Grammys Preview: What's At Stake For Ariana Grande, JAY-Z and More

Kacey Musgraves, Ariana Grande, Jay-Z and Neil Portnow
Photos: Getty Images

Kacey Musgraves, Ariana Grande, Jay-Z and Neil Portnow

The upcoming Grammys ceremony on Feb. 10, 2019 could be a major turning point for these artists and industry players.

Below, we break down what's at stake for each of them come awards night.


Who The 25-year-old pop star who overcame tragedy and released her best-received album to date, Sweetener.

Hurdle She’s a proven hitmaker, but Grammy success has eluded her thus far, with no Big Four noms yet.

Upshot Sweetener marked a new commercial peak for Grande. A major Grammy nod could cement her as the biggest current star in pop -- if older voters recognize her maturing sound and emergence as a powerful voice for perseverance.


Who Rap legend; with wife Beyonc√©, one half of The Carters.

Hurdle After years of snubs, Jay got eight nominations in 2018 and lost them all, looking visibly peeved in several onscreen cutaway shots and adding a Grammy dis to “Apeshit,” from The Carters’ Everything Is Love EP.

Upshot The Grammys could give Bey and Jay their first album of the year trophies -- or risk ruining an already contentious relationship.


Who Country singer-songwriter whose Nashville roots absorbed more pop-rock influences on her rapturously reviewed Golden Hour.

Hurdle Her fan base has grown beyond country, but Musgraves has only earned one nomination thus far outside the genre’s categories: for best new artist in 2014.

Upshot An album of the year nod would be a score for women in country -- but more commercially unavoidable LPs might overshadow Musgraves.


Who Recording Academy president/CEO since 2002, overseeing his final Grammys before stepping down next July.

Hurdle Took heat for the lack of diversity at the 2018 show -- particularly for a paucity of women artists, whom he exhorted to “step up.”

Upshot The expanded Big Four categories in 2019 could prove Portnow’s new Diversity and Inclusion Task Force is working, burnishing his legacy. If not, he risks becoming the “step up” guy forever.   

This article originially appeared in the Oct. 13 issue of Billboard.


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