Grammys 2018: Six stories from the nominations

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Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar are the main contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, leading a crop of nominations that is heavy on hip-hop and R&B but has left mainstream pop stars like Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga out of the running for the major prizes.

The awards will be announced at New York’s Madison Square Garden on 28 January 2018, and will be screened on 4 Music the following evening.

Here are six of the stories highlighted by this year’s nominees.

Hip-hop and R&B rule the roost

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Kendrick Lamar has received multiple Grammy nominations

It was becoming embarrassing. In the last 20 years, only two black artists have won the Grammys main prize, album of the year. Two years ago, Beck controversially beat Beyonce’s ground-breaking, self-titled video album to the title. Then, last year, Adele did it again.

Adele seemed embarrassed by the accolade, and spoke for many Grammy-watchers when she said her rival deserved it more, describing Lemonade as “monumental… beautiful and soul-baring”.

Following that, Canadian superstar Drake withdrew his album, More Life, from consideration for the Grammy Awards; echoing Frank Ocean, who withheld his 2016 album Blonde, citing the ceremony’s “cultural bias”.

It all amounted to a wake-up call and, this year, the main categories are dominated by rap and R&B.

Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar’s multiple nominations were expected; but the recognition for Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic and Childish Gambino’s brilliant, psychedelic P-Funk album Awaken, My Love were both surprises.

The latter, in particular, seems responsible for pushing aside Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide); which many Grammy observers assumed was a shoo-in for album of the year.

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Ed Sheeran was the surprise of the day receiving no nominations in the main categories

But the story goes deeper than the main awards categories – the top nine most-nominated people at the 2018 Grammys are non-white performers.

Neil Portnow, chief executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which runs the Grammys, called the mix of nominees “a really terrific reflection of the voting membership of the academy”.

It’s a pivotal moment; and you have to hope that those voters don’t fumble the ball by giving album of the year to Lorde’s Melodrama, the only pop record on the shortlist.

Kesha seals her comeback

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Kesha’s first incarnation as a heavily autotuned wildchild pop diva was roundly ignored by Grammy voters. But following accusations of abuse against her producer, Dr Luke, the singer produced a potent and cathartic album, Rainbow, channelling all of her personal drama into the best music of her career.

She’s rewarded with a nomination for best pop vocal album; and she must be a favourite for best pop performance for the remarkable high note she hits four minutes into the gospel ballad, Praying.

Non appetit for Katy Perry

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Katy Perry has yet to win a Grammy – something arch rival Taylor Swift alluded to in the vicious video for her single Look What You Made Me Do. However each of her albums had received a nomination. Until now.

Her misfiring fourth album, Witness, fails to garner any recognition from the Recording Academy, despite Perry launching the project with a spirited performance of Chained To The Rhythm at the Grammy ceremony earlier this year.

She’s not the only pop artist to be overlooked. Harry Styles’ debut album is absent from the shortlist, despite the fact it produced two big hits and was coaxed into life by 2016 Grammy producer of the year Jeff Bhasker.

Carrie Fisher gets a nomination

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Eleven months after her death, Carrie Fisher gets a posthumous Grammy nomination in the spoken word category for a wry, self-aware reading of her autobiography The Princess Diarist.

The book also features Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd, who narrates her mother’s diary entries from the 1970s, which mostly concern her relationship with Harrison Ford.

Elsewhere, the Grammys give posthumous nominations to Leonard Cohen, Linkin Park’s Chester Beningfield and Chris Cornell.

Is rock redundant? Has country come a cropper?

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Rock and country – in fact, all songs played on a guitar – are notable by their absence this year.

Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age failed to break out of their genre categories despite delivering strong albums; while crossover act Imagine Dragons, whose singles Thunder and Believer have been a major presence on the US charts, are consigned to the pop ghetto.

And while the Grammys traditionally recognise one country artist in the album of the year category, even Sam Hunt – whose album Body Like a Back Road, which spent 25 weeks at number one – failed to make the cut.

Taylor Swift will have to wait for next year

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Taylor Swift’s Reputation is the biggest-selling album of the year in the US, but it was released after the Grammys’ cut-off point, so she won’t be a big presence at the 2018 ceremony.

The star had hoped to secure nominations by releasing two singles before the deadline, but neither Look What You Made Me Do nor Ready For It impressed the 13,000-strong Grammy panel.

However, the star does receive recognition for writing Little Big Town’s single Better Man, which is up for best country song; and for her duet with One Direction’s Zayn Malik, I Don’t Want To Live Forever, which is featured on the Fifty Shades soundtrack.

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