Probably the Grammy category most closely associated with the Billboard Hot 100 chart; there have only been a handful of nominees and even fewer winners to fail to make the higher echelons of the chart. You’d think this might make predicting potential nominees easier, but with 8 songs now set to make the cut the options are even more unpredictable.
Record of the Year
Girls Like You – Maroon 5 (Featuring Cardi B)
God’s Plan – Drake
Lucid Dreams – Juice WRLD
Make Me Feel – Janelle Monáe
The Middle – Zedd. Maren Morris and Grey
Perfect Duet – Ed Sheeran (with Beyoncé)
Rockstar – Post Malone (Featuring 21 Savage)
This Is America – Childish Gambino
Alternatives: All The Stars – Kendrick Lamar and SZA, I Like It – Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin, Meant To Be – Bebe Rexha (Featuring Florida Georgia Line)
After claiming this category would be a battle between two duet versions of established hits – Perfect Duet and Finesse (Remix) – only one of these tracks has actually been submtted for any awards this year. Perhaps not wanting to ruin his clean sweep last year, or even to avoid over saturation Bruno Mars has opted out of the 2019 Grammys. It could clear the way for Ed Sheeran to finally pick up a Record of the Year trophy. You’d think that teaming up with Beyonce might just do it for him too, she has been nominated 5 times before in this very category but shockingly has never won. Perfect was at #1 back before the 2018 Grammys too, so perhaps it might be too early of a hit to truly be the favourite here.
Sticking around songs that could have scored a nomination here but could be squeezed out, Havana by Camila Cabello would surely be a frontrunner if it wasn’t depending on a Live rendition, something voters have notoriously avoided in the General field categories. The same is true of New Rules by Dua Lipa, while the opposite may be true of A Star IS Born hit Shallow which might be too early in its radio career to warrant a nomination here. Interestingly a song released literally days after Havana has managed to be eligible, Rockstar from Post Malone. I was expecting him to be submitting his other #1 hit Psycho here, but Rockstar stands a much better chance for a nomination. I could even see Post Malone winning this year, as baffling as that sounds. Rockstar was such a huge hit and manages to define the sound of radio over the last 12 months better than anything else on the list above.
The Influence of Top 40 radio on this category can’t be overstated and while only 6 songs have been #1 on Radio Songs Chart in 2018 so far only the aforementioned Finesse isn’t on my list or mentioned as an alternative. Of those two songs, I Like It is looking to make 2019 the second year in a row to see a Non-English Language song make it into Record of The Year, while the influence of Florida Georgia Line might push Meant To Be out of contention. Zedd and Maren Morris’s The Middle is surely going to be nominated after debuting during the 2018 show, while current #1 Girls Like You would give Maroon 5 their first general field nomination since they won Best New Artist back in 2005. I think the inclusion of Cardi B will push them into contention here, Girls Like You is her best shot at a nomination.
The only song I’ve predicted above that hasn’t made the Hot 100 top 10 is Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe, which I think might end up pushed into the top 8 once the Screening committee get their hands on the popular vote. Monáe has previously been nominated for Record of the Year, for the Song of the Year winning We Are Young by fun, so her appearance here wouldn’t be too much of a shock, but I could see some people really pushing for her Prince inspired moment from Dirty Computer. Kacey Musgraves could be included in the same thought, but I think her push will happen over in Song of the Year instead for the disco infused High Horse.
Rap is probably one of the most snubbed genres when it comes to Record of the Year, last year’s appearance of both Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z in the category was more an anomaly than a trend. Voters have been more typical to stick around guitar led tracks or more ‘performance’ records sonically here. That said I think those extra three spaces could open the category wide open for someone like Drake to sneak in and become a favourite. I’ve predicted that Drake would make it into this category twice now and he’s still yet to make it. After releasing 3 of the year’s biggest hits surely God’s Plan will do it for him. Lucid Dreams by Juice WRLD looks to have peaked at just the right time too, where I think it could become an outsider in this category.
That leaves Childish Gambino with This Is America which while perhaps not being the all out favourite to win – maybe it’s too close to home for some voters – it’s probably the most obvious nominee here. The Grammys have been rewarding these sort of cultural hits as of late and I could see a performance of This Is America at the show being one of the highlights. Childish Gambino would make it two years on the run with a nomination too following last year’s Redbone, so he’s surely set to be in the mix this year too.