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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 24, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 47
GRAMMYS 2018: The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Lady GaGa, Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran are big contenders going into nominations announcement
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GRAMMYS 2018: The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Lady GaGa, Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran are big contenders going into nominations announcement

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

I still haven't forgiven the Recording Academy for giving Adele's 25 the Album of the Year award over Beyonce's Lemonade earlier this year. Come to think of it, I'm still bitter that Beck's Odelay lost to Celine Dion's Falling Into You back in 1997; that was criminal. But we're talking about the Grammys, which only get it right sometimes. That said, we're on the brink of finding out who'll be in the running for 2018's honors with the nominations set for a November 28 announcement.

Because the twelve-month eligibility period stretches back to last fall, October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017 to be exact, recordings that came out a year ago, such as The Weeknd's 'Starboy', Bruno Mars' 24K Magic and Lady GaGa's Joanne and are up for consideration this year. Expect these three performers to dominate the major categories, aside from the pop, R&B and music video fields. They'll be joined by artists who did release songs and albums in 2017, like Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift (her single 'Look What You Made Me Do' made the cutoff).

The Grammy Awards will return to New York City for the first time in 15 years with the ceremony scheduled for January 28. Here's who and what I think will be nominated in the top categories going into next Tuesday's announcement.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
There's always a rap album in the running for this coveted award, but sadly the genre has only captured it twice - 1999's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and 2004's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Perhaps the third time is a charm for Kendrick Lamar, who is 0 for 2 in this category and likely going to be nominated again for Damn, though I wouldn't bet on him winning. It seems odd to ignore a mega-selling album such as 24K Magic, so I think Bruno Mars is definitely getting in. The Grammys love Ed Sheeran and therefore he's practically a shoo-in with his latest album, Divide. For the token country nominee, the best bet is Miranda Lambert, who garnered commercial and critical success for her newest record, The Weight of These Wings. Joanne isn't a perfect album, but it's a much better effort than Katy Perry's microwaved electro-pop tracks on Witness, which also could sneak in. From the rock field, Imagine Dragons is probably the most expected to nab an AOTY nomination for Evolve, an album that features the blockbuster single 'Believer.' Another contender is Pink, who has never been in the running for this award; her new album Beautiful Trauma might just surprise this time around. And then there's The Weeknd, whose third studio album Starboy earned him superstar status; it seems obvious to include him in this elite bunch as well. But you won't see Drake nominated for AOTY, as he didn't submit More Life - one of 2017's top selling releases - for consideration; he's not interested in the Grammys, and I don't blame him.

Likely nominees:
Damn. - Kendrick Lamar
24K Magic - Bruno Mars
Divide - Ed Sheeran
Evolve - Imagine Dragons
Starboy - The Weeknd

Possible surprises:
Joanne - Lady GaGa
The Weight of These Wings - Miranda Lambert
You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen
Witness - Katy Perry
Triplicate - Bob Dylan
Gang Signs & Prayer - Stormzy
Back from the Edge - James Arthur
Adios - Glen Campbell
Everything Now - Arcade Fire
Melodrama - Lorde

RECORD OF THE YEAR
'Shape of You' is automatic, as is 'Starboy,' the title track from The Weeknd's #1 album. '24K Magic' isn't a sure thing, but it has a much better chance than a lot of other singles released between late 2016 and summer of 2017. Lady GaGa has an excellent shot at getting a nod here for 'Million Reasons,' a song she performed live during the Super Bowl Halftime Show. 'Believer' should get a nomination in this category, as should Logic's '1-800-273-8255' featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, a song centering on a gay teenager contemplating suicide. 'Look What You Made Me Do' is a contender and although it isn't one of Swift's best singles, the Recording Academy just adores her. An outside choice is the summer sizzler 'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi, but if it scores a nomination the question is which version Grammy voters will honor, the Spanish rendition featuring Daddy Yankee, or the English version with Justin Bieber, or both?

Likely nominees:
'Shape of You' - Ed Sheeran
'Starboy' - The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk
'24K Magic' - Bruno Mars
'Million Reasons' - Lady GaGa
'Believer' - Imagine Dragons

Possible surprises:
'Look What You Made Me Do' - Taylor Swift
'Despacito' - Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee and/or Justin Bieber
'1-800-273-8255' - Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid
'Feel It Still' - Portugal.The Man
'That's What I Like' - Bruno Mars
'Bon Apetit' - Katy Perry featuring Migos
'Redbone' - Childish Gambino
'Human' - Rag'N'Bone Man
'There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back' - Shawn Mendes
'New Rules' - Dua Lipa
'Bodak Yellow' - Cardi B
'Attention' - Charlie Puth
'Hard Times' - Paramore

SONG OF THE YEAR
This award goes to the songwriter vs. the artist for Record of the Year, and it honors the composItion of the song - lyrics, music, etc. In recent years, a lot more non-traditional numbers - hip hop, rock, EDM - have made the list, instead of the usual boring ballads. That said, at least one ballad is likely to slip in and it'll probably be 'Million Reasons,' which is actually a good song, so you'll get no complaints from me. 'Shape of You' and 'Starboy' appear to be sure bets, especially the former. Newcomer James Arthur is a near shoo-in with the smash hit 'Say You Won't Let Go.' If Grammy voters paid attention to the lyrics of Logic's hit, then I think we'll see it on the lineup, too. A couple of longshots are Miley Cyrus' 'Malibu' and Kesha's 'Praying.'

Likely nominees:
'Shape of You'
'Starboy'
'Million Reasons'
'Believer'
'Say You Won't Let Go'

Possible surprises:
'1-800-273-8255'
'24K Magic'
'Look What You Made Me Do'
'In Case You Didn't Know'
'That's What I Like'
'Redbone'
'There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back'
'Malibu'
'Praying'

BEST NEW ARTIST
James Arthur is the definite choice, although strangely I don't think he's the frontrunner. In the driver's seat is Bryson Tiller, another sure bet, unless for some odd reason he was declared ineligible. Royal Blood is probably going to get in. From the country field, Brett Young seems the obvious nominee. I'd love to see Dua Lipa take one of the five slots, and though Portugal.The Man have been around for a while, they didn't achieve broader success until recently with their mega smash 'Feel It Still.' Leave room for a complete longshot; in previous years, Grammy voters have plucked out lesser known acts, including Paramore, Skrillex and Anderson.Paak, from the hundreds of potential nominees.

Likely nominees:
James Arthur
Bryson Tiller
Royal Blood
Brett Young
Portugal.The Man

Possible surprises:
Dua Lipa
Rag'N'Bone Man
Cardi B
Lil Yachty
Zara Larsson

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
David Bowie won this award last year posthumously and another late legend, Leonard Cohen, is set to do it this year for his final album, You Want It Darker. Arcade Fire is respected enough to get another nomination, unless they were placed into the general rock field, which is a possibility. LCD Soundsystem, The National, The Killers, The War on Drugs, Portugal.The Man and previous winners Cage the Elegant are all contenders.

Likely nominees:
You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen
Sleep Well Beast - The National
A Deeper Understanding - The War on Drugs
Everything Now - Arcade Fire
Unpeeled - Cage the Elephant

Possible surprises:
American Dream - LCD Soundsystem
Wonderful Wonderful - The Killers
Pure Comedy - Father John Misty
Cry Cry Cry - Wolf Parade
Lotta Sea Lice - Courtney Barnett
Native Invader - Tori Amos

BEST POP VOCAL BY A DUO OR GROUP
The hardest thing about predicting who'll be nominated in this category is figuring out which recordings, those performed by an established band or a collaborative duet, are being placed in the pop field and not in either rock or rap. Portugal.The Man is automatic. If the English version of 'Despacito' was submitted here, then we'll see Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber score a nod. Maroon 5 has two opportunities to land a nomination with the singles 'Cold' featuring Future and 'What Lovers Do' featuring SZA. I heard through the grapevine that Haim didn't submit 'Want You Back' for consideration in this category, and if that's true they certainly missed out a potential nod, but I'm still counting them in. Coldplay and The Chainsmokers are contenders with 'Something Just Like This,' while Katy Perry has two chances with 'Bon Apetit' featuring Migos and 'Swish Swish' featuring Nicki Minaj.

Likely nominees:
'Feel It Still' - Portugal.The Man
'Something Just Like This' - The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
'What Lovers Do' - Maroon 5 featuring SZA
'Want You Back' - Haim
'Despacito' - Luis Fonsi featuring Justin Bieber

Possible surprises:
'Bon Apetit' - Katy Perry featuring Migos
'Swish Swish' - Katy Perry featuring Nicki Minaj
'Giants' - Take That
'Glorious' - Macklemore featuring Skylar Grey
'Meant to Be' - Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line

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