Best Pop Vocal Abum
Best Pop Vocal Album is one of the most highly contested categories each year at the Grammys. This year is no different, there are two or three albums that seem to be definite nominees, but there are a plethora of records that all make strong cases for a nomination. Let’s get to it.
Taylor Swift’s reputation (read my review here) and Ariana Grande’s Sweetener (read my review here) are the biggest locks for nominations come December. Both albums went #1, housed multiple Top 10 hits, and received praise from critics. Also, these two ladies are easily the two biggest names in pop music right now. Camila Cabello’s Camila, Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All (read my review here), and Kelly Clarkson’s Meaning of Life (read my review here) are also strong contenders. Camila owned the first half of the year with a #1 debut album, Sam solidified his touring base and vocal prowess with his sophomore album, and Kelly reached a new peak in her career with the well-received Life. Voters missed out on nominating Camila’s monster hit, “Havana,” last year, so that helps her chances. Smith is a former winner in this category for 2014’s In the Lonely Hour and Kelly has the most wins in this category in Grammy history (2, tied with Adele). So, it’s safe to say these three could find themselves int he final five or six very soon. If there is a sixth nominee, I would say P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma (read my review here) would take the slot. The album sold a hefty amount of units and launched a hit Grammy-nominated single, “What About Us,” and a successful tour. Other album’s with outside chances include Christina Aguilera’s Liberation (read my review here), Florence + the Machine’s High as Hope, Panic! At the Disco’s Pray for the Wicked, Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods (read my review here) Post Malone’s beerbongs & bentleys, and Maroon 5’s Red Pill Blues.
Final Predictions: reputation (Taylor Swift), Sweetener (Ariana Grande), Camila (Camila Cabello), Meaning of Life (Kelly Clarkson), The Thrill of It All (Sam Smith)
ALT: Beautiful Trauma (P!nk) OR Red Pill Blues (Maroon 5)
Best Pop Solo Performance
Best Pop Solo Performance is always a difficult category to predict simply due to the sheer amount of pop songs released within the given eligibility period. The job becomes more difficult when artists/labels submit songs that don’t seem like the obvious choice and when artists of different home genres crossover to pop.
If Ariana Grande and Republic Records submitted “no tears left to cry” (read my review here), then I could have called this category hers to lose and move on. Instead, Grande and her team submitted the better, but less successful, song, “God is a woman” (read my review here). I think that Grande’s “God is a woman” and Taylor Swift’s “Delicate” are the strongest candidates for a nomination. I would also call Camila Cabello’s “Havana” and Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” as locks or near-locks, but because the songs were released during the eligibility period for the last Grammy ceremony, they had to submit live versions this time around. Both songs racked up billions of streams and became staples in the pop culture lexicon, but being live versions may hold them back. If either song were to be nominated this would be the first time a live version was nominated in this category since Pharrell (“Happy”) and John Legend (“All of Me”) pulled it off in 2015. Sam Smith’s “Pray,” Kelly Clarkson’s “I Don’t Think About You,” and Post Malone’s “Better Now” are also strong candidates. As are Demi Lovato’s “Sober,” Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood,” and Keala Settle’s “This Is Me.” Kacey Musgraves, a country superstar, and Janelle Monáe, an explosive R&B rebel, both have songs in contention for this category. Musgraves’ “High Horse” and Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” are both sublime records, but they may be relegated to competing in their home genres instead.
Final Predictions: God is a woman (Ariana Grande), Havana (Live) [Camila Cabello], Delicate (Taylor Swift), Pray (Sam Smith), Better Now (Post Malone)
ALT: I Don’t Think About You (Kelly Clarkson) OR This Is Me (Keala Settle)
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
This category is also difficult to predict because of the aforementioned reasons for Best Pop Solo Performance, but let’s give it a try.
I think there are three locks here: Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé’s “Perfect Duet” (read my review here), Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow,” and Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You (feat. Cardi B).” The former and the latter are both #1 hits with incredible staying power, and “Shallow” is a Top 10 single from one of 2018’s biggest phenomenon’s A Star is Born (read my review here). Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey’s “The Middle,” as well as Justin Timberlake’s “Say Something (feat. Chris Stapleton)” are also safe bets for nominations. Zedd, Maren, JT, and Chris are all previous Grammy winners and both songs were wildly successful and acclaimed. Other strong candidates include “End Game” (Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Future), “Psycho” (Post Malone, Ty Dolla $ign), “High Hopes” (Panic! At the Disco), “Pray For Me“(Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd), “Don’t Matter to Me” (Drake, Michael Jackson), “Hunger” (Florence + the Machine), “Bed” (Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande), “Fall In Line” (Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato), and “Youngblood” (5 Seconds of Summer).
Final Predictions: Shallow (Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper), Perfect Duet (Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé), Say Something (Justin Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton), The Middle (Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey), Girls Like You (Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B).
ALT: Pray for Me (Kendrick Lamar & The Weeknd) OR High Hopes (Panic! At the Disco)