2018 Grammys analysis: We dish Kendrick Lamar’s chances & Ed Sheeran’s snub [WATCH]

After the surprising Grammy nominations were announced on Tuesday morning, November 28, Gold Derby senior editor Daniel Montgomery and I had more to talk about than we could have ever expect. Watch our complete video slugfest above.

A good amount of our conversation focused on the race for Album of the Year, where Kendrick Lamar has led in our predictions for his fourth studio album, “Damn.” He was joined by Childish Gambino (“Awaken, My Love!”), Jay-Z (“4:44”), Lorde (“Melodrama”), and Bruno Mars (“24K Magic”). But Montgomery notes, “Two terrible things happened to Lamar with these nominations. One was Bruno Mars because he’s cool enough that the academy won’t get any backlash for picking him … Even worse for Lamar was that Jay-Z drastically over-performed, doing even better than Lamar. Not only did he get Album and Record of the Year, he also got in to Song of the Year, which Kendrick didn’t.” Montgomery also points out that Jay-Z is the veteran of this group (which the Grammys often love) and that his presence could lead to vote-splitting with Lamar.

I agree that Lamar might not be the favorite anymore, but he could still pull off a win here because of the Grammy IOUs he has from being shut out of his seven nominations in 2014 and then losing Album of the Year to Taylor Swift in 2016. Another factor that bodes well for him is the consistency of his work: all three of his albums have scored in the 90s on Metacritic, not counting the “Untitled Unmastered” EP he released in 2016, which scored 86 — still not too shabby.

But the category that really leaves us scratching our heads is Record of the Year. There doesn’t seem to be any clear frontrunner for the prize. A big reason for that is the omission of Ed Sheeran for “Shape of You”; Sheeran also shockingly missed out on expected Album and Song of the Year bids. The snub for Album “was slightly less surprising to me,” says Montgomery, “but Record and Song were just gobsmacking.” He theorizes that Sheeran’s omission may have been a preventative strategy by the Grammys’ nomination review committee. “They know if they throw in another very respectable pop, white, singer-songwriter into that mix against Lamar, Jay-Z and even Bruno Mars that the recording academy membership would pick Sheeran,” leading to another backlash similar to the one that occurred in 2017 when Adele beat Beyonce.

Making it in for Record of the Year were Childish Gambino (“Redbone”), Lamar (“Humble”); Jay-Z (“The Story of O.J.”); Mars (“24K Magic”); and Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber (“Despacito”). I believe that it’s a contest between “24K Magic” and “Despacito,” but give the slight edge to “24K Magic” since it’s a radio-friendly hit and Mars has corresponding nominations for Album and Song of the Year (“That’s What I Like”), which bode well for him.

Montgomery has opted for “Despacito,” explaining, “I wouldn’t have normally [predicted it], but it got that nomination for Song of the Year. That’s big for a fun, poppy song, especially in the Spanish language that for many members of the recording academy probably isn’t their first language. It showed a level of support that I think might be significant enough for it to win.”

When it comes to Song of the Year, I’m undecided. “1-800-273-8255” (Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid), “4:44” (Jay-Z), and “Despacito” are all possible winners. Montgomery felt slightly more confident, but backs someone else entirely: Bruno Mars for “That’s What I Like.” Rounding out that category is surprise nominee “Issues” by Julia Michaels.

In Best New Artist, we both believe that Alessia Cara will prevail against Khalid, Julia Michaels, SZA, and Lil Uzi Vert. But SZA could be a threat here due to her very strong showing in R&B categories. So it doesn’t look like there’s a single race in the general field that’s open-and-shut.

Be sure to make your Grammy predictions so that Hollywood record executives and top name stars can see how their songs and albums are faring in our Grammy odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on January 28. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Grammys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our music forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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