Janelle Monáe's Dirty Computer is her most recent musical foray into self-exploration. 2010's The ArchAndroid and 2013's The Electric Lady both saw the talented artist sing from the perspective of a funky, futuristic cyborg. But it's her honest, auto-biographical tracks about being a black, queer woman in this day and age that leaves listeners breathless. Inspired by the sounds of her late idol Prince, Monáe's performances are nothing short of stunning. From the fierce femininity showcased on "Pynk", to the impressive bars she drops on "Django Jane", Monáe proves she's one of the most unique artists creating music today.
Drake’s double LP Scorpion shattered streaming records, hitting 1 billion plays in just one week. Not only did it launch to the top of the Billboard 200, it also became just the fourth album in history to spawn seven top 10 Hot 100 hits – including #1s “God’s Plan”, “Nice For What” and “In My Feelings”. Although it’s arguably not his best work, it’ll be REALLY hard for Grammy voters to disregard those kinds of numbers.
Black Panther (Soundtrack)
An album entirely produced by Kendrick Lamar is bound to get a Grammy nomination, as the Pulitzer Prize winner has proven to be the gold standard of the Rap categories since 2013. The 12-time Grammy winner orchestrated a modern hip-hop soundtrack fit for a T'Challa, honouring the pop cultural significance of "Black Panther". His collaborations with SZA and The Weeknd were bonafide radio hits, which could catapult the LP to an “Album Of The Year” win – becoming only the third movie soundtrack in history to do so.
Everything Is Love
Both Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been snubbed for “Album Of The Year” – most notably for 4:44 and Lemonade respectively. Their surprise joint LP Everything Is Love completes the trilogy of a public airing of their personal, private struggles as a couple, turning the narrative into a celebration of what they’ve achieved and overcome together. Standing strong as a united front, the biggest names in music will be hard to ignore.
Invasion Of Privacy
There’s no denying that 2018 was Cardi B’s year. The 26-year-old made history, becoming the first female rapper to have three #1 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Invasion Of Privacy debuted in the #1 spot on the Billboard 200, eventually going platinum. Time Magazine recently named the album the best release of the year, noting the versatility of the material. Praised by fans and critics alike, Cardi somehow managed to be savage, sexy, funny and feisty on the LP, while also exploring vulnerability on tracks like “Be Careful” and “Ring”. Expect a similar vibe to her acceptance speech should she walk away with the biggest award of the night.
Ariana Grande enlisted the help of powerhouse producer Pharrell Williams in order to make her funky, left-field pop record that captured her spirit in the wake of the indelible Manchester tragedy. Despite the unexpected experimentation, Grande found mainstream success with “No Tears Left to Cry,” “breathin” and the female empowerment anthem “God is a woman.” Sweetener topped the Billboard 200, and broke the streaming record for a pop album by a female artist.
Singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves is no stranger to the Grammy stage. Her debut album – Same Trailer Different Park – won “Country Album Of The Year” in 2014, when she also picked up “Country Song Of The Year” for her single “Merry Go Round”. But the 30-year-old has always put her own spin on traditional twang. Her latest LP – Golden Hour – garnered critical acclaim for its cohesive collection of psychedelic-disco-country-pop songs that stay with the listener long after the record stops spinning. Although it wasn’t a commercial hit, Musgraves did take home “Album Of The Year” during this year’s Country Music Awards – a huge feat considering she was the only woman nominated alongside heavy-hitters Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett and Dierks Bentley.
Unlike most of Swift’s catalogue, Reputation didn’t spawn a slew of #1 hits. That being said, it was the best-selling album stateside in 2017 – purchased over 1.9 million times. Taylor may be rewarded for wading into uncharted waters, as the LP’s lyrical content explored her public feud with Kanye West and the Kardashians, along with sexier subjects on songs like “Dress” and “So It Goes…” A nomination in the top category would come as no surprise, especially since her last three LPs – Fearless, Red and 1989 – have all received this kind of industry recognition. The Grammy golden girl was also the first female artist in the show’s history to win “Album Of The Year” twice.