This time last year, new artist nominee Sza was ready to call it quits on her recording career.
A fierce self-critic, the singer-songwriter born Solána Rowe found herself trapped in a sea of doubt, fear and anxiety as she recorded what became her breakout debut, “Ctrl.”
“I’m a Scorpio with a Pisces moon. I am very critical of myself. I’m actually way less critical of others than I am of myself,” she told the Times earlier this fall. “I’m in my own head a lot. It’s hard and really discouraging.”
Yes, it’s an honor just to be nominated and blah blah blah. But for some artists hoping for massive triumph, the news wasn’t great. Below are a few who may be reassessing their award season campaigns.
Going into Grammy season, prognosticators had easy odds on two artists in particular competing for album, song and record of the year: English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran for work from his album “Divide” and Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar for “Damn.”
Bad news for so-called Sheerios who follow the British heartthrob. The only major award in Sheeran’s immediate future is for biggest Grammy snub. Not only did “Divide” fail to earn a major Grammy nod — although it did earn one for pop album — but his shoo-in song, “Shape of You,” didn’t get a major song nomination.
She’s had three No. 1 singles, two No. 1 albums and has been through more personal and legal trouble than any singer should ever have to in order to get an album out.
Now Kesha finally has her first Grammy nominations.
The artist scored a nomination in pop solo performance for “Praying,” her redemptive ballad after years of court fights against her former producer, Dr. Luke, whom she accused of sexual assault, as well as pop vocal album for “Rainbow.”
Those schooled in rap history understand that rivalries have played a crucial role in the genre’s narrative, with the competition between coasts at the heart.
Whether it was Southern California rappers N.W.A and Snoop Dogg working to wrest attention from Public Enemy and Eric B. & Rakim, or Tupac Shakur representing California against Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls in the ’90s, or even The Game going after Jay-Z a decade later, regional pride has played a key role in the music’s evolution.
This year’s Grammy duality arrives via Compton’s Kendrick Lamar, whose album “Damn” helped earn him seven nominations including album of the year, and Brooklyn’s Jay-Z, who eclipsed him with eight. The two artists will be competing head to head in all but one category, song of the year, for which Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” earned a nod.
“If a girl have beef with me, she gon’ have beef with me foreva,” Cardi B hissed with a biting venom that would make even Medusa cower.
It was a line that instantly turned the woman born Belcalis Almanzar into a breakout star of VH1’s hit reality series “Love & Hip Hop: New York” when she came aboard for the show’s sixth season last year.
The self-described “regular, degular, shmegular girl from the Bronx” stole just about every single scene she appeared in during her two-season run on the series. Her catch-phrases — expect to see “Washpoppin” in the dictionary at some point — and a deep-seated aversion to having a filter made her reality TV catnip.
But where so many others have used reality fame to boost products and the inevitable spinoff, Cardi turned it into rap gold — something her co-stars have so often failed to do.
And now she’s making Grammy history.
“Bodak Yellow” has secured two nominations, for rap song and rap performance — the latter of which has never seen a woman nominated on her own.
Unlike the lead singles from her previous two albums, Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” — the first taste from her just-released “Reputation” — was not nominated for a Grammy Award. (“Reputation” itself came out after the Sept. 30 cutoff date for eligibility.)
But Swift is up for two Grammys — just not as a performer.
“Better Man,” the dreamy ballad she wrote for Little Big Town, is in contention for best country song along with Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road,” Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos,” Midland’s “Drinkin’ Problem” and Miranda Lambert’s “Tin Man.”
It’s no secret that 19-year-old singer-songwriter Khalid had a huge year with his inventive debut album, “American Teen.” On Tuesday, the Georgia-born artist scored five Grammy nominations, including for new artist.
Khalid was recognized for collaborating on Logic and Alessia Cara’s socially conscious single “1-800-273-8255,” which earned nominations for song of the year and music video. His single “Location” earned a nod in the R&B song category, and “American Teen” was nominated in the urban contemporary album field.
What, no Grammys love for Taylor Swift’s “Reputation”?
Simply put, the pop superstar’s new album — which sold more than 1.2 million copies in its first week — did not make the cutoff date to be eligible for the 2018 Grammys. The Recording Academy required albums to be released between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30 to qualify. “Reputation” dropped Nov. 10.
Of course, “Look What You Made Me Do” was released during the qualification window. It just wasn’t nominated.
If “Despacito” were to win the Grammy for song of the year, it would be in extremely rare company. And it could make history as the first Spanish-language song to do so.
The last time a non-English-language tune took home the award for that category? The very first Grammys in 1959, when Domenico Modugno and Franco Migliacci won for “Volare,” sung in Italian by Modugno.
(OK, it’s a stretch, but the Beatles’ “Michelle” has a notable passage in French, and it won for song of the year in 1967.)