Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar are the main contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, leading a crop of nominations that is heavy on hip-hop and R&B but has left mainstream pop stars like Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga out of the running for the major prizes.
The awards will be announced at New York’s Madison Square Garden on 28 January 2018, and will be screened on 4 Music the following evening.
Here are six of the stories highlighted by this year’s nominees.
Hip-hop and R&B rule the roost
It was becoming embarrassing. In the last 20 years, only two black artists have won the Grammys main prize, album of the year. Two years ago, Beck controversially beat Beyonce’s ground-breaking, self-titled video album to the title. Then, last year, Adele did it again.
Adele seemed embarrassed by the accolade, and spoke for many Grammy-watchers when she said her rival deserved it more, describing Lemonade as “monumental… beautiful and soul-baring”.
Following that, Canadian superstar Drake withdrew his album, More Life, from consideration for the Grammy Awards; echoing Frank Ocean, who withheld his 2016 album Blonde, citing the ceremony’s “cultural bias”.
It all amounted to a wake-up call and, this year, the main categories are dominated by rap and R&B.
Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar’s multiple nominations were expected; but the recognition for Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic and Childish Gambino’s brilliant, psychedelic P-Funk album Awaken, My Love were both surprises.
The latter, in particular, seems responsible for pushing aside Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide); which many Grammy observers assumed was a shoo-in for album of the year.
But the story goes deeper than the main awards categories – the top nine most-nominated people at the 2018 Grammys are non-white performers.
Neil Portnow, chief executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which runs the Grammys, called the mix of nominees “a really terrific reflection of the voting membership of the academy”.
It’s a pivotal moment; and you have to hope that those voters don’t fumble the ball by giving album of the year to Lorde’s Melodrama, the only pop record on the shortlist.
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