GRAMMY Predictions 2019: Who Will Win the Night's Biggest Awards?

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Photos by Scott Dudelson / Kevin Mazur / Ethan Miller / Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

The GRAMMYs offer a welcome break in the midst of awards season, giving fans a nice, refreshing musical interlude amid the prestige dramas, best directors and adapted screenplays. For example, instead of the deluge of nods for A Star Is Born's Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, the GRAMMYs have nominated....oh, wait.

Jokes aside, there will be a slew of chart-topping and critic-pleasing music recognized at the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, and we're here to take a look at some of the biggest categories -- breaking down the odds-on favorites, possible spoilers, and who really deserves their shot at a coveted golden gramophone.

Will Cardi B's powerhouse year translate into Recording Academy gold? Will Black Panther kick off its final push to the Oscars with a win for Wakanda? Will Gaga and Cooper get the chance to reenact that iconic A Star Is Born scene on the GRAMMYs stage? Read on to see all of our picks!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

THE NOMINEES:

Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B
By the Way, I Forgive You, Brandi Carlile
Scorpion, Drake
H.E.R., H.E.R.
Beerbongs & Bentleys, Post Malone
Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe
Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves
Black Panther: The Album, featuring Kendrick Lamar

Who Should Win: This is as close to an impossible pick as awards season has presented this year, with a group of diverse and dynamic nominees that are all deserving of top honors. In the past year, Kacey Musgraves transcended country with Golden Hour,Janelle Monae brought the pansexual paradigm to the pop charts with Dirty Computer, and Cardi B dropped one of the biggest debut albums of all time with Invasion of Privacy. If I have to pick just one, though, it's Kendrick, righting the wrong of past snubs (Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City,To Pimp a Butterfly, and Damn were all nominated for this honor, but didn't win) and kicking off Black Panther's Oscar push with his stellar soundtrack compilation. 

Who Will Win: Album of the Year is, historically, a category that hip-hop and R&B have struggled to win, taking home just two trophies in the last 20 years  -- three, if you count Bruno Mars -- and going empty-handed since OutKast's double-album win in 2004. Despite (or perhaps because of) the embarrassment of riches in the nominations this year, I think the GRAMMYs stick to their more traditional guns here, let the hip-hop vote split three ways and award Carlile's truly outstanding folk offeringBy the Way, I Forgive You, an absolutely deserved golden gramophone. (Bonus: if either Carlile or Monae takes this category, it will make another kind of history, in awarding the first Best Album honors to an out LGBTQ artist.)


SONG OF THE YEAR

THE NOMINEES:

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

Who Should Win: Song of the Year is awarded to the writers of the recognized track, and "This Is America" was one of the biggest surprises of the year, with a visually-arresting video to hook fans in and razor-sharp music and lyrics to keep them hitting the replay button. It's trap, gospel, folk storytelling and a million other things in a four-minute package; a truly impressive composition from Donald Glover and Ludwig Göransson, who have been working together since their days on Community and keep elevating their artistry with each new offering.

Who Will Win: Gaga and Cooper are splitting their luck with the A Star Is Born soundtrack, as only "Shallow" is eligible this year, while the rest of the album will have to wait for 2020. However, the Oscar-contending single will likely be all they need to take home at least one GRAMMY at this year's ceremony.


RECORD OF THE YEAR

THE NOMINEES:

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

Who Should Win: Black Panther's "All the Stars" is quickly turning into the Amy Adams of this year's song nominees -- everyone knows it deserves a win, but no one can seem to find it a trophy. In a category that focuses on the overall composition (as opposed to the writing focus of Song of the Year), there is perhaps no nominee more deserving than the jewel in Kendrick Lamar'ssoundtrack crown -- a Wakanda-worthy anthem with a driving, infectious beat, razor-sharp verses and SZA on the hook.

Who Will Win: If "Shallow" doesn't land the sweep, I like "I Like It" to shake things up with a win here. Even the GRAMMYs' stalwart base might be moved by the impact of Cardi B's massive year, okurr?


BEST NEW ARTIST

THE NOMINEES:

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

Who Should Win: Eternally the GRAMMYs most perplexing category, predicting Best New Artist is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, if the hay is made of artists who have all actually been around for several years and are already majorly popular within their genre niches. That said, Dua Lipa may be the most well-rounded name on this list, known enough to avoid another Esperanza Spalding head-scratcher, but not so big that giving her a rookie award feels like a cop-out.

Who Will Win: Lipa has a decent shot, but if it's not her, it could be H.E.R., who is the only Best New Artist nominee to also land a nod in another of the four major categories, with her self-titled compilation album.


BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

THE NOMINEES:

"Fall in Line," Christina Aguilera featuring Demi Lovato
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart," Backstreet Boys
"'S Wonderful," Tony Bennett and Diana Krall
"Shallow," Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
"Girls Like You," Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B
"Say Something," Justin Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton
"The Middle," Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey

Who Should Win: It didn't have '90s nostalgia, an earworm of a Target commercial, or a dizzying, star-studded video, but "Fall in Line" (and Aguilera's Liberation album as a whole) deserved more respect than it got this year. The teaming of two of pop's biggest vocal powers -- not to mention two women who have had to fight tooth and nail to earn respect for their art rather than headlines about their bodies or personal lives -- made for a goosebump-inducing empowerment ballad. We should have fallen in line from the beginning, TBH.

Who Will Win: Rants aside, it'll be "Shallow," in what should be Gaga and Cooper's easiest victory of awards season.


BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

THE NOMINEES:

Camila, Camila Cabello
Meaning of Life, Kelly Clarkson
Sweetener, Ariana Grande
Shawn Mendes, Shawn Mendes
Beautiful Trauma, Pink
Reputation, Taylor Swift

Who Should Win: GRAMMY chief Neil Portnow came under fire last year for his quotes that female artists need to "step it up" following a male-dominated ceremony at the 2018 awards. And they did, in a big way. From Cabello's solo debut to Grande's sweetened take on a tumultuous year, the pop queens ruled 2018. But amid that empowering energy, Shawn Mendes somewhat quietly put out a truly stellar pop album, with five charting singles -- including the heartfelt and hard-driving "In My Blood." He won't win, but the honor is worth consideration.

Who Will Win: She might be skipping the ceremony this year, but easy odds say Swift earns her 11th career golden gramophone for Reputation, one of the biggest snubs in the major categories this year.


BEST RAP PERFORMANCE

THE NOMINEES:

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

Who Should Win: While the GRAMMYs are still "figuring out" rap music in the main categories, the Best Rap Performance category has some established street cred, with three of the last four awards going to genre royalty Kendrick Lamar. That said, Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode" becoming the first trap song to win a GRAMMY wouldn't be an undeserved victory.

Who Will Win: Drake will get his due somewhere at this year's awards, and it's easy to assume it might be here, with the infectious and insanely popular "Nice for What." Let's just hope he also thanks Lauryn Hill, Big Freedia and 5th Ward Weebie for the assist.


BEST RAP ALBUM

THE NOMINEES:

Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B
Swimming, Mac Miller
Victory Lap, Nipsey Hussle
Daytona, Pusha T
Astroworld, Travis Scott

Who Should Win: Mac Miller's Swimming was a triumph of personal and professional evolution -- another tragic level to his death in September is that we'll never be able to divorce what he accomplished with his polished and mature fifth studio offering from the accidental overdose that took him just one month after its release. Swimming could have won on merit alone, and it still should. It's just a shame we don't get to see what comes next.

Who Will Win: If it's not Mac, there's no denying that Cardi deserves this. In the age of singles, Invasion of Privacy is a top-to-bottom triumph of a debut album, with nary a miss in the entirety of its 13 tracks. A State of the Union rebuttal and a GRAMMY acceptance speech in the same week would be a true blessing from the artist formerly known as Belcalis Almanzar.


BEST COUNTRY SONG

THE NOMINEES:

"Break Up in the End," Cole Swindell
"Dear Hate," Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill
"I Lived It," Blake Shelton
"Space Cowboy," Kacey Musgraves
"Tequila," Dan + Shay
"When Someone Stops Loving You," Little Big Town

Who Should Win: Given Musgraves' nominations in the major categories, this is an easy category for her to win -- on paper. And though there's a mix of perennial favorites and bright-eyed new contenders waiting in the Opry wings to steal her moment, "Space Cowboy" is a soft and stunning track, more than worthy to give her the Golden Hour she deserves.

Who Will Win: It should be "Space Cowboy," but don't lose your boots if the presenters end up saying "When Someone Stops Loving You" come GRAMMY night. The Academy and the country music community both love them some Little Big Town.


BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA

THE NOMINEES:

Call Me by Your Name
Deadpool 2
The Greatest Showman
Lady Bird
Stranger Things

Who Should Win: Stop. Snubbing. Celine. Dion. But seriously, folks (or at least, as serious as you can get while endorsing the Merc With a Mouth for a GRAMMY), the Deadpool 2 soundtrack is a near-perfect mixtape, with everything from Run the Jewels to Pat Benatar to yes, a new, original Dion track up top for good measure. Stop snarking and give it its due.

Who Will Win: It's essentially an album win for just two Sufjan Stevens songs, but "Mystery of Love" and "Visions of Gideon" are good enough to justify Call Me by Your Name taking top honors here. (Don't be too surprised if Greatest Showman crashes the big show as a spoiler, though -- the category historically loves an original musical.)


BEST MUSIC VIDEO

THE NOMINEES:

"Apesh*t," The Carters
"This Is America," Childish Gambino
"I’m Not Racist," Joyner Lucas
"Pynk," Janelle Monae
"Mumbo Jumbo," Tierra Whack

Who Should Win: With all due respect to each of the nominees, this is a category that comes down to two contenders: "This Is America" and "Apesh*t." Both were surprise drops that shook up the cultural conversation last summer with an impactful message and arresting visuals. I'll give the slight advantage here to Gambino, because Donald Glover's creative partnership with Hiro Murai hit another level with "This Is America," keeping fans on the edge of their seats from the unsettling opening seconds to the memorable final scene.

Who Will Win: Bey and Jay crashed the Louvre. It's "Apesh*t." The end.

The 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards air Sunday, Feb. 10, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.


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