The instant reaction from some major media outlets to the Grammy nominations announced Tuesday was that somehow the stodgy old Recording Academy had awakened to the dominance of hip-hop and R&B, which ostensibly gives the “often overlooked genres a strong chance of winning big,” according to the Associated Press.
The actual take-away from Tuesday’s nominations in 84 categories: Once again the Grammy nominations reflect just how much hip-hop and R&B dominate pop — with rock and country reduced to afterthoughts. But will the academy follow through with some actual awards for those era-dominating genres when the winners in the major categories are announced in a nationally televised show Jan. 28?
On Tuesday, Jay-Z collected eight nods, Kendrick Lamar seven and producer (and former Chicagoan) No I.D. got five, continuing a yearslong pattern of hip-hop and R&B domination of the nominations. Last year, it was Drake, Kanye West and Rihanna with eight nominations apiece and Chance the Rapper with seven. For the 2016 awards, Lamar received a staggering 11 nominations, the Weeknd seven and Drake five.
Yet the only hip-hop artists to win album of the year in the Grammys’ 59 previous years were OutKast (in 2004) and Lauryn Hill (1999), an embarrassingly small representation in a 40-year span that has produced culture-shifting artists such as Lamar, West and countless others. The last artist with even tentative links to R&B to win album of the year was Whitney Houston, in 1994.
Nor has a hip-hop track ever won song or record of the year. That could change this year with both categories heavily represented by rap and R&B nominees, including Childish Gambino, Jay-Z and Lamar for record of the year, and Jay-Z and Logic for song of the year.
Meanwhile, rock continued to be pushed to the margins. Once again, it was shut out of the four major categories: record, song and album of the year, and best new artist. Country artists also didn’t make the final cut for the top awards.
Major pop artists snubbed in the big categories were singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, whose album “Reputation” was released too late for Grammy consideration but whose single “Look What You Made Me Do” was eligible.
The nominees in the top categories:
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Record of the Year (awarded to the performance and production): Childish Gambino, “Redbone”; Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee f. Justin Bieber, “Despacito”; Jay-Z “Story of O.J.”; Kendrick Lamar, “Humble”; Bruno Mars, “24k Magic.”
Song of the Year (awarded to the songwriter): Luis Fonsi, “Despacito”; Jay-Z, “4:44”; Julia Michaels, “Issues”; Logic featuring Alessia Cara, “1-800-273-8255”; Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like.”
Best New Artist: Alessia Cara, Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels, SZA.
Album of the Year: Childish Gambino, “Awaken My Love!”; Jay-Z, “4:44”; Kendrick Lamar, “DAMN.”; Lorde, “Melodrama”; Bruno Mars, “24K Magic.”
Among the nominees with Chicago ties, Lyric Opera music director Andrew Davis received a nod for best choral performance (Handel’s “Messiah”), Justin Roberts received a nomination for best children’s album (“Lemonade”) and Austin-via-Chicago music writer Michael Corcoran was acknowledged for best album liner notes and best historical album (“Washington Phillips and his Manzarene Dreams”).
To be eligible in any of the 84 categories at the 60th annual Grammys, a recording had to be released between Oct. 1, 2016 and Sept. 30, 2017.