For obvious reasons, the musicians get all the Grammy glory, but one category amid the dozens, recording package, celebrates the designers who set the visual tone of an album.
An impossible category to predict, the variety each year is notable. In the last five years, the winning designers got their trophies for albums by Asleep at the Wheel, Pearl Jam, Reckless Kelly, Bjork and Arcade Fire.
This year’s nominees feature designs from albums that cross genre and pay-grade. Rihanna’s striking red, white and black cover for “Anti,” which features the work of Israeli-born artist Roy Nachum, is being honored alongside New York indie rock band Parquet Courts. The band didn’t commission a fancy artist; rather Parquet Courts’ singer-guitarist Andrew Savage did it himself.
While Kelly Clarkson might only have three Grammys on her mantel, the inaugural “American Idol” winner is a perennial favorite amongst the Recording Academy — consistently scoring nods since her 2003 debut.
In 2013, Clarkson made Grammy history as the only act to be awarded pop vocal album more than once. At 2016's awards held in February, a potential third win in the category — for 2015’s “Piece By Piece” — was thwarted by Taylor Swift’s blockbuster “1989,” but Clarkson’s nomination today in pop solo performance gives her a shot at winning from an album that already lost.
And she could win with a hit she earned from the show that launched her to worldwide fame 14 years ago.
The polarizing rapper Kanye West has won nearly two dozen Grammy awards in his career, but he’s never taken home a major-category trophy. Instead, and much to his dismay, West’s critically acclaimed work has earned its victories in the genre categories.
This year is no different.
Music from West’s “The Life of Pablo” was nominated eight times, but the only major nod came for his production work on Drake’s album of the year nominated “Views.” Which is to say: West could be invited onto the prime-time stage not as the result of his own achievement but because of Drake’s more commercially successful one.
One of the surprises that popped up in this year’s best rock performance category is a band, Disturbed, that some rock fans had consigned to the guttural, meme-able intro hook from their 2000 hit “Down With The Sickness.”
But the group got a fresh wind at their backs with a live performance of, yes, Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” on Conan O’Brien’s show that, while a bit silly in its gruff earnestness, won over enough voters to land them a Grammy nomination.
Right now the official, Grammy-nominated live version is clocking in at more than 37 million views on YouTube.
Few major category nominees are more different than Simpson and Bieber, who will be competing for album of the year alongside Beyoncé, Adele and Drake.
The country singer Simpson is 38, came up in Kentucky and paid his bills working for Union Pacific Railroad before moving to Nashville and sweating his way to the top. Bieber’s vehicle wasn’t a train but rather YouTube, which he conquered as a teenager.
Now 22, he shares his “Purpose” nomination with a list of collaborators a few dozen people deep. By comparison, Simpson self-produced his “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” and his collaborators included a quartet of recording engineers.
Chance the Rapper's seven nominations, including for new artist, in part resulted from a rule change that opened the door for music not available in more traditional forms.
His debut album, “Coloring Book,” which was issued in May only as a music stream rather than as a physical CD, old-school mix-tape or digital download, would not have been eligible for a Grammy in previous years.
“We never want to be in position where music that deserves to be in the mix is usurped by some technicality in the process,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told The Times on Monday. “The evaluation and judgment of our voting members is always about the music and excellence, not at all about sales or marketing or technology.”
In December 2012, Ellen DeGeneres had Justin Bieber on her talk show to discuss the pop star’s latest tattoo (a wise owl), what he likes to do on his days off (sneak into movies) and whether he was bummed not to have been nominated for a Grammy Award.
“It’s definitely something that I was looking forward to,” he said of being recognized for his blockbuster album “Believe,” which failed to pick up a nod that year for music’s highest honor. “But I know that it’ll happen one day. I’m so young.”
Four not-so-long years later, Bieber is tasting sweet vindication with Tuesday’s announcement of nominations for the 59th annual Grammys. The polarizing singer whose manufactured sound and tabloid shenanigans once put him beyond consideration is up for four awards, including the coveted album of the year with “Purpose.”
Beyoncé, with her nine nominations, has more nominations than any other female artist in Grammy history.
The 62-time Grammy nominee has 20 awards, and can become the winningest female in Grammy history if she wins in all of the categories that she is nominated in this year. Alison Krauss, who has 27 Grammys, is the leader.