2018 Grammy predictions: Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and...?
It's October, which means it's time to start thinking about the Grammys.
Yes, the Grammys take place in February, which is more than four months away. But the eligibility period for the 2018 Grammy Awards ends at the end of September, which fell over the weekend. That means everything that can be nominated has already been released. Sorry, Taylor Swift, but Reputation will have to wait until 2019.
Based on all the songs and albums that came out between October 2016 and September 2017, can we make a few educated predictions about who will reign on Grammy night 2018? We sure can. These may not be the best albums released in the past year, but they're the ones that most align with Grammy voters' traditional lines of thinking.
Let's run down the four top categories:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Three albums seem like loks, or at least strong contenders. Lorde's Melodrama and Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. both sold well and received rapturous reviews, and both are Grammy favorites, so go ahead and slot them in. Ed Sheeran is likely to earn a nod, and perhaps a win, for his appealing, mega-selling Divide. Beyond that, the list of contenders is sprawling. You could go with honoring an artist for a late-career comeback record (Roger Waters, A Tribe Called Quest), a superstar whose album was a bit of a letdown (The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars), another ascendant talent to prove your hipness (Haim, Father John Misty), an act that's country but not too country (Miranda Lambert, Jason Isbell) or something totally out of leftfield (The Hamilton Mixtape). Any one of these or others could sneak in, but at gunpoint, we'll go with Lambert and the Weeknd.
PREDICTIONS: Ed Sheeran, Divide (winner); Lorde, Melodrama; Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.; Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings; the Weeknd, Starboy
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Again, there seem to be a couple of locks: Ed Sheeran's Shape of You and Luis Fonsi's Despacito (whether the nod goes to the original or the remix with Justin Bieber is another question). Bruno Mars' That's What I Like has hung around long enough that it must be considered a contender, and so should Kendrick Lamar's HUMBLE. If the Weeknd's Starboy was eligible, it would be a top contender, but it was released during the window for last year's Grammys, so it's probably out. That leaves the door wide open for a million different singles -- Childish Gambino's Redbone, Sam Hunt's Body Like a Back Road, Migos' Bad and Boujee, the Chainsmokers' Paris, Lorde's Green Light, Shawn Mendes' There's Nothing Holding Me Back -- but we'll give the final slot to Lady Gaga for the deserving Million Reasons.
PREDICTIONS: Ed Sheeran, Shape Of You (winner); Luis Fonsi, Despacito; Bruno Mars, That's What I Like; Kendrick Lamar, HUMBLE.; Lady Gaga, Million Reasons
SONG OF THE YEAR
Traditionally, this songwriters' category mostly mirrors Record of the Year, and that should happen this year. We'll give nods to Shape Of You, That's What I Like and Million Reasons, though HUMBLE. could also sneak in. It'd be cool to see Lorde's unconventional Green Light nominated, but two songs could edge it out: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw's Speak To a Girl and Logic's moving, message-based 1-800-273-8255. Notably, the winner of Song and Record of the Year don't always match up -- it's happened only about half the time this century -- but this year feels like a Sheeran sweep.
PREDICTIONS: Ed Sheeran, Shape Of You (winner); Bruno Mars, That's What I Like; Lady Gaga, Million Reasons; Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Speak to a Girl; Logic, 1-800-273-8255
BEST NEW ARTIST
Kind of a crapshoot this year. Most of this year's most acclaimed new artists are still somewhat below the radar, almost acquired tastes: SZA, Khalid, Sampha, Kehlani. Songwriter-turned-singer Julia Michaels has gotten a lot of love for her single Issues,and country band Midland scored a hit with the throwbacky Drinkin' Problem. Cardi B had a breakout year, but with no album and only one big single, Bodak Yellow, has she done enough to warrant a nomination? It's more likely she'll receive some nominations for the song this year, and Best New Artist next year, like Meghan Trainor did in 2015 and 2016. The problem with this category is that all the best candidates aren't technically all that new -- Logic, Mondo Cozmo, Rae Sremmurd, Harry Styles and Judah and the Lion, among others, have been around the block once or twice. But that hasn't stopped the Grammys from playing eligibility games before. Based on recent history, we're betting they'll declare at least one of them eligible -- in which case, the favorite should be omnipresent rap trio Migos.
PREDICTIONS: Migos (winner), Khalid, SZA, Julia Michaels, Midland
-- Jay Cridlin