Somewhere out there, a few brave people are carefully deciding who they think had the best album of the year, and beyond.
First-round voting for the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards started late last month and ends next week, with a lot of tough choices being made. How do you possibly narrow down an outstanding 2019-worth of bops, bangers, slaps, and whole moods into the 8 finest albums of the year? From empowering anthems to boundary-breaking boldness, this year had a lot to offer. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.
Before we get started, we should tell you that the deadline for eligibility for this year’s GRAMMYs was August 31. That means that Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding which we love and The Lumineers' ambitious III that we adore, will both have to wait until next year.
In no particular order, these are the albums we think are most likely to land a nomination for Album Of The Year when they are announced on November 20.
Taylor Swift – Lover
The top-selling album of 2019 is also one of the best, finding Taylor Swift shedding whatever storm followed her through Reputation, falling in the sun-kissed land of Lover. The 7th effort from Swift is bright and beautiful, with Taylor speaking louder than ever about sexism, politics, and of course love. On Lover, Taylor manages to reset any and all narratives and reclaim the mantle of hopeful songwriter with a journal full of ambition and adulation.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next
In a way we all hope to face our adversity like Ariana Grande has, the ultimate example of "living well is the best revenge." Standing strong against loss, heartbreak, and international incidents with a fractured fortress built on self-love, thank u, next shines and shows Grande answering back with infectious anthems and urgency. Turning personal turmoil into pop supremacy, it’s only made more amazing when you realize it’s her second album of this nature in a span of 6 months.
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
After years of being an underground treasure and a midday festival surprise, Lizzo finally, fully arrived with the fanfare appropriate for her special set of skills. Cuz I Love You is an album three years in the making for a talent that's spent even longer bubbling under the surface. Lizzo packs her LP with pure energy, straight bangers, and quotable anthems. It is confidence fuel and the album her talent always deserved.
BIllie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
It’s tough to overstate how high the expectations were for Billie Eilish’s debut album. Crushing when you remember that she’s just 17. It’s also tough to overstate how hard she delivered, becoming the first artist born in the 2000s to top the Billboard Chart, staring critics and creeps down unflinchingly, essentially creating her own genre and inviting us all along for the ride. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is an introduction to a special new artist. Authentic, anxious, confident, and in control all at the same time.
Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life
Maggie Rogers is the type of young talent that GRAMMY voters love, offering something new and unique but grounded in the strength of songwriting and absolute skill. Rogers captures a graceful glow on Heard It In A Past Life, in an unrelenting emotional collection. The “Alaska” singer fuses together such a rich tapestry of sound, but her unmistakable voice always is the highlight.
Beyoncé – The Lion King: The Gift
“I wanted it to be authentic to what is beautiful about the music in Africa," Beyoncé said of her album The Lion King: The Gift. Both a love letter to the continent and a companion piece to her work in the film, The Gift is executive produced by Bey and features the star’s wide network of talented friends and family. Throughout, the themes of the circle of life, the balance of nature, and the weight of the king’s crown remain, all tethered to the film by working with artists and producers from Africa. The African imprint is strong and moving across the collection, most featuring Beyoncé at the center.
It’s an impressive connection that never feels like a novelty, but is a pure influence and component of the LP’s DNA.
Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
After 6 years away, Vampire Weekend returned, packing up their winter of discontent clothes and opting for a large but breezy spring collection. Father of the Bride arrived as an ambitious double album, with an hour worth of new music and a list of collaborators far larger than they have ever had before. On paper that sounds like a heavy lift, but it unfolds as a more jangly, jamming, and surefooted chapter for the band. Father of the Bride is tied together with the confidence of someone who survived the storm of their existential wonder, ready to step into the sun.
Wait, did we count wrong? No, we’re just not sure. These feel like the 7 most likely, but there’s far too many we love that we can’t name our 8th and final contender. That’s where you come in. What did we miss? Make the case for who should be nominated for Album Of The Year at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards.
We’ll find out for sure when the nominees are announced on November 20.