[UPDATED] It's shaping up to be a very interesting year for the Grammy Awards, with the current crop of nominees (finally) among the most diverse ever. Jarrod Goldner of Music Audience Exchange offers his predictions for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be held this Sunday, January 28th. CBS will broadcast the show live from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
By Jarred Goldner, Director of Artist Relations at Music Audience Exchange (MAX)
The 60th Grammys have received significant buzz about the diversity of their nominations. Somewhat underplayed is Hypebot’s recent report that 55% of the 2018 Grammy Nominations went to indie artists. It’s interesting to watch the Grammys adapt to the new, democratized music industry shepherded by streaming. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, on the whole, it’s great to see the music industry celebrating music, artists, and fans in increasingly transparent forms. Here are my predictions for the the 60th Grammys:
Record of the Year
Despacito, to me, is the clear-cut favorite to win Record of the Year. It is a major hit at a time when Hispanic consumer segments are growing exponentially, and it's the first Hispanic song to be nominated for Record of the Year in more than ten years. Not only is the record fantastic, but the timing for its success and acclaim is perfect for where we are as a country.
Album of the Year
In a music industry that demands consistency, it is very rare to see an artist change their genre of music from one album to the next. Despite the growing success of his hip-hop albums and mixtapes, Childish Gambino completely shifted gears by putting out a psychedelic-soul / psychedelic-funk album. The music is constructed incredibly well, and the same innovation and boundary-pushing that has led Childish Gambino to critical success in movies and television will likely serve him well at the 60th Grammys on Sunday.
Song of the Year
1-800-273-8255 seems most likely to win the "Song of the Year" Grammy. Over the last two year period, teen suicide rates have doubled, reaching their highest point in the last 40 years. With the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline attributing record-high call volume to Logic's song, it's clear how impactful the writing has been and will continue to be. For a song to be so commercially successful and simultaneously have such a critical affect on culture is unprecedented, and the Grammy selection committee should recognize that.
Best New Artist
If someone in the music industry guessed at the beginning of 2017 who would be nominated for Best New Artist, there's a high likelihood that Alessia Cara, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels, or SZA would have been mentioned. However, Khalid came out of nowhere. While all of the artists nominated for this category broke out in major ways this year, Khalid's rise has been most surprising, and to me, that's the definition of best new artist.
Best Duo/Group Performance
With Despacito, we saw one of the most ubiquitous duo performances that this country has seen in a long time. A folk/country music venue could play the Latin hip-hop song between sets, and everyone in the audience would know the words. According to Nielsen, the music industry grew 11.1% in 2017, and Latin music specifically grew 26.9%. Considering not only this trend but the song's major mainstream popularity, the crossover collaboration seems highly likely to win the Best Duo/Group Performance Grammy.
Best Regional Mexican Album
Zapateando En El Norte is a variety album released by Azteca Records this year. Four of the artists featured on the compilation album are MAX alumni, including La Maquinaria Norteña (Ford), La Alianza Norteña (Ford and McDonald's) La Reunion Norteña (Dr Pepper and AutoZone) and Los Pescadores Del Rio Conchos (Ford and Coors Light). These artists have been phenomenal to work with, and I will be rooting for all of them on Sunday.
In other exciting news, we’ll also be rooting for PJ Morton and Le’Andria Johnson, two additional MAX alumni nominated for 2018 Grammys. A major congratulations to everyone nominated. Considering how Nielsen reported that the average American spent 37% more time listening to music in 2017 than they spent in 2015, the music industry is experiencing a very exciting upswing. In the next 12-18 months as streaming grows, more great music will continue to be produced and celebrated, and it will be interesting to see how the industry adapts to the increased adoption of voice-commands and smart devices in the home.