The 2018 Grammy Nominations Suggest the Awards Are Finally Getting a Woke Makeover
The 2018 Grammy Awards are still a few months away, but with the announcement of this year’s nominations, the class of 2018 is looking decidedly different than years gone by. While there was a lot of uproar over what some fans believed to be a racially driven snub to then mega-pregnant Beyoncé, the 2017 awards fell a bit flat overall for those who expected the show to be a strong representation of what people were actually listening to and not just what the Recording Academy liked.
After both Drake and Kanye West boycotted last year’s awards show (despite Kanye leading the nominations for 2017), it seems the Recording Academy has taken note after two years of major pushback by megastars who have publicly pointed out inequity in the selection of Grammy winners.
With this year’s nominees, the Recording Academy’s giving fans what they were hoping for by way of a wildly diverse group of musicians, and then some. Although the Record of the Year category’s “Despacito” has Canadian crooner Justin Bieber singing in the English-language remix of an originally Spanish hit, the entire category is otherwise dominated by non-white men. Jay-Z, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Childish Gambino (AKA Donald Glover hot off his Emmy win), Kendrick Lamar, and Bruno Mars have made this category one to keep an eye on. But, it’s the Album of the Year category that’s making major history.
2018 marks the first time ever that the Album of the Year category doesn’t have a single white man on it. Contenders Childish Gambino (for Awaken, My Love!), Jay-Z (4:44), Kendrick Lamar (DAMN.), Lorde (Melodrama), and Bruno Mars (24K Magic) have inadvertently made this upcoming year’s crop of nominees one to watch, especially if you’re hoping to see a different type of Grammy Awards.
And whether you love or loathe “Despacito,” the wildly popular reggaeton song’s crossover appeal speaks volumes to a Recording Academy more interested in what fans are listening to than anything else. The only other Latin songs nominated in this category in recent memory were “Smooth” by Carlos Santana featuring Rob Thomas, and Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”
With newcomer SZA dominating this year with the most nominations of any woman (five, if you’re keeping track), women are coming through too. After a string of terrible, lawsuit-filled years, Kesha’s return to pop music garnered her (much deserved) nominations for Pop Solo Performance for her gut-wrenching ballad, “Praying,” and a nod for Pop Vocal Album for Rainbows. These nominations are the first ever for the embattled singer.
Of course, the 2018 Grammy nominees list hasn’t totally escaped controversy. While many music fans might be overjoyed about this year’s nominations, fans of former One Directioner Harry Styles aren’t feeling as excited — the singer-songwriter’s debut solo album Sign of the Times received exactly zero nominations, something that both surprised and upset many on social media.
Whether you are super excited about this year’s Grammy nominations or not, the shakeup brought about by this most diverse group of musicians ever nominated will make for one interesting red carpet and awards telecast on January 28 next year.
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(Photo via Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Billboard Magazine)