Grammy Nominations/Predictions 2018

Like death and taxes–and usually about as fun–the Grammys are the one certainty through all of music-dom. Well, that and everyone grousing about end of year lists coming out sooner and sooner each year. Every winter, somewhere between the Super Bowl and the Oscars, is Music’s Biggest Night, a three and a half hour ceremony where less than a dozen of eighty-four awards are handed out in between performances, bizarre collaborations, and the annual reminder from the president of the Recording Academy not to pirate music (and don’t forget to hashtag at #GrammyMoment!). It’s a night usually known for its wailing and grinding of teeth.

But this year, the story going around is “The Grammys Are Actually Kind of Good,” which is…mostly true? The Big Four categories (Album/Record/Song of the Year + Best New Artist) are littered with hopeful nominees like in years past, but this year’s crew lacks both a capable but uninspired choice who will steamroll everything and any outright terrible choices. When Jay-Z is your worst guy in the Album of the Year category, things could be a lot worse. It remains to be seen if the Grammys’ pivot to youth is the result of widening diversity among their voting pool, a fluke, a result of poptimism, or the outcome of musical tastes homogenizing as music delivery systems themselves homogenize resulting in everyone more or less listening to the same thing by default forever and ever, but the field looks a little brighter this year than it has in a while, regardless.

Which is why we’re going to play a game called “Ifs and Wants” The way it’ll work is I’ll start each sentence with an “if” fragment about the awards, and it’ll end with a “want” fragment about something I want to happen at the ceremony, because I wanna take anything I can from the institution that thought a Lukas Graham and Kelsea Ballerini collaboration was something anyone wanted. Here’s an example: “IF ‘That’s What I Like’ Wins Song of the Year, I WANT Bruno Mars and the Hooligans to do a routine as his acceptance speech.” So I’ll do a few small ones, and then a couple of longer ones. My predictions for prominent categories will be underneath those at the end.

IF “Despacito” wins Song of the Year, I WANT Justin Bieber to get the least amount of speech time.
Ideally, he doesn’t even join Ramon Ayala, Jason Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi, and Marty James Garton in going up to accept, because I feel like “Despacito” winning is a “lose your shit” moment, and Bieber doesn’t seem like he’d be great for those.

IF Childish Gambino wins any award during the telecast, I WANT Donald Glover to shoutout another Migos song.
It was part of their number-one run in January, why not get “T-Shirt” back on the charts to bookend the year? This one’s not big enough for its own separate entry, but I also want Glover to remark on his overt 70s funk throwback record winning Best Urban Contemporary Album, should that come to pass.

IF Nothing More get either award for Best Rock Performance or Best Rock Song, I WANT to see them perform.
This has way less to do with listening to their music (which is, in short, very bad) than it does me seeing what they look like, because just listening to [checks notes] “Go to War” makes me think it was written by 4 random Hot Topic employees.

IF Jay-Z wins Album of the Year, I WANT Beyonce to accompany him on-stage.
The even better version of this would be finding out that Jay has the Grammy plaque redone later to read that it goes to Lemonade, because 1. 4:44 is a less interesting, less compelling, and (probably) less well-received album without Lemonade, 2. It’s going to be the only way to keep Beyhive Twitter (still also known as “just Twitter”) from a mountain of “THEY GAVE JAY A GRAMMY FOR CHEATING ON BEYONCE AND NOT ONE TO BEYONCE” takes and 3. I’m just not ready for “The Grammys Hate Beyonce” to become a trilogy.

And now for two slightly longer ones.

IF Kendrick Lamar wins Album of the Year or Record of the Year, I WANT the Grammys to play “Sit down/Be humble.” as his walk-up music while cutting Ed Sheeran at least once.
This one plays both ways. First, a win for Kendrick outside the genre categories would go a long way to correcting his contentious past with the Grammys since both of his previous albums have had their hopes dashed at the hands of lesser creations. His landmark debut good kid, m.A.A.d city was shut out of the rap categories by Macklemore’s fun but disposable The Heist (it also lost Album of the Year, but it was a dark horse pick at best), and then in 2016, To Pimp A Butterfly–a possible consensus pick for album of the decade–lost to Taylor Swift’s 1989. You’re not really going to nominate the guy a third time just to say no, are you?

The other side to this want is that it cuts Ed Sheeran down in the pettiest way possible. Sheeran set the tone for the Divide album cycle in GQ profile where he matter-of-factly stated that he wanted to sell more records than Adele. Unapologetic careerism isn’t a sin in itself, but combined with Sheeran coming off as kind of an entitled ass in the profile, the fact that Divide has his most banal and most blatantly commercial songwriting, and his past Grammy success, and you’re left with a guy who expected he could collect his gramophones at the door and acted like it. Him getting locked out of the Big Three this year has to smart, and I just really wanna see his face listen to “Sit down, be humble.”

IF a country or rock artist presents an award or does a performance, I WANT them to comment on the genre getting kicked to the side.
The flipside to this year’s pop and rap-centric Big Four is that there’s no room left for the token “left-field genre nominee” in any category. Past years have seen the likes of Chris Stapleton, Alabama Shakes, and Little Big Town crowbar their way into the competition, none of whom have any stand-ins this time around. Which is a shame, because it’d be cool to see Paramore or somebody tussle with Bruno Mars in AOTY, or Miranda Lambert pop up in Song of the Year. Even though I like this year’s nominees enough, I’d put money on the entirety of the SOTY pool drawing from a near identical listening base, which is a little disheartening. The Grammys bill themselves as Music’s Biggest Night, and this year’s nominees–while again, solid–almost begs the question: are we all just listening to the same things?

And here are some of the more relevant nominations (predicted winner in bold).

Album of the Year
Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
Jay-Z – 4:44
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Lorde – Melodrama

Song of the Year
Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber – “Despacito”
Jay-Z – “4:44”
Julia Michaels – “Issues”
Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid – “1-800-273-8255” (it’s pedestrian without being trite, perfect Grammy choice)
Bruno Mars – “That’s What I Like”

Record of the Year
Childish Gambino – “Redbone”
Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber – “Despacito”
Jay-Z – “The Story of O.J.” (the “we’re sorry about your other two losses” award)
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”

Best New Artist
Alessia Cara
Khalid (right mix of “new and different” and “willing to perform with Stevie Wonder at the 2019 Grammy ceremony”)
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – “Something Just Like This”
Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber – “Despacito”
Imagine Dragons – “Thunder”
Portugal. The Man – “Feel lt Still”
Zedd & Alessia Cara – “Stay”

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Michael Bublé – Nobody But Me
Bob Dylan – Triplicate
Seth MacFarlane – In Full Swing
Sarah McLachlan – Wonderland
Various Artists – Tony Bennett Celebrates 90
(I don’t have any insight as to who wins here; I just wanted people to know about this fucking bonkers category)

Best Pop Vocal Album
Coldplay – Kaleidoscope EP
Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
Imagine Dragons – Evolve
Kesha – Rainbow (How great would this win be?)
Lady Gaga – Joanne
Ed Sheeran – Divide

Best Rock Performance (The Rock Grammys Are Weird, Pt. 1)
Leonard Cohen – “You Want It Darker”
Chris Cornell – “The Promise”
Foo Fighters – “Run”
Kaleo – “No Good”
Nothing More – “Go To War”

Best Rock Album (The Rock Grammys Are Weird, Pt. 2)
Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
Nothing More – The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains
The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

Best Alternative Music Album
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
Gorillaz – Humanz 
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
The National – Sleep Well Beast (The only nominee where you can’t make a halfway convincing “This is their worst album” argument)

Best R&B Song
PJ Morton – “First Began”
Khalid – “Location”
Childish Gambino – “Redbone”
SZA – “Supermodel” (It’s either this or “Redbone” and choosing between them breaks my heart)
Bruno Mars – “That’s What I Like”

Best Urban Contemporary Album (aka, always one of the quietly strongest categories, coded name notwithstanding)
6LACK – Free 6LACK
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
Khalid – American Teen
SZA – Ctrl
The Weeknd – Starboy

Best Rap Performance
Big Sean -“Bounce Back”
Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”
Jay-Z -“4:44”
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.” (He’s won recently for “i” and “Alright”)
Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert – “Bad And Boujee”

Best Rap/Sung Performance
Goldlink ft. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy – “Crew”
Jay-Z ft. Beyoncé – “Family Feud”
Kendrick Lamar ft. Rihanna – “LOYALTY.”
SZA ft. Travis Scott -“Love Galore”

Best Rap Song
Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow” (this choice just seems too fun to not go with)
Danger Mouse Featuring Run The Jewels & Big Boi – “Chase Me”
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Rapsody – “Sassy”
Jay-Z – “The Story Of O.J.”

Best Rap Album
Jay-Z – 4:44
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Migos – Culture
Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy (the genre Grammys can get a little left-field, and so’s this choice)

This year’s Grammys are January 28th on CBS, which James Corden inflicted on us for a second year.

About bgibs122

I enjoy music and music culture; I hope you do, too.
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