You’ll notice that I’ve titled this article Not Even Close to a Halftime Report. I’ve attempted to do this sort of piece here on my blog around 6 months into the eligibility period to give a clear picture of how things are looking so soon after the previous Grammy night. This year I’m writing this 8 and a half months into an eligibility period that is even ending a month earlier than usual. That mean albums need to be released before the end of August to make it in contention for the 2020 show, which puts me WAY behind here. Either way, it’s worth taking stock before the submissions lists start appearing in October to see just how far off I can be by the show next year.
Record/Song of the Year
The two most competitive categories to consider at this point of the year, there are plenty of front-runners for Record and Song of the Year already. Ariana Grande is the obvious place to start, who easily submit either of her huge #1 Hot 100 smashes, Thank U Next and 7 Rings. Even Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored would be a hot favourite if she wasn’t already in here, but part of me thinks they’ll opt for the earliest hit and album namesake in both categories. It’s still impossibly catchy, so could be a winner here. Either song is sure to become Ariana’s first appearance in the Big 4.
Pretty much any of the recent #1 hits could be in contention for either award here. The unexpected return of Jonas Brothers with the unexpectedly great Sucker could see a general field nomination alongside an appearance in the Pop category, while Sunflower by Post Malone and Swae Lee could follow in the footsteps of Shallow as a soundtrack hit in both categories. Of course we have to consider Old Town Road, which despite being on course to become the biggest song of the year, could potentially miss out here given its meme-able beginnings. Voters have rarely veered towards songs like this, so part of me thinks Lil Nas X will miss out entirely this year.
Khalid’s Talk and J. Cole’s Middle Child could be outside choices here, while a huge dance hit like Happier by Marshmallow and Bastille could become a favourite in Record of the Year. The remaining obvious choices would have to start with Billie Eilish, who as you’ll see below should certainly score a huge number of nominations this year. Bad Guy will definitely be the song they opt to send too, with its potential to become her first #1 hit just a few weeks away if it continues its run on the chart. That just leaves Halsey’s Without Me which has had a monumentally long run on the Hot 100. I’m really leaning towards it as a favourite for Song of the Year at this point, it really sticks out on radio and I think it’s longevity can only help it still have buzz 6 months from now.
Album of the Year
There’s one album that is not only my out and out prediction for a winner in AOTY at this stage, but also could potentially be my favourite album of 2019 so far. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? will be nominated this year and fully deserves to be as the year’s most daring and unexpected pop record. Billie Eilish’s place as this ‘teen icon’ could go either way for her chances though, the voters will love the idea of an album released by a 17 year old winning Album of the Year, but similarly so many voters will have no idea what to make of Eilish. She will surely be the top nominee this year, but her chances at winning the top trophy are still to be decided.
Back to Ariana, who won her first Grammy for Sweetener earlier this year will surely get her Album of the Year nod for the career best Thank U, Next. Stacked full of the best songs of her career I’ll be baffled if she misses out once more. Khalid’s Free Spirit could be with an inside chance, despite middling reviews, while I wouldn’t rule out Lizzo’s Cuz I Love U, which has taken on a life of its own following a strong start. The Star is Born soundtrack could be an obvious inclusion here too, with Shallow still all over radio nearly 10 months on. Other highlights from the film, Always Remember Us This Way and I’ll Never Love Again could give Gaga yet another trophy this year too.
Other outsiders could come from Ella Mai’s self titled debut album, or James Blake’s critically acclaimed Assume Form. GIRL from Maren Morris was looking to fill the space left by AOTY winner Golden Hour from this year, but personally I don’t think the album was strong enough to warrant the same buzz that clear winner garnered. I’d personally love to see Heard It In A Past Life make it in for Maggie Rogers, while Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend is steadily looking like an Indie favourite for this category.
Dream surprise nominee? I’d love to see The 1975 finally get their dues at the Grammys. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is probably their peak moment as a ‘band’ both on stage and through standout songs like It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You). After winning Bets British Album at the Brit awards this year, I’ll be eagerly awaiting them finally getting the nomination they’ve deserved for a while.
Best New Artist
Billie Eilish. Billie Eilish. Billie Eilish.
Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if they just ditched the formalities and gave her this trophy when nominations are announced in November. In the near decade I’ve been writing about the Grammys I’ve never seen a new artist capture the music industry in the way she has managed over the last 12 months and this category is not just a lock, but a dead cert. (Of course writing this means she’ll be deemed ineligible for some stupid reason)
Other nominees? The usual list of new artists scoring big hits on the rap chart is endless, but interestingly top of the list looks to be Juice WRLD who I incorrectly predicted would be nominated last year. It’s weird to think he’s eligible, but a bigger breakthrough story of the year, Lizzo surely won’t be. She’s on her 3rd album, with a bunch of EPs in between. Lil Nas X could be in with a shout, but with just one song so far perhaps next year would be the target for him instead.
The potential country nominees include Whiskey Glasses singer Morgan Wallen, who nicely bridges the bro country/traditional country gap quite nicely, while Chase Rice has finally scored his first #1 on the chart and could easily sneak into this category. Runaway June look to be on the rise, but perhaps haven’t made enough impact to make it in here, while Tennille Towers is showing early promise with her knockout single Somebody’s Daughter but is yet to release her debut album.
The remaining likely nominees? Maggie Rogers would be a must for inclusion here, she fits perfectly in that cross genre place in the category that would garner votes. Indie kids love her, Pop fans love her, festival goers have probably seen her this year, she should appear here. That just leaves the biggest new act in Britain this year, the inescapable Lewis Capaldi. Someone You Loved is on the verge of becoming a huge hit in the US, perhaps it could end up in Song of the Year too? He will surely end up as the British favourite in Best New Artist.
Either way, Billie Eilish is going to win so why bother predicting anything else?