Surprise! The Grammy Award Nominations Dont Totally Suck This Year

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Grammys: Kendrick Lamar leads Taylor Swift in nominations.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar holds the honor of earning the most Grammy nominations this year, but the company that owns his record label is the real winner today. The leading contenders — Kendrick Lamar, with 11 nominations, and Taylor Swift and The Weeknd, with seven each — have all enjoyed positive reviews and wide popularity.

California hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar led the Grammy nominations on Monday, scoring 11 nods including album of the year for “To Pimp a Butterfly.” The 28 year-old from Compton, the heart of the Los Angeles rap scene, left country-pop superstar Taylor Swift trailing with seven nominations for the biggest awards in the music industry. Universal Music Group (UMG), itself a subsidiary of French media conglomerate Vivendi VIV 0.00% , is the parent company to record label Interscope Records, which distributed Lamar’s heavily-nominated 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly. Overall, Lamar is nominated 11 times this year, which is more than any other artist and includes his work on Taylor Swift’s hit song “Bad Blood” as well as the Flying Lotus song “Never Catch Me.” UMG also distributes Swift’s song, part of the mega-hit 1989 album she put out in October 2014, through a partnership with Swift’s independent record label, Big Machine Records. Lamar will compete in the best album category with Swift’s “1989,” The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness,” country singer Chris Stapleton’s “Traveller” and rock band Alabama Shakes’ “Sand & Color.” Erotic drama “Fifty Shades of Grey” powered The Weeknd to three of his Grammy nods for single “Earned It” which was featured on the movie’s soundtrack. To no one’s surprise, Taylor Swift got seven nominations following the hugely successful “1989” campaign, but even she has been eclipsed by rapper (and extended squad member) Kendrick Lamar.

Competing for best new artist are “All About the Bass” singer Meghan Trainor, country artist Sam Hunt, British singer-songwriter James Bay, American Tori Kelly, and Australian Courtney Barnett. One of the tracks from that album, the song “Earned It,” is nominated three times, including for Best R&B Song and under the category Best Song Written for Visual Media, because it was included on the soundtrack for hit 2015 film adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey. (The movie was released by Universal Studios, which is actually owned by Comcast CMCSA -0.63% after Universal’s movie and music divisions were split up in separate acquisitions roughly a decade ago.) Now, Vivendi-owned UMG is set up for a potential repeat of the most recent Grammy awards, when two of the awards show’s biggest winners were Beck and Sam Smith, both of whom are signed with UMG’s Capitol Records. Veteran R&B star D’Angelo, who returned with his first album in 14 years last December, will also compete for record of the year; D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s Really Love earned him an additional nod for R&B song, with D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s Black Messiah up for R&B album.

Britain’s Adele, who won six Grammys for her 2011 album “21,” was not eligible this year because her record-breaking new release “25,” was issued too late for consideration. But the Grammy love for Lamar didn’t always seem guaranteed, as the award’s relationship with hip-hop has been called into serious question over the last few years. The nomination of Iggy Azalea’s fluffy “The New Classic” as Best Rap Album in 2015 was an embarrassment, while Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ 2014 win for “The Heist” (over Kanye West, Drake, Jay Z, and Lamar’s first major label album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”) embarrassed even them. Singles “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face” (both reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this year) revolve around heavy drug use and casual sex. Other multiple nominees include veteran tunesmith Max Martin, with six; Drake, with five, and John Legend, Florence Welch, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, with four each. (Welch’s band, Florence + the Machine, is up for three awards.) Recent high-profile albums by stars from Adele to Justin Bieber were released after the cut off date for the 2016 awards, and won’t be eligible until next year.

Other Canadian nominees include Justin Bieber for best dance recording for “Where Are U Now;” Dan Snaith of Dundas, Ont., who performs as Caribou, for best dance/electronic album for “Our Love;” Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba for best Latin pop album for “Healer.” Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, said the nominations reflect a year of “strongly creative, thoughtful and in some cases genre-bending artistry. What emerges more than ever is that artists are feeling more liberated to do what comes from their heart, as opposed to trying to fit inside a nice little box.” Portnow notes that this was a particularly competitive year for rap, with a 30 per cent increase in entries in the field. A number of starry team outings emerged as candidates, such as Common and John Legend’s Glory and triple nominee Nicki Minaj’s Only, featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown; both are up for best rap/sung collaboration.

Other categories to watch include best musical-theatre album, which pits the phenom Hamilton against cast recordings of other acclaimed new Broadway musicals and revivals; and spoken-word album, for which nominees include Amy Poehler, Patti Smith, Dick Cavett and former president Jimmy Carter. The list of competitors for traditional pop vocal album is similarly eclectic: Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap, Bob Dylan, Josh Groban, Seth MacFarlane and Barry Manilow (with various duet partners). And the only way dull British soloist and three-time nominee James Bay should have anything to do with the Grammys is by entertaining people at the coat check.

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