The inaugural year of expanded categories brought much-needed recognition to hip-hop stars and critical faves. Will Ariana, Camila and Taylor return to reign this time around?
Over the past decade, the Grammys have drawn criticism for rewarding blockbusters by crowd-pleasing pop stars over more urgent, hip-hop-rooted works in its major categories: Taylor Swift over Kendrick Lamar, Adele over Beyoncé, Bruno Mars over Lamar again.
But in 2019, the Big Four winners (album of the year, song of the year, record of the year and best new artist) finally looked like a group everyone could agree on. Country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves’ modestly successful but highly acclaimed Golden Hour won album of the year; Childish Gambino’s incendiary chart-topper “This Is America” became the first-ever hip-hop winner for both song and record of the year. The only conventional-pop winner in the major categories was rising talent Dua Lipa, who won best new artist in a field of relatively unestablished names.
In fact, blockbuster pop was almost entirely absent from last year’s Big Four. Though newly expanded categories (from five nominee slots in each to eight) allowed for a wider pool — leading to unexpected nods for Americana favorite Brandi Carlile and R&B polymath H.E.R. — many of the year’s most noteworthy pop stars, including Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello and Swift, were relegated to the genre categories.
Will that carry over to 2020, following a year in which capital-P Pop had something of a comeback — thanks to juggernaut sets from the likes of the Jonas Brothers, Grande and Swift, as well as breakthrough stars like Billie Eilish and Khalid? And, following its first wins in record and song of the year, will hip-hop continue its long-awaited Grammy takeover — despite a year with surprisingly few chart-busting releases from established superstars and new acts alike? Perhaps most importantly: Will the Grammys continue its streak of choosing winners many of its loudest critics find acceptable?
Elsewhere, a handful of young faces in hip-hop with top 10-storming Hot 100 hits could make a showing — Blueface, DaBaby, Lil Tecca — though last year’s snub of SoundCloud sensation Juice WRLD makes their individual chances look a bit dicier. A more likely candidate might be Megan Thee Stallion, whose acclaimed Fever and sizzling single “Hot Girl Summer” made her an instantly beloved new voice. And a couple of international stars have a shot to make Grammy history here: Spain’s Rosalía is a meteorically rising performer whose mainstream crossover feels imminent, and hitmakers Blackpink have made unprecedented commercial inroads as a K-pop girl group in America.
This article was originally published on Billborad