The Complete Guide to the 61st GRAMMY Awards


Michael Pasquella and Connor Clark

The 61st GRAMMY Awards will premiere on February 10th and all the stars will be in attendance hoping to receive the highest of awards in the music industry.  If you are not an avid music fan, then there is a mountain of information and names to catch up in order to keep up with the award show. Below is a summary of each artist/record nominated for one of the four General Field awards, the biggest awards of the night.


Record of the Year

I LIKE IT – Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin

Invincible, JWhiteDidIt, Craig Kallman & Tainy, producers; Leslie Brathwaite, Kuk Harrell, Evan LaRay & Simone Torres, engineers/mixers; Colin Leonard, mastering engineer

One of the most recognizable radio tracks of 2018, from Cardi B’s debut album Invasion of Privacy, comes I Like it.  Cardi B quickly shot to fame in the music industry and this hit certainly helped solidify her position, as she made the cover of Rolling Stones magazine and I Like It was listed as the song of the summer.  Its unique Latin influence and catchy lyrics earn Cardi on of her 7 nominations this year.

THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile

Dave Cobb & Shooter Jennings, producers; Tom Elmhirst & Eddie Spear, engineers/mixers; Pete Lyman, mastering engineer

The Joke is the lead single off of Brandi Carlile’s sixth studio album, By the Way, I Forgive You.  The song is intended to be a dig at today’s sociopolitical climate, taking shots at the sexist culture and encouraging women to be independent and strong. “There are so many people feeling misrepresented. So many people feeling unloved. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal.”  This is Brandi Carlile’s 7th career nomination.

THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino

Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson, producers; Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, Riley Mackin & Shaan Singh, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer

When multi-talented artist Childish Gambino – or formally Donald Glover – released This Is America, it immediately exploded due to the iconic music video.  The conceptual video highlighted topics of police brutality and racial injustices within America.  The song was the topic of conversation late in the summer of 2018 and continues to make its mark with two GRAMMY nominations this year.  Childish Gambino really struck a chord with this hit as he is up for his 12th nomination, looking for his second win.

GOD’S PLAN – Drake

Boi-1Da, Cardo & Young Exclusive, producers; Noel Cadastre, Noel “Gadget” Campbell & Noah Shebib, engineers/mixers; Chris Athens, mastering engineer

Drake is just showing off at this point with the release of God’s Plan, a single off his GRAMMY nominated album, Scorpion.  Drake’s mission was to spread positivity and promote his charity work as the music video displays him giving back to the community in Miami, Florida, following the series of hurricanes that ripped through Florida this past summer.  It also helped that the song was undoubtedly catchy with the iconic line “I only love my bed and my momma I’m sorry.” Drake earns a whopping career total 42 GRAMMY nominations this year.

SHALLOW – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

Lady Gaga & Benjamin Rice, producers; Brandon Bost & Tom Elmhirst, engineers/mixers; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer

Shallow is a cut from the soundtrack of the 2018 major motion picture A Star is Born. The song deals with jumping into love blindly and not looking back.  The movie is nominated for 8 Academy Awards and Shallow is nominated for four total GRAMMY Awards, including ROTY, SOTY, Best Duo/Group Performance, and Best Song Written for Visual Media.  This is Lady Gaga’s 24th nomination and Bradley Cooper’s first.

ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar & SZA

Al Shux & Sounwave, producers; Sam Ricci & Matt Schaeffer, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer

Another cut from a movie soundtrack, All the Stars is on the Black Panther: Music From and Inspired By album.  Kendrick Lamar was originally requested to write a few original songs for the album’s soundtrack, but after watching the pre-released film in early 2018, Kendrick Lamar was so inspired that he decided to curate an entire album for the film.  The song All of the Stars was a wildly popular single from the album and followed up with a stunning music video.  Young R&B star SZA delivers the catchy hook and Lamar handles the verses. This is Kendrick Lamar’s 37th nomination and SZA’s 9th.

ROCKSTAR – Post Malone Featuring 21 Savage

Louis Bell & Tank God, producers; Louis Bell, Lorenzo Cardona, Manny Marroquin & Ethan Stevens, engineers/mixers; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer

Post Malone added to his list of hits with the release of Rockstar, featuring 21 Savage, which racked up 1.4 Billion views on Spotify.  The mix of the unique beat with Malone’s unique singing voice brought this song to life, and rapper 21 Savage adds a decent contribution to the record with his verse.  You could tell this track was going to be “fire” once you heard Malone’s psychotic but humorous laugh to open the song. This is Post’s 4th nomination, in hopes of winning his first GRAMMY.

THE MIDDLE – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey

Grey, Monsters & Strangerz & Zedd, producers; Grey, Tom Norris, Ryan Shanahan & Zedd, engineers/mixers; Mike Marsh, mastering engineer

The lone EDM/Pop song in the record of the year category, The Middle is a catchy radio bop with lead production by famous dance music producer Zedd.  The lovely/relationship-based lyrics are performed by country singer Maren Morris.  Zedd teams up with the production duo Grey to help make this song a hit.  This is Zedd’s 5th nomination, Maren Morris’ 9th, and Grey’s second.


Song of the Year


(Refer to description in Best Record category)

BOO’D UP – Ella Mai

Being in your feelings could not be better represented than with the song Boo’d Up by Ella Mai.  With the configuration of an emotional, slow trap beat and the smooth singing from Ella makes this the perfect lovestruck bop.  Ella is up for her second GRAMMY nomination, searching for her first trophy.

GOD’S PLAN – Drake

(refer to description in Best Record category)

IN MY BLOOD – Shawn Mendes

Mendes lets out his emotional side expressing that he needs someone to be better in the song In My Blood.  Shawn Mendes has had himself quite the 2018, with many successful hits such as Treat You Better and Lost In Japan.  A 2018-19 GRAMMY nomination, however, tops all of that as Sean is looking for his first piece of hardware in his second GRAMMY nomination.

THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile

(refer to description in Best Record category)

THE MIDDLE – Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey

(refer to description in Best Record category)

SHALLOW – Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper

(refer to description in Bets Record category)

THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino

(refer to description in Best Record category


Album of the Year


Cardi B has had one of the most rapid and loud rises to fame throughout 2017 and 2018.  She followed up her 7x Platinum single, Bodak Yellow with Invasion of Privacy, an album received very well by her fans and the public.   4 additional cuts off the record went RIAA Platinum, including Bartier Cardi(2x), Be Careful(2x), I Like it(5x), and Ring(1x).  The former reality T.V. star’s chart-topping debut album has earned her one of her several GRAMMY nominations this year.

BY THE WAY, I FORGIVE YOU – Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile’s 6th studio album has earned her six 2019 GRAMMY nominations.  The 37-year-old LGBT heroine leads all women in nominations this year. Carlile has reverted to her more simplistic acoustic sounds on By The Way, I Forgive You, a change of pace from her rock-inspired 2015 album.  This is her 7th career nomination.


Scorpion was one of the most hyped up albums in 2018, and it certainly lived up to that hype as Drake dropped the 2 part, 25 song album that consists of hits such as Nonstop, God’s Pan, and In My Feelings.  Scorpion was described as “Indulgent, Obsessive, and Brilliant,” by the Rolling Stone Magazine.  The Canadian rapper’s fifth solo album was a great commercial success and earned Drake his 42nd total nomination.

H.E.R. – H.E.R.

The young singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, H.E.R. chose to keep her identity and face hidden for the first two years of her blossoming career in order to keep the focus on her music.  “In music, the substance has kind of been taken out because of social media and a face instead of real music, real lyrics, and real stories. I really just wanted it to be the forefront, I wanted my music to be the main focus,” she revealed in a 2018 interview.  Her two-part self titled project is filled with melodic r&b tunes and intricate songwriting. This is nominated for her first 5 GRAMMY Awards in 2019.


Post Malone tore up the music industry in 2018 with his Album Beerbongs & Bentleys.  With hits such as Rockstar and Psycho, this album was one of the most commercially successful albums in history breaking the record for most streams in the first week of release with over 400 million streams.  Post was a true “rockstar” in 2018 and is well deserving of his 4th GRAMMY nomination.

DIRTY COMPUTER – Janelle Monáe

Multi-talented artist Janelle Monáe released the mesmerizing and poppy album in April 2018, which although not a concept album like her previous two, is ambitious and was received very well by critics.  Influences of Prince and Lauryn Hill are evident within the soundtrack and altogether the album makes for a fun listening outing, making you think and keeping you awake with each track. She is looking for her first win, as two of her eight career nominations come in 2019.

GOLDEN HOUR – Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves had carved out her own unique space in the country music with her genre-bending tunes.  You can hear clear influences of disco-pop, trap drums, and bubbly synths, which make Golden Hour a sure-fire hit and earned her 4 nominations at this year’s GRAMMYs.  She plans to add four more wins to her two career wins and 9 nominations.


Just as Black Panther the film was a hit, The Kendrick Lamar curated soundtrack was wildly successful itself, with eight songs reaching the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  The compilation album was intended to marry the sounds of Wakanda(the dystopian African supercity from the Marvel film) and modern sounds in hip-hop and R&B. Movie albums are commonly not the highest quality projects and/or seem to be a cheap money grab by production companies, but the Black Panther Album seemed genuine and inspired.  The album has a superstar lineup including Kendrick Lamar(of course) Schoolboy Q, SZA, Khalid, Swae Lee, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Future, Anderson .Paak, and Vince Staples


Best New Artist


The sister and actor combo of Chloe x Halle(18 and 16 years old) has been making waves in the music industry for a while in spite of their young ages.  In 2012, they released two singles through Radio Disney and appeared on the Disney show Austin & Ally. They followed up their critically acclaimed 2017 debut project The Two of Us with their debut album The Kids Are Alright in March 2018.  They most recently performed America the Beautiful before Super Bowl LII.  The duo received their first two nominations in 2019.


Country singer Luke Combs only first picked up a guitar when he was in college at Appalachian State, but his rise to fame was rapid after.  He released his first two EP’s in 2014, followed by a third in 2015 where his single Hurricane reached the Top Ten on iTunes Country Chart.  He released his debut album This One’s For You in 2017 and is receiving his first nomination this year.


With songs like Highway Tune and Safari Song, a new group of faces in rock music emerged from the shadows.  In a day and age of pop and rap music dominating radio and sales, Greta Van Fleet has appealed to all generations with their unique rock style and hippie-like fashion sense(even though many complain that they are copycat of legendary rock band Led Zeppelin.)  With their 3rd GRAMMY nomination, the young group looks to bring in a new addition to their growing trophy case.


(Refer to description in Best Album category)


Not every day there is an artist up for best new artist with a one billion streamed song on Spotify.  Dua Lipa has made herself known with hit songs like New Rules and One Kiss odds are you have heard her on the radio, or saw her performing in Chicago as apart of the city’s new year’s eve celebration.  Dua Lipa has got some “new rules” for the music industry as she is up for her 2nd nomination at the 61st edition of the GRAMMYs.


Margo Price’s rise to fame was a slow burn starting when she dropped out of college in 2003 to move to Nashville on her country music career.  Between 2010 and 2013 she released 3 albums with her band Buffalo Cover.  She signed independently to Third Man Records in 2016 and released her critically acclaimed debut solo project Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.  She released her second album A Midwest Farmer’s Daughter in 2017.  This is her first GRAMMYs Nomination.


Bebe Rexha has taken the music world by storm with many hit songs associated with her name.  Songs like In the Name of Love, Mean to Be (feat. Florida Georgia Line),” and being featured on Me, Myself, and I prove that Rexha is ready to make her mark in the music industry.  She is up for two GRAMMYs in the 61st edition of the award show and is hoping for her first trophy.


English R&B singer Jorja Smith released her first set of singles in 2016 and turned several heads in the music game with her unique cadence and retro sounds.  She was featured twice on Drake’s 2017 album More Life, which exposed her music to a massive audience.  She also was featured on The Black Panther Album, all before releasing her debut solo album, Lost & Found, in June 2018.  This is Jorja’s first nomination.