Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar are the top contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, leading a crop of nominations that is heavy on hip-hop and R&B but has left some mainstream pop stars, including Ed Sheeran, shut out of major prizes.
Jay-Z got eight nods for his album 4:44, which mixed dark personal confessions with meditations about race; Lamar had seven for DAMN., a critical favourite and a smash on streaming services that also addressed racial politics and self-reflection. Bruno Mars had six nominations, and Childish Gambino, Khalid, SZA and No I.D. (Jay-Z’s producer) each had five.
With all major awards shows under scrutiny for how they incorporate diversity, the Grammy nominations are striking, as minority artists dominate the ballot in nearly all of the most prestigious categories, including record, song and album of the year.
Contenders for record of the year include Jay-Z for ‘The Story of O.J.’; Lamar for ‘HUMBLE.’; Mars for ’24K Magic’; Childish Gambino for ‘Redbone’; and the Latin pop phenomenon ‘Despacito,’ by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with Justin Bieber.
For album of the year, Jay-Z and Lamar face Mars’ 24K Magic, Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! and Lorde’s Melodrama. Nods for song of the year went to the writers of ‘Despacito,’ Jay-Z’s ‘4:44,’ Mars’ ‘That’s What I Like,’ Logic’s ‘1-800-273-8255’ and Julia Michaels’ ‘Issues.’
Notably absent is Sheeran, whose tropical-tinged song ‘Shape of You’ has been one of this year’s biggest hits. In 2016, Sheeran took home song of the year for ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ but this time his two nods are outside the top fields: ‘Shape of You’ for pop solo performance; and ÷ for pop vocal album.
The best new artist category includes the rapper Lil Uzi Vert, the singers Khalid and Alessia Cara, and two young women, SZA and Michaels, who have developed successful songwriting credentials in addition to their own work as performers. Cara and Khalid are also the featured singers on Logic’s ‘1-800-273-8255,’ whose title is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The 60th annual awards will be broadcast from Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28.
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