As a music enthusiast and self-proclaimed “Human Shazam,” the Grammy Awards are an exciting event that I look forward to. Not only is it exciting to see your favorite artists nominated, but to see who is most heavily
nominated by the recording academy and finding that one artist that makes you say “who is that?” to your friends as you go through the list of nominations (as one does).
2019’s most notable categories followed the same pattern as previous years, covering most of the popular artists and having some surprises and overall recognizing great music. Overall, women dominated the awards with artists like Kacey Musgraves and H.E.R. taking home many awards.
The biggest category of the awards, Record of the Year included the biggest jams, such as “I Like It” by Cardi B, “This is America” by Childish Gambino, and “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA from the Black Panther soundtrack. “The Joke,” is the one non-pop song nominated, sung by American folk rock singer Brandi Carlile.
Among those most significantly left out of this category is “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott, which Billboard Magazine calls “one of the defining hits of 2018.” Though Scott is recognized in the Rap categories, the song’s absence from this seems naive on the
part of the academy.
The Record of the Year winner was This is America by Childish Gambino. Album of the Year, another important category, mirrors some of the nominations from the Record of the Year category, such as Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” and Drake’s “Scorpion.” Some other, less “Top 40” artists, like Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves and newcomer H.E.R., are also acknowledged.
H.E.R. is the only artist from the Best New Artist category to be nominated in this prestigious category with her self titled album that features a unique R&B sound. In her album “Golden Hour,” singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves merges her country roots with other sounds like pop and alternative with hits like “High Horse” and “Butterflies.”
Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer” is a revolutionary album that blends a variety of genres and features Monae’s amazing songwriting as well as some instrumental work from Prince. Notably left out once again is Travis Scott’s “Astroworld.” Kacey Musgraves took home Album of the Year for Golden Hour.
Now you might be wondering how the Song of the Year category is different from the Record of Year category. I am happy to say that I have cracked the code. The Song of the Year category recognizes the songwriter, while the Record of the Year category recognizes the producers, the mixers, and the engineers, according to the official Grammy website.
While Song of the Year category once again mirrors most of the Record of the Year category, there are also some nods to songwriters, like Ella Mai for “Boo’d Up” and Shawn Mendes for “In My Blood.” Is “God’s Plan” really a feat of songwriting? Who’s to say. All I know is that “Shallow” by the brilliant Lady Gaga is rightly nominated in both this category and Record of the Year.
This is America by artist Childish Gambino won Song of the Year.
Concluding the general field is the Best New Artist category, which recognizes breakout stars such as R&B sister duo Chloe X Halle, pop sensation Dua Lipa and rock band Greta Van Fleet. The diversity of artists in this category bring something new to the musical landscape and should not be ignored.
The pop field this year featured returning artists like Taylor Swift and P!nk, as well as many nominations for other popular artists of 2018, such as Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, and Lady Gaga. Ultimately, it was no surprise that Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande were the big winners in the field being that they are biggest pop stars of the moment.
Best New Artist nominee Greta Van Fleet dominated the rock field, being nominated in every category and marking their place in the musical landscape. Both Arctic Monkeys and St. Vincent are nominated in both the rock and alternative fields, demonstrating that their music transcends genres and can flow easily between these categories.
Beyonce and Jay-Z are finally being recognized by the Recording Academy after many instances of being excluded (i.e. Lemonade, 2016). In the R&B field, their joint album “Everything is Love” is nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and the song “Summer” is nominated for Best R&B Performance.
The Best R&B album was H.E.R. by H.E.R.
Other significant nominees in the field are Chloe X Halle, the young sister duo signed to Beyonce’s record label. Others are nominated such as Miguel for his unique album,“War & Leisure,” and R&B traditionalist Leon Bridges. The Best R&B Performance was “Best Part” by H.E.R. featuring Daniel Caesar and Best R&B Song was Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up.”
The rap field has repeat nominations for veteran artists such a Cardi B, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, along
with first nominations for Travis Scott and “Astroworld.” As tribute to his memory, Mac Miller is being
recognized posthumously through his nomination for his last album “Swimming.”
While the country field does not feature many surprises, with returning artists with previous nominations such as Maren Morris, Little Big Town and Blake Shelton, there are some new nominees, such as Dan + Shay, with their hit “Tequila.” The country side of Kacey Musgraves’ nominated album “Golden Hour” makes an appearance in this category being nominated in both the Best Country Song and Best Country Album categories, and won. Best Country Song was “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves.
With 84 categories, it is hard to dissect them all, but one last category that I think is worth paying attention to is the Best Music Video category. This category explores the ways that artists want their music to be seen visually and are often amazing pieces of art with major social, political and/or cultural themes.
Among the nominees this year is the cultural commentary masterpiece “This is America”, a video by Childish Gambino, “I’m Not Racist the powerful social commentary of Joyner Lucas’,” and the female empowerment triumph that is Janelle Monae’s “Pynk.” These nominations make it clear that artists are choosing to express themselves and reflect on the current political and social climate through music and visual representations of that music. “This is America” by Childish Gambino was the final winner of