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Our critic predicts the 2019 Grammy winners

It could be a big night for Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves and Kendrick Lamar.

Cardi B performs on Jan. 26 in Las

Cardi B performs on Jan. 26 in Las Vegas. She is nominated for seven Grammys.  Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ethan Miller

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards will go down in history regardless of who wins Sunday night. This year marks the expansion of the top categories from five nominees to eight, in order to spread Grammy’s love farther. The 2019 nominees also serve as the answer to two public relations challenges from last year’s ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Grammy voters snubbed Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn” in the album of the year category, then saw it win the Pulitzer Prize. And Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow said the reason more women didn’t win Grammys last year was because they needed to “step up.” Portnow apologized and will step down from his post later this year.

Will the larger nominee pool and the larger percentage of female artists represented make a difference? Here’s a look at who should win and who will win the top categories:

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin, “I Like It”

Brandi Carlile, “The Joke”

Childish Gambino, “This Is America”

Drake, “God’s Plan”

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, “Shallow”

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Kendrick Lamar & SZA, “All the Stars”

Post Malone feat. 21 Savage, “Rockstar”

Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, “The Middle”

SHOULD WIN “This Is America.” Childish Gambino manages to express what life as a minority artist in today’s America is like, while still managing to keep it catchy enough to top the charts.

WILL WIN “All the Stars.” Grammy voters will try to make up for its past snubs of Pulitzer Prize-winning Lamar by awarding his poppiest, most radio-friendly single with the night’s biggest award.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Cardi B, “Invasion of Privacy”

Brandi Carlile, “By the Way, I Forgive You”

Drake, “Scorpion”

H.E.R., “H.E.R.”

Post Malone, “Beerbongs & Bentleys”

Janelle Monae, “Dirty Computer”

Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”

Various Artists, “Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By”

SHOULD WIN “Invasion of Privacy.” Cardi B’s larger-than-life personality would stand out pretty much anywhere she goes. But among these oddly reserved nominees, her vision shines bright. Okurrrr?

WILL WIN “Golden Hour.” Kacey Musgraves should get the edge with her well-crafted country album, as the Grammys try to change the stranglehold bros have on country radio. Also, all the R&B and hip-hop contenders in this category will likely cancel each other out.

SONG OF THE YEAR

Kendrick Lamar & SZA, “All the Stars”

Ella Mai, “Boo’d Up”

Drake, “God’s Plan”

Shawn Mendes, “In My Blood”

Brandi Carlile, “The Joke”

Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, “The Middle”

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, “Shallow”

Childish Gambino, “This Is America”

SHOULD WIN “This Is America.” The impressive depth of Childish Gambino’s vision is also a songwriting triumph.

WILL WIN “Shallow.” The Grammys love Hollywood glamour. Combine that with the chance to give their beloved Lady Gaga a major award for her poignant power ballad.

BEST NEW ARTIST

Chloe x Halle

Luke Combs

Greta Van Fleet

H.E.R.

Dua Lipa

Margo Price

Bebe Rexha

Jorja Smith

SHOULD WIN Dua Lipa. Though Margo Price may have a bit more depth, Dua Lipa had a massive 2018 with hit after stylish hit, all carrying her unique dance-pop trademark.

WILL WIN Greta Van Fleet. The Grammys love young artists who sound old. So how could they resist the adorable Kiszka brothers who channel album rock greats like Led Zeppelin and Cream? Well, they can’t.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Camila Cabello, “Camila”

Kelly Clarkson, “Meaning of Life”

Ariana Grande, “Sweetener”

Shawn Mendes, “Shawn Mendes”

P!nk, “Beautiful Trauma”

Taylor Swift, “Reputation”

SHOULD WIN “Meaning of Life.” Kelly Clarkson’s album is packed with one well-crafted pop song after another, from ballads to dance anthems and sassy soul, all delivered with power and finesse. It’s the best in a category stunningly stacked with potential winners.

WILL WIN “Meaning of Life.” Clarkson has won this award twice before and though Swift may provide quite the challenge, this doesn’t really seem like her year. That said, any of these nominees is deserving.

BEST ROCK ALBUM

Alice in Chains, “Rainier Fog”

Fall Out Boy, “Mania”

Ghost, “Prequelle”

Greta Van Fleet, “From the Fires”

Weezer, “Pacific Daydream”

SHOULD WIN “Mania.” Fall Out Boy continues to be one of the few rock bands that can still command attention from pop radio. “The Last of the Real Ones” is a title they can give themselves.

WILL WIN “From the Fires.” Greta Van Fleet’s debut EP certainly attracted plenty of attention and their classic rock sensibilities should land them plenty of votes as well.

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

Arctic Monkeys, “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino”

Beck, “Colors”

Björk, “Utopia”

David Byrne, “American Utopia”

St. Vincent, “Masseduction”

SHOULD WIN “American Utopia.” David Byrne’s multicultural wonder is a thrill, capped by the immigration plan that you can dance to “Everbody’s Coming to My House.”

WILL WIN “Colors.” The Grammy voters love Beck and his well-built album should earn him another trophy as long as voters remember all the way back to 2017.

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

The Carters, “Everything Is Love”

Chloe x Halle, “The Kids are Alright”

Chris Dave and The Drumhedz, “Chris Dave and The Drumhedz”

Miguel, “War & Leisure”

Meshell Ndegeocello, “Ventriloquism”

PJ Morton, “Gumbo Unplugged (Live)”

SHOULD WIN “Everything Is Love.” The joint album from The Carters (also known as Beyoncé and Jay-Z) is as much a statement of power and happiness as it is an album. So what better way to celebrate all of it than with a Grammy win?

WILL WIN “Everything Is Love.” Everybody loves The Carters.

BEST RAP ALBUM

Cardi B, “Invasion of Privacy”

Mac Miller, “Swimming”

Nipsey Hussle, “Victory Lap”

Pusha T, “Daytona”

Travis Scott, “Astroworld”

SHOULD WIN “Invasion of Privacy.” Cardi B’s inventive rhymes and powerful personality made for one of hip-hop’s most memorable debuts.

WILL WIN “Invasion of Privacy.” Though there will be strong support for the late Mac Miller and the popular Travis Scott, Bartier Cardi should come out on top.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Kelsea Ballerini, “Unapologetically”

Brothers Osborne, “Port Saint Joe”

Ashley McBryde, “Girl Going Nowhere”

Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”

Chris Stapleton, “From a Room: Vol. 2”

SHOULD WIN “Girl Going Nowhere.” Singer-songwriter Ashley McBryde used a decade of struggling in Nashville and turned it into a defiant declaration of her artistry.

WILL WIN “Golden Hour.” At a time when women are having a tough time getting recognition on country radio, Kacey Musgraves is an example of the new generation of singer-songwriters doing it on their own. The Grammy voters are eager to support that.

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