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Kendrick Lamar should, and likely will, clean up at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
Kendrick Lamar should, and likely will, clean up at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
Photo by Mathew Tucciarone/LA Weekly

The 2018 Grammys: Who Will (and Should) Win

Football is taking a break this weekend (no, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count), which makes Sunday night a fitting time to honor some of the best and brightest in mainstream music. The 60th Annual Grammy Awards emanate from New York City, and performers include Bruno Mars, U2, Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith, and myriad others.

And, yes, the performances are certainly worthy of attention, but in the end, the awards are the ultimate draw. This year is particularly interesting as the Grammys go, considering the awards really could go in any direction. Will Kendrick Lamar finally cash in? Does “Despacito” clean up? Or does Jay-Z perhaps swoop in and have his crowning Grammy moment?

It’s hard to tell, but we’ll give it a shot anyway. Here is a look at who should win some of the major Grammys on Sunday night … and who will.

RECORD OF THE YEAR
Childish Gambino, “Redbone”
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito”
Jay-Z, “The Story of O.J.”
Kendrick Lamar, “Humble”
Bruno Mars, “24K Magic”

Who Should Win: “Humble”
Who Will Win: “Despacito”

“Despacito” is one of the biggest songs in music history, one that broke all sorts of streaming records, and it should be rewarded … for Song of the Year (more on that in a second). “Humble” features top-notch production quality and, in Lamar, one of the most charismatic artists in the pop game today. That said, “Despacito” was such a juggernaut that one can’t help but feel it’s the favorite to claim one of the Grammys’ biggest prizes.

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

Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar has twice been nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys. Twice he has lost. That slump ends this year, and deservedly so, as the Grammys finally start showing some love to hip-hop. DAMN. is as fine a record as you’ll hear, no matter the genre, and the Grammys will acknowledge as such. A true hip-hop album has never won Album of the Year – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was more an R&B album, and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is only half a hip-hop record. That all changes on Sunday night.

SONG OF THE YEAR
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito”
Jay-Z, “4:44”
Julia Michaels, “Issues”
Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, “1-800-273-8255”
Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like”

Who Should Win: “Despacito”
Who Will Win: “Despacito”

“Despacito” is pop perfection, a true crossover hit that was a worldwide phenomenon. Sometimes, the easy call is the right one.

BEST NEW ARTIST
Alessia Cara
Khalid
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels
SZA

Who Should Win: SZA
Who Will Win: Alessia Cara

Cara really should have been nominated for this award already, considering her debut album (Know-It-All) released in November 2015! Alas, she had one hell of a 2017 as well, thanks to hit singles “Stay” and the Logic/Khalid collaboration, “1-800-273-8255.” In short, Cara is more than deserving of Best New Artist. But, damn, SZA was an absolute supernova in 2017. She dropped her debut, Ctrl, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 and eventually went Gold. She also charted a couple of hit singles, and just landed another with Kendrick Lamar. This one could go either way, and both artists certainly have their merits, but it feels like Cara’s pop sound is something Grammy voters traditionally support.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
Coldplay, Kaleidoscope EP
Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life
Imagine Dragons, Evolve
Kesha, Rainbow
Lady Gaga, Joanne
Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide)

Who Should Win: Kesha, Rainbow
Who Will Win: Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide)

Ed Sheeran, here’s your consolation prize. Many expected Sheeran to garner an Album of the Year nomination, and when he didn’t, this result feels almost inevitable. That said, Kesha released one of the great comeback records of the past decade with Rainbow, a powerful album that was universally beloved. Not only should Rainbow win this award, it should have been nominated for Album of the Year as well.

BEST ROCK ALBUM
Mastodon, Emperor of Sand
Metallica, Hardwired … to Self-Destruct
Nothing More, The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding

Who Should Win: Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
Who Will Win: Metallica, Hardwired … to Self-Destruct

Metallica is arguably the biggest hard rock band of all time, and yet, James Hetfield and company have never won a Grammy for Best Rock Album. That changes this year, as the Bay Area quartet will take home the prize for Hardwired…, a solid addition to the band’s catalog and one that helped fans erase the memories of the abomination that was Death Magnetic. That said, Queens of the Stone Age is about as sure a thing as you’ll find in rock music. Every 4-5 years, Josh Homme decides to put out a new Queens record, and every 4-5 years, the band delivers. Villains was no exception.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM
Kenny Chesney, Cosmic Hallelujah
Lady Antebellum, Heart Break
Little Big Town, The Breaker
Thomas Rhett, Life Changes
Chris Stapleton, From a Room: Volume 1

Who Should Win: Chris Stapleton, From a Room: Volume 1
Who Will Win: Chris Stapleton, From a Room: Volume 1

Don’t sleep on Little Big Town’s The Breaker, a damn fine album. But Stapleton is a Grammy darling, and From a Room was a fine follow-up to Traveller, so it’s his award to lose.

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