Highlights of the 2019 Grammy nominations: Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift and H.E.R.

Highlights of the 2019 Grammy nominations: Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift and H.E.R.

Setting the stage

Text: Aravin Sandran

The leaders of the pack: Considering his Pulitzer prize win for DAMN in April this year, it's not exactly surprising to find Kendrick Lamar at the front of the race with eight nominations including three of the top categories Record of the Year and Song of the Year for 'All The Stars' and Album of the Year for Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By soundtrack. Anything this man touches turns into gold, not cold and tacky gold but the kind of gold that's oh-so-rare and covetable. The weighty soundtrack that he curated brought together lesser known names such as Sacromento rapper Mozzy with emerging powerhouses SZA and Jorja Smith, who happens to be nominated in the 'New Artist' category this year.

Drake ends the year topping Apple Music's and Spotify's best of 2018 charts becoming the world's most streamed artist globally this year due to the runaway success of his celebrated album Scorpion and hit single 'God's Plan'. With 8.2 billion streams in 2018 on Spotify alone, the Canadian rapper has become the platform's most-streamed artist of all time. With seven nominations in rap-specific categories and the top tier awards, the recognition he has attained this year signals to the overall dominance of rap and hip-hop in the popular music landscape. He stands a pretty decent chance at winning Album of the Year against Lamar's Black Panther soundtrack, which will leave the rap titles to other deserving contenders like Cardi B's abrasive Invasion of Privacy and Childish Gambino's powerful 'This Is America'. 

Big names who fell short: While Post Malone's critically panned yet commercially acclaimed Beerbongs & Bentleys has four nominations, Taylor Swift settles for a single abysmal nomination with Reputation relegated to a genre category in Best Pop Vocal Album. Another multiple Grammy winner Sam Smith who bagged multiple awards in 2015 will be a seat warmer this time around with his album The Thrill of It All receiving no mentions at all. Like Swift, the only legit white rapper in the game Eminem will get a single nod for Kamikaze in the Best Rap Song category for 'Lucky You'  considering his 15 Grammy wins, it strangely opens with the lyrics: "All my life I want a Grammy but I'll prolly never get it, I ain't never had no trophy".

Who can possibly forget Kanye West? The man has made headlines this year, in and outside of music. His head-scratching declarations on slavery and proclamations in support of Trump has left many of his fans hanging in confusion on one hand, and yet, they continue to queue round the blocks to get one of his hyped sneakers. Though he has made two albums of his own (ye, Kids See Ghosts), Yeezy lands just one nomination for Producer of the Year. It might be the most fitting title for him, considering his involvement in five albums including Pusha-T, Nas and Teyana Taylor.

Elsewhere, Justin Timberlake's Man of the Woods gets an acknowlegement for the Chris Stapleton track 'Say Something' while the voters completely forgot about Nicki Minaj's Queen. While Ariana Grande might be ruling the charts and zeitgeist with 'thank u, next' at the moment, she is sidelined in Best Pop Vocal Album for Sweetener and Best Pop Solo Performance for 'God Is a Woman'. They might be music's royal couple with more than 40 Grammys between them, but the Carters, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, will have to sit back with three nominations for their Everything Is Love collab album.

Newcomers to look out for: The world hasn't seen much of R&B singer H.E.R. (the acronym cryptically stands for "Having Everything Revealed"), but the 21-year-old who hails from California is up for five awards, matching up with Lady Gaga, this year including Album of the Year and Best R&B Album for her self-titled debut album from 2017. Her lush and moody tunes might finally betray her reticience for the spotlight this year. 

In other news, indie darling Sufjan Stevens receives his first nomination in the Best Song Written for Visual Media category for Call Me By Your Name's (2017) title track 'Mystery of Love'. Chances are he might not go home with the golden gramophone since he's up against Lady Gaga's and Bradley Cooper's popular hit 'Shallow' from A Star Is Born (2018) but it's cool to see that he's finally receiving a tad bit of recognition for his tender elegance. 

The awards show will be broadcasted on 10 February 2019. For the full list of nominations, head to Grammy.

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