GRAMMYs 2018 Predictions: Who Should Win and Why

Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar
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ET predicts who will take home some new hardware during Sunday's ceremony in New York City.

Preparations for the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards are well underway in New York City, as fans begin placing their bets for who will win big at Sunday's ceremony. 

James Corden is back to host the festivities live from Madison Square Garden, featuring performances from Elton John and Miley Cyrus, Pink, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Cardi B, U2, Sting, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Rihanna, Little Big Town and so many more.

As for the awards, vying for the trophies is one of the most diverse lineups of nominees ever -- the seven most nominated artists, JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, SZA, Khalid, Childish Gambino and No I.D. -- are all people of color. Additionally, a white male is not nominated for Album of the Year for the first time in nearly 20 years.

But as always, the big winners will be anyone's guess. The most nominated artists are often going head-to-head, and on the strength of last year's impressive crop of releases, clear front-runners have been particularly difficult to determine. And while Kendrick and Jay Z are the obvious favorites, they're hardly the only artists gaining steam going into the show. Read on for our predictions on who will win!

Best New Artist

  • Alessia Cara
  • Khalid
  • Lil Uzi Vert
  • Julia Michaels
  • SZA*

SZA is the most-nominated female artist this year, boasting a mix of indie cred with mainstream success. That said, a strong case could also be made for Alessia Cara. 

Record of the Year

  • "Redbone" -- Childish Gambino
  • "Despacito" -- Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber *
  • "HUMBLE." -- Kendrick Lamar
  • "The Story of O.J." -- JAY-Z
  • "24K Magic" -- Bruno Mars

"Despacito" not only broke down boundaries in 2017, shattering records at every turn -- but it's catchy as hell. The song stuck atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 16 consecutive weeks, and was the first mostly Spanish-language song to reach No. 1 since "Macarena" in 1996. 

Song of the Year

  • "Despacito" -- written by Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi and Marty James Garton (Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber)
  • "4:44" -- Shawn Carter and Dion Wilson (JAY-Z)
  • "Issues" -- written by Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels and Justin Drew Tranter (Julia Michaels)
  • "1-800-273-8255" -- written by Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury, Khalid Robinson (Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid)
  • "That's What I Like" -- written by Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and Jonathan Yip (Bruno Mars) *

Sure, everyone loves a socially conscious song, but GRAMMY voters also love Bruno Mars. We're placing our bets on "That's What I Like." 

Album of the Year

  • Awaken My Love -- Childish Gambino
  • 4:44 -- JAY-Z
  • DAMN. -- Kendrick Lamar*
  • Melodrama -- Lorde
  • 24K Magic -- Bruno Mars

Last year, it was Beyonce vs. Adele. This year, it's JAY-Z vs. Kendrick Lamar. Both men have several nominations this year (eight for JAY-Z, seven for Kendrick) and will face off in many of the same categories. So who is going to come out on top for the night's top prize, Album of the Year? It feels too close to call conclusively, but we're leaning towards Kendrick and DAMN. on this one. 

Rap Performance

  • "Bounce Back" — Big Sean
  • "Bodak Yellow" — Cardi B*
  • "4:44" — JAY-Z
  • "Humble." — Kendrick Lamar
  • "Bad and Boujee" — Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert

Cardi B is having a moment, and we don't see her slowing down anytime soon. Since she's not up for any of the main categories, we would expect her to take home some hardware in this genre-specific category. 

Rap/Sung Performance

  • "Prblms" — 6lack
  • "Crew" — Goldlink featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy
  • "Family Feud" — JAY-Z featuring Beyoncé*
  • "Loyalty." — Kendrick Lamar featuring Rihanna
  • "Love Galore" — SZA featuring Travis Scott

While Kendrick and Rihanna put up some strong competition, we don't think anyone can compete with the King and Queen here. It's gotta be JAY-Z and Bey's "Family Feud." 

Rap Album

  • 4:44 — JAY-Z*
  • DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
  • Culture — Migos
  • Laila's Wisdom — Rapsody
  • Flower Boy — Tyler, the Creator

With Jay and Kendrick facing off again here, we'd expect this category to go to whoever doesn't get the Album of the Year honor. We'll give it to 4:44 here.  

Pop Solo Performance

  • "Love So Soft" — Kelly Clarkson
  • "Praying" — Kesha*
  • "Million Reasons" — Lady Gaga
  • "What About Us" — Pink
  • "Shape of You" — Ed Sheeran

Amid a long-running legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, and with Hollywood's Time's Up and Me Too movements in full force, we'd expect Kesha's gut-wrenching reinvention, "Praying," to take the top prize in this category. 

Pop Vocal Album

  • Kaleidoscope EP — Coldplay
  • Lust for Life — Lana Del Rey
  • Evolve — Imagine Dragons
  • Rainbow — Kesha
  • Joanne — Lady Gaga
  • ÷ (Divide) — Ed Sheeran*

When GRAMMY nominations were unveiled back in November, many fans were quick to declare Ed Sheeran's lack of representation in the top categories as a major snub. Still, Sheeran has long solidified himself as a Recording Academy favorite through the years, and we suspect he'll take home his third career GRAMMY for this album. 

Country Solo Performance

  • "Body Like a Back Road" — Sam Hunt
  • "Losing You" — Alison Krauss
  • "Tin Man" — Miranda Lambert
  • "I Could Use a Love Song" — Maren Morris*
  • "Either Way" — Chris Stapleton

While Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Backroad" permeated pop culture last year, country music purists would seem more likely to honor any of the other stellar nominees in this category, and so, we expect Maren Morris to take this award for the second year in a row with her first No. 1 hit, "I Could Use a Love Song." 

Country Song

  • "Better Man" — Taylor Swift, songwriter (Little Big Town)*
  • "Body Like a Back Road" — Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Sam Hunt)
  • "Broken Halos" — Mike Henderson & Chris Stapleton, songwriters (Chris Stapleton)
  • "Drinkin’ Problem" — Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne & Mark Wystrach, songwriters (Midland)
  • "Tin Man" — Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert & Jon Randall, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

It's hard to top Taylor Swift in the songwriting field, and she delivered a gorgeous gem together with Little Big Town on "Better Man." 

Country Album

  • Cosmic Hallelujah — Kenny Chesney
  • Heart Break — Lady Antebellum
  • The Breaker — Little Big Town
  • Life Changes — Thomas Rhett
  • From a Room: Volume 1 — Chris Stapleton*

While we'd love to see Thomas Rhett take home his very first GRAMMY for his extremely personal Life Changes LP, Chris Stapleton is a force to be reckoned with. His From a Room: Volume 1 seems like the more likely (and well-deserved) candidate here. 

The GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Sunday, Jan. 28.