In 2018, I managed to predict the winner of this category. Even though Ed Sheeran got snubbed in the general field, I suspect the Recording Academy’s omission is only to avoid another pop win in Album of the Year but not to completely overlook the impact that Divide made in the genre.
For reference, you can find the article from the previous year here: https://bit.ly/2BwKZwc
This 2019, many pundits believed that two albums – Taylor Swift’s Reputation, alongside Ariana Grande’s most celebrated record yet, Sweetener – would be locked for Album of the Year. Unfortunately, the recognition was limited to the genre and they share the field with two relatively new acts (Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello), and two veterans (Pink and Kelly Clarkson).
Sweetener by Ariana Granda
Camila by Camila Cabello
Meaning of Life by Kelly Clarkson
Beautiful Trauma by Pink
Shawn Mendes by Shawn Mendes
Reputation by Taylor Swift
(6) Camila by Camila Cabello
I personally found Camila Cabello’s debut album decent. There were clear gems in the album and that’s why there have been several singles released that turned into hits. However, I just can’t imagine the Recording Academy taking her seriously this early. If the superior Harry Styles album couldn’t pull off a nomination, I doubt Camila Cabello can. The recognition would be Camila’s reward already.
(5) Beauitful Trauma by Pink
If any artist can create a commercially impactful and soulfully rich record on their seventh studio album, I would argue he/she deserves an award . That’s exactly what Pink pulled off with Beautiful Trauma. History has Pink as the second most nominated artist in this category (4x). She’s also the category’s biggest loser, not having won any single of those Pop Vocal Album nominations. I’m betting she’s going to be a bridesmaid again.
(4) Shawn Mendes by Shawn Mendes
Shawn Mendes is almost as lightweight as Camila Cabello. What sets him apart is a mention in the general field and a proven track record of commercial success. After all, this is his third studio album. Yes, you read that right! In any case, he hasn’t had the breakthrough that makes the critics believe and he’s still a pretty face to many. He has better odds but I don’t think he stands a chance.
(3) Meaning of Life by Kelly Clarkson
Among all the albums nominated in this category, Meaning of Life is the record most pop fans would have never heard of. That’s a pity as I consider this her second best album to date after Breakaway. There’s just freedom and liberation in her style that that I haven’t heard in some time. Why rank her 3rd? She’s the most nominated artist in this category’s history (5x), and also the most awarded (2x). She’s not divisive and can pull off an upset.
(2) Sweetener by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has the perfect back story to be victorious. She turned a personal tragedy into a grand victory. She released a record that was celebrated by both the public and the critics. I see a strong case for her winning. However, the love she received wasn’t enough to secure a general field nomination. As of this writing, she’s also Grammy-less. I believe the Recording Academy will spread the wealth and award her once but not twice.
(1) Reputation by Taylor Swift
This is the only nomination of Taylor Swift. That is also the same reason why I feel she might clinch the victory. Rewarding her doesn’t rob artists many feel are overdue (ehem Kendrick Lamar). This sentiment in Best Pop Vocal Album doesn’t exist. Her album was the biggest seller of 2018. She’s divisive but highly respected by the half that love her. It’s a close call between her and Ariana but I’d give premium to history so I choose Taylor.
WILL WIN: Reputation by Taylor Swift
SHOULD WIN: Reputation by Taylor Swift