Concrete and Gold – Foo Fighters
DAMN – Kendrick Lamar
Evolve – Imagine Dragons
The Weight of these Wings – Miranda Lambert
÷ – Ed Sheeran
Alternatives: 24k Magic – Bruno Mars, American Dream – LCD Soundsystem, We Got It From Here… Thank You For Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest
The 2018 Grammy Awards mark one of the most interesting battles for a place in the Album of the Year category in some time, given the distinctive lack of an album that contains at least 3 #1 singles. Only 2 of the albums I’ve included above have seen a single hit the top of the Hot 100, while two albums never even topped the Billboard 200. In a year where we are set to have yet another Hip Hop/RnB vs Pop/Adult Contemporary battle for the final trophy, the other albums that could make up this list are where it gets really exciting.
Let’s start with those two Grammy heavyweights, both of which were nominated for Album of the Year for their respective previous albums; Ed picked up a nomination for x, while Kendrick Lamar has appeared here for both To Pimp A Butterfly and Good Kid, M. A. A. D City. At a glance, Ed Sheeran would be the academy’s most obvious choice here. ÷ has broken through in the US in the way that previous album x never really did, thanks in part to the very slow burn that previous Song of the Year winner Thinking Out Loud had on the charts that allowed Shape of You to finally become Ed’s first #1 US hit. Voters obviously love him too, the industry itself seems to have such an affinity for his ‘I can perform with just me and a loop pedal’ thing, but his critics have never been as welcoming. ÷ is most definitely the least well received album mentioned above, with most agreeing that it doesn’t stack up against any of his previous work. Surely he has the commercial success vote in the bag though doesn’t he?
Surprisingly the most critically acclaimed album/artist/music being above is also the album that has sold the most in the US. DAMN. is truly the moment where it wasn’t just cool to like Kendrick Lamar it was accessible to as well. The intricate word play and unique clashing styles were still there, but packed up with hooks as big as the one on Humble made it easy to see how the album sold over 600k week one. It may not have captured the current political zeitgeist as perfectly as To Pimp A Butterfly did back in 2014 but DAMN. has to be the early favourite for this award.
Going into this prediction season I never even considered Bruno Mars could make it into the Album of the Year category with 24K Magic. Maybe it’s because the album really hasn’t resonated with the UK audience like his previous records did, or that second single and #1 US hit That’s What I Like didn’t even make the top 10 here. I could still see him sneaking in here, but unlike most everybody else I just don’t see it as a dead cert here. A Tribe Called Quest have been floating around as a potential nominee ever since their electrifying performance of We The People…. at the 2017 show, but something tells me that the Hip Hop voters might be too preoccupied with getting behind Kendrick this year.
There’s 2 rock albums listed above too, both of which come from previous big 4 nominees and it’s a genre that the voters like to get behind in this category. Foo Fighters are no stranger to the Album of the Year category and last appeared here back in 2012. Concrete and Gold is a welcome expansion of The Foo’s sound to welcome their influences from the likes of Pink Floyd and The Beatles and I have a feeling this will be enough to rekindle the tight relationship they once had with the Grammys. Imagine Dragons have never appeared here, but after a 12 months that have seen them become one of the biggest Rock/Pop crossovers in recent memory, they represent a sound that’s perfectly current and massively accessible too. It’s hard for anyone to hate a track like Believer and album Evolve is full of exactly that. It’s this aspect of their sound that I think will attract some votes in the general field categories this year. A more alternative choice if the rock voters swing just one way with these two records? LCD Soundsystem’s return has been welcomed by both old fans and new and American Dream would sound unlike anything else in this category.
That leaves just one album and it’s not only my favourite from the list above, but would be a satisfying first appearance in the general field for the most consistent artists in country music. Following up one of the genre’s most public break ups in recent memory with a double disc confessional and brutally honest album is no mean feat and The Weight of These Wings manages to sound essential for every second. The last two years have seen a relative outsider country album pick up huge buzz in the lead up to the awards, Chris Stapleton’s Traveler and Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth were both surprising to anyone outside of the genre and if there’s an album that could do this same in 2018 it’s surely The Weight of These Wings. It’s definitely my personal choice for an Album of the Year contender and if it could secure a nomination here I would be ecstatic
That’s it for my predictions for big 4 categories at the 2018 Grammy Awards, this year is definitely one of the tougher set of predictions to make, but I’m feeling confident once again. Watch me proven wrong on November 28th when the actual nominations are announced.