Who deserves to win at the Grammys?

We’ve pored over the awards that matter, so you don’t have to

Yesterday (November 28), the Grammys announced the nominations for their 2018 awards. Despite being one of the most pointless and self-congratulatory events in the music calendar, the Grammys are for some reason still seen to be A Big Deal, and this year’s nominations were full of Big Takeaways that Meant A Lot Of Things.

The chief talking point this year is the increased diversity of the artists up for big awards like Album of the Year. Last year, Adele scooped the top prize, and had to effectively apologise to Beyonce for winning it; this year, the Grammys have faced that criticism head on, nominating four non-white artists for the prize – the first time this has happened since 2005. Of course, this superficial gesture doesn’t exactly do much to address the deep-rooted racism of the music industry, nor is it particularly obvious why it matters whether or not a hoary old institution approves of Kendrick Lamar, but here we are.

There was also some interest in who wasn’t nominated. Artists you’d expect to be a shoe-in – sexless nerds like Ed Sheeran, your Katy Perrys and Miley Cyruses – were practically invisible. Meanwhile artists like A Tribe Called Quest who deserve at least a nod were absent, leading to a worthwhile intervention from Q-Tip: “Fuck da grammys!!!” (“We were the most black, cultured group out,” he later elaborated on Instagram. “That’s all we stood on. That’s what we represented, This last Tribe album, this stands with everyone else’s shit that’s up there. I don’t give a fuck.”)

Still, award ceremonies – and the way they directly pit artist against artist – are always a good excuse for music fans to argue about who deserves to win what. In that spirit, we’ve gone through the nominations (or at least the ones that matter to us – we’re never going to be an authority on classical or jazz music, and we have no idea who any of the rock bands nominated even are) to say who deserves to win. Disagree? Let us know.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Who’s nominated?

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

Who should win?

This is obviously going to be contentious given that she’s the only white artist here, but Lorde should probably get this. DAMN. was a solidly great album, and Jay-Z released an album that was far better than any Jay-Z album in 2017 ought to be, but Melodrama is a literal masterpiece.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Who’s nominated?

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

Who should win?

Okay, so “Despacito” will probably win this because that is what the plebs want, but realistically the award belongs to “Redbone”. Not just because it’s a great track, but also because it’s responsible for one of the year’s most pointless memes. People questioned what “Redbone” would sound like if slowed down, leading to other great edits like “What Redbone would sound like while you're making out in the bathroom of a house party”, or what it would sound like if you were in the dining room of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. A song with real depth.

SONG OF THE YEAR

Who’s nominated?

“Despacito” – Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)
“4:44” – Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)
“Issues” – Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)
“1-800-273-8255” – Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury & Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)
“That's What I Like” – Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Who should win?

To be honest we’re not really sure what makes this category different to ‘Record of the Year’, but we’re assuming it’s got something to do with the songwriters themselves rather than the performer. To which we’d say: uhhh, “Despacito”?

NEW ARTIST

Who’s nominated?

Alessia Cara
Khalid
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels
SZA

Who should win?

Okay, SZA is probably stretching the definition of ‘new’ here – we first wrote about her four years ago – but she’s the best of this actually very talented bunch. If we can’t pick her, then just flip a coin to pick between Lil Uzi Vert and Khalid.

POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

Who’s nominated?

Kelly Clarkson – “Love So Soft”
Kesha – “Praying”
Lady Gaga – “Million Reasons”
P!nk – “What About Us”
Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”

Who should win?

With the high-note that sent just about everybody’s wigs into orbit, Kesha’s triumphant comeback moved us to tears, so there’s no question who should win here.

POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

Who’s nominated?

The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – “Something Just Like This”
Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber – “Despacito”
Imagine Dragons – “Thunder”
Portugal. The Man – “Feel It Still”
Zedd & Alessia Cara – “Stay”

Who should win?

Again, this has to “Despacito”, although we’re tempted to pick Imagine Dragons because of this tweet.

POP VOCAL ALBUM

Who’s nominated?

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

Who should win?

Lana Del Rey hasn’t actually been nominated for much this year, which is a shame because Lust For Life is great. Though it’s probably the best in this category, it isn’t necessarily Lana’s best output – we’re looking at the sad gal banger-filled Born to Die.

DANCE RECORDING

Who’s nominated?

Bonobo featuring Innov Gnawa – “Bambro Koyo Ganda”
Camelphat & Elderbrook – “Cola”
Gorillaz featuring DRAM – “Andromeda”
LCD Soundsystem – “tonite”
Odesza featuring Wynne & Mansionair – “Line of Sight”

Who should win?

“Tonite” is the best song here, though LCD Soundsystem – whose latest album is more PiL than EDM – probably shouldn’t be in this category in the first place.

DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM

Who’s nominated?

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

Who should win?

As legendary as Kraftwerk are, we can’t really see why they’d need a Grammy at this point – so let’s give this one to Mura Masa, whose collaboration-packed debut album was a fun, adventurous, and a joy to listen to.

ROCK PERFORMANCE

Who’s nominated?

Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
Chris Cornell – The Promise
Foo Fighters – Run
Kaleo – No Good
Nothing More – Go to War

Who should win?

Neither Kaleo nor Nothing More have infiltrated our consciousness. For all we know they might be amazing, but, um, we doubt it. Either way, Leonard Cohen’s elegant goodbye deserves to win any category that it’s included in.

ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

Who’s nominated?

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

Who should win?

LCD Soundsystem’s un-retirement was the big story of American Dream, and it ended up overshadowing the actual musical achievement of the album. Which sucks, because it was an excellent album, and far better than This is Happening.

R&B PERFORMANCE

Who’s nominated?

Daniel Caesar featuring Kali Uchis – “Get You”
Kehlani – “Distraction”
Ledisi – “High”
Bruno Mars – “That's What I Like”
SZA – “The Weekend”

Who should win?

Just give everything to SZA so that we can go home.

URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

Who’s nominated?

6lack – Free 6lack
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
Khalid – American Teen
SZA – Ctrl
The Weeknd – Starboy 

Who should win?

What did we just say?

RAP PERFORMANCE

Who’s nominated?

Big Sean – “Bounce Back”
Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”
Jay-Z – “4:44”
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert – “Bad and Boujee”

Who should win?

Cardi B and Offset face off on this one. We’ll never tire of hearing incessant ad libs and looking at Quavo, but we think Cardi B pips it – her iconic BET awards performance in front of a bodega backdrop in technicolour fur and a diamond bralette was sensational, and maybe we just want to hear another outrageously great acceptance speech.

RAP/SUNG PERFORMANCE

Who’s nominated?

6lack – “Prblms”
Goldlink featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy – “Crew”
Jay-Z featuring Beyoncé – “Family Feud”
Kendrick Lamar featuring Rihanna – “LOYALTY.”
SZA featuring Travis Scott – “Love Galore”

Who should win?

“Love Galore”, song of the year.

RAP SONG

Who’s nominated?

“Bodak Yellow” – Dieuson Octave, Klenord Raphael, Shaftizm, Jordan Thorpe, Washpoppin & J White, songwriters (Cardi B)
“Chase Me” – Judah Bauer, Brian Burton, Hector Delgado, Jaime Meline, Antwan Patton, Michael Render, Russell Simins & Jon Spencer, songwriters (Danger Mouse featuring Run the Jewels & Big Boi)
“Humble.” – K. Duckworth, Asheton Hogan & M. Williams II, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
“Sassy” – E. Gabouer & M. Evans, songwriters (Rapsody)
“The Story of O.J.” – Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)

Who should win?

It’s gotta be “Bodak Yellow”, surely?

RAP ALBUM

Who’s nominated?

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

Who should win?

You can say all you want but DAMN. could and should have been better (of course it was still a decent try – you can’t knock out two To Pimp a Butterflys). The Migos-fication of rap can be irksome because there’s only so many ad libs one person can take before getting bored (woo woo). Tyler really pulled it out of the bag with his album. 4:44 was underrated. Can they all just get an award for taking part?

NEW AGE ALBUM

Who’s nominated?

Brian Eno – Reflection
India.Arie – SongVersation: Medicine
Peter Kater – Dancing on Water
Kitaro – Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai, Volume 5
Steve Roach – Spiral Revelation

Who should win?

New age music has had a bit of a moment in the underground over the past few years, but that isn’t necessarily reflected in these nominations. We went to Brian Eno’s studio once and saw a row of Grammys hidden on top of a bookshelf gathering dust, so maybe he can add another one to that.

SPOKEN WORD ALBUM

Who’s nominated?

Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
Shelly Peiken – Confessions of a Serial Songwriter
Bernie Sanders and Mark Ruffalo – Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Bernie Sanders)
Carrie Fisher – The Princess Diarist

Who should win?

Look, we’ve obviously not listened to any of these – we’re not psychopaths – but the idea of Bernie Sanders winning a Grammy is very entertaining, so it really has to be him (even if he’s up against Carrie Fisher – R.I.P.).

COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA

Who’s nominated?

Baby Driver (Various Artists)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Various Artists)
Hidden Figures: The Album (Various Artists)
La La Land (Various Artists)
Moana: The Songs (Various Artists)

Who should win?

Baby Driver probably pips the rest here, though the soundtrack wasn’t nearly as good as it thought it was.

SCORE SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA

Who’s nominated?

Arrival – Jóhann Jóhannsson, composer
Dunkirk – Hans Zimmer, composer
Game of Thrones: Season 7 – Ramin Djawadi, composer
Hidden Figures – Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams & Hans Zimmer, composers
La La Land – Justin Hurwitz, composer

Who should win?

Jóhann Jóhannsson has been nominated for a Grammy twice, and he deserves to win his first this year for his affecting, ambitious score for Arrival.

SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

Who’s nominated?

“City of Stars” – Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone)
“How Far I’ll Go” – Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli’i Cravalho)
“I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” – Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
“Never Give Up” – Sia Furler & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia)
“Stand Up for Something” – Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day featuring Common)

Who should win?

Whatever, Sia. Who gives a fuck.

RECORDING PACKAGE

Who’s nominated?

El Orisha de la Rosa – Claudio Roncoli & Cactus Taller, art directors (Magín Díaz)
Mura Masa – Alex Crossan & Matt De Jong, art directors (Mura Masa)
Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) – Sasha Barr, Ed Steed & Josh Tillman, art directors (Father John Misty)
Sleep Well Beast – Elyanna Blaser-Gould, Luke Hayman & Andrea Trabucco-Campos, art directors (The National)
Solid State – Gail Marowitz, art director (Jonathan Coulton) Gail Marowitz, art director (Jonathan Coulton)

Who should win?

We assume the Mura Masa album would’ve looked good, but honestly, when was the last time you actually handled a physical copy of an album?

ENGINEERED ALBUM, NON-CLASSICAL

Who’s nominated?

Every Where Is Some Where – Brent Arrowood, Miles Comaskey, JT Daly, Tommy English, Kristine Flaherty, Adam Hawkins, Chad Howat & Tony Maserati, engineers; Joe LaPorta, mastering engineer (K.Flay)
Is This the Life We Really Want? – Nigel Godrich, Sam Petts-Davies & Darrell Thorp, engineers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer (Roger Waters)
Natural Conclusion – Ryan Freeland, engineer; Joao Carvalho, mastering engineer (Rose Cousins)
No Shape – Shawn Everett & Joseph Lorge, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer (Perfume Genius)
24K Magic – Serban Ghenea, John Hanes & Charles Moniz, engineers; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer (Bruno Mars)

Who should win?

We normally would’ve deleted this category, but then we saw that the great Perfume Genius was nominated. We want him to win just so we can call No Shape ‘the Grammy® Award-winning No Shape’ from now on.

REMIXED RECORDING

Who’s nominated?

“Can't Let You Go” (Louie Vega Roots Mix) – Louie Vega, remixer (Loleatta Holloway)
“Funk O’ De Funk” (SMLE Remix) – SMLE, remixers (Bobby Rush)
“Undercover” (Adventure Club Remix) – Leighton James & Christian Srigley, remixers (Kehlani)
“A Violent Noise: (Four Tet Remix) – Four Tet, remixer (The xx)
“You Move” (Latroit Remix) – Dennis White, remixer (Depeche Mode)

Who should win?

Four Tet getting a Grammy is fun, although the less said about that terrible meme the better.

MUSIC VIDEO

Who’s nominated?

“Up All Night” – (Beck) Canada, video director; Laura Serra Estorch & Oscar Romagosa, video producers
“Makeba” – (Jain) Lionel Hirle & Gregory Ohrel, video directors; Yodelice, video producer
“The Story of O.J.” – (Jay-Z) Shawn Carter & Mark Romanek, video directors; Daniel Midgley, video producer
“HUMBLE.” – (Kendrick Lamar) The Little Homies & Dave Meyers, video directors; Jason Baum, Dave Free, Jamie Rabineau, Nathan K. Scherrer & Anthony Tiffith, video producers
“1-800-273-8255” – (Logic featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid) Andy Hines, video director; Andrew Lerios, video producer

Who should win?

We’ve talked about Jay-Z’s excellent “The Story of O.J.” video before, and it definitely deserves a place at the top.