2019 GRAMMY predictions: Beyonce and Jay-Z, Camila Cabello lead list of contenders
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Award season is heating up and the 2019 GRAMMY Awards eligibility window closed on Sept. 30, which means it's time to start thinking about who could make the list of nominees when they are announced Dec. 5. Anything released between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, could potentially score a Grammy nomination, which means late entries like the Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper duet "Shallow" from "A Star Is Born" which dropped on Sept. 27 just got in under the wire. However, the full soundtrack drops on Oct. 5, so it won't be up for consideration until the next pool.

The 2019 Grammy Awards will see several changes, including an expansion of the four main categories, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist from five nominees to eight nominees. The Academy also announced a task force on diversity and female inclusion back in May. These changes will widen the playing field for upcoming potential nominees.

It’s been a big year in hip-hop and critics are already wondering if the previously underrated genre could make a surprise sweep of the major categories. Which artists and songs are likely to score 2019 Grammy nominations? Here’s a look at the current favorites.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z

As one of music’s biggest power couples, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, have both experienced their share of noteworthy individual wins and disappointing Grammy losses. For example, Bey is a three-time Album of the Year nominee and five-time Record of the Year nominee with zero wins in either category. Similarly, JAY-Z received eight nods, including ones for Album, Song, and Record of the Year for 4:44 and didn’t take home any wins.

Critics and fans alike love The Carters’ surprise album Everything Is Love, which essentially capped the Lemonade and 4:44 trilogy and debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart. An Album of the Year Grammy for Everything Is Love could give Bey and JAY something they’ve been missing. But, it’s important to note the album also deserves it.

Camila Cabello

The Fifth Harmony breakout star has had an incredible launch to her solo career with her eponymous debut solo album. Camila Cabello is one of several female artists who has released strong projects this year in the wake of Neil Portnow’s inappropriate and unfounded comment that women need to “step up.”

“Havana” turned out to be one of the hottest songs of the year in multiple countries and became the most streamed song ever on Spotify by a solo female artist in June 2018. The Latin-flavored track will likely see nods in both Record and Song of the Year categories and Cabello could see an Album of the Year nod for her solo debut as well.

Drake

Drake has had a huge, record-breaking year with Scorpion and is likely to receive multiple Grammy nominations for Album of the Year, and Song and Record of the Year for “God’s Plan” or “In My Feelings” as well as major Rap category nominations. Drake boycotted the Grammys last year and it’s hard to say if he’s planning to do it again this season. If he renders himself eligible, he could easily be one of the top-nominated contenders.

Cardi B

Cardi B earned many rave reviews for her highly-anticipated debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy. The album spawned two chart-topping singles with “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It.” It also debuted to a massively successful first week, launching atop the Billboard 200 and garnering a record-setting 100 million streams in its first week on Apple Music. Plus, the New York native rapper wasn’t shy about sending bold, positive messages on the record. Self-empowerment is a resounding album theme. Invasion seems like an Album of the Year, Best Rap Album nominee shoe-in, with potential Song and Record of the Year nods for “I Like It.”

Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino’s socially-conscious track “This Is America” is a clear favorite in both the Song and Record of the Year categories. Though it only stayed atop the Hot 100 chart for two weeks, it launched at No. 1. The track touches on dark, hot-button topics like gun violence and racial issues.

Janelle Monae

With its obvious Prince influence and host of megastar guest artists like Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Pharrell, Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer plays like an empowered piece of artsy pop-funk perfection, which she has honed to a creatively colorful science. Critics love this record for good reason. Monae asserts herself as a creative force to be reckoned with. As such, this album seems like one of the most obvious choices for Album of the Year.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is a 10-time Grammy winner and the first female to ever win Album of the Year twice. (Adele now shares the honor). Swift struck back at naysayers trying to tear down her reputation by naming her sixth studio album accordingly. Reputation was the biggest-selling album of 2017, selling over one million copies in its first week. An Album of the Year win would make a record-setting third time in the category by a female artist. “Delicate” and “…Ready For It?” could also snag Song and Record of the Year nods.

“The Black Panther” Soundtrack

“The Black Panther” film was a Marvel Universe box office smash and its soundtrack topped charts in multiple countries, including the all-genre Billboard 200 chart in the U.S. With Kendrick Lamar on board as a producer and artist, an Album of the Year nod isn’t that far of a stretch and would make an interesting entry in the new, expanded category.

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande’s fourth studio album, Sweetener, dropped later in the Grammy eligibility window on August 17, 2018. It was preceded by the record-setting lead single “No Tears Left to Cry,” which launched at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and arrived in the wake of Grande’s musical return after the Manchester tragedy. The album could get Album of the Year, as well as Pop/Vocal Album, nods, along with Song and Record of the Year noms for the lead track.

Other Strong Contenders

Lots of other strong contenders could earn Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist favorites Dua Lipa, Post Malone and Bebe Rexha.

Paul McCartney just reached a new career milestone by scoring his first-ever Billboard 200 debut as a solo artist with Egypt Station. As a member of The Beatles, McCartney is one of the best-selling artists of all time and a nine-time Album of the Year nominee. If Macca were to score an Album of the Year nod, he would be the only artist in history to earn nominations in six decades.

Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour and Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty, could face off in the Best Country Album category and may even show up in the Album of the Year race. Chris Stapleton’s From a Room, Volume 2 should also score well in the Country categories. Shawn Mendes could also see a Record or Song of the Year nod for his vulnerable track “In My Blood” or it could snag the Best Pop/Vocal Performance nom.

Lauren Daigle made a bold chart impression with her latest album, Look Up Child which could bode well for Christian/Gospel categories. Josh Groban could also earn a nomination in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category for his latest album, Bridges. We also can’t count out Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All, P!NK’s Beautiful Trauma or Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods scoring some nods.

Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé’s chart-topping version of “Perfect” could make a strong showing in several categories, including Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. “Girls Like Us” by Maroon 5 and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” could also earn nominations in the latter category.