Album of the Year
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? – Billie Eilish
A Star Is Born – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande
Free Spirit – Khalid
Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey
Cuz I Love You – Lizzo
IGOR – Tyler The Creator
Father of the Bride – Vampire Weekend
(Alternatives: Girl – Maren Morris, Heard It In A Past Life – Maggie Rogers, El Mal Querer – Rosalía)
There’s just over 24 hours to go until the nominations for the Grammy Awards 2020 are revealed and I’m finally going to nail down my final predictions for the biggest award of the night. Last year saw the most worthy winner in recent memory win, Golden Hour not only being one of the best albums of that year but of the decade. This year is full of fresh talent, who I think could take up most of the spots here ahead of more typical Grammy stars.
Big names I don’t think will make the cut? Surely the most glaring is Taylor Swift. Lover is certainly a good enough album, critically it did well, but more importantly it remains the year’s biggest commercial success. My gut feeling says that as a full ‘era’ of her career though, there hasn’t been enough of an impact from singles like ME! and You Need To Calm Down to compete with the other commercial successes above. I don’t think Jonas Brothers will be in contention with anything but single Sucker, while the hype around Beyoncé being nominated for a live album seem strange, especially now that the eventual list is decided by a special committee who will be pushing studio releases over songs they’ve nominated before. The Lewis Capaldi album just hasn’t had the impact in the US yet to warrant inclusion either.
Getting into who I do think will be up for the award, I think the more alternative crowd will have a big sway this year thanks to blockbuster records from both Lana Del Rey and Vampire Weekend. Two festival staples at this point, both Norman Fucking Rockwell and Father of the Bride were critical darlings and are sure to be all over Best of 2019 lists in every major publication. I think both acts deserve a big Grammy moment this year and AOTY feels like the right place to celebrate such enticing bodies of work. If there’s room for another Indie-Pop record here I’d go for the Maggie Rogers one, who might just be this year’s unexpected name among the nominees.
Rap albums have been unavoidable in Album of the Year in recent years, but I really can’t see any standout releases taking a spot this year. The closest thing here is IGOR by Tyler The Creator, barely a Rap album, but still rooted in Hip-Hop it’s unlike anything else released this year. I could see enough people getting behind it to get it in the mix for a nomination here, even if it probably won’t have much chance to take the trophy on the night. Perhaps voters will go with Solange’s When I Get Home for this spot though?
Back into major pop releases, they don’t get much bigger than Thank U, Next by Ariana Grande. Undoubtedly her best album and home to undeniable hits like Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored and 7 Rings, it’s inclusion here would feel justified both commercially and critically. Grande picked up her first ever Grammy this year, so perhaps the voting panel might hope they can persuade her to make an appearance in 2020 after all? On the opposite side of the critical spectrum we have Khalid, whose Free Spirit was nowhere as consistent as his promising debut American Teen. I still think it’s a fair shout here though, if only for his domination of radio with Better, Talk, Right Back and Saturday Nights.
We’ve seen a country album make it into Album of the Year 3 out of the last 4 years, so perhaps I’m doing down the chances of one appearing this year. Girl by Maren Morris is probably the most likely candidate, following her win at the CMAs last week. She’s already a Grammy favourite, being nominated 10 times in just 3 years so voters definitely already like her. I’d have opted for Eric Church’s Desperate Man myself, but I think another album will take any of the potential country crossover votes anyway.
A Star Is Born feels like it was released ages ago, over a year ago in fact, but it’s still a lock for this category in my eyes. It stands similarly to last year’s nominee Black Panther: The Album, Music from and Inspired By as a massively listenable soundtrack record, that stands brilliantly alone and works even better alongside the film. Shallow is already a 2 time Grammy winner, so I think it’s more than guaranteed that Lady Gaga will scoop her fourth Album of the Year nomination.
That leaves a set of the year’s breakout stars, the first I’d like to mention I’m only doing so as an ‘I told you so’ when she becomes this year’s most unexpected winner. Rosalía has just come off the back of winning 3 Latin Grammys, including Album of the Year for the incredible El Mal Querer. She’s an outsider for a nomination, but I think it could become only the fourth nominee in history to be mainly performed in a language other than English, the others including The 3 Tenors in Concert 1994 and eventual 1965 winner Getz/Gilberto. Of course the final two albums come courtesy of Lizzo and Billie Eilish, who have been mentioned in every single article I’ve written about the Grammy Awards 2020. They are surely the albums to beat this year, my money would be on Eilish’s electrifying debut When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? for the biggest award of the night.