Music is no longer a white man’s game. The Grammys confirm it
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Nominations for the 60th Grammy Awards are out, and they’re striking. Many of this year’s names—across even the most prestigious categories—belong to non-white musicians.
For the first time in Grammy history, nominees for Album of the Year do not include a white man: The artists in the running are Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, and Lorde. And diversity threads through the nominees at large, as Jay-Z, Lamar, and Mars—along with several other hip-hop and R&B singers—appear in at least five different categories. Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, both white musicians with best-selling albums by the numbers, have only two nominations each.
None of that is a fluke. From music to film, the entertainment industry has faced sharp condemnation over the past few years for its lack of diversity—or at least its failure to properly showcase minority talent. Nominations this year are undoubtedly, in some ways, a reply to that criticism.
But the Grammys’ newfound diversity is also a nod to the raw talent of musicians like Lamar, Khalid, SZA, Luis Fonsi, and Daddy Yankee (the latter two of whom are responsible for this year’s unlikely record-breaking, Spanish-language hit song “Despacito”), and to the radical ways that music consumption has changed. In recent years, hip-hop—and its slew of minority artists—have soared in both the charts and mainstream culture, thanks to generational shifts, the genre’s innovative spirit, and the explosion of digital music-streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, which favor it over older trends like rock and folk music.
Frank Ocean memorably boycotted the Grammys last year, lambasting the awards show on Tumblr for having honored Swift’s 1989 over Lamar’s critically-acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly the previous year. This year’s slate of Grammy nominees, however, almost ensures that the major prizes will go to mostly non-white artists—though we won’t know if the awards ceremony actually lives up to its diversity pledge until Jan. 28.
Below are the Grammys’ general field nominees.
Record Of The Year*
“Redbone” — Childish Gambino
“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“The Story Of O.J.” — Jay-Z
“HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar
“24K Magic” — Bruno Mars
Album Of The Year
“Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino
4:44 — Jay-Z
DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
Melodrama — Lorde
24K Magic — Bruno Mars
Best New Artist:
Lil Uzi Vert
Song Of The Year*
“Despacito” — Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)
“4:44” — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)
“Issues” — Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)
“1-800-273-8255” — Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury & Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)
“That’s What I Like” — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)
*Record of the Year and Song of the Year both honor a single-track recording, but the latter specifically celebrates the songwriter(s) of the work.