Side by side with Record of the Year as always, the expansion of the Song of the Year category could mean big things for some outsiders here. There’s plenty of artists and writers vying for their first nomination in the big 4 categories here, with no clear winner making this one of the most interesting categories to consider.
Song of the Year
Boo’d Up – Joelle James, Ella Mai, Dijon McFarlane, Larrance Dopson (Ella Mai)
Delicate – Taylor Swift, Max Martin, Shellback (Taylor Swift)
God’s Plan – Aubrey Graham, Ronald LaTour, Daveon Jackson, Matthew Samuels, Noah Shebib (Drake)
Lucid Dreams – Jarad Higgins, Nick Mira, Danny Snodgrass, Jr., Dominic Miller, Gordon Sumner (Juice WRLD)
High Horse – Kacey Musgraves, Trent Dabbs, Tommy English (Kacey Musgraves)
Meant To Be – Bleta Rexha, Tyler Hubbard, Josh Miller, David Garcia (Bebe Rexha Featuring Florida Georgia Line)
No Tears Left To Cry – Ariana Grande, Max Martin, Ilya Salmanzadeh, Savan Kotecha (Ariana Grande)
This Is America – Donald Glover, Ludwig Göransson (Childish Gambino)
Alternatives: All The Stars – Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Spears, Al Shuckburgh, Solána Rowe, Anthony Tiffith (Kendrick Lamar and SZA), Rockstar – Austin Post, Shayaa Abraham-Joseph, Louis Bell, Carl Austin Rosen, Jo Vaughn Virginie, Olufunmibi Awoshiley (Post Malone Featuring 21 Savage), Shallow – Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando, Mark Ronson (Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper)
It’s probably best to start looking at that list of predictions above by calling out the songs I think will struggle to make it into Song of the Year in 2019. Girls Like You and The Middle are favourites for Record of the Year but I can’t imagine would be chosen ahead of the songs I’ve mentioned, while the likes of Apeshit by The Carters and Sicko Mode by Travis Scott could skew too much towards hip hop to push through the bigger pop crossover hits here. In fact, despite the larger category there are only 3/8 songs that I think will make it into both Song and Record of the Year in 2019.
All three are Rap chart toppers, with only Lucid Dreams missing out on the #1 on the Hot 100 too. The Juice WRLD hit might be one of the outsiders here, but its current radio success pushes it just ahead of the likes of Post Malone’s Rockstar here (Though the idea of a song with a chorus like that of Rockstar winning Song of the Year is very unlikely). This Is America is surely a frontrunner for a nomination to go along with the other main category, where Childish Gambino will be looking for his first Songwriting win. Drake is the final of the three and much like in Record, the choice to submit God’s Plan for the general field seems like a good idea. In My Feelings and Nice For What could have really struggled against the more lyric focused songs here, while God’s Plan manages to walk that line just enough to warrant inclusion.
The country genre was always seen as the ‘bonus’ inclusion for Song of the Year, in the last 10 years a country song has only appeared in the category in 3 years, with both The House That Built Me and eventual winner Need You Now making 2011 the most ‘country’ year of recent times. I think we will see at least one country leaning act appear here, but the two I’ve chosen above are a country star moving towards pop, and a pop star moving towards country. Meant To Be might not even win Best Country Song, but it has a strong chance for a nomination here, while High Horse by Kacey Musgraves could become a bit of an outsider to win here. I think if she had submitted the more traditional Space Cowboy for this category instead she could have been guaranteed a place, but I still think High Horse is a wise prediction.
One country-ish potential nominee is courtesy of Lady Gaga and her Star Is Born hit Shallow, who I wrongly predicted would be nominated last year for Million Reasons. Shallow hasn’t really taken off in the US in the same way it has across the world, but I wouldn’t put it past voters getting behind it alongside the inevitable Oscars push. Perhaps something from one of the other big movie soundtracks could make it instead? This Is Me from The Greatest Showman is actually eligible, but I think All The Stars from Black Panther is probably the more likely choice for voters. Both SZA and Kendrick Lamar are clear Grammy favourites at this point, so they might sneak into a songwriting category here.
Two Max Martin written Pop radio hits from Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande look like pontential nominees too. Swift will be looking to find her first General field nomination for Reputation especially since she has garnered one for 4/6 of her previous albums. If Delicate manages it she will have her first Song of the Year nominee that isn’t also nominated for Record of the Year, something that Blank Space, Shake It Off and You Belong With Me all managed to do. Ariana Grande’s No Tears Left To Cry seems like the better choice for Song with her other #1 hit from 2018 God Is Woman submitting for Record instead. The poignancy of the lyrics is sure to resonate with voters and it’s by far her best chance to receive her very first General field nomination.
We are left with probably the biggest outlier above, but my current tip for the winner in 2019. Ella Mai’s RnB smash Boo’d Up was one of the year’s most unexpected hits. A UK act scoring a huge US RnB hit hasn’t been heard of in over a decade, but there’s something about the simplicity in songwriting here that makes me think it could get a lot of support this year. It really sticks out among the other potential nominees and I think Ella Mai might end up as one of the newer artists to really make some big waves among the nominations this year. Following the push for an RnB winner in That’s What I Like last year, everything seems set up for Boo’d Up to be the unexpected success of the 2019 show.