ReSlacktions: How Paste Writers Feel About the 2019 Grammy Nominations

We invaded Slack to break down the 2019 Grammy noms. Please enjoy.

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ReSlacktions: How Paste Writers Feel About the 2019 Grammy Nominations

Welcome to Paste’s new column, ReSlacktions, where a handful of Paste’s editors and contributors all hop on Slack to argue about the news of the day and give our reactions. For our first edition, we’re going to talk about today’s Grammy nominations and how well they do or don’t represent the previous year in music. The transcript has been edited for clarity and to save you all from the chaos that ensued when our writers discussed Greta Van Fleet.

Steven Edelstone (Contributing Writer): Hi everyone! Today’s big topic is obviously the Grammy nominations, which came out this morning. We’ll be talking about the big trends in the nominations themselves, how the Grammys have rebounded from CEO Neil Portnow’s comments last year, what the switch from 5 to 8 nominees in the big four categories actually means and our picks for the categories that matter! Welcome everyone!

Scott Russell (News Editor): Sup

Annie Black (Social Media Manager): Greetings, everyone

Robert Ham (Music Reviews Editor): Hello, fellow music junkies.

Ellen Johnson (Assistant Music Editor): Howdy y’all

Lizzie Manno (Assistant Music Editor): Let’s gooooo

Steven: Before we launch into our first major topic of the day, I thought I’d open it up first. What are all of your first reactions after seeing the nominations in full?

Robert: Big ups to former Paste contributor Amanda Petrusich for her first nomination.

Steven: Yeah Amanda! She was nominated for her liner notes for Bob Dylan’s new Bootleg Series

Annie: Hell yeah, AMANDA

Ellen: Yeah I love Amanda, that was exciting to see! Otherwise, there was a lot rage re: Greta Van Fleet being on the list anywhere

Josh Jackson (President/Editor in Chief/Music Editor): Proud of Amanda! Also I feel vindicated as the only person on staff to vote for Brandi Carlile’s album. But I apparently failed at playing it in the office enough.

Annie: For me, it’s the same as it is every year—“Wow, that’s a ton of stuff that’s extraordinarily popular, that somehow I missed entirely”

Robert: As for the big categories, I think we’re already seeing the big generational shift in the voting members. There are no Tony Bennetts or Quincy Joneses or other similar legacy artists in the Best Album or Record of the Year categories.

Lizzie: Was that purposely a move to not seem out of touch? All the young nominees

Robert: I think that’s part of it, Lizzie, but I know they also purged a bunch of voters. Making sure that the people who are picking the nominees are people who have made records recently.

Annie: But there’s CARDI B!!!!!!!! Our queen, our savior

Ellen: Cardi, please take it all home gurl

Scott: Who inexplicably isn’t nominated for best new artist

Ellen: Maybe because Cardi’s “bodak yellow” was nominated last year?

Annie: Cardi was around long before her first album was released, so that’s definitely a possibility

Ellen: It ain’t right, I say. But perhaps she’s too “big” for a best new artist nom now

Steven: So Scott brings up a great point – the Best New Artist category has shifted quite a bit this year. Despite there being more nominees (8 instead of 5, which we’ll get to in a bit), the rules have changed, basically saying that if an artist is too popular prior to their first nomination, they’re disqualified. This knocked out Camila Cabello and Post Malone. What do you think of the nominees we actually got?

Annie: We can live without Greta Van Fleet

Scott: Nice to see Margo Price on that list but she too has been around for a bit

Ellen: I am very happy to see Margo Price and Jorja Smith. But yes agree with Scott that Margo’s been around the loop a few times

Lizzie: I hope Margo Price takes it

Annie: Margo Price deserves it, but if she wins, I will be SHOCKED

Robert: Don’t think Margo has a chance, sadly.

Ellen: Yeah Margo’s not in this I don’t think. Honestly if anyone other than GVF wins I’ll be pleased

Josh: Usually we see some indie rocker in Best New Artist who’s been around for five years. Instead we get bad Zeppelin imitators.

Annie: It’ll be Greta Van Zeppelin

Lizzie: on a scale of 1-10 how mad would you be if Greta Van Fleet wins?

Annie: 100

Steven: 101

Robert: Though if Bebe Rexha and Dua Lipa split the votes, anything is possible.

Ellen: Maybe Dua can take it? She’s had a big year

Lizzie: Dua Lipa seems way too established

Ellen: I have never heard of Bebe Rexha in my life

Annie: Ellen she’s on the song with cardi and charli and rita

Robert: Ellen………I’m the other old guy in this mix and even I’VE heard of Bebe Rexha. She did the song with Florida Georgia Line that everyone loves.

Scott: As we start in on second-guessing these picks, I’d just like to present without comment this Neil Portnow quote on the nominations: “I think we’re incredibly relevant and on point. I’m very proud of it, honestly.”

Robert: Quite a change from his asking the women to “step it up.”

Lizzie: Really can’t get over his “women need to step up” comment tbh

Steven: Which brings up the biggest point of the nominations themselves – women represent 6/8 best new artist nominees. Is this a reaction to his comments from last year?

Ellen: Yeah I think it is

Annie: Absolutely.

Robert: I think that has to be a factor.

Ellen: They knew they couldn’t have a year where women didn’t rule. Everyone would riot

Robert: Especially with Ella Mai getting a nod for Song Of The Year. That’s the one that came out of nowhere.

Steven: Is it? I’m surprised she isn’t a Best New Artist nominee. She played SNL already!

Josh: Quick trivia question: What year were Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Alice in Chains nominated for Best Rock Album?

Scott: What is 2018, Josh?

Josh: Ding, ding, ding!

Lizzie: That Weezer album sucks ugh

Steven: Even with more women being nominated for Best New Artist than ever before, there are still a lot of deserving ones that are missing. We’ve already mentioned Ella Mai, but it’s surprising not to see Maggie Rogers or Billie Eilish there, who might be too big to be nominated next year due to the new rules

Scott: Maggie Rogers would’ve been an awesome pick. Shame

Ellen: I’m cheering for Maggie so much, hoping she can still snag a nom for that one next year

Lizzie: Maggie Rogers would definitely be a solid pick

Robert: I think Billie gets a nom next year.

Josh: Billie Eilish was probably the biggest surprise omission in Best New Artist. I think we’d all vote for Margo.

Steven: Billie Eilish might have more Spotify streams than the rest of the nominees combined! So since we’re all writers who tend to write about up and coming artists, do we like the new rules for Best New Artist that disqualifies artists that are already too big? It’s nice not seeing Post Malone in there, but is it a good rule?

Annie: Any rule that disqualifies Post Malone is a good rule

Robert: I think it’s too nebulous. How do we define “big”?

Ellen: I agree. I wish the qualifications were a little more rigid

Lizzie: What does the criteria even mean: “An artist will be considered for Best New Artist if their eligibility year release/s achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape.”

Scott: It seems odd to me that popularity is a factor. Why punish an artist for succeeding too quickly, in a timeframe that doesn’t line up with when the Grammy noms go out?

Robert: Margo’s got three or more albums under her belt. Is it just that she played SNL?

Robert: Did any of those eight artists make our list of Best New Artists?

Ellen: Nope, not this year at least. Margo was maybe on one of our lists a few years back?

Josh: According to the Grammys, Rock’s not dead; it’s just been in stasis for the last couple of decades.

Steven: So since we’re talking about “rock” music, let’s switch over to the only category that we usually care about… Best Alternative Album! How do we feel about the nominees here? It’s Arctic Monkeys, David Byrne, Bjork, Beck, and St. Vincent

Ellen: I’m really happy to see St. Vincent, Bjork and David Byrne on there!! Idk about Beck

Lizzie: AM, Byrne or St. Vincent would be awesome

Robert: Pretty safe picks, honestly. But that’s not surprising. Still a good bunch.

Josh: Not a bad list. Very safe, very unimpeachable artists.

Annie: I honestly loved Colors, and if David Byrne or St. Vincent win I will cry

Lizzie: Was anyone holding out a sliver of hope for a Mitski nod?

Josh: Mitski did get nominated for Best Recording Package!

Robert: Mitski would have been a great pick.

Scott: Colors was fine but that one’s the weak link to me. Another pick based mainly on the artist’s rep

Steven: I was hoping for Mitski, but assumed Father John Misty would get a nod

Ellen: Yeah didn’t FJM get one last year though? For Pure Comedy?

Lizzie: Nothing indie folk type this year which is interesting

Steven: So while I’m the only one to have MY #1 album of the year in there (Arctic Monkeys), if we expanded this out to 8 nominees like the big 4 categories, what would we add in there?


Ellen: I think from my list Mitski would be the only realistic one, for the Grammys at least

Scott: Would love to see Lucy Dacus in there…maybe even boygenius for that matter

Annie: Lucy should have been best new artist tbh

Lizzie: boygenius for best new artist would be AMAZING

Ellen: Would loved to have seen someone like Noname get in there for Best New Artist

Steven: Yeah honestly surprised Noname wasn’t in there. In hip hop’s biggest year, the most critically acclaimed album went home with no nominations

Robert: I think Noname’s “problem” is that she self-released her album. She didn’t have the big label mechanisms in place to launch a big Grammy nom campaign.

Steven: That hasn’t hurt Chance in the past though? So since we’ve been talking a lot about the switch from 5 to 8 nominees, how do we feel about it after seeing the nominations? Does it actually showcase more diverse nominees or does it just give more of an opportunity for the voters to fuck it all up?

Josh: Hey, if it took a bigger number of nominations to get some attention for Brandi Carlile and Janelle Monae, I’m okay with it.

Ellen: I think in some cases it has helped. In best new artists, we may not have even seen someone like Margo Price or Jorja Smith. It could have just been the GVF and Dua and Bebe Rexha and whoever

Robert: I think we’re going to see a lot of surprise winners with the big names splitting the votes.

Lizzie: There are still a lot of safe picks, but I think expanding the nominees is helpful. If Janelle Monae wins I’ll cry

Annie: This is a side note, but former Paste writer Rachel Brodsky is now the managing editor for the Recording Academy— it’s nice to see that someone who actually knows what’s going on in the music world is there

Ellen: Janelle Monae winning album of the year would be the only thing. Also rooting for Cardi, always

Robert: Do you think Kacey Musgraves has a shot considering the buzz surrounding that album right now? CMA album of the year is no small thing.

Steven: Definitely

Ellen: Would be BEYOND THRILLED to see Kacey. Yeah Kacey’s album has really been fairly equal in terms of commercial and critical success

Lizzie: As long as AOTY doesn’t go to Drake or Star is Born, I’ll be content

Steven: So Lizzie kind of brings up my next big question… Who would be the worst-case scenario winner for the big categories? The Adele/Beck over Beyonce, Bruno Mars over Kendrick type of winner?

Robert: Post Malone.

Ellen: “Shallow” taking record of the year would break me

Robert: Would also be a big deal if Drake were to win considering he’s going to be a no show.

Ellen: Shallow over This is America? And God’s Plan?? And I Like It?? Nu uh

Robert: It could happen, Ellen.

Lizzie: But honestly if Post Malone and Star is Born win that’s probably the America we deserve

Robert: The Grammys LOVE Gaga.

Ellen: Indeed, I’m preparing for the worst, but I have hope!!! I just don’t see how anyone could think This Is America isn’t the song of the year

Annie: People keep pulling the “but it’s a music VIDEO” card. We got a lot of slack for putting it as our #1 song of the year for that reason

Lizzie: Do we think This is America is too edgy for Grammy voters even if the public disagrees?

Ellen: I see the argument there, but to me it was still so big as a song. It’s almost like it’s worth naming the song and the music video of the year.

Robert: I think if he played it safer and Atlanta were a feel good fuzzy type show, he’d be a lock.

Steven: I’m surprised it’s “God’s Plan” and not “Nice for What” nominated here to be honest.

Robert: I think “God’s Plan” is the Boi-1da factor since he’s nominated for the big producer category.

Ellen: On another note, how would we all feel if an album legitimately named “BEERBONGS & BENTLEYS” won album of the year in 2018?

Lizzie: It would feel fitting unfortunately

Annie: This is America after all

Steven: We haven’t gotten into the biggest snubs of the year yet… I’ll start. HOW IS ARIANA GRANDE NOT NOMINATED FOR ANYTHING MAJOR?

Robert: Nor was Taylor, Ms. Swift if you’re nasty.

Ellen: Yeah I’m upset about Ari, but perhaps next year she’ll sweep best record with “Thank u next”?? I’m surprised Sweetener didn’t snag an album of the year nom

Robert: I think Ellen is right though. Once “Thank U, Next” comes out, she’ll land a TON of nominations.

Lizzie: Do the Grammys have a vendetta against Ariana? Sweetener seemed like it had commercial and critical praise. A slam dunk AOTY nod?

Steven: Same with “Havana” not getting record/song of the year

Robert: Havana is a shocking snub.

Steven: Though a live version was nominated best pop solo?

Robert: How do you drop a live version in the mix?

Ellen: That song is catchy af

Steven: And has been streamed over a billion times on Spotify

Robert: Does the live version feature Young Thug?

Steven: No but it has a bongo breakdown (no joke).

Annie: Let’s take a second and give credit to SOPHIE for her nom for best dance/electronic album

Robert: YES, ANNIE, YES.

Steven: Speaking of snubs, it’s pretty crazy to me that Beyonce and Jay Z released a collaborative album this year and it barely got any nominations. Three to be exact – and only one of them was for “APESHIT” (music video)

Ellen: It’s so strange to be living in a world where bey and jay released a collaborative album and it’s not nominated for anything major

Lizzie: Does this Beyonce and Jay Z snub mean illuminati isn’t real?

Steven: It blows my mind that “APESHIT” wasn’t nominated in here:

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

Christina Aguilera ft. Goldlink – Like I Do
6LACK ft. J. Cole – Pretty Little Fears
Childish Gambino – This Is America
Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars
Post Malone ft. 21 Savage – Rockstar

Ellen: Yeah what’s up with CHRISTINA AGUILERA up in there

Robert: Beyonce rapped too much on that one.

Steven: With one of the best verses of the year!

Steven: So it’s also interesting that we don’t see Taylor Swift not nominated for anything major. Sure, the album wasn’t great, but the Grammys LOVE her

Robert: I was imagining her management team and the folks at Big Machine throwing HUGE FITS over her only getting one nom. If they have any power in the biz, that won’t happen again.

Ellen: I honestly am dreading whatever she decides to do next. Reputation was such a snooze

Lizzie: Is she just as relevant as before?

Robert: She’s more popular than ever.

Ellen: I think she’s still massively relevant as a pop star and celebrity, but Reputation was not good

Lizzie: Also props for her sticking her neck out into politics

Ellen: Yeah she voted for democrats, I love her for that!!

Steven: Fun fact: “Look What You Made Me Do” has almost 300 million more streams than “Blank Space”

Robert: It’s fascinating to me that once you get beyond the General categories, the Pop categories fall right back in line with the old school Grammy picks. Tony Bennett, Maroon 5, Timberlake, Beck, etc., etc.

Steven: JT only had one nomination! Another big name to get shut out!

Robert: His first solo record to not go platinum. Taking five years between albums didn’t help.


Steven: WHICH WE HAVEN’T MENTIONED. Backstreet Boys got a nomination in 2018! It’s pretty crazy to see Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake all nominated in the same category in 2018


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Annie: I love it. I’m so here for it

Lizzie: time warp

Annie: All’s old is new again

Robert: The ‘90s are back, baby!!

Steven: So before we all get back to work and give our predictions, I was wondering what your headline would read following the nominations?

Annie: “Big Shocker: The Grammy’s are exactly what you expected they’d be”

Robert: Grammys Embrace Youth, Snub Grande

Ellen: **And snub The Carters

Lizzie: Despite Promising Nominations, Grammys Will Pull a Grammy

Steven: Women “Step It Up” in 2018, Defy Neil Portnow

Annie: “Neil Portnow steps down, due to WOMEN” Neil Portnow:


Ellen: Grammy Nominations Fight To Stay Relevant in 2018 With More Women Nominees (key word FIGHT). Seems like if you’re trying to stay relevant by including women popstars you might want to include THE BIGGEST ONE

Annie: Will Ariana even show up?

Robert: Ariana will perform.

Steven: She’ll accept when Mac Miller wins best rap album

Ellen: Oh right on, I’d cry some tears if she did that for Mac

Robert: You think Mac’s gonna take that one?

Lizzie: Mac is probably going to win. They love to give posthumous awards

Steven: There’s no reason Mac would win this category, but he’ll get the sympathy vote

Best Rap Album

Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Mac Miller- Swimming
Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
Pusha-T – Daytona
Travis Scott – Astroworld

Annie: But if Mac doesn’t win, I’d go Cardi or Pusha T

Ellen: My vote for the actual album would be Cardi or Pusha or maybe even Travis actually, but I would be 100% ok with Mac taking it

Robert: How did Nipsey Hussle sneak in there?

Annie: Although if travis scott wins, it would be cool to see him bring the baby on stage

Steven: How crazy is it that Drake and Kanye released albums this year and weren’t nominated for Best Rap Album?

Annie: I’m 100% okay with that

Lizzie: I feel like they always surprise people with nominations but never the actual winner

Ellen: The in memoriam is gonna be a rough one this year guys

Steven: As long as Scott Hutchison is in it

Robert: If they don’t include Pete Shelley and Mark E. Smith in the In Memoriam, I’m gonna turn the Grammy Museum into a car wash.

Ellen: And Richard Swift. Please.

Steven: Alright, let’s wrap this up and give our predictions. Let’s start with Best New Artist! Who’s your “Should Win” and “Will Win?” Here are the nominees…

Best New Artist

Chloe x Halle
Luke Combs
Greta Van Fleet
Dua Lipa
Margo Price
Bebe Rexha
Jorja Smith

Lizzie: Should: Margo, Will: Dua

Steven: Should Win: Margo Price, Will Win: Led Zeppelin

Annie: Should win: Margo, Will win: GVF

Robert: Should: Jorja, Will: Bebe Rexha

Ellen: Should: Margo or Jorja, Will: Dua

Song of the Year

Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars
Ella Mai – Boo’d Up
Drake – God’s Plan
Shawn Mendes – In My Blood
Brandi Carlile – The Joke
Zedd & Maren Morris – The Middle
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow
Childish Gambino – This Is America

Ellen: Should: Childish, Will: Childish

Robert: Should: This Is America, Will: The Middle

Steven: Should: This is America, Will: Shallow

Lizzie: Should: All the stars, Will: Star is Born

Annie: Should win: This is America, Will Win: God’s Plan

Steven: Alright next category!

Record of the Year

Cardi B – I Like It
Brandi Carlile – The Joke
Childish Gambino – This Is America
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow
Drake – God’s Plan
Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars
Post Malone & 21 Savage – Rockstar
Zedd & Maren Morris – The Middle

Steven: Should: Cardi, Will: Star is Born

Robert: Should: I Like It, Will: Shallow

Ellen: Should: Cardi, Will: Shallow

Annie: Should win: This is America, Will win: Rockstar

Lizzie: Should: All the stars, Will: Shallow

Robert: Oooooh, almost a consensus.

Steven: I mainly want to see what a J Balvin and Bad Bunny acceptance speech would look like, which by the way, Latin singers got shut out except for “I Like It.” J Balvin and Bad Bunny are two of the biggest stars of the year

Ellen: ^^^Which is RIDIC considering how huge latin music is right now

Robert: That I think is the biggest storyline about Grammy snubs.

Lizzie: Solid point. The explosion of popular Latin music hasn’t been reflected in Grammys yet. Obviously they have Latin Grammys but…

Steven: “Despacito” got nominated last year, no?

Steven: Before we get to our final category, thoughts on who will perform and who will be the best? Gambino could steal the show easily again

Ellen: I hope hope hope ari performs and is also the best

Lizzie: Gambino could do some amazing visual stuff

Annie: Miley has her new stuff happening, I feel like she may perform

Lizzie: Musgraves performance would be awesome

Robert: Cardi B

Ellen: Would love to see Kacey and Cardi perform at the Grammys. Not together obvi hahah but that’d be cool too!

Robert: Cooper and Gaga, for sure. GVF.

Lizzie: I can see it now. Greta Van Fleet with ridiculous flames and shit

Steven: Wouldn’t Cooper and Gaga just wait for the Oscars? And if they win, will Bradley Cooper piss himself?

Robert: ^^No way. They’re going to MILK IT.

Steven: A Pusha T performance would be AWESOME

Robert: I predict a “women in country” thing with the Pistol Annies, Margo, Kacey, Maren and Ashley McBryde. FGL and Bebe Rexha are gonna play too… That’s gonna be the country thing: the country pop crossover stuff with FGL/Bebe and Maren/Zedd.

Lizzie: Kendrick and SZA would be awesome too

Ellen: OH eff yes, SZA always anytime. Will they do a Mac Miller tribute? Or any kind of tribute y’all think? Aretha? May she rest in the most peace

Steven: And that’s where Ariana will perform to make up for the creepy groping pastor at the funeral

Lizzie: You gotta expect a solid rendition of RESPECT at some point

Steven: Feat Mavis Staples

Annie: Let’s have a sting & shaggy performance

Ellen: I’d love to see another beautiful indie chorus a la last year’s oscars with sufjan, annie moses etc.

Lizzie: Probably won’t do it, but a Buzzcocks tribute would be awesome

Robert: A Buzzcocks tribute with Green Day and Dave Grohl. Calling it now.

Ellen: Wake me up when the grammys end y’all

Steven: Alright, let’s do our last category…

Album of the Year

H.E.R. – H.E.R.
Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You
Drake – Scorpion
Various Artists – Black Panther: The Album
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
Post Malone – Beerbongs & Bentleys
Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

Ellen: This is hard actually

Steven: Should: Cardi, Will: Fuck it, Cardi. I’d most like to see Black Panther because I’d love to see SOB x RBE get onstage and yell “RIP MAC DRE”

Annie: Should win: dirty computer, will win: black panther

Robert: Should: Janelle; Will: Kacey. Calling it now.

Lizzie: Should: Janelle, Will: Cardi

Ellen: MY pick would be Kacey all the time butttttt should: cardi, will: cardi ?

Robert: It’s going to be a Steely Dan/Quincy Jones type bit of weirdness.

Ellen: I think I want Cardi to win this more than anyone. It was her year

Lizzie: Black Panther would be a very symbolic pick

Steven: I’d be a little disappointed tbh if Kendrick won for the first time for Black Panther

Lizzie: If Grammys this year are about righting past wrongs, Black Panther would make sense, though ideally a woman should win

Ellen: I’m not sure if we’ll know that’s what the grammys are about till the night of

Annie: It’s the Grammys, yall. end of story, we will be disappointed

Robert: Congratulations to Post Malone then.

Steven: And on that note…

Ellen: thank u, next

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