiyoko and one of her crowning achievements is the release of her debut album. Expectations is a gorgeous and catchy walk through pop perfection as Kiyoko rolls out bangers and ballads across the album’s 14 tracks, perfectly painting her feelings across the lyrics and beats for an intimate debut.

 

7. LM5 – Little Mix

lm5With their final album as a SYCO act, Little Mix left the generic beat drops and trend attempts in their Glory Days. With LM5, Little Mix embraced experimentation and went all in with the album. The result is the quartet’s greatest and most importantly authentic album of their careers. It’s by no means perfect, but songs like ‘Wasabi’, ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘The National Manthem’ finally crack the potential this band has had since day one, and hints at the brilliance they could finally achieve now they are free of SYCO.

8. No Shame – Lily Allen

no shameLily Allen has had a hard life, but she ain’t afraid to sing about it. No Shame truly lives up to its title as Allen spills her guts on subjects like drugs, divorce and motherhood. The album is a wonderfully unique record that is so acutely specific and detailed but together creates a marvellous story of a woman’s life.

 

9. Bloom – Troye Sivan

bloomTroye Sivan can be added to the history books as he becomes one of the few artists who have avoided the sophomore slump. 2018’s Bloom was anything but a slump, instead, it is full of vibrant life as Sivan meanders through the past and the present exploring the modern experience of being gay. The album is unapologetic, and deliciously positive, the perfect follow-up to Sivan’s Bloom.

10. By The Way, I Forgive You – Brandi Carlile

by the way i forgive youA gorgeous delve into Americana, Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You puts her signature vocals to the test as she soars from high pitches to the lowest of whispers in the space of the words. The record is full of delicate acoustic and crashing drums back up Carlile as she beautifully and emotionally discusses hope and forgiveness in a rare, but a fabulously positive move for the singer.

Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Tracks of 2018

As the dawn of a new year begins, the world takes a moment to reflect on the year gone by. Here at Alternatively Pop, we take that as our chance to reflect on the music released this year. Without further ado, here are Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Tracks of 2018.

1. Pynk – Janelle Monaé

Janelle Monaé failed to release a track that was anything less than stellar this year, but ‘Pynk’ was by far and away the greatest. If you’re looking for a cry for unity among beings, an immaculate exposé of the construction that is gender and a beautiful ode to femininity, ‘Pynk’ is the song for you. It’s damn catchy as well.

2. God is a Woman – Ariana Grande

Another artist who had an incredible 2018, Grande had some great tracks and some less than so, but ‘God is a Woman’ lived up to its title. A ballsy female anthem that holds no punches, ‘God is a Woman couldn’t have been more poignant in a year where women found their voice. ‘God is a Woman’ also has one of the greatest hooks of the year, and the gospel influence at the song’s climax is arguably the year’s most goosebump worthy moment, leaving you believing that God truly is a Woman.

3. You Say – Lauren Daigle 

From a more risqué portrayal of God to a more traditional Christian offering, Daigle’s ‘You Say’ is a gorgeous ballad that recognizes the comfort, hope, and self-belief that religion and God can provide someone. A straight-up piano ballad thy focuses the ear on Daigle’s vocals and lyrics, ‘You Say’ is a simple yet stunning track in a year full of complexity and boundary-pushing.

4. Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song) – The Bleachers

A not so typical love song written by a not so typical pairing for a not so typical movie, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is the perfect soundtrack for 2018’s ‘Love, Simon’. Written by Jack Antonoff with frequent hit-maker Isley Juber and resident heartthrob Harry Styles, ‘Alfie’s Song’ is pure feel-good movie magic that is the perfect companion to a rom-com.

5. Not So Bad in L.A. – Allie X

Allie X has been consistently blasting out pop bangers over the past few years, but ‘Not So Bad in LA’ is easily one of her best so far. A searing satirical take on the city of angels delivered in a lazy, disinterested vocal with a touch of quirky thrown in, this is one for the ages.

6. Curious – Hayley Kiyoko

As representation takes hold of entertainment, LGBT artists have begun to rise to prominence. One of “20GayTeens” main breakthroughs was Hayley Kiyoko. Her debut album’s lead single, ‘Curious’, is one of the reasons of why. The nonchalant way that the track doesn’t make a big deal of how it varies from the usual heterosexual break up bop is what sets it apart, but that infectious hook sure helps.

7. Sue Me – Sabrina Carpenter


It’s amazing how far a catchy hook will get you and ‘Sue Me’ is a perfect example of how a brilliant hook can elevate a track even further than where it already was. The sassy vocal of Carpenter perfectly matches the unbothered attitude this track adopts. From its screw you lyrics to perfect synth production, ‘Sue Me’ should have been a surefire hit.

8. Sanctify – Years & Years

Years & Years ‘Sanctify’ is one of those tracks that kind of seeps into your skin until one day you wake up and realise just how well the song is constructed. From those dark, skittish drums to the equally haunting vocal of frontman Olly Alexander to the clever wordplay of the lyrics, ‘Sanctify’ is an immaculate conception.

9. Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves

Speaking of clever wordplay, Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Space Cowboy’ dives right into that arena. One of country’s more experimental artists, ‘Space Cowboy’ perfectly showcases Musgraves’ ability to toe the line between classic country ballad and more pop-influenced moments, as she tinges the track with a little something more than just southern charm that elevates the track beyond being just another acoustic guitar moment that gets lost.

10. Moment – Blanche

Blanche is one of the most fascinating artists to ever come out of the Eurovision. All of her 2018 droplets could have made this list, but it’s ‘Moment’ that truly capitalises on what Blanche did on last year’s ‘City Lights’ and raises the level. Here, Blanche goes from sheer potential to full-blown pop star, with her emotive vocal adding dimension to the sensual clap-along beat of ‘Moment’.

11. Bloom – Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan is one of the finest pop artists to come out of this decade, and ‘Bloom’ is the perfect example of how he has matured since his debut. The tongue in cheek lyrics laced over the sweet as sugar synth is the perfect encapsulation of sexual liberation and Sivan’s own quirky brand. Also, it’s the use of metaphor is about as good as it gets, so that earns it points as well.

12. Venice Bitch – Lana Del Rey

Despite rarely varying her sound too much, Lana Del Rey somehow always makes it sound fresh and new. On ‘Venice Bitch’, Del Rey goes back to basics, singing lightly about her sugar baby antics while backed by an acoustic guitar. Oddly the track is nine minutes as Del Rey tacks on some odd psychedelic instrumental at the end that somehow makes the track even more endearing.

13. Party For One – Carly Rae Jepsen

One hit Wonder turned cult favourite Carly Rae Jepsen returned this year following her critical darling of an album, E•MO•TION, and she delivered. Although similar to much of her previous material, ‘Party For One’ is an anthem of self-love (of the very literal variety). The sexual innuendo here is half the fun but the bouncing beat is hard to ignore and when you put them together, you have another banger from Jepsen.

14. God in Jeans – Ryan Beatty

Although not technically a single, this was one of those tracks I just couldn’t ignore. A weird hybrid between rock, country, and R&B, ‘God In Jeans’ takes on the sexes up religion claiming that “God is real and he was sleeping in my bed last night”. The track is one of those perfect blends of genre that exists on a whole level of its own.

15. Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer

After a tumultuous few years, 5 Seconds of Summer blasted back to flying form in 2018, and ‘Youngblood’ was the anthem for that comeback. The track’s thumping guitar line gets the blood pumping like no other before letting the calm set in with the minimalistic approach to the track’s verses, resulting in a rollercoaster-esque banger.

16. Miracle – CHRVCHES

CHVRCHES ‘Miracle’ is another blend genres, here blurring the boundaries of big pop and generic EDM. The drop is arguably one of the most satisfying of the year, avoiding the pitfalls of unoriginality, instead of producing a drop that actually evokes a headband instead of a groan. The track’s boldness in its production, as well as the vocal performance, sets ‘Miracle’ apart in a field where it’s very difficult to even try and be original, never mind actually pull it off.

17. Crush – Tessa Violet

A triply little number, Tessa Violet’s ‘Crush’ just oozes summer. The track relies on very little production, with Violet sing-speaking over a sparking kick track until the song climaxes into a slightly less minimalist chorus. Violet also throws in some little effective samples on the bridge to add to the track’s cool edge.

18. 5 In The Morning – Charli XCX

Pop’s resident party girl, Charli XCX released some clunkers in 2018 but who cares when she also dropped her best bop since ‘Break The Rules’. A mix between the oddball production of Pop 2 and more classic pop hits, ‘5 In The Morning’ so arguably XCX’s most on brand track to date. She sings about how great her afterparty game is with her cocky vocal providing serious ‘fuck you’ vibes, ‘5 In The Morning’ is the perfect night out banger.

19. King’s Dead – Jay Rock with Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake

Infinitely better than the Black Panther soundtrack’s lead single ‘All The Stars’, ‘King’s Dead’ is a stuttering star turn that showcases the talents of Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, and even the ever-mumbling Future. ‘King’s Dead’ does exactly what a great movie track does – standing on its own as a song while also elevating the motion picture it was created for.

20. Currency – Ivy Adara

As I said before, it’s incredible how far a catchy hook will get you. And that’s exactly why this track is here. Ivy Adara’s ‘Currency’ isn’t a slam dunk, in fact, the track isn’t all that great as a whole. But that hook is so good. Although the lyrics are a bit cliché, the production takes all the right cues and Adara gives off such cool girl vibes she somehow gets away with singing about such cliché topics such as dreams and rainbows to the point that she has you singing along with her.

Listen to all of our Top 20 Tracks of 2018 on our official Spotify Playlist here:
https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/ryanxoc/playlist/20DOE9hlGJKC1y7mOcd7cF

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.

 

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.