The beginning of the new year brings about a time of reflection, hope, and new promises for many of us. For music fans all over the country, the transition to 2019 also signifies the arrival of Grammy season. Grammy season is an exciting period of time where everyone puts on their fortune-teller hats and predicts who will win the most coveted award in music today. Earlier this week, the list of performers at the 61st annual Grammy Awards, which will occur on Sunday, February 10th, at 5:00 PST (8:00 EST) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, was released. The list is unique considering it enlists the talents of many first-and second-time Grammy nominees whose profiles have exploded only within the last few years.
One of these nominees, who also happens to potentially be the biggest name on the list, is Bronx rapper Cardi B. Cardi B earned two Grammy nominations (Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance) at last year’s Grammys for the number-one single phenomenon “Bodak Yellow” and has accumulated an impressive five nominations for this upcoming Grammys. Her undeniable energy, charisma, and impressive catalog of songs make her a perfect fit as a performer on a stage this big. Cardi B is no stranger to spotlights like this, as she headlined the hip-hop festival Rolling Loud in Los Angeles this past December. A well-respected artist and performer, it only makes sense that Cardi B has been given this opportunity. It is well-deserved, following the success of her debut album Invasion of Privacy, which was ranked the best album of 2018 by Rolling Stone.
First-time Grammy nominee Post Malone is also slated to perform at the 2019 Grammys, a decision I personally am conflicted about. Post Malone rose to prominence from creating hard-hitting party anthems. However, as his career has progressed, his musical versatility has greatly expanded, as his experimentation in sound and style has grown with his confidence and rising profile. Given his musical scope, I am interested and excited to see how he decides to cater to the crowd and environment during his performance. I am skeptical of how his image and performance will fit into the traditional mold of a “Grammy star” and how it will be covered and reviewed with potential bias factored in.
One artist I am incredibly excited to see perform is Janelle Monáe, who is currently up for two Grammy awards in 2019 (her album Dirty Computer is up for Album of the Year and the music video “Pynk” is nominated for Best Music Video). Her memorizing voice and overall aura make her one of the most mysterious and respected members of the music community. Monáe’s gradual mastery of the funk, R&B, and soul genres have culminated in a string of critically-acclaimed and connected projects, and she will now have the chance to apply her talents to a scale most only dream of. I expect nothing less than for her to absolutely crush this opportunity, expressing her talents and creativity in ways that will leave many desperate for more.
Former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello will also be performing this year at the Grammys following her first two nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. Cabello’s dynamic, engaging voice backed by dance-inducing beats will surely be great to see performed live. Known for electric performances (with the live version of her hit “Havana” being one of her nominations this year), I am excited to see how Cabello injects her own unique flair into the show and expresses herself as the talented and accomplished musician she is.
Similarly along Cabello’s grain, Grammy rookie and fellow two-time 2019 nominee Shawn Mendes will also be hitting the stage on February 10th — a performance I anticipate will be filled with catchy, fun choruses and air-tight, impressive vocals. Mendes, though only 20 years old, has already built an impressive discography and catalog for himself. Given that one of the songs off of his Grammy-nominated self-titled album Shawn Mendes (“In my Blood”) is also up for a Grammy, I expect it to be one of the songs performed on this night.
Kacey Musgraves and Dan + Shay
With the majority of the big-name acts this year coming from hip-hop and pop spaces, two country acts will also be taking the stage this year in an effort to diversify the lineup of performers. Eight-time Grammy nominee and two-time winner Kacey Musgraves will be one of the performers, and country duo Dan + Shay will be the second with their first Grammy appearance. Dan + Shay secured two nominations for Best Country Duo Group Performance and Best Country Song, while Kacey Musgraves locked up three, including Album of the Year. While I understand and respect the move by the Grammys to be more inclusive in the music they choose to celebrate, I think that it would have been better to enlist in the likes of a more dynamic music group like Greta Van Fleet (a rock group who are also first-time nominees in 2019, locking up four nominations in the rock and roll space). However, Dan + Shay have been dominating the country space for over four years now, and Musgraves has been an award-winning artist and influential member of the country community for over half a decade. With this in mind, I am still excited (yet skeptical) to see what they have to offer on the biggest stage in music.