Click here for the major category predictions.
The genre awards often get the short end of the stick at the Grammys. In addition to most of them not being televised, they’re often attract the biggest amount of ire from fans and critics alike. The more specific the award, the scrutiny and subjective it gets.
Unlike the major awards, the nominations of these are somewhat questionable with many, much better records seemingly being snubbed for more commercially successful ones. Still, trying to choose a winner from the albums selected is fun in itself so let’s start guessing.
Best Pop Solo Performance
- “Colors” – Beck
- “Havana (LIVE)” – Camila Cabello
- “God is a Woman” – Ariana Grande
- “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” – Lady Gaga
- “Better Now” – Post Malone
Will Win: “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s singing performance on this track alone blows every other nominee out of the water, possibly securing its win based on pure technicality alone. Add to the fact she has the momentum from her ‘A Star is Born’ performance along with the SOTY and ROTY nominations for “Shallow”. This win could very much already be in the bag for Gaga.
Should Win: “God is a Woman” – Ariana Grande
Perhaps a bit too blasphemous to be awarded by the Academy, “God is a Woman” should still be recognized as one of the best pop songs this year. It’s heavily trap-influenced, nearly half the song being performed in a sing-rap style; it’s not a traditional pick for a pop performance award for sure. So, this could make its win even more deserving with the Academy using it as a signal that they’ll no longer following conventions and reward innovation instead.
Best Pop Vocal Album
- Camila – Camila Cabello
- Meaning of Life – Kelly Clarkson
- Sweetener – Ariana Grande
- Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes
- Beautiful Trauma – P!nk
- Reputation – Taylor Swift
Will Win: Sweetener – Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande dropped the best album of her career thus far, so there’s little reason for her not to win this award (considering she was snubbed in the major categories). Sweetener is the perfect contemporary pop album of 2018 as it seamlessly integrated the trap sounds of today, while at the same time sticking to the bubblegum pop that Ariana had been known for.
Should Win: Sweetener – Ariana Grande
Personally, this is the best pop album of the last 5 years. I just can’t gush over this album enough.
Best Rap Song
- “God’s Plan” – Drake
- “King’s Dead” – Jay Rock Feat. Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake
- “Lucky You” – Eminem Feat. Joyner Lucas
- “Sicko Mode” – Travis Scott
- “Win” – Jay Rock
Will Win: “King’s Dead” – Jay Rock Feat. Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake
Kendrick is the most nominated person this year without even releasing an album of his own. If that isn’t dominance I don’t know what is. “King’s Dead is a Jay Rock song though but Kendrick’s show stealing performance basically takes the track as his own. The raw energy, insane flows and endless quotability is probably something that would definitely pull in Academy votes. Plus, their new rap Grammy darling – Kendrick is in it.
Should Win: “Sicko Mode” – Travis Scott
Home to one of the best beat switches of the decade, it would be a travesty if Travis Scott wasn’t able to cap off his breakout year with a Grammy win. A track that pushes mainstream hip-hop experimentation to its limits, the added commercial success only sets it apart from the competition and solidifies it as not only the year’s best rap song, but also one of the 2018’s best.
Best Rap Album
- Invasion of Privacy – Cardi B
- Swimming – Mac Miller
- Victory Lap – Nipsey Hussle
- Daytona – Pusha T
- Astroworld – Travis Scott
Biggest Snubs: KIDS SEE GHOSTS – KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Iridescence – BROCKHAMPTON, K.O.D. – J Cole, ye – Kanye West (I could just go on and on; hip-hop has been amazing this year)
Will Win: Swimming – Mac Miller OR Invasion of Privacy – Cardi B
Cardi’s win can be seen as a guarantee given that she’s the only AOTY nominee here. Yet Chance the Rapper won the award 2 years ago, even when Drake was here and similarly an AOTY nominee so anything could happen. If so, I hope the Academy honors Mac Miller and gives him his first ever win. Though not the best album on this list (see below), Swimming is full of heart and soul. Chock-full of jazzy instrumentals and passionate crooning, it’s an album that would seemingly be right up the voting committee’s alley so I’m hoping it comes true.
Should Win: Daytona – Pusha T
If we’re going by pure musical quality, however, then Daytona easily tops the competition. Over the course of its lean 7 tracks, Pusha comes at you with bar after bar after bar, decimating every other rap record that was released this year. Its production immaculate, the lyricism scathing and his swagger uncontainable. Daytona is an absolute masterpiece.
Best R&B Song
- “Boo’d Up” – Ella Mai
- “Come Through and Chill” – Miguel Feat. J Cole & Salaam Remi
- “Feels Like Summer” – Childish Gambino
- “Focus” – H.E.R.
- “Long as I Live” – Toni Braxton
Will Win: “Focus” – H.E.R.
AOTY and BNA nominations can hold a lot of weight when it comes to winning genre Grammys. If we’re not subjected to witness another outright shutout like SZA last year, H.E.R. is clearly the favorite to win. Her sultry voice and silky smooth delivery can warm any heart, and it’ll probably warm the hearts of Grammy voters too.
Should Win: “Boo’d Up” – Ella Mai
Ella Mai is refreshing air of traditional R&B in a sea of hip-hop influenced peers. Her sound is an updated throwback to the 2000s, as her vocals and delivery just scream Ashanti and Aaliyah. The chart success “Boo’d Up” has seen is a pretty accurate representation of her widespread appeal, along with the ever increasing hole needing to be filled with more traditional singers like her.
Best Urban Contemporary Album
- Everything is Love – The Carters
- The Kids are Alright – Chloe x Halle
- Chris Dave and the Drumhedz – Chris Dave and the Drumhedz
- War & Leisure – Miguel
- Ventriloquism – Meshell Ndegeocello
Will Win: Everything is Love – The Carters
First of all, this is a pretty weak list. It’s nice to see Chris Dave on here his album is filled with a bit too much lows compared to his highs; same goes with Meshell. As for Chloe x Halle, their album just wasn’t that great to begin with. Miguel’s the clear standout among everyone but The Carters will win this.
Their victory lap of an album may be disappointing, but it’s still filled with bangers and enough star power for voters to take notice. I see them giving this award away to the power couple purely by default.
Should Win: War & Leisure – Miguel
War & Leisure is easily the best of the 5 there, but that isn’t saying much too given how disappointing this album was too. Still, quality-wise this album is very consistent and that alone makes it deserving of this award more than its competition. I’m just absolutely perplexed as to why Dirty Computer isn’t even nominated.