Rone's Mega Blog Breaking Down Who Should Win Every Grammy This Year

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For the last couple of years I have tried to listen to every piece of music that has been nominated for a Grammy. It gives me something to do on the commute and broadens my frame of reference, which at times I need for my rusty ole’ brain after cramming useless sports takes and obscure stats into it for months at a time

This year, I decided to put some of those opinions out in the world, while being fully aware it doesn’t matter at all and that no one cares. But at the same time, I better write about them, because otherwise I just jammed all this shit into my head for no reason other than sniffing my own farts to feel cultured.

So without further ado, my picks on the Grammys. I only did categories where I listened to everything, so I can give a realistic and decently-reasoned analysis on who I think should or will win.


Record Of The Year
Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) and mastering engineer(s), if other than the artist.

  • I LIKE IT – Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin
  • THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile
  • THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino
  • GOD’S PLAN – Drake
  • SHALLOW – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
  • ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar & SZA
  • ROCKSTAR – Post Malone Featuring 21 Savage
  • THE MIDDLE – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey

This award, leading towards production rather than exclusively songwriting, goes to Gambino. The song is such a clean tour through multiple genres/styles, was a big enough track to capture the nation and it is busy enough production-wise to fully deserve the award. Songs like Shallow and The Joke, while beautiful, are more bare bones samplings than the quickly-switching “This Is America.” The only blemish on the record of the record is the proximity to the song American Pharaoh by Jase Harley. Is it too close to preclude it from winning Record of the Year? You tell me.

Album Of The Year
Award to Artist(s) and to Featured Artist(s), Songwriter(s) of new material, Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s), Mixer(s) and Mastering Engineer(s) credited with at least 33% playing time of the album, if other than Artist.

  • BY THE WAY, I FORGIVE YOU – Brandi Carlile
  • SCORPION – Drake
  • H.E.R. – H.E.R.
  • BEERBONGS & BENTLEYS – Post Malone
  • DIRTY COMPUTER – Janelle Monáe
  • GOLDEN HOUR – Kacey Musgraves

Brandi Carlile might not be on the casual listener’s radar, but her album is a gut-wrenching, goosebump-raising, tear-jerking tour of hard living and honest storytelling. Cardi B’s album, for example, is full of hits, but doesn’t have the depth and cohesion that By The Way, I Forgive You has. Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe starts strong, but the comprehensive package that Carlile put out makes her the underdog winner here.

Song Of The Year
A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

  • ALL THE STARS -Kendrick Duckworth, Solána Rowe, Al Shuckburgh, Mark Spears & Anthony Tiffith, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar & SZA)
  • BOO’D UP – Larrance Dopson, Joelle James, Ella Mai & Dijon McFarlane, songwriters (Ella Mai)
  • GOD’S PLAN – Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels & Noah Shebib, songwriters (Drake)
  • IN MY BLOOD – Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris, Shawn Mendes & Geoffrey Warburton, songwriters (Shawn Mendes)
  • THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth & Tim Hanseroth, songwriters (Brandi Carlile)
  • THE MIDDLE – Sarah Aarons, Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Michael Trewartha & Anton Zaslavski, songwriters (Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey)
  • SHALLOW – Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper)
  • THIS IS AMERICA – Donald Glover, Ludwig Goransson & Jeffery Lamar Williams, songwriters (Childish Gambino)

As much as I wanted to give the song to Teddy Geiger for the hit they penned for Shawn Mendes, this has to go to Shallow. Teddy Geiger, who brought us hits like Confidence and These Walls in the early aughts, has recently undergone hormone replacement to become a woman, penned an absolute banger of a song, but the award has to go to Gaga and Mark Ronson. Even without seeing the A Star Is Born, the poetry of the song, timelessly reimagined, speaks for itself.

Best New Artist

An artist will be considered for Best New Artist if their eligibility year release/s achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape.

  • H.E.R.

To me, this is a three person race. Despite the massive streaming numbers from the likes of H.E.R. and early Young and Happy guest Luke Combs, I strongly believe this comes down to Greta Van Fleet vs. Dua Lipa vs. Bebe Rexha. Greta Van Fleet drew the ire of the disgruntled failed rocker crowd this year, which might be enough to knock them off of their assumed pedestal. Dua Lipa and Bebe Rexha, meanwhile, both benefitted from early features that catapulted their stardom. Lipa featured with Calvin Harris and Diplo, while Rexha featured with Florida Georgia Line and G-Eazy. At the end of the day, Lipa’s impact is undeniable.

Best Pop Solo Performance
For new vocal or instrumental pop recordings. Singles or Tracks only.

  • COLORS – Beck
  • HAVANA (LIVE) – Camila Cabello 
  • GOD IS A WOMAN – Ariana Grande
  • BETTER NOW – Post Malone

I might be in the minority, but I liked Joanne better than Lady Gaga’s entire suite from A Star Is Born. I found it an honest and touching tale about her aunt’s battle with lupus, which was only made better watching her documentary where she shares the song with her grandmother live. And while the song is more touching than the presumptive winner, the award has to go to Havana by Camila Cabello. As much as that song has been beaten to death by every boat party south of Miami, the live version of the song is undeniable. She gives a beautiful, in control, nuanced performance, which is even more perfect because it went down live.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
For new vocal or instrumental duo/group or collaborative pop recordings. Singles or Tracks only.

  • FALL IN LINE – Christina Aguilera Featuring Demi Lovato
  • DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART – Backstreet Boys
  • ‘S WONDERFUL – Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
  • SHALLOW – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
  • GIRLS LIKE YOU – Maroon 5 Featuring Cardi B
  • SAY SOMETHING – Justin Timberlake Featuring Chris Stapleton
  • THE MIDDLE – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey

I would love to give this to Maren Morris, because The Middle is a banger and a pure performance, but this Grammy cycle seems like it’s all pointing towards a Gaga-Cooper sweep. In complete honesty, I don’t think that Bradley Cooper holds up to his half of the bargain from a vocal standpoint. Acting-wise, they obviously have majestic chemistry, but Cooper isn’t exactly Andrea Bocelli out there. Still, the pull of the tide feels too strong, Cooper is gonna get his hardware.

Best Pop Vocal Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal pop recordings.

  • CAMILA – Camila Cabello
  • MEANING OF LIFE – Kelly Clarkson
  • SWEETENER – Ariana Grande
  • SHAWN MENDES – Shawn Mendes 
  • REPUTATION – Taylor Swift

Shawn Mendes has been cranking out hits for a couple years now and the time is ripe for him to bring home some hardware. Ariana Grande has had a ton of steam as of late, but her best song thank u, next, wasn’t even on the album. Reputation didn’t have the steam of Taylor Swift’s other recent offerings, making it a runaway for the only male in the field. In My Blood is better than anything else in this field, and the rest of the album holds up behind it, making for an easy win.

Best Rock Performance
For new vocal or instrumental solo, duo/group or collaborative rock recordings.

  • FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys
  • WHEN BAD DOES GOOD – Chris Cornell
  • HIGHWAY TUNE – Greta Van Fleet
  • UNCOMFORTABLE – Halestorm

Despite the reductive criticism of Greta Van Fleet’s half-baked image or overly-referential style, do yourself and listen to the songs nominated. Van Fleet’s track is by far the most interesting to listen to, the most exciting and the worthy winner here. If Greta channels Led Zepplin, then shouldn’t The Fever 333 be docked equally for channeling Limp Bizkit? They’ve reached a level where it seems as if critics feel they need to bring them down a peg. Uncomfortable by Halestorm is a badass high-wire act of a banger and the late Chris Cornell is a legend, Greta Van Fleet has owned the year. If only they were uglier.

Best Rock Album

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new rock, hard rock or metal recordings.

  • RAINIER FOG – Alice In Chains
  • M A N I A – Fall Out Boy
  • PREQUELLE – Ghost
  • FROM THE FIRES – Greta Van Fleet


Checking in here for what probably won’t be the most surprising selection from me, as I’ve been pretty outspoken about my love for one of the nominated artists since they’ve had just four songs to their catalogue, but I have done the chore of listening to all of these nominated albums, and am happy to provide some input on ‘em for my pal Rone.
While Ghost is probably the most beloved and rallied-behind group from the hardcore rock community right now (considering Alice In Chains is in their post-Layne era), they’ve never really done it for me, and 2018’s ‘Prequelle was no different. I respect the theatrics associated with the band and the overall image frontman Tobias Forge has built, especially as someone raised on KISS, but the music itself always has always just felt so damn bland to me. If you curated the most generic prog-rock-metal possible to fit onto the DVD main menu of a straight-to-video horror flick, it’d be this album.
Speaking of Alice In Chains, I enjoyed the most recent outing, ‘Rainier Fog’, thoroughly, and more than I have any record from them following the death of singer Layne Staley in 1998. It’ll never be the same without him, obviously, but William DuVall’s got some serious chops, and the band behind him is playing as good as they ever have been; most notably, in my opinion: bassist Mike Inez, who brings back AIC’s signature “crunch” with a vengeance throughout. Highlights are ‘Drone’, ‘Red Giant’, and ‘Never Fade’ for me, but front to back, it’s just nice to hear some truly old school Alice In Chains vibes.
Fall Out Boy getting a nod for ‘M A N I A’ is bittersweet, because I’m as high on stuff like ‘From Under The Cork Tree’, ‘Take This To Your Grave’, ‘Infinity On High’, and (possibly most of all) their 2013 comeback album, ‘Save Rock N Roll’, as anybody could possibly be, but this is…it’s just not great. Annnnnd it’s also an piece of work that doesn’t resemble ‘rock’ in the slightest. It’s very uniquely experimental-pop, and an undeniable improvement over ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’, but aside from the title track and a handful of the other singles, this one doesn’t hold up on repeat listens. I really wish it did, because I bought into the hype more than anybody, but eventually I gotta be honest with myself and just admit it. ‘M A N I A’ sorta stinks.
Fall Out Boy’s Lake Effect Kid’ EP released later in the year is a much more familiar return to form, and is worth infinity more of your listening time, if only for the title track which is actually an unused demo from 2008.
‘Pacific Daydream’ from Weezer is another record who’s sound is nowhere near what I’d consider to fit into the genre of ‘rock’, and mostly just sounds all the same, front to back. It’s fine for what it is, I suppose, but I can’t imagine listening to this more than once, willingly. Just throw on ‘Pinkerton’ or ‘The Blue Album’ and call it a day. Sorry Rivers.
Finally, ‘From The Fires’, Greta Van Fleet’s second official EP, is what I’d consider to be a near-flawless debut for what these young rockers set out to accomplish. From Josh Kiszka’s powerful, piercing vocals, to Jake and Sam Kiszka’s bluesy riffs and grooves, all the way to Danny Wagner’s ever-improving, classic rock-epitomizing drumming, the chemistry between the band is palpable through each and every tune on this record. I know the band has their haters and doubters, and plenty of ‘em, but I couldn’t name a successful rock n’ roll band who didn’t at the start of their career.
From what I’ve seen, Greta’s facing literally the exact same criticisms, comparisons, and battles with journalists that ‘RUSH’ did when opening up for KISS in early ’75 on the ‘Fly By Night’ tour, which undoubtably helped them in the long run, leading them to venture out of their comfort zones and evolve into one of the greatest rock n’ roll bands of all time, and I believe the same is possible for GVF. Well – the venturing out and evolving, not becoming one of the greatest rock n’ roll bands of all time. I love ‘em, and I suppose that’s possible, but let’s not get carried away here. After their first full-length, ‘Anthem Of The Peaceful Army’, dropped this past October, and I got the chance to see them live the following month, I couldn’t be more in on Greta Van Fleet, and more excited to be on the right side of history regarding ‘em.
Are they derivative of Led Zeppelin? Obviously. That ain’t the worst band to be constantly compared to, though, especially after just one record, and with an entire career in front of you.
‘From The Fires’ is the clear cut ‘Best Rock Album of the Year’ for my money. Highlights include: ‘Safari Song’, ‘Highway Tune’, ‘Black Smoke Rising’, and ‘Flower Power’.

Best Dance Recording
For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances. Vocal or Instrumental. Singles or tracks only.

  • NORTHERN SOUL – Above & Beyond Featuring Richard Bedford
  • ULTIMATUM – Disclosure (Featuring Fatoumata Diawara)
  • LOSING IT – Fisher
  • ELECTRICITY – Silk City & Dua Lipa Featuring Diplo & Mark Ronson
  • GHOST VOICES – Virtual Self

Losing It by Fisher is a brown-noise-inducing adrenaline shot and Northern Soul by Above & Beyond is a sweat-drenched fist pump distilled to the purest form, but Electricity is the winner here. Ronson, Diplo and Lipa are the perfect storm of a drag show cat walk anthem. Also, Silk City is the name of the diner next to the studio where I got my start recording. That proved that Diplo and Ronson were destined for greatness.

Best R&B Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

  • BOO’D UP – (Ella Mai)
  • COME THROUGH AND CHILL – (Miguel Featuring J. Cole & Salaam Remi)
  • FEELS LIKE SUMMER – (Childish Gambino)
  • FOCUS – (H.E.R.)
  • LONG AS I LIVE – (Toni Braxton)

It feels shitty to leave out H.E.R. in yet another category, but here we are. Come Through and Chill is a sultry banger that proves that every time Miguel and J. Cole link, someone is getting pregnant. But Boo’d Up, especially for a songwriters award, has to be the call. The masterful use of the term Boo’d Up in the literal sense of the phrase, but to also turn it into a scatting, rhythmic background of the hook of the song is enough alone to win the award. It is such a master stroke of songwriting, as if Louis Armstrong’s scatting was all a double entendre for some sensical sentences. I don’t know if there’s a literary term for what she’s doing, but there should be. (P.S. I talked to PFT, KMarko and Francis, some of the greatest grammar minds in the office, about what this is, and we decided it is closest to a homonym. It’s not exactly a double entendre, because one case is a meaning of the word and one case is the usage of the word as a sound, not a meaning. The fact that no one could nail it down made what Ella Mai was doing even more impressive.)

Best Rap Performance

For a Rap performance. Singles or Tracks only.

  • BE CAREFUL – Cardi B
  • NICE FOR WHAT – Drake
  • KING’S DEAD – Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake
  • BUBBLIN – Anderson .Paak
  • SICKO MODE – Travis Scott, Drake, (Big Hawk) & Swae Lee

Cardi is not getting shut out on Grammy night. The stories are now legendary of how obsessively she recorded and re-recorded the songs on the album and her performance and presence is so powerful that she deserves some shine on a meteoric year. Drake has a legitimate claim to the award, whether it be through Nice For What or Sicko Mode. If either of those win, no one can argue. The tales that Drake submitted the song just hours before the deadline would add to a legendary win, mixed with the obvious undertones that he fucked Kim K. Still Cardi had too big of a year to be ignored.

Best Rap/Sung Performance
For a solo or collaborative performance containing both elements of R&B melodies and Rap.

  • LIKE I DO – Christina Aguilera Featuring Goldlink
  • PRETTY LITTLE FEARS – 6lack Featuring J. Cole
  • THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino
  • ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar & SZA
  • ROCKSTAR – Post Malone Featuring 21 Savage

It seems a little incongruous that someone who sings and raps on their own song should win this award, but This Is America should be the winner here. Largely that comes from a weak field. Is Christina Aguilera really going to win best rap/sung performance? Or will Rockstar? The song is fine, but every rapper on their ascent to fame, has proclaimed they’re not actually a rapper but a rock star. It’s trite to say the least. Maybe 21 Savage wins from an overseas cell? But This Is America saw enough of the spotlight and is deep enough of a hit to win in a highly charged climate.

Best Rap Song
A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

  • GOD’S PLAN – (Drake)
  • KING’S DEAD – (Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake)
  • LUCKY YOU – (Eminem Featuring Joyner Lucas)
  • SICKO MODE – (Travis Scott, Drake, (Big Hawk) & Swae Lee)
  • WIN – (Jay Rock)

Ironically I think Nice For What should be nominated here instead of God’s Plan, but the award still goes to Drake. Lucky You is a tornado of words, and it speaks volume that Jay Rock has two nominations after putting out an underrated album this year, but his two nominations don’t quite equal up to the two from Drake. Sicko Mode was a cultural moment but God’s Plan has a little more depth and the added wrinkle of the storyline about Drake’s producer 40 having MS. It’s a deserved, emotional win.

Best Rap Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new rap recordings.

  • SWIMMING – Mac Miller
  • VICTORY LAP – Nipsey Hussle
  • DAYTONA – Pusha T
  • ASTROWORLD – Travis Scott

Damn man. It really breaks my heart that Mac Miller isn’t going to win this award. Swimming was such a beautiful album and a generous introspection to his pain. He had grown so much as an artist, which made his untimely passing this summer exponentially more sad. Cardi B was just too much of a beast this year. Her album was so thick with hits, she drew in multiple genres and flexed her clout though massive features. She owned the internet and paired that with a suite of songs that were everywhere. A round of applause for the award’s first female winner.

 Best Country Solo Performance
For new vocal or instrumental solo country recordings.

  • WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT? – Loretta Lynn
  • BUTTERFLIES – Kacey Musgraves
  • MILLIONAIRE – Chris Stapleton
  • PARALLEL LINE – Keith Urban

Chris Stapleton is such a badass. Shit, so is Loretta Lynn, but Stapleton should own this category. Musgraves and Morris are the bubbly new stars of the genre, but Stapleton makes even a song about the preciousness of love smell like cowhide, Jim Beam and cowboy killers. His forays into pop with Justin Timberlake have come across a bit rudderless, but when he is in his wheelhouse producing country hits that come from his gnarled heart, he is one of the best to ever do what he’s doing.

Best Country Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new country recordings.

  • UNAPOLOGETICALLY – Kelsea Ballerini
  • PORT SAINT JOE – Brothers Osborne
  • GIRL GOING NOWHERE – Ashley McBryde
  • GOLDEN HOUR – Kacey Musgraves
  • FROM A ROOM: VOLUME 2 – Chris Stapleton

You already know where I’m going here. Stapleton delivered an almost-perfect project, the second installment from his From A Room series. Brothers Osborne brought some of the same grit on Port Saint Joe, but the quality of Stapleton’s miraculous voice and the depth and multifaceted dimensions of his songwriting take the cake over here. Space Cowboy by Kacey Musgraves is a shining moment off of Golden Hour but it feels a little like she needs to do a little more livin’. McBryde’s Girl Going Nowhere might not have been mainstream enough to get a serious look and Ballerini might have gone a little too pop production-wise to be able to compete with the raw tour de force of Stapleton.

Best Music Video
Award to the artist, video director, and video producer.

  • APES*** – The Carters
  • THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino
  • I’M NOT RACIST – Joyner Lucas
  • PYNK –  Janelle Monáe
  • MUMBO JUMBO – Tierra Whack 

This Is America will probably win. It got way more publicity this year, and was a nuanced, layered, highly referential video that was designed to win this category. Joyner Lucas’s I’m Not A Racist was a big internet moment too, and a shocking video, but it kind of made an argument about racism that didn’t hold water. The really winner should, should, be Tierra Whack. Now that is a music video. Her whole album was condensed into minute-long genre-bending hairpin turns that work beautifully as an album, but make sense on a whole new level once the video aspect is introduced. It has redefined how much an artist can do with a music video, and the relative unknown from Philly deserves this award. Here’s the whole album as a video.

70. Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical
A Producer’s Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses.)

  • BOI-1DA

  • Be Careful (Cardi B) (T)
• Diplomatic Immunity (Drake) (S)
• Friends (The Carters) (T)
• God’s Plan (Drake) (S)
• Heard About Us (The Carters) (T)
• Lucky You (Eminem Featuring Joyner Lucas) (T)
• Mob Ties (Drake) (T)
• No Limit (G-Eazy Featuring A$AP Rocky & Cardi B) (S)


  • All These Things (Thomas Dybdahl) (S)
• Anthem (Madeleine Peyroux) (A)
• The Book Of Longing (Luciana Souza) (A)
• Can I Have It All (Thomas Dybdahl) (S)
• Junk (Hailey Tuck) (A)
• Look At What We’ve Done (Thomas Dybdahl) (S)
• Meaning To Tell Ya (Molly Johnson) (A)


  • Harder Better Faster Stronger (Willa Amai) (S)
• Served Like A Girl (Music From And Inspired By The Documentary Film) (Various Artists) (A)
• 28 Days In The Valley (Dorothy) (A)


  • Daytona (Pusha T) (A)
• Kids See Ghosts (Kids See Ghosts) (A)
• K.T.S.E. (Teyana Taylor) (A)
• Nasir (Nas) (A)
• Ye (Kanye West) (A)


  • Apes*** (The Carters) (T)
• Man Of The Woods (Justin Timberlake) (A)
• No One Ever Really Dies (N.E.R.D) (A)
• Stir Fry (Migos) (T)
• Sweetener (Ariana Grande) (A)

Kanye is gonna really want this, but nope. It’s rumored that Stir Fry and Ape Shit were recorded back to back by Pharrell with the Migos, which would be a pretty hot streak, but those songs alone don’t do it. Same for Larry Klein, who I’m sure did some great work with Thomas Dybdhal, Hailey Tuck etc., but not enough people heard all that. I didn’t even know about them til I started doing research for this. Ditto Linda Perry. Boy-1da, meanwhile was all over every chart. Be Careful by Cardi B was nominated. God’s Plan by Drake was nominated. Lucky You by Eminem was nominated. The Carters were nominated for their whole project. It’s just a 1da that one man made all that music.

And this marks the end of my four days of writing about music. At this point I am completely tired of listening to music. Even more so, I am tired of poring over songs, thinking “is this one better than this other one?” If you made it to the end of these 4,000 words I hope you found some value, but it’s also a good time to remember that music is an art form, and thus completely subjective, so the idea that there is an award show for this in the first place undercuts the creative value and true artistic merit of these works. Thank you.