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River Beats Presents Our 2018 GRAMMYs Predictions

The Recording Academy released its list of 2018 GRAMMY Nominees on Tuesday, and all 84 categories come with their fair share of surrprises. Jay-Z was given the most nods this year with eight nominations. He is closely followed by Kendrick Lamar with seven and Bruno Mars with six.

Below, you’ll find our 2018 GRAMMYs predictions for some of the major categories of this year’s award ceremony. Don’t forget to check out the GRAMMYs live on CBS on Sunday, January 28 to see how we did.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Nominees:

  • “Redbone” – Childish Gambino
  • “Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (feat. Justin Bieber)
  • “The Story of O.J.” – Jay-Z
  • “HUMBLE.” – Kendrick Lamar
  • “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars

Predictions:

Two of this year’s Record of the Year nominees have the potential to make history. “HUMBLE.” would be the first hip-hop record to win the award, and “Despacito” would be the first Spanish record. Because award ceremonies tend to choose winners based on their cultural significance, these two tracks have the best chance of taking this one home.

While both of these records certainly have merit, neither of them quite deserve the title of Record of the Year. “HUMBLE.” is not exactly groundbreaking, unlike much of Lamar’s past work. In fact, it relies heavily on conventional hip-hop production and songwriting tactics. Similarly, “Despacito” is an extremely catchy song, but that’s essentially all it has going for it. Upon examining its English translation, you’ll find that its lyrics are cut from the same cloth as nearly every pop ballad released in decades.

A much stronger case can be made for “Redbone” and “The Story of O.J.,” both of which convey more real, raw emotion than any other nominees. Jay-Z offers the most insightful social commentary of the contenders, but “Redbone” stands in a league of its own. Taken in the context of Donald Glover’s past work, “Redbone” represents a refreshing, unexpected take on contemporary R&B worthy of this year’s highest honor.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Nominees:

  • “Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino
  • “4:44” – Jay-Z
  • “DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar
  • “Melodrama” – Lorde
  • “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars

Predictions:

  • Who Will Win: “4:44” – Jay-Z
  • Who Should Win: “4:44” – Jay-Z

Awaken, My Love!4:44 and DAMN. would all be worthy recipients of the Grammy for Album of the Year. However, because three nominees can’t share the win, 4:44 is likely to come out on top.

The album is critically acclaimed for its urgency and social commentary, and in today’s tumultuous political climate it emerges as the clear front-runner in this category.

SONG OF THE YEAR

Nominees:

  • “Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (ft. Justin Bieber)
  • “4:44” – Jay-Z
  • “Issues” – Julia Michaels
  • “1-800-273-8255” – Logic (ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid)
  • “That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars

Predictions:

While Jay-Z and Logic delivered arguably the most important, meaningful tracks on this list, “Despacito” is likely to take this one home. Because it would be a big win for fans of Latin music, it’s unlikely that the Recording Academy will snub it in all of the major categories this year.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Nominees:

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

Predictions:

  • Who Will Win: “÷ (Divide)” – Ed Sheeran
  • Who Should Win: “Joanne” – Lady Gaga

There is no safer pick for this category than British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide). It was a massive commercial success, after all. Its lead single “Shape of You” utterly dominated the charts this year.

Still, ÷ (Divide) is arguably too safe of a pick. Sheeran did nothing at all experimental or risky on this album, resulting in a final product that feels too clean and predictable.

Lady Gaga’s Joanne is a much more deserving winner, as it sees the pop superstar embrace a new, unexpected folk-pop sound that, until now, was largely unrepresented in the mainstream pop industry.

BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM

Nominees:

  • “Migration” – Bonobo
  • “3-D the Catalogue” – Kraftwerk
  • “Mura Masa” – Mura Masa
  • “A Moment Apart” – Odesza
  • “What Now” – Sylvan Esso

Predictions:

  • Who Will Win: “A Moment Apart” – Odesza
  • Who Should Win: “Mura Masa” – Mura Masa

Odesza is the probable victor in this category, largely due to his wide-reaching mainstream appeal. A Moment Apart is certainly a masterfully produced project, but it does little in the way of innovation. Mura Masa’s self-titled project, a more experimental take on contemporary electronic music, is the more deserving candidate.

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

Nominees:

  • “Everything Now” – Arcade Fire
  • “Humanz” – Gorillaz
  • “American Dream” – LCD Soundsystem
  • “Pure Comedy” – Father John Misty
  • “Sleep Well Beast” – The National

Predictions:

  • Who Will Win: “American Dream” – LCD Soundsystem
  • Who Should Win: “Pure Comedy” – Father John Misty

In what is potentially the most stacked category of this year’s ceremony, American Dream is likely to prevail. The album’s combination of exciting, dance-your-ass-off rhythm and thoughtful social commentary makes it both accessible and urgent. A case could also be made for Everything Now, as Arcade Fire has historically been a Grammy favorite.

With that being said, Pure Comedy should take this one home. Father John Misty’s witty, satirical-yet-insightful songwriting makes this album required listening.

Listeners may even walk away from the album with a slightly different perspective on the world, especially after digesting the track “Pure Comedy,” which stands out as one of the most thought-provoking songs of the decade.

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

Nominees:

  • “Free 6lack” – 6lack
  • “Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino
  • “American Teen” – Khalid
  • “CTRL” – SZA
  • “Starboy” – The Weeknd

Predictions:

  • Who Will Win: “Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino
  • Who Should Win: “Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino is heavily favored in this bout thanks to his universally loved genre-defying Awaken, My Love! However, Khalid may be able to pull off a surprising upset in this category as he rides his recent wave of critical acclaim.

BEST RAP ALBUM

Nominees:

  • “4:44” – Jay-Z
  • “DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar
  • “Culture” – Migos
  • “Laila’s Wisdom” – Rapsody
  • “Flower Boy” – Tyler, the Creator

Predictions:

  • Who Will Win: “4:44” – Jay-Z
  • Who Should Win: “4:44” – Jay-Z

Naturally, this category is a toss-up between the superb work of Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar. However, DAMN. is probably a bit too conventional by modern hip-hop standards to propel it to a victory.

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