Maybe this is the year Kendrick Lamar finally wins a Grammy for record, album or song of the year. His work on the soundtrack for “Black Panther” landed him eight nominations on Friday, the most of any single artist.
Or maybe it’s the Year of the Women, with the nominations in those categories as well as best new artist tilted heavily toward in their favor a year after men dominated the nominations in the Big 4 categories.
Nominations for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards were announced on Friday and as usual there’s plenty to talk about in the mix of those who get to attend the ceremonies on Feb. 10, 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and those who get to stay home this year and cry pretty.
Here’s what jumped out after a bit of scrutiny of the nominations.
1. Powerful Women: Female artists dominated several of the top categories. For album of the year, they grabbed five of newly-expanded-to-eight nominations with Cardi B, Brandi Carlile, H.E.R., Janelle Monae and Kacey Musgraves against male artists Drake, Post Malone and Lamar. Women are also part of five of the eight nominations for record of the year and four of eight for song of the year. And in best new artist, female acts grabbed six of eight slots with Chloe x Halle, H.E.R., Dua Lipa, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith against Greta Van Fleet, a band of guys with the name of a woman, and Luke Combs.
2. Kendrick Lamar’s Superpower: The hip-hop star from Compton now has 37 Grammy nominations for his career, and while he’s won 12 out of 29 opportunities in years past, those wins have all been outside of the top awards, usually in various rap categories. A year ago his 2017 album “DAMN.” failed to bring home a top prize, although a month or two later it won the Pulitzer Prize for music. It was the first time a pop music artist won, the Pulitzer previously going solely to classical or jazz works. But with “Black Panther,” the box office champion of 2018 so far as well as a Golden Globe favorite when those nominations were announced Thursday, perhaps Lamar cracks to the top echelons of the Grammys this year.
3. Taylor Swift’s big snub: Some big names from Grammys past won’t be factors this year, with one bigger than Taylor Swift, whose album “reputation” and its singles released during the Grammy nomination period were overlooked by the academy on Thursday, except for a lone nomination for best pop vocal album. While “reputation” came out in mid-2017 and initially divided fans and critics over its darker, even bitter elements, it became so popular over the year and a half since its release that it’s the top-selling album of 2018.
4. The multiples: Rapper Drake, with seven nominations, was just one behind Lamar, though somehow his record “Scorpion” got nominated for album of the year but overlooked as rap album of the year where his 2018 rap-beef foe Pusha T did get a nod. Americana singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile and hip-hop producer and frequent Drake collaborator Boi-1da each earned six nominations, with three of Carlile’s in the top three categories. Earning five nominations each are Cardi B, Lady Gaga, H.E.R., Maren Morris, Childish Gambino, producer Sounwave and engineer Mike Bozzi.
5. R.I.P. – Rock ‘n’ Rap In Peace: A year ago the late Leonard Cohen won the Grammy for best rock performance, this year the late Chris Cornell has a chance to succeed him as a posthumous winner with his song “When Bad Does Good” nominated in the same category. Rapper Mac Miller, who died earlier this fall, is also up for a posthumous award with his record “Swimming” nominated for best rap album.
6. Never too old: Best traditional pop album typically features new collections of older songs but this year a lot of the nominees were around when the songs first were written. The 92-year-old Tony Bennett got a nomination for his collaboration with Diana Krall. Willie Nelson, only 85, and Barbra Streisand, just 76, also grabbed nominations, as did Seal, 55, and Gregory Porter, the baby of the bunch at 47.
7. BTS crack the Grammys, sort of: BTS, the K-pop boy band are one of the biggest acts in the world, and now they have an excuse to come to the Grammys. “Love Yourself: Tear” earned a nomination for best recording package, an honor that actually goes to the art design team, in this case the Korean firm of HuskyFox, but still, they’re in the door now; it’s only a matter of time.
8. More big names overlooked: Hip-hop artist Kanye West, aka Kim Kardashian West’s husband, got just one nomination for producer of the year, non-classical. Other big names who did less than one might have expected included singer Ariana Grande, who was nominated just twice, and the Carters, as Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s music this year was billed. All of that is better than country star and past Grammy winner Carrie Underwood did: her most recent release, “Cry Pretty,” got shut out.
9. First-timers: The late Mac Miller’s nomination for best rap album is also his first Grammy nod. Others who got the call for the first time on Friday include rapper Post Malone who grabbed his first four nominations this year, former Fifth Harmony vocalist turned solo performer Camila Cabello with two nominations, and indie singer-songwriter darling Sufjan Stevens with one,
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