Bruno Mars swept all the biggies last time around, but it was all about hip-hop and women in the top categories when the 2019 Grammy Award nominations were announced Friday morning.
As expected, Drake, Cardi B and Childish Gambino all scored big in the main fields. Drake notched nods for Album, Record and Song of the Year for his double LP “Scorpion,” and the first of its No. 1 singles, “God’s Plan.” Let’s face it, he could’ve been nominated for even more with “Nice for What” and “In My Feelings.” That’s how dominant he was this year.
Rapper Cardi B is also up for AOTY for her debut, “Invasion of Privacy,” although she strangely wasn’t eligible for Best New Artist. But her summer smash “I Like It” will face off for ROTY against Gambino’s politically charged “This Is America,” which is also deservedly up for SOTY.
The Kendrick Lamar-curated “Black Panther” soundtrack won more love for hip-hop with an Album of the Year nomination, plus Record and Song of the Year nods for its stellar single “All the Stars,” featuring Lamar and SZA. Rapper Post Malone also made the ROTY short list with “Rockstar,” his No. 1 hit with 21 Savage.
With the four biggest categories (Album, Record and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist) expanded from five to eight nominees, country rebel Kacey Musgraves and alt-R&B auteur Janelle Monáe both got Album of the Year props for the critically acclaimed “Golden Hour” and “Dirty Computer,” respectively. Monáe, in particular, has been long overdue for such recognition.
But they’re not the only ladies who have slayed in the wake of outgoing Grammy president Neil Portnow’s controversial comments in January that women need to “step up”: Soul songstress H.E.R.’s self-titled debut LP and singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You” also picked up surprising Album of the Year nominations.
But there were a couple of notable snubs among women: Taylor Swift, who has already won Album of the Year twice (for 2008’s “Fearless” and 2014’s “1989”), didn’t even get nominated for 2017’s “Reputation” in any of the major categories. The Grammys got it right — it wasn’t T-Swizzle’s year. Ariana Grande’s “Sweetener” was also shut out for the top prizes, although that may have gone down differently had her current hit, the ubiquitous “Thank U, Next,” been eligible.
And everything wasn’t love for the Carters: Beyoncé and Jay- Z’s surprise joint album, “Everything Is Love,” was relegated to the R&B categories. But maybe that’s a good thing: After his “4:44” and her “Lemonade” failed to win any of the major hardware in 2018 and 2017, respectively, it might have been too painful to watch them lose again.
Another duo, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, fared better with their “A Star Is Born” hit “Shallow,” up for both Record and Song of the Year. With all of the hip-hop contenders possibly canceling each other out in those categories, this power ballad has got a good shot at winning at least one of those golden gramophones when the Grammys take place on Feb. 10.
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