The categories that seemed to ‘benefit’ the least from the expansions of nominees from 5 to 8 this year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year remain, for the most part, quite predictable. All but one of the nominees were top 10 hits on the Hot 100, but there were still a few surprising omissions for me when the nominations were announced. I’ve decided to combine the two awards this year, since there’s so much crossover, but who is probably going to win and which song deserves the trophy?
I Like It – Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin (ROTY Only)
The Joke – Brandi Carlile
(Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth & Tim Hanseroth)
This Is America – Childish Gambino
(Donald Glover & Ludwig Göransson)
God’s Plan – Drake
(Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels & Noah Shebib)
Boo’d Up – Ella Mai (SOTY Only)
(Larrance Dopson, Joelle James, Ella Mai & Dijon McFarlane)
Shallow – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
(Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando & Andrew Wyatt)
All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar and SZA
(Kendrick Duckworth, Solána Rowe, Al Shuckburg, Mark Spears, & Anthony Tiffith)
Rockstar – Post Malone featuring 21 Savage (ROTY Only)
In My Blood – Shawn Mendes (SOTY Only)
(Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris, Shawn Mendes & Geoffrey Warburton)
The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey
(Sarah Aarons, Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Michael Trewartha & Anton Zaslavski)
10 songs to consider, but at a first glance there’s a definite anomaly among them. Brandi Carlile’s inclusion in Song, Record and Album of the Year came as a surprise to everyone but the most observant Grammy fans. An artist who finds herself within the Americana and American Roots performance categories being nominated for a Big 4 Grammy is something we haven’t seen since Mumford and Sons back in 2012. That said, they were riding a wave of huge commercial success so perhaps the strongest comparison comes with 2009 Record and Album of the year winner Alison Krauss. As the singer with the most Grammy awards in history, there’s certainly an appetite for the Americana genre at the awards and perhaps Brandi Carlile is the act to see it return in a big way. The song in question The Joke is an outstanding vocal and musical performance and given that it was the only ‘new’ song to me here the immediacy of its impact and emotional resonance is surely a good sign.
Taking a big step into the Rap genre, of the five songs nominated above, two don’t appear in Song of the Year. With God’s Plan finally getting Drake into these categories he’s surely in the strongest position of his career to score a big 4 win. God’s Plan isn’t the strongest of his hits from last year, I’d rather have seen Nice For What here, but as a ROTY contender goes God’s Plan fits the bill. Cardi B’s I Like It crosses the language barrier in the same way that Despacito did last year, but with much more success. It’s one of my two favourite songs from the list above, but Cardi B probably wouldn’t be the favourite of the single category songs. Post Malone’s Rockstar edges even further over the line of what Rap is and as one of the industry’s most successful and divisive figures a win here could be truly damaging for the Grammys. I have a feeling it will happen as I think Post Malone will garner more non genre votes than the other Rap tracks here. Not a single Rap song has ever won either of these awards and the idea of Rockstar being the first makes me feel a little sick.
I’ve talked at length during every prediction article that Childish Gambino was the favourite for a nomination in both of these categories. I was right, but I still don’t think that this will end up putting him ahead for a win. Years past have shown that politically charged songs don’t tend to do well in these categories, the last remotely similar ‘statement record’ to win being Not Ready To Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks, hardly a direct comparison. Where songs like Formation, Alright and 1-800-273-8255 have failed in the past with pushing ahead of more easy to digest pop hits, I think This Is America is set to follow suit. A genuine shame.
That leaves Kendrick Lamar and SZA as the remaining ‘rap’ nominee, even though All The Stars is probably the most Pop sounding record of the four. A win here would feel like a redemption of sorts for the pair, for Kendrick missing out in these categories for both Alright in 2016 and HUMBLE in 2018, while for SZA it would make up for her ridiculous 0/5 result of Nominations at last year’s show. I’d say that All The Stars has a better chance of win than the Black Panther soundtrack itself and if it weren’t for some of the remaining nominees here would be a dead cert for the Song of the Year trophy. I’m expecting it could be a surprise winner for Record instead, where both acts could win their first Big 4 category.
The two songs that are only nominated for Song of the Year mark high points for relatively young songwriters and artists. Shawn Mendes getting his first ever Grammy nomination in one of the big 4 categories shows that he’s already managed to shrug off the teen heartthrob image many voters may have had of him before. In My Blood is arguably his best songwriting moment to date too, packed with emotive lyrics and an easiness that allows his vocals to soar like voters wouldn’t have heard from him before. Ella Mai on the other hand is even newer to the Grammy audience, but her breakthrough hot Boo’d Up was an obvious early choice for a winner for me. I still think she has a great shot here, the pure joy the song exudes is unmatched by nearly every other song here.
Two songs to go, with the most Grammy song possible being my final prediction as a Record of the Year winner. The Middle didn’t just debut its music video during the Grammys last year, the story about its creation became the talk of the music industry for weeks. The openness in which Zedd spoke about the process of finding the right voice for a record, even when the ‘right voice’ keeps ending up saying no might have rubbed a few voters the wrong way, but the impact of The Middle on radio, the chart and the industry just screams out ROTY to me. Add in that Maren Morris is now on her 9th Grammy nomination in just 3 years, I think voters will really enjoy having a ‘told you so’ moment as they claim they predicted big things for her in 2017. In the end though The Middle just happens to be the best record of the bunch. A hit. And a deserving one at that.
Lady Gaga winning Song of the Year for the lead song from A Star Is Born 41 years after Barbara Streisand did the same thing would go down as a classic Grammy moment. Shallow isn’t the best song nominated this year, it’s not even the best song that Gaga has been nominated in either category for (Poker Face says hi), but it has Song of the Year written all over it. Bradley Cooper being surprisingly good at singing is one thing, which will surely help it for Record, but Shallow marks another high point for the Lady Gaga/Mark Ronson writing team that made Million Reasons a Grammy nominee last year. Shallow will give Lady Gaga an Oscar in a few weeks time and surely her first Big 4 Grammy award win too.
Record of the Year
Most Likely To Win
1) The Middle
3) All the Stars
5) The Joke
6) This Is America
7) God’s Plan
8) I Like It
1) The Middle
2) I Like It
3) This Is America
4) God’s Plan
6) All the Stars
7) The Joke
Song of the Year
Most Likely To Win
2) Boo’d Up
3) The Joke
4) All the Stars
5) This Is America
6) The Middle
7) God’s Plan
8) In My Blood
1) This Is America
2) Boo’d Up
3) The Middle
5) God’s Plan
6) All the Stars
7) In My Blood
8) The Joke