Before the Recording Academy announced its nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards on Friday morning, the big news was not who could make the slate, but the size of the slate itself.
The top four categories – year album, year song, year disc and best new artist – have gone from five to eight nominees, leaving room for a wider range names, faces, sounds and styles. It was a corrective measure, for sure, and it was too late. The Grammys have suffered from glaring diversity issues over the years, but instead of encouraging Grammy voters to rethink how their notions of excellence might better reflect the world we all share, the ## 147 ## The academy has approached the question in the simplest possible way: to widen the field.
How did it go? Well, there is a lot of overlap in the top categories, with eight artists named in at least two of the top three fields. On top of that, Drake, culturally ubiquitous in culture, Kendrick Lamar, who was snubbed in series, and Brandi Carlile, an uncommon country, are nominated in all three albums – recording, song.
So, having failed to always understand that prestige is precious in its rarity, the academy has chosen to diffuse it as Skippy – but then, the 13,000 or so types of industries that make up the electorate Grammy have decided to allow only a small group of artists. take a bite of the sandwich.
We really can not measure the success of this idea before we snuggle around our TVs in February. Because, if the nominees count, the winners are those found in the history books. And in case you have forgotten, the academy has sadly failed to recognize the rap – the dominant pop shape of our youngest century – with the year album trophy since OutKast's victory in 2004. On this new Grammy slate, half of the recordings nominated for the album of the year qualify as rap, or at least something rapper adjacent. Does this count as an improvement? Last year it was three out of five and Bruno Mars ended up winning the grand prize.
One reason for cautious optimism: the academy has managed to include women among the nominees this time around. On the ballot of the year album, four of the eight nominees are women. For the best new artist, it's six out of eight. This is encouraging, especially after Academy President Neil Portnow responded to the gender imbalance in last year's broadcast by asking women to "fit in" (Portnow apologized for this comment and then announced his resignation in 2019.)
One of the reasons for rational pessimism: the Grammys have always suffered from an absurd desire for Oscar, and this year, they feel more palpable than ever. If Janelle Monáe's "Dirty Computer" wins the album of the year, will it be for the utopian retro-futurism of her music or because Grammy voters will recognize the singer in her roles in the cinema? And after being sentenced three times for the year 's album, will Kendrick Lamar finally win him for his lesser contributions to the "Black Panther" soundtrack?
Meanwhile, "Shallow," that great, insane duet between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper of "A Star Is Born," gives the impression of an absolute lock for the record and the song of the "A Star Is Born". year. Pleasant surprises arise here and there on the day of the appointment. Grammy night, nah.