Grammy 2019 Preview and Predictions: episode 4

On Feb. 10, the music industry's biggest names will vie for a prized Grammy Award while Alicia Keys host the events.

On Feb. 10, the music industry's biggest names will vie for a prized Grammy Award while Alicia Keys host the events.

Image By: Image Courtesy of Grammy.com

In light of #MeToo and all that happened over the course of 2018, it is refreshing to see the Recording Academy acknowledge and highlight the work of deserving women artists more than it has in past years. With that being said, the Grammys still tend to favor mainstream and “safe” choices, as they again proved last year. The Grammys have a longstanding history of snubbing deserving acts and ignoring some of music’s most talented in favor of music’s most well-known.

Of course, the Grammys are a show and piece of entertainment, so you can expect broad-reaching entertainment such as a potentially strange joint performance with Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Shawn Mendes and a few more

The four most popular categories — and the only four that are not specific to a genre of music — are: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. While any prediction of a show as unpredictably predictable as the Grammys should be taken with a grain of salt, we discuss the nominees to the four general categories in terms of who could and should win. 

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

Prediction: There are albums in this category that have more momentum and popularity that could seal the deal, but the only prediction worth making is that a few albums WON’T win. Brandi Carlile and H.E.R. have the least prominence outside of their genre. Kacey Musgraves has won a lot of acclaim this past year, and Golden Hour is a good album, but it may lack the mainstream impact to win. Scorpion and beerbongs & bentleys are both very similar in their pop/hip-hop crossover appeal, and both artists had a commercially successful year. However, both albums are more exciting in the moment than what we predict their long-term legacies will be.

There are two other hip-hop albums with more legacy and intrigue behind them. Cardi B’s album was a huge commercial success, and she is the first female rapper to be nominated since Lauryn Hill’s landmark win in 1999 for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which is now regarded as a classic. Hip-hop in the Album of the Year category is scarce; since Hill, the only other hip-hop winner has been OutKast for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Black Panther: The Album is impossible to ignore. The film, Black Panther, has stolen the spotlight with its cultural significance, and the album speaks to the same message. As far as Kendrick Lamar albums go, however, Black Panther: The Album is good, but not great in comparison to his last solo albums, which were all nominated for Album of the Year and rudely ignored. 

All that being said, with every year, hip-hop has gained more and more mainstream cultural prominence, and the Recording Academy can only ignore it for so long. However, the Recording Academy has also repeatedly snubbed hip-hop acts in this decade alone, such as Kanye West and Beyonce. The Recording Academy could finally give in to hip-hop’s dominance or do as they have repeatedly done and choose the easy way out. 

Looking past all of the pros and cons of the other albums, our pick would be Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer as the winner. Dirty Computer is the best album on this list in terms of musicality and message. If the Recording Academy wants to talk about diversity and inclusion, picking a singer who is an African American woman and identifies with the LGBTQ+ community would be a landmark win. Even then, ignoring the politics of what a win for each artist would say, Dirty Computer still holds true as the best, and Monáe deserves this award for her exceptional talent.

Record of the Year: This award is not only for the artists, but also acknowledges the exceptional works of the producers, engineers, and mixers on the track. 

“I Like It,” Cardi B

“The Joke,” Brandi Carlile

“This is America,” Childish Gambino  

“God’s Plan,” Drake 

“Shallow,” Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

“All the Stars,” Kendrick Lamar & SZA

“Rockstar,” Post Malone Ft. 21 Savage  

“The Middle,” Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey 

Predictions: “This Is America” has a good shot taking this award. Not only did this song and its video do great in terms of numbers, but it also stirred up a lot of important conversation regarding race in America. The Grammys have been accused of being oblivious to music’s cultural impact (e.g.. Kanye or Kendrick snubs) but perhaps by now they have caught up. It is also possible a mainstream top 10 track will win out of popularity. Cardi B, Post Malone, Drake and Zedd all exhibited streaming numbers unknown before this year. 

Our choice: “This Is America” for the reasons mentioned above, and it’s our favorite song on that list. 

Dark Horse: “God’s Plan” and “The Middle” both have just as much if not more popularity to their advantage as “This Is America,” in addition to their apolitical nature compared. The Grammys want to be watched as widely as possible, so they may opt to forgo a possibly divisive choice.  

Song of the Year: Difference between song and record of the year is that this category acknowledges the songwriter(s) on a track. It looks at lyrics and melody. 

“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, Grey 

“Shallow,” Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper 

“This Is America,” Childish Gambino 

Prediction: “Shallow” is the latest step in Lady Gaga’s established career and an example of her musical versatility following commercial pop and jazz. Thus far, she has not only been commercially successful but also critically acclaimed. Not to mention “A Star Is Born” has been a widely loved film, so choosing “Shallow” is a safe and fair pick. 

Our choice: If “This Is America” doesn’t take Record of the Year, it could certainly win Song of the Year instead, but “Shallow” is a solid track we wouldn’t mind taking a Grammy. 

Dark Horse: Drake’s wholesome track “God’s Plan” may pull through for embodying the Grammy’s ambitions for diversity, inclusivity and positivity. 

Best New Artist:

Chloe X Halle

Luke Combs

Greta Van Fleet 

H.E.R

Dua Lipa

Margo Price 

Bebe Rexha

Jorja Smith 

Prediction: Going purely off of name recognition, we would have to say Dua Lipa will take this category. She has the most hit songs like “One Kiss” and “New Rules.” None of the other nominees have the same mainstream attention that this category tends to look at (case in point: Maroon 5 beating Kanye West). The only act with maybe as much attention is Greta Van Fleet, but not for the reasons they’d hope — you’ll have to scour the web if you want to find a positive review of their latest album. Everyone else in between hasn’t done much to set themselves apart — aside from H.E.R. — but even then, her R&B niche may not attract the attention necessary to win.

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