Last November, the nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album came out. It excluded some of the year’s best, including Melodrama by Lorde, Harry Styles by Harry Styles and After Laughter by Paramore. But there has to be a winner among the remaining contenders. Here is my fearless forecast on how the Best Pop Vocal Album race will unfold.
Kaleidoscope by Coldplay
Divide by Ed Sheeran
Evolve by Imagine Dragons
Rainbow by Ke$ha
Joanne by Lady Gaga
Lust for Life by Lana del Rey
(6) Kaleidoscope by Coldplay
There have only been two years in history when this award had six nominees – 2015 and 2018. Both times, Coldplay sneaked in and secured a slot. What’s impressive about their inclusion this year is that it was through an EP that had five tracks, one of which is a remix of “Something Just Like This”.
I’m a big fan of the band. But the task of winning this category will be impossible for them to do. They have neither the material nor the hype to pull it off.
(5) Lust for Life by Lana del Rey
There was a time when Lana del Rey was too dark and melancholic for the rest of the mainstream public to appreciate her genius. But she had a loyal following that would see to it that her good word has been spread. Even though she has not significantly changed her style, the rest of the world adapted and she is now a force to be reckoned with in pop music.
This is her fourth Grammy nomination overall. This year, she only has this one. She will eventually win this award but I’m predicting it will not be this year. Her music is slowly creeping in. But it sits on the side instead of being at the forefront of the Recording Academy’s everyday lives. She needs a strong case to be seen and not just heard. Maybe next time!
(4) Evolve by Imagine Dragons
The Recording Academy was correct to classify Evolve as a pop record. But considering the band’s association with the rock genre, this switch in category might just hurt their chances of winning.
Don’t get me wrong. It wouldn’t have been the best album either way. But confusion and commingling certainly do not help.
(3) Rainbow by Ke$ha
Ke$ha’s odds of winning are decent. She has the backstory that will make for good press. Her album has positive feedback as demonstrated by her Metacritic score. That’s why I feel she comes second in the Best Pop Solo Performance category.
I do think the Best Pop Vocal Album is a different ball game. It relies on an entire body of work to be of consistent quality, to deliver an impact that is widely felt or to stand on an artist’s track record or artistic credibility. “Praying” was a relative hit. The rest of the album did not click with the mainstream public. And while Ke$ha has done a turnaround, she is still considered lightweight at this stage.
(2) Joanne by Lady Gaga
As I mentioned in the Best Pop Solo Performance piece, there seems to be an inverse relationship between Lady Gaga’s commercial success and her critical acclaim. If I were being honest, I have not heard most of Joanne, nor do I intend to.
But she is likely to win and it is reflective of her standing in the music community, not the album’s impact. They will vote for her as a seal of approval to the artistry and talent she has demonstrated over the years. Her sound has evolved and her skills have been refined that it would be an injustice to not acknowledge it. Hopefully though, it is not by giving Joanne a victory.
(1) Divide by Ed Sheeran
Who knew it would be Ed Sheeran benefiting from votes of sympathy? He was supposed to be the one overrated. Instead, the narrative has changed to him becoming underrated. If he could not score a nomination in the general field, surely, it would only be appropriate to reward him in the pop genre.
If he were to lose one of his two nominations, he’d likely not grab Best Pop Solo Performance. But Divide is unbeatable. It may have its low points. But it solidified Ed Sheeran’s longevity and consistent contribution to pop music. That will be more than enough for Ed Sheeran to secure a win during Grammy night, even though he might not attend.
WILL WIN: Divide by Ed Sheeran
SHOULD WIN: Divide by Ed Sheeran