2018 Grammy Awards: Odds and Picks for Album of the Year and More

by Taylor Smith
on January 23, 2018

The 2018 awards season officially kicked off a couple of weeks ago when Oprah Winfrey decided to enter the 2020 U.S. presidential race at the Golden Globes. OK, she didn’t actually take it that far, but Oprah stole the show with her stirring speech after being honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

This past weekend, the Screen Actors Guild Awards took place in Los Angeles. The event typically generates far less attention than some other awards shows, but this particular edition made headlines for having a female host (Kristen Bell) as well as all female presenters during the show. Considering the way the current Hollywood climate has shifted since the Harvey Weinstein revelations, the gesture at SAG was generally well-received.

This weekend, we’ll turn our attention to the world of music at the Grammys. The show, which airs on CBS at 7:30pm Eastern, will be hosted by comedian and late-night talk show host James Corden. This will mark the second consecutive year Corden will host the show after LL Cool J held down the fort from 2012 through 2016.

Let’s take a look at some of the more noteworthy categories and try to peg the eventual winners for the ‘18 Grammys.

Song of the Year

  • “1-800-273-8255” by Logic (-150)
  • “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (+150)
  • “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars (+300)
  • “4:44” by Jay-Z (+650)
  • “Issues” by Julia Michaels (+1100)

Historically, the Grammys have been generally more favorable to pop songs than they have been to rap or rock-n-roll. Take one glance at the nominees for Song of the Year this year, however, and it appears as though the tide may be changing. Sure, we still have no rock submissions (I have no idea how “Feel It Still” isn’t at least a finalist), but we have a pair of rappers represented in the final 5 with Logic and Jay-Z.

Casual music fans will presumably go into this thinking “Despacito” is a lock, just because that was clearly the most popular song over the last year or so. You couldn’t go 5 minutes in public without hearing it blasting over some sound system, regardless of where you were. It was, frankly, incredibly annoying.

That song can still certainly win it, but there’s plenty of momentum behind Logic’s heavy “1-800-273-8255”, which is accompanied by a hard-hitting video featuring a star-studded cast that includes Don Cheadle, Matthew Modine, Coy Stewart, Luis Guzman and Nolan Gould.

Does an accompanying video help make the case for a song to be Song of the Year? Perhaps not, but, in this case, it should.

If he wins, Logic would become the first rap artist to win Song of the Year. Others have been nominated in the past (Eminem, Macklemore, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar), but none have managed to bring it home. Jay-Z could also earn the distinction for “4:44”, but that seems like quite a longshot.

The smart money is on Logic here, though Luis Fonsi’s mega-hit can’t be entirely overlooked, either.

Record of the Year

  • “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (-200)
  • “HUMBLE” by Kendrick Lamar (+300)
  • “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars (+600)
  • “The Story of O.J.” by Jay-Z (+1600)
  • “Redbone” by Childish Gambino (+2000)

While Luis Fonsi may lose out on Song of the Year, Record of the Year is looking like his to lose. “Descpacito” was the longest-running No. 1 hit of 2017, which certainly carries plenty of weight. It’s a bit surprising to see Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” not nominated, though perhaps it was hurt a bit by being released so early in the last year.

Not only was “Despacito” the longest-running No. 1 song of last year, it actually tied for the longest-running No. 1 hit in the history of the United States. That’s quite the remarkable accomplishment, especially for a song sung primarily in Spanish.

Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE” is shaping up to be the primary challenger to “Despacito” here. “HUMBLE” is Lamar’s first No. 1 hit that doesn’t also happen to feature Taylor Swift. Lamar’s track record speaks for itself, and he does have that advantage over a relative newcomer in Fonsi.

Despite being nominated for Record and Song of the Year, it looks as though both Bruno Mars and Jay-Z may fall by the wayside here. Both are listed as distant underdogs along with Childish Gambino and “Redbone.”

Again, betting against “Despacito” is risky, especially in this category. Don’t overthink this one. Take the favorite.

Best New Artist

  • Alessia Cara (-200)
  • SZA (+200)
  • Julia Michaels (+450)
  • Khalid (+600)
  • Lil Uzi Vert (+1200)

Best New Artist is interesting this year, especially considering 2 of the 5 nominees actually feature as contributors on the potential Song of the Year. Both Alessia Cara and Khaled feature on Logic’s aforementioned smash hit “1-800-273-8255.”

Some of the biggest names in music today have won this award in the past. Folks like John Legend, Adele and Carrie Underwood have taken home this award in previous years. Chance the Rapper won it last year, while Meghan Trainor, Sam Smith, Macklemore and Fun round out the winners since 2013.

While the award has been a potential indicator of future success, some others haven’t exactly gone on to great things since winning it. Fun has already broken up, for example. Evanescence won it in 2004, and when’s the last time we heard from them? Other relatively anonymous winners were Shelby Lynne (2001), Paula Cole (1998) and, yes, Hootie and the Blowfish (1996).

Cara is considered the fairly sizable favorite at -200 to take home the 2018 prize. She has been on the scene since 2015 or so, but didn’t really rise to prominence until a pair of massive collaborations last year. In addition to her work alongside Logic and Khaled, Cara was also featured on “Stay” by Zedd.

Julia Michaels, who also has a Song of the Year nomination, actually came onto the scene as a songwriter in recent years. After having already written hits for the likes of Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and Gwen Stefani, among others, Michaels finally has a hit of her own in “Issues.”

SZA, also known as Solana Rowe, looks like Cara’s primary competition. SZA has released a trio of EPs since 2014, but we finally got a full-length record from her in ‘17 with CTRL. She’s got potential to pull the upset here. SZA makes for an excellent value bet here at +200.

Album of the Year

  • DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar (-200)
  • 24K Magic by Bruno Mars (+350)
  • Melodrama by Lorde (+350)
  • 4:44 by Jay-Z (+600)
  • Awaken, My Love by Childish Gambino (+600)

Kendrick Lamar checks in as the favorite here, but this category is another that looks wide open. None of the 5 finalists has odds worse than +600, though Jay-Z and Childish Gambino do, once again, appear to be longshots.

Lorde checks in for the first time here with her second full-length studio album, Melodrama. She’s not your traditional rock-n-roll type, but she is essentially the rock genre’s lone hope to take home a major award during this show. The album produced hits like “Green Light” and “Perfect Places.”

Will someone dethrone Lamar? This is his first Album of the Year nomination, but he’s been down this road before. He’s been nominated for Grammys 29 times in the past, and he’s got 7 wins on his ledger. Bruno Mars has earned a boatload of nominations this year, but the odds indicate that he’s going to finish on the outside looking in on a number of categories. Despite the potential snubs, something tells me Bruno will be juuuuust fine.

There’s no reason to get cute here, either. Take Lamar to get his first Album of the Year win for DAMN.

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