Grammys 2019: Who Will Win Song Of The Year?
With the music industry descending upon Los Angeles for the 2019 Grammy Awards on Sunday night (February 10), it’s time to fire up our crystal ball and make a couple of predictions. There isn’t a clear front-runner for Song Of The Year, but here is how I see the category unfolding.
“All The Stars” – Kendrick Lamar & SZA
“Boo’d Up” – Ella Mai
“God’s Plan” – Drake
“In My Blood” – Shawn Mendes
“The Joke” – Brandi Carlisle
“The Middle” – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
“Shallow” – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
“This Is America” – Childish Gambino
Let’s start by addressing one of the most-frequently asked questions about the Grammy Awards. Namely, what is the difference between Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year? Well, Record Of The Year honors outstanding work by the industry’s craftsman — in other words, the producers, mixers and engineers that make the song sound great. Song Of The Year, on the other hand, is geared towards songwriters. Who moved you with their lyrics? Who put a smile on your face with their booming choruses and catchy hooks?
The Recording Academy delivered an eclectic batch of nominees in 2019. It runs the gamut from chart-topping hip-hop (Drake’s “God’s Plan”) to tear-jerking singer/songwriter fare (Brandi Carlisle’s “The Joke”) and scathing political commentary (Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”). While there isn’t a clear favorite this year, a couple of the nominees are long shots. Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” was the breakout R&B anthem of 2018, but it feels a little lightweight, lyrically speaking, in comparison to songs like “This Is America” and “The Joke.”
The same goes for “The Middle.” Zedd’s unstoppable bop was one of my favorite songs of 2018, but it might have more luck in the Record Of The Year category. After all, that tune was more shaped by its perky production than songwriting nous. “In My Blood” is another outsider. Shawn Mendes’ soaring pop/rock anthem well and truly deserves to be here but its inclusion raised some eyebrows – particularly given the absence of bigger hits and pop culture moments like Beyonce & Jay-Z’s “APESHIT,” for example.
Who Will Win:
If commercial success determines the outcome (as it has in the past), then Drake will be taking home the award for “God’s Plan.” It was easily the biggest hit out of the eight nominees. However, we are living in politically-charged times, which gives Childish Gambino’s biting “This Is America” something of an edge. The song’s message is timely and important. Kendrick Lamar & SZA’s “All The Stars” is another track with a certain gravitas. Black Panther is rightly being championed as a watershed moment and the soundtrack definitely played a major role in the film’s massive success.
And then there’s “The Joke.” While Brandi Carlisle is the underdog in the category, she is a songwriter’s songwriter and the kind of craftswoman that voters love to get behind. She is long overdue for Grammy recognition, but only one song goes into the event with momentum on its side — Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow.” The ballad has commercial appeal (it’s currently number one on iTunes), critical acclaim (it won a Golden Globe and is nominated for an Academy Award) and the requisite exposure. Say what you like about Mother Monster, but she has been on a non-stop promo blitz since A Star Is Born first hit theaters in October.
Who Should Win:
This is really tough. “Shallow” feels like a career high for Gaga, so it would definitely be a worthy winner. However, “God’s Plan” is a once-in-a-decade smash hit and “The Joke” finds a much-loved veteran at the very height of her immense powers. If I had to vote, however, I would tick the box next to “This Is America.” Childish Gambino force fed us big issues at a time when most of the country is experiencing outrage fatigue. And that is to be commended.