Record of the year

Cardi B – I Like It
Brandi Carlile – The Joke
Childish Gambino – This Is America
Drake – God’s Plan
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow
Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars
Post Malone feat. 21 Savage – Rockstar
Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey – The Middle

Big changes are afoot at the Grammys: the top prizes have expanded from five nominations to eight, and 900 people were invited to join the voting academy to make it “a more inclusive space”. This was done in the wake of the 2018 awards when only 17 of the 86 winners were women, and there was disquiet over Bruno Mars’s unremarkable 24k Magic triumphing over strong records by Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Luis Fonsi.

That in mind, the favourite for the night’s biggest award has to be Childish Gambino, whose This Is America took the temperature of the US with a rectal thermometer. It addressed race and privilege via a prowling, industrial rap track, and the sheer popularity and discussion around it makes it “record of the year” by most metrics (though the track itself is perhaps not quite as brilliant as its reputation suggests). There is huge goodwill towards Cardi B too, and her charismatic Latin pop smash I Like It will find favour across wide voting demographics, while Post Malone and 21 Savage’s maudlin Rockstar certainly spoke to a bleaker strain in 2018’s pop culture.

Will win: Childish Gambino – This Is America
Should win: Cardi B – I Like It

Album of the year

Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You
Drake – Scorpion
Post Malone – Beerbongs & Bentleys
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
Various Artists – Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By

This will be the most interesting category in terms of charting how much those 900-odd new diverse voters could make an impact. Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour is the kind of album that old-school Academy members drool over: diamond-solid, emotive songwriting that remains contemporary without being scarily fashionable; it is already the winner of the same award at the Country Music Association awards. But Cardi B’s debut album is one that many will get behind – it has just as wide an emotional range, plus irrepressible star power. Drake’s Scorpion will amass votes too for its dazzling high points and pop cultural footprint, but it’s too patchy to win.

Will win: Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Should win: Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

Song of the year

Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars
Ella Mai – Boo’d Up
Drake – God’s Plan
Shawn Mendes – In My Blood
Brandi Carlile – The Joke
Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey – The Middle
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow
Childish Gambino – This
Is America

A very tough category to call. This Is America may win record of the year, but is less likely to prevail in the rather more stately songwriting category. Nothing else quite gets out in front here, though. The Joke’s sisterly sympathy towards homophobic bullying and female struggle is a message voters will want to champion, but it never charted. The Middle is a triumph of major-label collaborative shit-at-a-wall songwriting, but it might be seen as trash by more august voters. All the Stars has two much-loved luminaries, but it is not their very best work. It could well be Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s Shallow, the emotional heart of A Star Is Born and a celebration of the power of improvisatory songwriting, that will sneak ahead. Ella Mai’s Boo’d Up could come up on the inside: a huge US radio hit with a brilliant, innovative chorus for the ages.

Will win: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow
Should win: Ella Mai – Boo’d Up

New artist

Chloe x Halle
Luke Combs
Greta Van Fleet
Dua Lipa
Margo Price
Bebe Rexha
Jorja Smith

The two Brits in the category, Dua Lipa and Jorja Smith, both absolutely deserve to be there but haven’t truly broken America yet; others, like Chloe x Halle, aren’t quite big enough; Greta Van Fleet and Bebe Rexha don’t even deserve to be here. Margo Price has been knocking around for a few years (though that wasn’t a problem for last year’s winner Alessia Cara) and her bluff, matter-of-fact country is hugely likable – but Luke Combs has had the bigger country breakthrough and so the country vote will be split. That leaves the arresting R&B singer HER, the only one with an album of the year nomination – she will surely secure the win.

Will win: HER
Should win: HER

Pop solo performance

Beck – Colors
Camila Cabello – Havana (live)
Ariana Grande – God Is a Woman
Lady Gaga – Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)
Post Malone – Better Now

Beck is here surely as part of a care in the community programme, Lady Gaga is here with a song that everyone has forgotten about, and Camila Cabello is here because the Grammys didn’t notice how much of a bop the studio version of Havana was last year. That leaves Post Malone, whose Better Now is an excellent showcase of his gift for nagging melody … but the Academy will reward Ariana Grande after a tough emotional year in which she nevertheless entered her imperial phase.

Will win: Ariana Grande
Should win: Ariana Grande

Rock performance

Arctic Monkeys – Four Out of Five
Chris Cornell – When Bad Does Good
Fever 333 – Made an America
Greta Van Fleet – Highway Tune
Halestorm – Uncomfortable

Greta Van Fleet’s nomination is a handy illustration of how low rock music’s ebb currently is: a staggeringly boring Led Zeppelin redux that suggests a genre completely out of ideas, especially when juxtaposed with the vibrancy of Cardi B, Drake or Travis Scott. But otherwise, this is a good crop. Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale, hopping between rapid-fire chatter and sky-opening holler on Uncomfortable, remains a great asset to mainstream rawk; Fever 333 are the natural successors to Rage Against the Machine and are stacking up the big choruses; and Arctic Monkeys’ lounge lizard incarnation is a work of genius. But with none of them truly defining the year in rock, there could be a big swell of voting for Chris Cornell, following his apparent suicide in 2017, to help anoint him as one of the American greats.

Will win: Chris Cornell
Should win: Arctic Monkeys

Rap performance

Cardi B – Be Careful
Drake – Nice For What
Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake – King’s Dead
Anderson .Paak – Bubblin
Travis Scott, Drake, Big Hawk & Swae Lee – Sicko Mode

Cardi B has another good shot in this category – the hoarse, hurt Be Careful was the track that announced her as more than just a mouthy drama diviner ready to trample on you in some Louboutins. But there is heavyweight competition. Drake’s Nice for What is arguably his masterpiece, matching his melodious flow to the minor-key shifts of Lauryn Hill’s Ex-Factor in an utterly joyous, champagne-spraying celebration of female confidence. King’s Dead is a series of excellent episodic ideas that don’t quite hang together – an accusation you could perhaps also level at Sicko Mode, though Travis Scott should still win for his outrageously brilliant opening two verses. He very likely will too, given the superstar was overlooked in the album, record and song categories.

Will win: Travis Scott
Should win: Travis Scott

Country solo performance

Loretta Lynn – Wouldn’t It Be Great?
Maren Morris – Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Kacey Musgraves – Butterflies
Chris Stapleton – Millionaire
Keith Urban – Parallel Line

Chris Stapleton could win this category for the third time in four years, but given that Millionaire is as generic as its “love is more precious than gold” chorus, someone else will probably get a go. Maren Morris won’t win for an Elton John cover, but any of the others have a chance. Keith Urban’s ballad is cheesy but gorgeously sturdy; 86-year-old Loretta Lynn is the very definition of “still got it” and will earn votes from those wanting to bestow a lifetime achievement award on her. But Kacey Musgraves has simply written the year’s best country songs, and Butterflies, replicating the fluttering feeling of new love in its very melody, is no exception.

Will win: Kacey Musgraves
Should win: Kacey Musgraves


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Grammy nominations 2019: Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar and Drake lead the pack
Strong showing for female and hip-hop artists suggest renewed focus on diversity – but it’s a mediocre year for British acts

Laura Snapes

07, Dec, 2018 @4:31 PM

Article image
Brits 2019: who will – and should – win every award
Can Dua Lipa have a second successful Brits year in a row, or will George Ezra dominate the biggest categories? Ahead of tonight’s ceremony, we ponder the likely winners

Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes

20, Feb, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
In silencing Drake, the Grammys continue to have a problem with rap | Alexis Petridis
The Canadian rapper’s speech was cut off, further damaging the standing of the ceremony in the hip-hop community, despite championing more women

Alexis Petridis

11, Feb, 2019 @1:31 PM

Article image
2019 Brit award nominations topped by Anne-Marie and Dua Lipa – again
Dua Lipa is the most nominated artist for a second year in a row, joined by Essex pop star Anne-Marie on four nominations

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

12, Jan, 2019 @6:06 PM

Article image
Cardi B and Nipsey Hussle top 2019 BET award winners
Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Migos among winners at black entertainment awards, where tributes were paid to Nipsey Hussle who was shot dead in March

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

24, Jun, 2019 @9:29 AM

Article image
The top 100 songs of 2018
Guardian music writers have picked their favourite songs of the year – from UK drill breakthroughs to pure pop anthems – and put them all on a giant playlist

Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes

03, Dec, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Grammy awards 2022: who will win – and who should
The biggest night in American music sees Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Jon Batiste, Olivia Rodrigo and Silk Sonic among those battling for awards

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

01, Apr, 2022 @5:24 AM

Article image
Britain's reign at the Grammys comes to an end as diversity flourishes | Ben Beaumont-Thomas
With Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris and various One Direction members snubbed, it paves the way for one of the most ethnically diverse Grammys ever – though female musicians have been sidelined

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

28, Nov, 2017 @4:03 PM

Article image
Drake calls for Grammys to be replaced after snubbing Black artists
Singer’s demand follows absence of the Weeknd in all categories of the 2021 awards despite huge success this year and dismay at exclusion of Lil Uzi Vert

Laura Snapes

26, Nov, 2020 @1:19 PM

Article image
Big noise: the essential pop, jazz and folk music of autumn 2018
Young talents and old hands hit the road, intriguing festivals mix things up, and there’s the first posthumous release from Prince

Alexis Petridis, Robin Denselow, John Fordham and Imogen Tilden

27, Aug, 2018 @5:00 AM