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Grammy predictions 2018: Our critic’s picks for who should, will win

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards is turning out to be one of the hardest to predict.

Lorde's

Lorde's "Melodrama" might win album of the year. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ian Gavan

Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow said that this year’s eclectic Grammy nominations show that the organization’s drive towards diversity in recent years has succeeded. That unexpected shift makes the 60th Annual Grammy Awards one of the hardest to predict, but let’s give it a shot.

Here are our picks in the major categories:

RECORD OF THE YEAR

“Redbone,” Childish Gambino

“Despacito,” Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber

“The Story of O.J.,” Jay-Z

“Humble.,” Kendrick Lamar

“24K Magic,” Bruno Mars

SHOULD WIN “The Story of O.J.” Jay-Z’s layered tale about race in America and how inequalities can be changed is simply an amazing bit of songwriting.

WILL WIN “Humble.” Kendrick Lamar’s anthem truly had the broadest impact, taking over the mainstream with his fierce hip-hop message and advice to “Sit down. Be humble.”

 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

“Awaken, My Love!,” Childish Gambino

“4:44,” Jay-Z

“Damn.,” Kendrick Lamar

“Melodrama,” Lorde

“24K Magic,” Bruno Mars

SHOULD WIN “Damn.” Lamar’s fierce, fiery rhymes succeed with both style and substance, showing how potent hip-hop can be as an art form.

WILL WIN “Melodrama.” Lorde’s album is potent and well-crafted and should take the award due to the power of her major label and the hip-hop and R&B vote getting split among the other four contenders.

 

SONG OF THE YEAR

“Despacito,” Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber

“4:44,” Jay-Z

“Issues,” Julia Michaels

“1-800-273-8255,” Logic featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid

“That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars

SHOULD WIN “4:44.” Jay-Z’s poignant apology is impressive on its own, but it’s all the more stunning considering how he is confessing to issues in one of the world’s most famous relationships.

WILL WIN “Despacito.” Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee dominated the airwaves and the pop charts for more than four months, with an assist from Justin Bieber. Its success should give them the edge in a wide-open category.

 

BEST NEW ARTIST

Alessia Cara

Khalid

Lil Uzi Vert

Julia Michaels

SZA

SHOULD WIN Khalid. The teenage R&B sensation sings of his generation in its own terms, talking of love in “Location” and limited prospects in “Young, Dumb and Broke.”

WILL WIN Cara. The 22-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter has put out one memorable song after another, starting with her own anthem “Here” and teaming with everyone from Zedd to Logic.

 

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

“Kaleidoscope EP,” Coldplay

“Lust for Life,” Lana Del Rey

“Evolve,” Imagine Dragons

“Rainbow,” Kesha

“Joanne,” Lady Gaga

“÷ (Divide),” Ed Sheeran

SHOULD WIN “Rainbow.” Kesha put her well-publicized struggles behind her with a powerful collection of songs that are memorable, yet still tell her story.

WILL WIN “÷ (Divide).” Ed Sheeran’s album was 2017’s most popular album, packed with one hit after another, and this category is where he gets his reward.

 

BEST ROCK ALBUM

“Emperor of Sand,” Mastodon

“Hardwired . . . To Self-Destruct,” Metallica

“The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” Nothing More

“Villains,” Queens of the Stone Age

“A Deeper Understanding,” The War on Drugs

SHOULD WIN “Villains.” The Queens’ raucous album may have given Metallica a run for its money, but frontman Josh Homme’s inexcusable stage antics squashed any momentum the band may have had.

WILL WIN “Hardwired . . . To Self-Destruct.” When Metallica gives its fans the kind of rock they love, the band gets a Grammy.

 

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

“Everything Now,” Arcade Fire

“Humanz,” Gorillaz

“American Dream,” LCD Soundsystem

“Pure Comedy,” Father John Misty

“Sleep Well Beast,” The National

SHOULD WIN “Everything Now.” Arcade Fire’s timely tale of consumerism and its failures was elegantly constructed to capture emptiness in songs like “We Don’t Deserve Love.”

WILL WIN “American Dream.” Grammy voters love a comeback and LCD Soundsystem’s powerful return from retirement should bring them a win.

 

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

“Free 6LACK,” 6LACK

“Awaken, My Love!,” Childish Gambino

“American Teen,” Khalid

“Ctrl,” SZA

“Starboy,” The Weeknd

SHOULD WIN “American Teen.” Khalid’s R&B-fueled brand of teen angst will long be remembered.

WILL WIN “Awaken, My Love!” Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover landed six nominations for his ambitious R&B and this is the category where that will pay off for him.

 

BEST R&B ALBUM

“Freudian,” Daniel Caesar

“Let Love Rule,” Ledisi

“24K Magic,” Bruno Mars

“Gumbo,” PJ Morton

“Feel the Real,” Musiq Soulchild

SHOULD WIN “Let Love Rule.” Ledisi shows how wide the R&B spectrum can be, from classic soul to hip-hop edginess, while also creating protest music like “Shot Down.”

WILL WIN “24K Magic.” Bruno Mars likely has this category all sewn up for his love letter to ’90s-styled R&B.

 

BEST RAP ALBUM

“4:44,” Jay-Z

“Damn.,” Kendrick Lamar

“Culture,” Migos

“Laila’s Wisdom,” Rapsody

“Flower Boy,” Tyler, The Creator

SHOULD WIN “Damn.” It may seem like a battle between old-school Jay-Z and the new generation of K.Dot, but hip-hop heads are pretty unanimous in honoring his accomplishment on this album.

WILL WIN “Damn.”

 

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

“Cosmic Hallelujah,” Kenny Chesney

“Heart Break,” Lady Antebellum

“The Breaker,” Little Big Town

“Life Changes,” Thomas Rhett

“From a Room: Vol. 1,” Chris Stapleton

SHOULD WIN “From a Room: Vol. 1.” Chris Stapleton’s loving tribute to classic country is a surefire Grammy favorite, a young artist paying tribute to his elders.

WILL WIN “From a Room: Vol. 1.”

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