Recording Academy voters were most impressed this year with the sound of Wakanda, the fictional African country from the film Black Panther.
The music Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar assembled to accompany the Marvel Studios blockbuster received a field-leading eight nominations for its album and singles, including the hat-trick of recognition in the top three categories of record, album and song of the year.
This is the second time in Lamar’s career that he has led the Grammy nominees. Lamar went into the 2016 ceremony with 11 nominations tied to his To Pimp a Butterfly and last year, his Damn competed for album of the year, ultimately losing to Bruno Mars.
This year his hip-hop peer Drake scored seven nods, and a pair of artistes have six nominations: Washington state-bred singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile and producer Boi-1Da.
Lamar has company in pulling off nominations for record, album and song of the year: Carlile and Drake also have nominations in the three marquee categories, perhaps a reflection this year of the academy’s expansion of the top award fields this year to accommodate a broader range of nominated artists.
Instead of the usual five nominated works in each of those fields, this year Recording Academy voters spread the wealth among eight nominees in each category, one of the first steps the academy has taken since last year’s awards were roundly criticised for a dearth of female winners at the top of the heap.
At first glance, it appears this year’s top nominees are more equitably distributed: Among the 11 multiple nominees with five or more nods, the breakdown is six males and five females. But looking beyond to the 42 people with three or more nominations, a gender disparity is still apparent: 32 are male and just 10 are female.
While hip-hop and R&B again dominate the most recognised works, the increased number of entries made room for Carlile’s emotionally revealing indie folk-pop, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s paean to star-crossed lovers that is Shallow from A Star Is Born,” and the massive hit The Middle from Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey, an Auto-Tuned slice of contemporary pop.
Along with Black Panther, which features contributions from a plethora of major artists, album-of-the-year nods went to Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You, Drake’s Scorpion, Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy,” H.E.R.’s H.E.R., Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys, Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer and Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour.
Elsewhere, the intersection of music and the movies proved to be a powerful thread running through many of the nominations, most notable via Lamar’s Black Panther recognition and the multiple nods for Gaga and Cooper related to A Star Is Born.
Nominees for record of the year, an award saluting musical performance and record production, are I Like It from Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin; Childish Gambino’s politically charged This Is America; Drake’s God’s Plan; Lady Gaga and Cooper’s Shallow; Lamar and SZA’s duet All The Stars; Zedd, Morris and Grey’s The Middle; and Carlile’s The Joke, which received a high-profile boost when former President Barack Obama included it on a playlist of his favourite recent songs.
Six of those eight also collected nominations for song of the year, a songwriter’s award. In addition to All The Stars, God’s Plan, The Joke, The Middle, Shallow and This Is America, the other two nominated songs are Ella Mai’s hit Boo’d Up and Shawn Mendes’ single In My Blood.
Among the noteworthy names largely missing in action from the latest slate of Grammy nominations were Taylor Swift and Kanye West.
Swift’s sixth album, Reputation, was the year’s best-selling album, according to Billboard, and received generally enthusiastic reviews: It scored at 71 (out of a possible 100) on Metacritic.com’s review aggregate website but landed her just a single nomination, for pop vocal album.
West’s Ye, released in June, tallied a 64 on the same site, the lowest of his career, and he is in contention for just one Grammy, as non-classical producer of the year for his work on five albums, including Ye.
The Grammy Awards will be announced Feb 10 in a nationally televised ceremony at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Awards are determined by approximately 13,000 voting members of the Recording Academy from among recordings released during the eligibility period from Oct 1, 2017, through Sept 30, 2018. – Los Angeles TimesTribune News Service