On Tuesday (June 26), Billboard broke the news that the Grammys would be expanding the fields their big four categories — album the year, song the year, record the year and best new artist — from five nominees to eight. According to Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow, the decision was made to create “more opportunities for a wider-range recognition in these important categories and gives more flexibility to our voters when having to make the ten challenging decisions about representing excellence and the best in music for the year.”
With this policy change, it seems like a good time to take a look at some the artists who might end up being beneficiaries the expanded nomination pools at the 2019 Grammys. The eligibility period for the upcoming ceremonies isn't over yet, course, but with the cutf coming three months from now on Sept. 30, we're already 3/4 the way through the Grammy year. And unlike last year's ceremonies, where a couple clear frontrunners had already emerged by this point in Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran, the big categories seem fairly open in 2018 — especially since there's now eight slots to fill in each.
It's too early to do a proper Grammy preview, but with three months to go (and three extra slots to occupy), here's eight artists who currently look likely to factor prominently in the Grammys' big four next February.
Still around and still busy after a historically productive 2017, Kendrick Lamar should still be a heavy presence in next year's awards. He might not see his own name in the album the year category, but the Black Panther soundtrack that he executive produced and appeared on every track was a commercial and critical triumph and may end up being a Grammy favorite. (Soundtracks have been absent in AOTY for most the millennium, but they did score a win in '02 the O Brother, Where Art Thou? OST and were a fairly recurring presence in the category in the decades prior.) He could also factor into album or song the year the set's smash lead single “All the Stars” — a collab with fellow recent multi-category nominee SZA.
Kacey Musgraves is no stranger to Grammy glory, having won both best country album for her debut LP, 2013's Same Trailer Different Park, and best country song for the record's lead single, “Merry Go Round.” But while both Trailer and follow up Pageant Material were recognized in the country categories, rapturously received third album Golden Hour could see her cross over to the album the year category for the first time, as her most pop-leaning and most mainstream-acclaimed set to date. (Musgraves visited the big four once before, as a best new artist nominee in 2014, but lost to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.)
Reputation might have gotten something a mixed reception critically and commercially, but Taylor Swift remains in a Grammy class by herself. (Well, not counting Adele, who hasn't released a second's worth music this year.) The two-time album the year winner has to be considered a likely nominee at the least for her latest LP, and don't count out a couple its singles — particularly the slow-burning “Delicate,” which has surreptitiously grown into one the year's bigger radio hits — for the song or record the year categories, either.
That's Beyoncé and JAY-Z, in case you haven't gotten used to referring to the star couple by their familial duo name. We've already covered the case their surprise June drop Everything Is Love has for album the year — and why it might even be in the awards' best interest to do whatever they can to make sure they're so awarded. But suffice to say, whether or not the superteaming is recognized in the Grammys' marquee category (where neither artist involved has ever gone home a winner), the duo will almost certainly be one the most closely monitored subplots this year's nominees.
The prile multi-platform star Janelle Monáe increases with each successive album hers, and this year's Dirty Computer earned her not only some her strongest reviews to date, but her best first-week sales numbers as well, and even her first No. 1 debut on Billboard's Top R&B Albums chart. Aside from Monáe's own singular presence, the Grammy clout the album (and its hit single “Make Me Feel”) may also benefit from the involvement her predecessor in genre- and gender-bending electro-funk, the late Prince Rogers Nelson — a two-time album the year nominee at the Grammys in the '80s.
Eight slots may or may not be enough for Camila Cabello's understated debut LP, Camila — one 2018's most delightful pop releases and a Billboard 200-topper — to get the newly minted solo star an album the year nod in her first time out. But both the set's advance single, the Young Thug-featuring and Hot 100-besting “Havana,” and top ten-charting followup “Never Be the Same” could figure into the song the year and album the year races, and Cabello herself is about as sure a bet as they come for recognition in the best new artist category.
As with Cabello, ascendant pop singer-songwriter Dua Lipa might be a little too new on the scene for the prestige the album the year category — and in fact, as a June 2017 release, her self-titled debut album is almost certainly ineligible for the honors anyway. However, the set's sparkling singles could elbow their way into the song and record the year category, particularly the viral radio smash “New Rules” — and Lipa seems practically a shoo-in to grab one the eight best new artist slots.
We won't be able to properly size up the chances his Scorpion album to earn an album the year nomination until the set sees release in two days, but given Drake's stratospheric success thusfar in 2018 — including a combined 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 with his “God's Plan” and “Nice for What” singles, both which should also be Grammy contenders in their own right — it certainly seems likely he could slide into one those eight slots. (Especially given how even Drake's much-maligned Views LP was still too big for the Grammys to ignore in their marquee category two years earlier.) But course, it'll depend on if he even submits Scorpion for Grammy consideration, something he didn't see fit to do for “playlist” set More Life last year.