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2019 Grammy Watch: Album of the Year

Will Janelle Monae surprise Drake and Kendrick in the spotlight category?

CMN’s team of music writers is previewing the 2019 Grammy Awards. The 61st annual ceremony will take place Sunday, February 10 in Los Angeles. You can see all of our Grammy coverage here. 

Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy – Easily one of the best rap albums released in 2018, Cardi B has taken her place alongside Nicki Minaj as a rapper turned pop princess. Songs like the monumental crossover “I Like It,” as well as deep cuts like “Get Up 10” make Cardi’s debut album even more impressive.

Brandi Carlile By the Way I Forgive You – Carlile’s most recent outing is one of the greatest roots music albums to come out last year. Centered around the vocal main-stage “The Joke,” Carlile shows that she can put modern country artists to shame with her acoustic prowess. This is an underdog nomination but should not be counted out.

Drake: Scorpion – While certain tracks on Drake’s latest record were certainly innovative, the record does suffer from being just a touch over-inflated. While it’s easy to see why he received nominations for “God’s Plan” and the album scorcher “Nice For What,” some of the tracks do not hold up as well by comparison. 

H.E.R. s/t – Can’t say I saw this one coming. This compilation of H.E.R’s first few EPs hold up surprisingly well as some of the best R&B to be released in some time. Even though artists like Ariana Grande use R&B styles extremely well, H.E.R brings a certain authenticity to songs like “Avenue” and “Best Part,” the latter of which is one of the greatest slow jams in recent memory.

Post Malone: Beerbongs and Bentleys – While his name had been well-known up until this point, Post Malone had a banner year with the success of this record. Hits like “Rockstar” and “Better Now” got their just due, and deep cuts like “Zack and Codeine” and “Stay” prove that Malone is an act worth keeping your ear on.

Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer – With her most rent delve into Oscar nominated films, Monae could have easily continued making records as a vanity project. Instead, she used her new star power to experiment even further. The result was one of the most consistent records Monae has ever released, with pop sensibilities and socially relevant lyrics that keep you hanging on her every word.

Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour – While Musgraves is known primarily as a country artist, she confounded expectations by introducing more electronic and alternative elements into her latest record. The songs will make your heart ache more than on any other Musgraves record, highlighted by tracks like “Slow Burn,” “Love is Wild Thing,” and the soul-gripping power of the one-minute track “Mother.”  

Music from Black Panther – With the movie being such a world-wide smash, its accompanying soundtrack was no slouch either. Put together by Kendrick Lamar, the track listing is a who’s-who of hip-hop talent including SZA, Vince Staples, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, and many more. Lamar also positions these musicians to play to their absolute strengths on their respective tracks, including the pop smash “All the Stars,” the earth-shaking “King’s Dead,” and the anxiety-ridden meditation of closer “Pray for Me.”

Who Will Win:

Drake of Black Panther. Drake has star power and buzz, but Black Panther’s soundtrack could just as easily be chosen considering its notable collaborations.

Who Should Win:

Janelle Monae. Her eclectic mix of R&B, rock, and pop on this record is a amazing, especially considering her busy schedule over the past few years. She took every lesson that her musical mentor Prince had imparted unto her, and applied every one of them to create something truly spellbinding.

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