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.
While Record of the Year is the nomination that most Grammy fans clamor over, the most important nominee is the Song of the Year. This category reflects the power behind the composing team and the blood, sweat, and tears put into writing a timeless song. Here are the 2019 nominees:
Kendrick Lamar/SZA “All the Stars”– Black Panther was been one of the best soundtrack albums to come out last year, and this song is a big reason why. The chorus from SZA is one of the catchiest of last year, while keeping a broad outlook that gives the listener the impression of looking over a vast field in Wakanda.
Ella Mai “Boo’d Up” – This sleeper hit grows on you with each listen. Ella Mai’s voice has an experienced tone, and the track is extremely reminiscent of the R&B of the 1990s, without sounding too nostalgic. While it may not be innovative, it’s a song that sticks with you.
Drake “God’s Plan” – While Drake’s latest record was a huge success, it didn’t reach the heights that this single did. Drake’s flow on this record has an off-kilter swagger, seeming very content with the empire that he has created around himself. The line about only having love for his mom and his bed is something that will probably be quoted for a while.
Shawn Mendes “In My Blood” – In an era of many white guys with guitars, Mendes could have easily come across as another Ed Sheeran knockoff and faded into obscurity. But this song, along with his accompanying album, shows that there are layers to this kid’s song-crafting. Let’s see if this latest teen heartthrob has the strength to become a pop force to be reckoned with in the coming years.
Brandi Carlile “The Joke” – It is a pleasant surprise to see how far this song has come in the Grammys this year. This Americana epic is one of the standouts from Carlile’s recent record and features some of her best vocal work. Certainly one of the Grammy nominations that displays the most emotional gravitas.
Zedd “The Middle” – This track is probably the most pop-centric pick for Song of the Year. While Zedd’s smash from last year is greatly assisted by Maren Morris and Grey, there seems to be some emotion that gets lost in the performance, which is a shame, given Zedd’s track record of writing more emotionally-gripping electronic songs. Seeing this win would be an example of the Grammys playing it a bit too safe.
Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper “Shallow” – For the modern updating of the movie A Star Is Born, Lady Gaga looked to none other than Mark Ronson to compose this emotional masterstroke. Along with being great musicians, Gaga and Ronson find a great way to invoke nostalgia, yet still staying incredibly modern. The vocal deliveries from Gaga and Cooper absolutely sell the song as one of the greatest Gaga has made in her entire career.
Childish Gambino “This is America” – Donald Glover’s continuing musical innovation has not stopped ever since 2016’s Awaken, My Love! This collaboration with Young Thug has a lot to say about the state of our nation, and his work with songwriter Ludwig Goransson feels like being caught in a righteous rampage of America’s wrongdoings —and loving every minute of it.
Who Will Win:
Gaga and Cooper. This Grammy and Oscar nominated smash has so many good arrangement touches and songwriting presence that it practically had Grammy-Winner pre-stamped on it. Given that, it is still a wonderful song and something that will not disappoint because of its broad appeal.
Who Should Win:
Kendrick. This song came out in February of last year and gave the rest of the music industry almost an entire year to top it. But nothing could because of the song’s suave-as-hell flow from Kendrick, and SZA’s laid back vocals. It creates a chocolate-and-peanut-butter-like combination of perfection.
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