by Julian Spivey
Album of the Year: “By the Way, I Forgive You” by Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile receiving an Album of the Year nomination for By the Way, I Forgive You, my favorite album overall of 2018, feels like a win on its own right. For what’s essentially an Americana album to make it to the biggest category of the show is outstanding. This is the album for those of us fans who absolutely adore stellar songwriting. Album of the Year at the Grammys seems wide open this year and the voting body can always surprise people, but I feel like the album unfortunately is one of the biggest longshots. I think artists like Drake, Cardi B and Janelle Monae are going to split votes and the winner could easily be Kacey Musgraves for Golden Hour.
Song of the Year: “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile
Song of the Year is an award that goes to the songwriters of the song and I just can’t imagine there being a better songwriter in this category than Brandi Carlile, who co-wrote the incredibly anti-bullying message “The Joke” with twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth. Like her nomination for Album of the Year I believe “The Joke” winning Song of the Year would be a major longshot, but damn would it be nice to see. My predicted winner is “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, from the excellent film “A Star is Born,” which was co-written by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt. “Shallow” is my second favorite song in the category this year.
Best New Artist: Margo Price
I’m kind of conflicted about this one because I’d love to see Margo Price win this honor, but I also don’t feel like she deserved to be nominated because she’s been around a few years and had two albums out already. The Grammys have seemingly adjusted their rules for this award stating an artist is qualified if they have just broken out – but even still I contend Price broke out with her terrific debut release Midwest Farmer’s Daughter in 2016. Either way, she’s my favorite artist of those nominated and I hope she wins. H.E.R. was nominated for five Grammys, including Album of the Year, and is the likely winner.
Best Short Form Music Video: “This Is America” by Childish Gambino
I have not seen the music videos for any of the nominees in this category except for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” but I honestly don’t think that matters much this year, because that was an all-timer of a music video. It will go down in history as one of the greatest the medium has ever seen. I can’t imagine there being a more important music video of the last year either with it taking on so many of the issues facing modern America – some of the things you’ll have to watch the background of this truly mesmerizing video to catch. Every single thing in the frame of the video has important meaning. Childish Gambino has proven to be one of the most important artists of his time.
Best Song Written for Visual Media: “Shallow” by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
“Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is one of the biggest nominees of the Grammy Awards this year with four nominations, including the bigees Song of the Year and Record of the Year. It wouldn’t be a shock for the song to win all four of the categories it’s nominated in, but the one I’d most like to see it win is also the one it’s almost certainly going to win: Best Song Written for Visual Medium. This isn’t just a cop out on my part because I like the song, but because I felt its placement in “A Star is Born” is so perfect, with a recently met Jackson Maine (Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga) talking about songwriting in a store parking lot is maybe the best scene in that entire movie. The song could easily win a Grammy and an Oscar, of which it’s the front-runner for Best Original Song, in the same month.
Best Americana Album: TIE – “By the Way, I Forgive You” by Brandi Carlile & “The Tree of Forgiveness” by John Prine
Ties at the Grammy Awards aren’t impossible, there have been 21 ties in the 60 years of the awards. They are however improbable. I know it’s highly unlikely to happen, but I’d love to see Brandi Carlile’s By the Way, I Forgive You and John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness share the award for Best Americana Album. I understand that Brandi Carlile is probably going to win this category because her album is also nominated for Album of the Year overall, but the voting body for each individual genre can vote differently than the overall categories and we know this first hand from this very category. Mumford & Son’s lost the Americana Album category in 2013 for Babel to Bonnie Raitt’s Slipstream, despite winning Album of the Year overall. If that was to ever happen again a legend within the genre like Prine would be the one to do it.
Best American Roots Song: “Summer’s End” by John Prine
John Prine had such a great year that it’s likely to cost him a shot at Best American Roots Song because he has two songs nominated in the same category: “Summer’s End” and “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” – meaning the two songs will likely split his vote. Also, this category includes Brandi Carlile’s Song of the Year overall nominee “The Joke,” which is likely to win. However, Prine’s nostalgic and somber “Summer’s End” is one of the most beautifully penned and performed songs of the year and him winning a Grammy would make my day.
Best Country Album: “Girl Going Nowhere” by Ashley McBryde
The Grammy Awards have done a better job over the last few years at selecting Best Country Album than actual country music award shows like the CMAs and ACMs. There is one major clunker nominated this year in Kelsea Ballerini’s Unapologetically, but the other four nominees: Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde, Kacey Musgraves and Chris Stapleton would all be deserving winners. Kacey Musgraves is most likely to win because she’s the only one also nominated for Album of the Year, but some voting in the country category might view her album as too poppy to win. I’d love to see the breath of fresh air that was Ashley McBryde win this award for her debut album “Girl Going Nowhere.”
Best Country Song: “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves
As good as I think the Grammys have been with Best Country Album nominees, I think they absolutely laid an egg this year when it comes to the Best Country Song category. I’ve been on the record as saying that Kacey Musgraves’ third studio album Golden Hour was disappointing for me as a longtime fan of hers because it just doesn’t sound like what I’m accustomed to from her. However, my favorite song on the album is the beautifully written “Space Cowboy,” which she wrote with Luke Laird and Shane McAnally. It’s the best song in the category. Musgraves is no stranger to this honor having won it five years ago for “Merry Go ‘Round.”
Best Country Solo Performance: “Wouldn’t It Be Great” by Loretta Lynn
The first time I heard Loretta Lynn’s vocal on “Wouldn’t It Be Great” it absolutely floored me with its emotional impact. The song is about Lynn wishing her now deceased husband Doolittle could give up drinking and love her more than the bottle and wow is that a wallop of feelings. It would put a huge smile on my face to see the almost 87-year old take out youngsters like Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban.