As we approach the dreaded/celebrated season in which celebrities gather in expensive outfits to recognize the best in television, film, and music, the Grammy Awards often stand out as the show for the people. Usually, the Grammys honor a range of music that is both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, an intersection where the Oscars and the Golden Globes often fail. I decided to break down the categories I’m most interested in and give you all the dirt on the snubs, winners, and just plain wack nominees. I realize that no one asked for my opinions here, but unfortunately, Halftime Leisure gives me a platform that I don’t deserve.
Album of the Year
Okay, we have some clear issues here. First of all, how is Beerbongs & Bentleys (2018) side-by-side with Ms. Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer (2018)? Who is nominating Post Malone for all these Grammys? Did he pay someone off? Am I just not hearing the same music as everyone else when “Better Now” plays? Frankly, I am baffled. Also, snubbing the Carters’ Everything is Love (2018) is an absolute crime. Beyoncé and Jay-Z did not release such a raw, emotional album to be edged out by Post Malone and Drake. Despite a few questionable nominees, (ahem, Beerbongs & Bentleys and Scorpion (2018), this is overall a strong category. Black Panther (2018) picked up a nomination for its soundtrack, making it the first movie soundtrack to receive an album of the year nod since O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2002) and once again proving that it’s Ryan Coogler’s world and we’re all just living in it.
My pick: Golden Hour (2018) by Kacey Musgraves. Despite really incredible albums here, I have to go with Kacey’s fourth studio album because it’s just so beautiful. Every time I think I’m tired of listening to it, I turn it on and am back to my yeehaw ways.
Song of the Year
These song of the year nominations are quite a mixed bag, with a few bangers and puzzling choices thrown in. Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke” and Childish Gambino’s “This is America” fall into the former category, while Shawn Mendes’s “In My Blood”, Drake’s “God’s Plan” and Zedd’s “The Middle” fall into the latter. I felt like there were definitely better songs released than these last three in 2018. It feels like the Recording Academy just kind of went through the top 40 radio stations and selected tracks at random. In a year of great music, this category feels much like all of the Grammy nominations: low-effort and uninteresting.
My pick: “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA. Black Panther had an absolutely stunning soundtrack and deserves recognition.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Listen….I have questions. I am rooting for everyone in the music industry. I want everyone to have their moment in the sun. But the nominees for best Pop Vocal Album are simply not it, friends. P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, and Taylor Swift are all up in this category, which makes no sense considering the fact that these three artists released their weakest albums ever this year. Camila Cabello’s underwhelming solo debut, Camila (2018), is also nominated, and Shawn Mendes somehow snuck in there too with Shawn Mendes (2018). Maybe self-titled albums are the big thing for this year’s Recording Academy, but color me unimpressed. Though Cabello and Mendes are both talented, both these albums fell flat for me. There’s some obvious snubs here as well: Troye Sivan’s sophomore album Bloom (2018) was a work of art and deserved a nom.
My pick: Sweetener (2018) by Ariana Grande. Amongst this lukewarm bunch, Ariana’s masterpiece is the clear winner.
Best Alternative Music Album
Are you there, God? It’s me, Katie, and I want to know why Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (2018) by the Arctic Monkeys received a nomination in this (or any) category. This entire album was unlistenable. I wanted it to be good, but this album was one of the worst things I heard this year, and I’ve listened to Joe Scarborough’s music. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino barely qualified as music. I have never been so excited nor so sorely let down by a collection of music as I was by the Arctic Monkeys this year. I’m also extremely confused as to how Mitski’s Be the Cowboy (2018) didn’t pick up a nomination here or anywhere else of significance (the album is up for Best Recording Package). Leaving Mitski out of the Grammys this year is borderline criminal, and I have half a mind to boycott the televised ceremony because of it.
My pick: MASSEDUCATION by St. Vincent. This album was beautiful, and if it loses to the Arctic Monkeys’ worst work ever, I will throw an absolute fit.
Best Rap Album
Nicki Minaj deserved better from the Recording Academy. Queen (2018) was a great album, and “Barbie Dreamz” alone should qualify it for a nomination somewhere, but unfortunately, the queen of rap was snubbed entirely this year. To be frank, I don’t really understand the hype around Travis Scott’s Astroworld (2018) and Mac Miller’s Swimming (2018). Queen deserved a slot far more than either of these albums. Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy (2018) earned a well-deserved nomination, but my theory is that the Recording Academy doesn’t know that they’re allowed to nominate multiple women in the Best Rap Album Category.
My pick: Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B or Daytona (2018) by Pusha T. Each of these albums was back-to-back bangers, and neither would be a disappointing winner. It should be noted, however, that Nicki Minaj was robbed this year, and that’s a hill I’m willing to die on.
Best Country Song
Look, I am from Texas, but I am no country fan, so my takes here are relatively lukewarm. “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves cured my cold, cleared my acne, and fixed my split ends. It is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, no contest.
My pick: “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves. That’s that on that.
Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media
Four of the five albums nominated here absolutely killed me this year. Alas, The Greatest Showman (2017) did not deserve this nomination. Hugh Jackman, Zendaya, and Zac Efron all really brought some much-needed physical beauty to this film and I deeply enjoyed watching it, but as a musical, it is not great. As my theater-kid roommate has pointed out many a time, the songs on this album are simply pop songs crammed into the context of a musical without much thought or effort. “The Other Side” is the only exception, but that definitely doesn’t warrant a spot on this list for The Greatest Showman. That aside, Lady Bird (2017), Deadpool 2 (2018), Call Me By Your Name (2017), and Stranger Things all had poppin’ soundtracks, so it’s a good category overall.
My pick: Call Me By Your Name. It’s been almost a year since I first heard this, and I’m still not over it.
The 61st annual Grammy Awards will take place on February 10, 2019 at 5:00 pm EST in Los Angeles, California. The show will air on CBS.