From Shawn Mendes and Cardi B to Bjork and the Backstreet Boys, here are 12 artists who could be taking home their first Grammy on Sunday night.
Winning a Grammy marks a major career milestone for any artist. The award signifies not only mainstream success, but also serves as validation from The Recording Academy and music industry as a whole of an artist’s talent, creativity and work.
However, in the Grammy Awards’ illustrious sixty-year history, the reward of an elusive golden gramophone has evaded many an important artist -- some many times. Below is a list of twelve artists, both award-circuit veterans and first-time nominees, who could be taking home their very first Grammy award this Sunday (Feb. 10).
Total nominations: 9
2019 nominations (4): record of the year (“All The Stars”), song of the year ("All The Stars”), best rap/sung performance (“All The Stars”), best song written for visual media (“All The Stars”)
SZA’s breakthrough year came in 2017, when the R&B singer’s critically acclaimed debut Ctrl earned her a handful of Grammy nominations, including best new artist, best R&B performance, best R&B song, best rap/sung performance and best urban contemporary album. One year later, SZA has four more nods under her belt, each for “All The Stars,” her Marvel-fueled duet with Kendrick Lamar off Black Panther: The Album. With echoes of “Wakanda forever!” continuing to reverberate through the pop culture landscape, the alt-R&B favorite could ride the momentum all the way to her first Grammy win.
Total nominations: 7
2019 nominations (5): record of the year (“I Like It”); album of the year (Invasion of Privacy), best pop duo/group performance (“Girls Like You”) best rap performance (“Be Careful”), best rap album (Invasion of Privacy)
When Cardi B burst onto the Billboard charts in 2017 with “Bodak Yellow," the Recording Academy took notice, handing the stripper-turned-superstar a pair of nominations for her flexing debut single (though snubbing her for best new artist) One year later, Cardi’s star has only grown brighter, as she continues to break records and rack up No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100. The rapper (and burgeoning political commentator) is up for five awards at the Feb. 10 ceremony including two of the Big Four categories -- album of the year for Invasion of Privacy and record of the year for “I Like It.” A win at Sunday’s ceremony would serve as a crowning moment in Belcalis Almánzar’s delightful reign as the current queen of hip-hop.
Total nominations: 2
2019 nominations (2): song of the year (“In My Blood”), best pop vocal album (Shawn Mendes)
From Vine sensation to Grammy nominee, Shawn Mendes has seen his career soar to meteoric heights since his days of posting Justin Bieber covers on YouTube. His third, self-titled LP and its smash lead single “In My Blood” have earned the heartthrob his first pair of Grammy nominations -- for best pop vocal album and song of the year, respectively. While he may be an underdog in the best pop vocal album category as the lone male in a field of certified pop heavyweights like Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, Camila Cabello, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, the strength of the songwriting on “In My Blood” gives our reigning No. 1 artist under 21 a fighting chance in the song of the year race.
Total nominations: 6
2019 nominations (2): best pop vocal album (Sweetener), best pop solo performance (“God is a Woman”)
In 2019, there is perhaps no greater star in the pop stratosphere than Ariana Grande. Since the release of Sweetener, Ari has earned her first two back-to-back Hot 100 No. 1 singles, shattered Spotify records and ascended into the hallowed upper echelon of pop royalty -- all while handling the sudden death of ex-boyfriend Mac Miller and the implosion of her whirlwind engagement to SNL’s Pete Davidson with resilience and refreshing honesty. She’s been nominated for four Grammys in the past, including dual best pop vocal album nods for 2014’s My Everything and 2016’s Dangerous Woman, and is a strong contender in both her nominated categories this year. And while there are likely to be more nods down the road for the eagerly-awaited Thank U, Next, winning either award at this year’s ceremony would cap a 2018 of unprecedented success, loss, creativity and triumph for Ari.
Total nominations: 2
2019 nominations (1): best pop duo/group performance (“Fall in Line")
It’s been a particularly challenging year for Demi Lovato. Just one month after releasing the one-off “Sober” detailing her long-documented struggles with addiction and lapse in sobriety, the pop star was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in July following an accidental opioid overdose. Since then, Demi has stayed relatively quiet, focusing on her recovery and an extended stay at an in-patient treatment facility. However, before the spotlight was focused on her personal struggles, the singer was featured on Christina Aguilera’s fiery #MeToo anthem, “Fall in Line,” for which the divas are nominated for best pop duo/group performance. While Lovato has only been nominated once before - for best pop vocal album for 2016’s excellent Confident - a Grammy win could be a motivating milestone as the embattled pop star begins to once again move forward in her life, career and sobriety.
Total nominations: 8
2019 nominations (1): best pop duo/group performance (“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”)
Backstreet’s back, all right! Eighteen years after their last nomination, the veteran boy band has landed back in the Grammys arena with a nomination for best pop duo/group performance for their 2018 single “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” It’s a category the former best new artist nominees know well, having been up for the award (then titled best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals) three consecutive times from 1999 to 2001, for their smash hits “I Want It That Way,” “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely” and “Shape of My Heart.” Now that the Backstreet Boys are back at the top of the Billboard 200 for the first time in almost two decades thanks to their 2018 album DNA, could their resurgence come complete with their first Grammy?
Fall Out Boy
Total nominations: 2
2019 nominations (1): best rock album (M A N I A)
Once the poster boys of the pop-punk explosion of the mid-2000s, The Recording Academy has turned a blind eye to Fall Out Boy ever since their single nomination for best new artist in 2005. Fourteen years, five albums and one hiatus later, the band is finally got their second-ever nod -- this time for best rock album, for 2018’s M A N I A. And while it’s too early to say whether they can beat out the likes of Weezer, Alice in Chains and up-and-comers Greta Van Fleet for the award, it’s safe to say that win or lose, sugar, they’re going down swinging.
Total nominations: 15
2019 nominations (1): best alternative music album (Utopia)
Of all the artists on this list, the legendary Björk is the most nominated -- with a whopping 14 nominations from 1993 to 2015 not resulting in a single win. In fact, the avant garde musician is only behind Norwegian producer Morton Lindeberg (with 26) and Snoop Dogg and Brian McKnight (tied with 17 each) for the record for most nominations without a win. This year, she’s up for best alternative music album for Utopia, an award she’s earned five separate nods for in the past (for 2001’s Vespertine, 2004’s Medulla, 2007’s Volta, 2012’s Biophilia and 2015’s Vulnicura). Could this finally be the year she secures a coveted golden gramophone? Consider the Icelandic art pop savant the Glenn Close of this year’s Grammy Awards.
Total nominations: 3
2019 nominations (2): best rap performance (“King’s Dead), best rap song ("King's Dead")
Future’s first Grammy nomination came in 2016 thanks to his feature on Drake’s behemoth Views (on the appropriately titled album cut “Grammys”). This year he’s up for two awards for “King’s Dead,” his Black Panther collaboration with Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar and James Blake. With five consecutive solo No. 1 albums since 2015 -- including three in the last two years -- Future has established himself as a force to be reckoned with. But will Grammys voters reward him now or wait for something out of his solo discography?
Total nominations: 7
2019 nominations (2): best R&B song (“Come Through and Chill”), best rap/sung performance (“Pretty Little Fears”)
After earning his first nomination for best new artist in 2011, J. Cole has added a steady string of Grammy noms to his tally -- adding up to a total of five before the 2018 nominations were announced. This year, he’s up for two more awards -- best R&B song for “Come Through and Chill” with Miguel, and best rap/sung performance for “Pretty Little Fears” with 6lack. Cole and Miguel have been nominated together before, for the 2014 radio hit "Power Trip"), and that emerging pattern of successful collaboration could give The Recording Academy reason to hand the rapper his first statuette come Feb. 10.
Florida Georgia Line
Total nominations: 1
2019 nominations (1): best country duo/group performance - “Meant To Be” (feat. Bebe Rexha)
Half a decade after bursting onto the scene, the crown princes of bro country have finally earned their first Grammy nomination. The pair are up for best country duo/group performance for “Meant To Be,” their hit collaboration with Bebe Rehxa, and considering just how inescapable the song was during 2018, it’s entirely possible that Florida Georgia Line clinching their first win is as destined as its title would imply.
Total nominations: 1
2019 nominations (1): best rap album (Swimming)
Sadly, Mac Miller never lived to experience his first Grammy nomination following his tragic death from a drug overdose in September 2018. Winning best rap album for the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Swimming, his fifth LP released just one short month prior to his passing, would be a poignant, posthumous victory to honor the late rapper’s legacy.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 10 on CBS.
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