by Emma Turney
“God’s Plan” – Drake
“This is America” – Childish Gambino
“My My My!” – Troye Sivan
Who Will Win: “God’s Plan” – Drake
In a year dominated by hip-hop, it only seems right that a rap song will finally snag its first Record of the Year win. If any artist is going to take this honor, it will be Drake considering 2018 was his biggest year to date in terms of streaming numbers. The Academy will no doubt award him at least one of his big three nominations, if not all of them. “God’s Plan” was the rapper’s first single to go diamond, and the Academy isn’t immune to the effect of the charts.
Who should win: “This is America” – Childish Gambino
The more meaningful choice for this category would be Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” If the Academy feels any remorse for its comments and mistakes from the past, awarding “This is America” would make a statement. It is nearly impossible to separate this track from its shockingly horrific video, which depicts gun violence against people of color and ends in a disturbing scene where we see Gambino running terrified from a group of white men.
Snubbed: “My My My!” – Troye Sivan
Many believed Troye Sivan would snag a Best New Artist nomination this year, but his high-charting 2015 debut Blue Neighbourhood renders him ineligible. Yet, snubbing him from the Grammys altogether is an insult to Sivan’s effect on society through his positive representation of the LGBTQ community. His single “My My My!” received critical acclaim and set the stage for his sophomore album Bloom to become one of the best pop albums of the year. With eight nominations now included in this category, I don’t see why Sivan did not receive a courtesy nomination in at least in one of the big four.
Scorpion – Drake
Dirty Computer – Janelle Monáe
Sweetener – Ariana Grande
Who will win: Scorpion – Drake
The Grammys seem to be obsessed with Drake. Though five of the eight nominations in this category are women, I can see the Academy returning to old habits. Considering Ed Sheeran won Best Pop Vocal Performance last year against all women, including Kesha’s moving single about abuse, it seems the Academy thinks just nominating women is enough. With Drake’s incredible 2018, an Album of the Year win seems natural after the number of number-one singles he’s had.
Who should win: Dirty Computer – Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe’s triumphant return to music was the perfect soundtrack to 2018. She took control of her identity and used it to her advantage with Dirty Computer. “Django Jane” shows Monáe expressing her pride as a black queer woman, something she had yet to do in her career. The album is also full of musically intricate moments. From the tongue pop on “Make Me Feel” to the Martin Luther King Jr. sample on “Crazy, Classic, Life,” Dirty Computer is full of Easter-egg moments that will have you finding new things to love every time you listen. The Academy has a hard history of snubbing women, especially women of color, so it would be falsely hopeful to think that Monáe could change that this year.
Snubbed: Sweetener – Ariana Grande
After a terrorist attack at her concert, the death of her ex-boyfriend, and a failed engagement, the release of Ariana Grande’s best album to date seemed impossible. The fact the Academy dared to give her zero nominations in the big four categories is reason enough for the 2019 Grammys to be a disaster before they even happen (¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Sweetener was her most intricately produced and lyrically exposing work. It cemented Grande as one of the most important pop artists of this time. The good news is, she is dropping another album any time soon, giving the Academy a chance to correct this mistake next year.
“Shallow” – Lady Gaga
“Shallow” – Lady Gaga
“Perfect Duet” – Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé
Who will win: “Shallow” – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” from her first feature-length film, “A Star is Born,” is likely to take Song of the Year because of the Academy’s tendency to stick to a certain formula — big sweeping ballads. Similar winners in this category include Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” in 2011, Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” in 2012, Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” in 2015 and Adele’s “Hello” in 2017, all of which also happened to win Record of the Year as well. If the Academy sticks to this pattern, Lady Gaga has a good chance of winning her first Grammy since 2015.
Who should win: “Shallow” – Lady Gaga
Gaga’s performance in “A Star is Born” showed a new side of her as a performer, and the film’s song “Shallow” showed a new side of her musicianship. Gaga deserves to be recognized for this feat and the beautiful songwriting present in “Shallow,” since many seem to forget this category is supposed to be awarded based on writing, not just the most popular song.
Snubbed: “Perfect Duet” – Ed Sheeran and Beyonce
If any song was a supposedly obvious prediction for a Song of the Year nomination, it was Ed Sheeran and Beyonce’s collaboration on “Perfect.” It follows the same pattern as past Song of the Year winners like Sam Smith, Adele and Ed Sheeran himself. The two are also big past Grammy winners. With three more nominations added to each “big four” category, it’s astounding “Perfect” didn’t even get included.
Who will win: Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa is the obvious frontrunner for Best New Artist simply because she is the most recognizable name on the list, probably because she’s been making hits since 2015. The Grammys Best New Artist criteria is misleading, because it keeps changing. Someone like Dua Lipa can be nominated though her debut album came out in mid-2017, but Cardi B whose debut album was released in 2018 can’t be. It makes no sense and is part of the reason why the Grammys have recently lost severe credibility. Last year, Best New Artist went to Alessia Cara, who had been making considerably credible music since before her winning year, like Lipa. Dua Lipa deserves this recognition, but it doesn’t seem fair to rack her up against up-and-coming artists while she has been “up-and-coming” for the past three years.
Who should win: Jorja Smith
Though her name may not be as immediately recognizable as Dua Lipa’s, Jorja Smith’s 2018 debut album Lost and Found is a genre-bending collection of introspective songwriting. Her mixture of traditional singer-songwriter and R&B sets her apart from the other nominees. Receiving a Grammy award would legitimize her debut and set her up for a prosperous second record.
Snubbed: Billie Eilish
At only 17 years old, Billie Eilish’s rise to prominence was one of the most impressive stories of the past two years. She had everything that seemed necessary for a Grammy nomination in Best New Artist – a notable collaboration (“Lovely” with Khalid), four US charting singles in 2018, and an EP release that all prove she is the next big thing. Her absence from this list is confusing. If the reason for her nomination missing is that she hasn’t released her debut album yet, I would argue that the Chainsmokers were nominated before their debut album as well. With the Best New Artist criteria always changing, it is unclear if the Academy will even consider her eligible next year after her debut album is released.