Hot Takes | Crave’s 2018 Grammy Awards Predictions

Photo: Christopher Polk (Getty Images)

It took six decades, but the Grammy Awards are finally WOKE. I’m exaggerating of course, but 2018’s Grammy nominations all but guarantees that a non-white performer will win at least one of the major awards, which finally accurately reflects the current music and cultural landscape. Progress takes time.  

Also: Best Albums of 2017… So Far

Just as Beyonce and Adele went head-to-head last year for many of the major awards, the 2018 Grammys will pit heavyweights JAY-Z (eight nods for his album “4:44,”) against Kendrick Lamar (who racked up seven nominations for “DAMN.”) 

The 60th annual awards will return to New York with a broadcast from Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28. I gave my hot takes on the main categories with my 2018 Grammy Award predictions in bold. 

Album of the Year

“Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino

“4:44” — Jay-Z

“Damn.” — Kendrick Lamar

“Melodrama” — Lorde

“24K Magic” — Bruno Mars

Hot Take: This is the equivalent of one of those old school, all-star WWF Battle Royal’s minus someone jumping off the top rope. The safe PG-13 Grammy pick would be Bruno Mars. Lorde would be applauded for flexing girl power, but not really deserved. Childish Gambino’s experimental “Awaken, My Love!” would be the trendy choice. The bravest pick and likely pick would be Kendrick Lamar’s incendiary Damn., but you couldn’t go wrong with JAY-Z’s “adulting” rap confessional which redefined him as rapper, husband, and father. 

Record of the Year:

“Redbone” — Childish Gambino

“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber

“The Story of O.J.” — Jay-Z

“Humble.” — Kendrick Lamar

”24K Magic” — Bruno Mars

Hot Take: “Despacito” and ”24K Magic” were the top pop songs of the year so one will probably win (I’m guessing “Despacito” because of it was a cultural ground-breaker and has star power in Justin Bieber. My choice would be Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” which never gets old and was featured in the movie of the year — “Get Out”.   

New Artist

Alessia Cara

Khalid 

Lil Uzi Vert

Julia Michaels

SZA

Hot Take: This unusually strong category is filled with new names that will be mainstays on the Grammy nominations for years to come. Not only are they pop stars, but are equally talented songwriters as well. SZA is the critical darling, while Lil Uzi Vert is the people’s choice, but my money would be on Julia Michaels, although I think Khalid is more deserving. 

Dance Recording

“Bambro Koyo Ganda” — Bonobo featuring Innov Gnawa

“Cola” — Camelphat & Elderbrook

“Andromeda” — Gorillaz featuring Dram

“Tonite” — LCD Soundsystem

“Line of Sight” — Odesza featuring Wynne & Mansionair

Hot Take: “Line of Sight” by Odesza featuring Wynne & Mansionair is the kind of kid-friendly (anyone under 25) song that usually wins here, but the exotic, worldly “Bambro Koyo Ganda”by Bonobo featuring Innov Gnawa would be an out-of-the-box choice, while I favor LCD Soundsystem’s “Tonite”. 

Dance/Electronic Album

“Migration” — Bonobo

“3-D the Catalogue” — Kraftwerk

“Mura Masa” — Mura Masa

“A Moment Apart” — Odesza

“What Now” — Sylvan Esso

Hot Take: My vote goes to Bonobo’s “Migration”, a globe-trotting music ear expedition that proves that world dance music can be universal. The Grammy’s could go for the iconic name brand (Kraftwerk) or the underground upstart Mura Masa, but I think and hope they will do the right thing and give it to Bonobo. 

Rock Album

“Emperor of Sand” — Mastodon

“Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” — Metallica

“The Stories We Tell Ourselves” — Nothing More

“Villains” — Queens of the Stone Age

“A Deeper Understanding” — the War on Drugs

Hot Take: RIP rock. I kid. Give it to “Villains”, at least Queens of the Stone Age tried to step out of their comfort zone. 

Alternative Music Album

“Everything Now” — Arcade Fire

“Humanz” — Gorillaz

“American Dream” – LCD Soundsystem 

“Pure Comedy” — Father John Misty

“Sleep Well Beast” — The National

Hot Take: Sorry, but I thought Gorillaz “Humanz” was the most disappointing album of the year. The National and Father John Misty are critical mainstays and so are Arcade Fire, who critics strangely fell out of love with on the unfairly derided “Everything Now”. That leaves middle-aged hipsters, LCD Soundsystem and their comeback album as the winner.

Urban Contemporary Album

“Free 6lack” — 6lack

“Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino

“American Teen” — Khalid

“Ctrl” — SZA

“Starboy” — the Weeknd

Hot Take: Weird worded category, but let’s give a nod to the instant classic “Awaken, My Love!” rather than “Starboy” which has the hits, but sounds like a vintage Michael Jackson album.

Rap Album

“4:44” — Jay-Z

“Damn.” — Kendrick Lamar

“Culture” — Migos

“Laila’s Wisdom” — Rapsody

“Flower Boy” — Tyler, the Creator

Hot Take: Again, it all comes down to JAY-Z and Kendrick. Can’t lose either way, but I’d say Kendrick wins out.

Rap Performance

“Bounce Back” — Big Sean

“Bodak Yellow” — Cardi B

“4:44” — Jay-Z

“Humble.” — Kendrick Lamar

“Bad and Boujee” — Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert

Hot Take: “Bad and Boujee” was the song of 2017. “Bodak Yellow” is the song right now. “Humble” is the song of a generation.