This Sunday, some of the most famous names in music will gather for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. There will be plenty of performances from artists like Cardi B, Brandi Carlile, Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves and Dolly Parton. It’s certainly going to be an interesting ceremony with plenty of changes after last year’s backlash — which included Lorde being the only Album of the Year nominee to not perform, Grammys president Neil Portnow telling reporters that women needed to “step up” after only one woman was given a solo Grammy and a historic loss of almost 10 million viewers. Thankfully, Portnow is stepping down after this year’s ceremony — bye!
This year could hopefully be the course correction the Grammys so desperately need. The general field of categories — Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist — increased all of their nominees from five to eight. Five of the eight Album of the Year nominees are women, the fourth most nominated artist is Brandi Carlile and several women will perform solo during the ceremony.
There are plenty of toss-up categories with no clear winner, such as the four general categories, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Rap Album, which could really go to anyone; however, there are also some categories with no real contest. Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album will most likely go to Tony Bennett and Diana Krall, Best Dance/Electronic Album should belong to SOPHIE and St. Vincent should own the Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Album categories. The Carters, who were shockingly shut out of most of the major categories, will most likely nab Best Urban Contemporary Album, and hopefully Kacey Musgraves will deservedly sweep the country categories.
Taylor Swift was notably missing from the bigger categories, to the surprise of many. Her album “reputation” (2017) is nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, but Ariana Grande’s “Sweetener” (2018) is most likely set to win. There are some other good nominees in that category, so hopefully Grande doesn’t win with the most over-hyped pop album of last year.
With all of this mind, here are the probable winners, should-be winners and outcasts for some of the categories at the 61st Grammys.
Record of the Year
Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”
Drake’s “God’s Plan”
Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin’s “I Like It”
Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey’s “The Middle”
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow”
SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars”
Post Malone feat. 21 Savage’s “Rockstar”
Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke”
Will win: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow”
Should win: Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin’s “I Like It”
Shouldn’t be here: Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey’s “The Middle”
This category is dedicated to the performers of the song, and “Shallow” is the dramatic pop song the Grammys love — think Adele, Sam Smith, Gotye and Kings of Leon. Of course, “I Like It” was far more fun, and could have a good shot given the most recent winner was “24K Magic.” Cardi B definitely deserves the top prize here considering “I Like It” has long been on radios and the charts. This category is about earworms, and good ones at that. “The Middle” is a clear outlier in the category — it’s an earworm, but in truth, it feels like the mono of songs, spreading far too fast and far too common in sweaty frat basements.
Album of the Year
H.E.R.’s “H.E.R.” (2018)
Brandi Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You” (2018)
Drake’s “Scorpion” (2018)
“Black Panther: The Album” (2018)
Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” (2018)
Post Malone’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys” (2018)
Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” (2018)
Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” (2018)
Will win: Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” or Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour”
Should win: Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” or Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour”
Shouldn’t be here: Drake’s “Scorpion”
Good god, give this to one of the two artists who made clearly made the most cohesive and utterly brilliant albums. If forced to pick, Musgraves probably has the advantage as pop and country voters will love her country/pop/disco phenomenon, but Monáe’s futuristic R&B masterpiece deserves plenty of attention, too. Most of the other nominees also belong here, but one stands out like a sore thumb: Drake and his ridiculously long and critically lukewarm “Scorpion” may have been commercially successful, but that doesn’t always equal Album of the Year potential.
Song of the Year
Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Al Shuckburgh, Mark Spears and Anthony Tiffith’s “All the Stars”
Larrance Dopson, Joelle James, Ella Mai and Dijon McFarlane’s “Boo’d Up”
Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels and Noah Shebib’s “God’s Plan”
Shawn Mendes, Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris and Geoffrey Warburton’s “In My Blood”
Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth’s “The Joke”
Sarah Aarons, Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Michael Trewartha and Zedd’s “The Middle”
Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt’s “Shallow”
Donald Glover, Ludwig Goransson and Jeffery Lamar Williams’ “This Is America”
Will win: “Shallow” — Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
Should win: “Shallow” — Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
Shouldn’t be here: “God’s Plan” — Drake
Compared to Record of the Year, Song of the Year is about the songwriting process and the lyrics behind the music. In terms of songwriting, “Shallow” is the best pick out of all of these. It’s raw, emotional and it’s won plenty of awards in the film awards circuit — it has the most potential to win the Academy Award. Not to hate on Drake more, but “God’s Plan” just doesn’t belong here.
Best New Artist
Greta Van Fleet
Chloe x Halle
Will win: Dua Lipa
Should win: H.E.R.
Shouldn’t be here: Bebe Rexha
This is probably the most boring category at the ceremony since there’s such a clear winner here. Dua Lipa will most likely grab the award, but H.E.R. should have a chance to show her worth. H.E.R.’s debut was far better — it’s nominated for Album of the Year, after all. As for the other nominees, many don’t have the same breakout appeal as Dua Lipa. Bebe Rexha is nominated, which just seems … off. Remember that time when she, Charli XCX, Cardi B and Rita Ora collaborated? Nope.
The Grammys will air this Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. on CBS.