2019 Grammy Award nominations: Full coverage of the snubs, surprises, oddities, reactions and more


The nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards have been revealed in all 84 categories. This marks the first time the top four categories — album of the year, record of the year, song of the year and new artist of the year --- will expand to eighth slots. Kendrick Lamar and Drake lead the pack with eight and seven nods, respectively. Keep this page bookmarked throughout the day analysis from The Times music team, reactions from the nominees and more. The 61st Grammy Awards take place Sunday, Feb. 10 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The historical recording Grammy: Mississippi blues, transgender soul, Korean War songs, country classics and a classical music curio

With much of the world’s recorded music available online, now more than ever we’re never done with the past. A dusty soul record lands in a ubiquitous ad, and, within a month, it’s on everyone’s tongue. An algorithm catches that you like Julia Holter and tips you to psychedelic folk singer Linda Perhacs’ 1970 electronic folk music.

Such resurrections don’t happen by accident, and the thriving reissue and archival scene offers evidence. So much so that it’s criminal that the Grammys reserve a single category for old recordings, especially considering so much money is earned through back catalog sales, licenses and streams. To only pick five seems random.

However random, voters got it right this year, with five remarkable old sets of recordings that jump decades and continents, in the process updating the slights and oversights of the marketplace.

The reissue label Numero Group is a perennial, and adventure-loving, nominee — the first time the imprint got a nod, their principals attended the ceremony on LSD — that digs through old warehouses and shuttered recording studios to find gold. This year, they hit pay-dirt with “Jackie Shane: Any Other Way,” a collection by a lesser known Toronto soul singer of the 1960s. As argued in Numero Group’s liner notes, Shane was “a pioneer of transgender rights born in a male body, living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable.”

“At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight,” issued by the important German label Bear Family, compiles onto 20 compact discs over 25 hours of the Shreveport, La., country and western variety show from the 1940s to the ‘60s. Most famous for hosting Elvis Presley’s first nationally broadcast performance, the Hayride over the years brought to the stage virtually every country star of the time, including Hank Williams, June Carter, George Jones, Webb Pierce and dozens more.

Bear Family also issued the Grammy nominated four-CD box set, “Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America’s Forgotten War.” As The Times’ Randy Lewis wrote in a feature on the collection, the set includes “photos, memorabilia and other documentation gathered in a 160-page book. The CDs contain nearly 100 songs and excerpts of news broadcasts about the Korean civil war that erupted after the fledgling North Korean government sent an invading force across the border that had split the country in two after World War II.”

If this description of Oscar Levant, nominated for “A Rhapsody in Blue: The Extraordinary Life of Oscar Levant,” doesn’t intrigue you, keep doing beerbongs with Post Malone: “He was one of the great wits of the last century — a bestselling author, radio and television host, quiz show panelist, actor and songwriter who became a household name in the 1940s and ’50s,” wrote The Times’ Josh Getlin in a story on this collection.

Calling him “edgy, unhinged and brilliant,” Getlin described Levant as “a rumpled, chain-smoking man whose stinging one-liners about showbiz — ‘strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you’ll find the real tinsel underneath’ — and his own foibles would make him a social media star today.” With the nomination for his piano work, perhaps it’s not too late.

For a two-person operation, the Atlanta archival imprint Dust-to-Digital sure can pull in some Grammy nominations. Their ninth nomination since 2006, the label is run by husband-and-wife team of April and Lance Ledbetter, and this year got its nod through “Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris.” Ferris was an audio recordist, filmmaker, folklorist and teacher who throughout his life made it his mission to capture the lives of his fellow farm-workers and community members. As is always the case with Dust-to-Digital, the packaging is exquisite and informative. Michael Graves, who served as audio restoration / mastering engineer, earned a nod alongside the Ledbetters.


Why the perfectly reasonable Grammy nominations feel like something of a letdown

Zedd, left, and Maren Morris perform at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on May 20, 2018.
(Kevin Mazur / WireImage)

One of the most nominated songs at the 61st Grammy Awards first reached many listeners as part of the 60th Grammy Awards.

A three-way pileup involving a young country singer, an established EDM star and an up-and-coming dance-pop production team, “The Middle” premiered during January’s annual telecast in a splashy music video sponsored (and shamelessly branded) by Target.

Now the catchy track billed to the unlikely trio of Maren Morris, Zedd and Grey will vie for record of the year and song of the year at the Recording Academy’s next ceremony, nominations for which were announced Friday morning.

And it’s far from the only nominated work with a strong attachment to a familiar visual property.

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Solely nominating men for the comedy album prize is nothing new for the Grammys

Tig Notaro's album "Happy to Be Here" was not nominated in the 2019 Grammy Awards' comedy category.
Tig Notaro’s album “Happy to Be Here” was not nominated in the 2019 Grammy Awards’ comedy category.
(Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for Turner)

The nominations for the 2019 Grammys Awards were announced on Friday morning, and this year’s contenders for best comedy album are — surprise! — all men.

Patton Oswalt (“Annihilation”), Dave Chappelle (“Equanimity & the Bird Revelation”), Jim Gaffigan (“Noble Ape”), Fred Armisen (“Standup for Drummers”) and Chris Rock (“Tamborine”) were all recognized.

Solely nominating men for this particular prize is nothing new for the Grammys. Its nominees all have been male 19 times

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With her first Grammy nominations, H.E.R. salutes R&B, a genre that ‘will never die’

H.E.R. (real name: Gabi Wilson) scored five Grammy nominations, including the biggest prize, album of the year.
(Victoria Will / Invision/Associated Press)

H.E.R.’s first Grammy nominations are the result of the young star’s meteoric rise over the past year and a half as the brooding, slow-dripping soul she began releasing anonymously in 2016 caught fire on streaming platforms and solidified her status as one of the most exciting R&B voices to arrive in recent years.

Her records have been streamed over 1 billion times, she’s got fans in Janet Jackson and Rihanna, is in the middle of her second headlining tour and is part of a seismic shift that has pushed the genre out of the shadows of hip-hop.

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Late rappers XXXTentacion, Lil Peep and Mac Miller come up short on nods

Malcolm James McCormick, a.k.a. Mac Miller, onstage at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio on April 14, 2017.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The rap categories for the 2019 Grammy nominations are full of a number of the usual, laudable contenders (Kendrick Lamar, Drake) as well as worthy ascendant acts (Cardi B, Travis Scott). What they lack, notably, is much representation from the wilds of streaming service SoundCloud and the young, often troubled stars who redefined the genre for young fans on the internet.

Call it a generation gap or a values question. But no other genre has such a split between the breakout acts that racked up gobsmacking streaming numbers in 2018 and the Grammy establishment looking for less-divisive acts to champion as standard-bearers.

And in a year with, sadly, so much significant hip-hop from deceased young artists in contention, those absences are even more striking.

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BTS gets its first Grammy nomination ... for album art?

The past year was a banner one for K-pop in the U.S., with BTS becoming the first South Korean act to land atop the Billboard album charts.

“Love Yourself: Tear” hit the chart milestone in May for an album universally applauded as a sleek, inventive statement piece for contemporary K-pop. If K-pop were ever to get Grammy acceptance on its own terms, this would be the album to do it (even if the Grammys are terminally reluctant to award pure pop that appeals to young audiences).

Grammy voters are probably due to reckon with K-pop as a genre sooner or later. So it’s a little curious and a little obvious that they chose best recording package as the way to get BTS (and the attendant social media deluge) into the ceremony without having to grapple with what its music means in a Grammy context.

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Recording Academy President Neil Portnow addresses his rocky year at the top

Neil Portnow, Recording Academy President and Chief Executive, rehearses for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in Jan. 2018.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Putting it mildly, 2018 was not a great year for Recording Academy President and Chief Executive Neil Portnow.

After 15 years of steady stewardship of the organization with little in the way of controversy under his watch, Portnow ignited a firestorm of criticism on the heels of a comment after this year’s Grammys that it was time for women to “step up” if they wished to be better represented in the annual gala.

Portnow’s quick mea culpa did little to quell the outrage among many who argued vociferously that if it was time for anything, it was time for Portnow to step down. Several weeks later he announced that that was precisely what he would do — after his current contract expires in July.

“It wasn’t the most fun year in my life last year,” Portnow said Thursday in his first extended interview with The Times since the controversy arose. “But these kinds of events can be beneficial if you take them as teaching moments.

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Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Chloe x Halle and more react to their Grammy nominations

The 2019 Grammy Award nominations are out — and so are the reactions.

The Recording Academy announced the new class of nominees on Friday, which placed Kendrick Lamar and Drake at the top with eight and seven nods, respectively. Brandi Carlile, Cardi B, H.E.R., Post Malone, Janelle Monáe and Kacey Musgraves joined the hip-hop stars in the album of the year category. The academy will hand out the awards during the annual ceremony set for for Feb. 10.

Among the snubs were Grammy fixtures Taylor Swift, Sam Smith and Beyoncé and Jay-Z. There was a whole lot of outrage about Swift’s “Reputation” earning only one nomination (for pop vocal album), but a lot of global fanfare for K-pop group BTS’ art director, HuskyFox, scoring a nod for recording package.

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The ‘TRL’ era makes a comeback with Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Backstreet Boys nominations

For the first time in more than 15 years, the Backstreet Boys are nominated for a Grammy.

That’s right, the bestselling boy band in history (not counting the Beatles) is up for pop duo/group performance for “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” — the first release from the group’s upcoming album, “DNA,” its first in six years.

And considering the category also includes Christina Aguilera’s “Fall in Line” featuring Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake’s “Say Something” featuring Chris Stapleton and Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” featuring Cardi B, it’s a race that conjures up some serious nostalgia for the days of “Total Request Live,” MTV’s groundbreaking video countdown show that once upon a time was required after-school viewing.

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Why this might be the best Grammys ever for movie-related music

In terms of sheer breadth and impact, there’s likely never been a better year for movie music at the Grammys than the upcoming 2019 awards.

Two films, “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther,” have soundtracks or singles contending in several top categories. A third, “The Greatest Showman,” got a pair of nods (it was the first million-selling album in the U.S. in 2018, and currently clocks 51 weeks on the Billboard album charts).

The three are very different films — a big-tent, big-message Marvel franchise movie with a Kendrick Lamar-driven soundtrack; a classic Hollywood tale updated for contemporary crowds, which revitalized Lady Gaga’s pop career and gave Bradley Cooper one of his own; and a traditional musical-spectacle from a nimble movie star and a lauded songwriting team.

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Drama in the spoken word category: Will allegations against Neil deGrasse Tyson hinder Courtney B. Vance’s chances?

Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Neil deGrasse Tyson.
(Craig Barritt / Getty Images)

Most years the spoken word category ranks pretty low in the races to watch.

In recent years the biggest drama has been whether Stephen Colbert would ruin the chances of Pete Seeger earning one last Grammy. (Yes, in 2014.) Might Val Kilmer pull off an upset over Betty White and Tina Fey? Nope, Betty White won the 2012 trophy.

This year, however, a different sort of drama may be the focus: A book by author and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson earned a nomination. In recent weeks, Tyson has been defending himself against multiple allegations of sexual harassment, and assault. As read by actor Courtney B. Vance, Tyson’s book with Avis Lang, “Accessory to War,” is on the slate. Tyson has denied the allegations.

Whether this will play into Grammy voters’ decisions is an open question. Officially, Vance is the nominee for reading Tyson’s work. Regardless, he’ll face some Nobel Peace Prize-winning competition: Former President Jimmy Carter seems to have lived 94 scandal-free years, and got his ninth nomination in the category for his reading of “Faith: A Journey for All.”

They’ll compete against drummer and “The Late Show With Jimmy Fallon” bandleader Questlove and his reading of “Creative Quest”; comedic actress Tiffany Haddish’s retelling of her “The Last Black Unicorn”; and David Sedaris’ reading of his book “Calypso.”


Get ready for some wild Grammy mash-ups: Post Malone and Greta Van Fleet? Jimmy Carter and the Carters?

The televised Grammy Awards ceremony has been known in recent years for its musical mash-ups — onstage performances among unlikely collaborators designed to blur genres and offer evidence of music’s universality.

The results have been surprising, occasionally delightful and just as often baffling.

In January, Kendrick Lamar teamed with U2 and Dave Chapelle for a medley. In 2017, Lady Gaga joined Metallica for a notably explosive car crash.

Another year Beyoncé and Prince opened the show with a once-in-a-lifetime scene. Foo Fighters have shared the stage with jazz pianist Chick Corea. Elton John and Eminem. Usher and James Brown. Once every few years, Sting jumps in.

The 2019 ceremony, which is to be broadcast on CBS from the Staples Center on Feb. 10, offers ample opportunity for producers to mix it up. Here are a few combinations that could make for meme-worthy moments.

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Throwback newbies Greta Van Fleet sweep Grammy rock nominations, but metal is where it’s at

The rock categories at the Grammys have, for more than a decade, largely been a subsidy program for Dave Grohl and his ’90s-post-alt contemporaries.

But nothing gets Grammy rock voters hotter than a popular new band that nods back to older bands (see recent wins from the War On Drugs and Cage the Elephant), and this year has a major contender in Greta Van Fleet.

The young Michigan quartet had perhaps the strongest Grammy showing of any guitar-based rock group this year. With nominations in all the major rock categories (performance, song and album) and an additional nod for best new artist, it’s clear that they are the Grammy consensus pick for 2018’s breakthrough rock act.

It’s easy to see why.

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Album of the year nominee Kacey Musgraves on the importance of the Grammy Awards

Kacey Musgraves performs in April at the Stagecoach country music festival in Indio.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Awards season has long been underway for Kacey Musgraves.

Last month, her “Golden Hour” — a tender and dreamy meditation on new romance by this recently married 30-year-old — was named album of the year at the Country Music Assn. Awards.

Friday morning, nominations were unveiled for the Grammys, and Musgraves will compete in multiple categories including country album, country song and the prestigious album of the year.

In New York this week to be honored as part of Billboard’s Women in Music event, Musgraves stressed that a Grammy nod was something special, given that the Recording Academy considers (or professes to consider) “every kind of music that came out in a year,” as Musgraves put it.

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Eminem snubbed in the rap album category after record-breaking seven wins

Eminem closes Coachella's second weekend April 22.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

For close to two decades, Eminem has been a perennial favorite among Grammy voters –-- particularly in rap categories where he’s long dominated.

Ever since his breakthrough with 1999’s “The Slim Shady LP,” Eminem has been king of the rap album race. He’s collected the award seven times, the most of any rapper in history.

But he won’t bring it home in 2019.

For the first time in his career, he was snubbed for a rap album nomination — in a year in which he was eligible with two projects: last year’s “Revival” and “Kamikaze,” a surprise release he dropped over the summer.

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Grammy nods: Times music critics break down expanded categories, Taylor Swift snub and the power of ‘Shallow’

The nominations are officially out for the 61st Grammy Awards. But with 84 categories — including eight nominees in each of the top four categories — it’s a lot to digest.

Thankfully, Times music reporters Gerrick Kennedy and Randy Lewis are here to offer their instant takes on the major takeaways from the 2019 nominations. How far can “A Star Is Born” breakout tune “Shallow” go? Just why isn’t Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” up for album of the year? And will this finally be Kendrick Lamar’s year?

Watch video below for analysis on all that and more.

Los Angeles Times music critics Gerrick D. Kennedy and Randy Lewis react to the 2019 Grammy nominations.


Will Jimmy Carter’s latest nod help him surpass Barack Obama in the Nobel-Grammy race?

Few in 2018 besides perhaps Kendrick Lamar can be virtually assured a Grammy nomination after releasing a recording, but followers of the spoken word category know better than to bet against former President Jimmy Carter after he drops an album.

The 39th president earned his ninth nod in 21 years in the category, this time for his reading of “Faith: A Journey for All.”

The recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize and a pair of Grammy Awards already, Carter will compete with a fever-dream field of fellow nominees: comedic actress Tiffany Haddish for her book “The Last Black Unicorn,” actor Courtney B. Vance for his reading of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang’s book “Accessory to War,” humor writer David Sedaris for his “Calypso” and drummer and “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” bandleader Questlove for his “Creative Quest.”

The only other Nobel-Grammy winner, former President Barack Obama, also has two spoken word trophies — and a new book on its way.

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Still a man’s, man’s, man’s, man’s world in the Grammy nominations?

Kacey Musgraves performs live at the Forum on July 14.
(Patrick T. Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

A cursory glance at a list of artists with multiple nominations for the 2019 Grammy Awards looks promising in the wake of last year’s #GrammysSoMale complaints that erupted after male performers overwhelmingly dominated the statuettes handed out, especially those distributed during the national telecast of the annual ceremony.

This year, among 11 people with five or more nominations, six are men, five are women.

Nods for album of the year are particularly wide-ranging. The Kendrick Lamar-led soundtrack to “Black Panther,” which features contributions from a plethora of major artists, is joined by Brandi Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You,” Drake’s “Scorpion,” Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy,” H.E.R.’s “H.E.R.,” Post Malone’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys,” Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” and Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour.”

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Watch Janelle Monáe’s tearful reaction to her Grammy nomination

(Evan Agostini / Associated Press)

R&B star and actress Janelle Monáe teared up live on air when she heard that her empowering latest album, “Dirty Computer,” was nominated for the Grammy Award for album of the year.

Monáe was on the set of “CBS This Morning” on Friday to assist the anchors in presenting the 2019 Grammy nominees, and co-host Norah O’Donnell caught the performer’s emotional reaction when she heard her name announced.

“This album is so much bigger than me,” Monáe said, getting choked up. “It’s not about me. It’s about community of dirty computers, of marginalized voices.”

“Being a young, black queer woman in America, there was something I had to say. There was a group of people that I wanted to celebrate. I’m happy to be representing them. I hope they feel seen. I hope they feel heard. I hope they feel loved, and I hope they feel celebrated.”

GRAMMYS 2019: Complete list of nominees

Later, the “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures” star said that she created the album for the “community of voices that I hear and I see when I look out in the crowd.”

“You know, there’s something going on in this country and there are a lot of people’s voices that are pushed to the margins of society because of who they love and what God they choose to serve,” she added. “I wanted this album to be for them, to be a community and a church for their lives.”

Monáe is up for two Grammy Awards this year, with her video for “Pynk” also nominated in the music video category. That brings her totally Grammy nominations tally to eight.

She was last nominated in 2012 for her work on Fun.’s album “Some Nights,” which earned her nods in the record and album of the year categories, as well as pop/duo group performance on “We Are Young.”


Biggest Grammy snubs: Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, the Carters and Kamasi Washington

The Recording Academy may have expanded the field in the four general categories from five to eight nominees, but considering that thousands of eligible albums came out last year, snubs are not only inevitable but also guaranteed.

Take, for example, former best new artist winner Sam Smith.

The platinum singer performed “Pray” at January’s ceremony and was the king of the proceedings in 2015, when he received best new artist and his smash ballad “Stay With Me” took home honors for record and song of the year.

This year? Nothing.

Despite issuing a sophomore album, “The Thrill of It All,” within the eligibility period, neither the album nor any of its singles earned nominations. One reason: Despite generally positive reviews, the album wasn’t nearly as inescapable as his debut.

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A closer look at the classical music front-runners, snubs and surprises

Despite the push toward streaming services and the race to the bottom of the sales charts for CDs and DVDs, there is still an awful lot of classical product being released on shiny discs. So much so that it’s really impossible for Grammy committees to fairly judge all that’s out there. But select they do anyway.

American orchestras monopolized the best orchestral performance category in nominations announced Friday. Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony, who won two Grammys last year, are back with Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony (also nominated for best engineering). Perennial contenders Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony scored with their smoothly played set of all four Schumann symphonies, and David Alan Miller’s enterprising survey of American composers Carl Ruggles, Steven Stucky and John Harbison deserves attention.

The Seattle Symphony leads all orchestras with three nominations — two for its present music director, Ludovic Morlot, in Aaron Jay Kernis’ traditionally shaped Violin Concerto with soloist James Ehnes (in the classical instrumental solo and contemporary composition categories), and one for its future music director, Thomas Dausgaard, in Nielsen’s Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 (orchestral performance), a strong opening entry for a complete Nielsen cycle. There were no nominations for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which has recorded little lately.

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NBC’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ is a surprising challenger to Broadway’s ‘Band’s Visit’ in the musical theater category

A surprise challenger infiltrated the musical theater album category when the Grammy nominees were announced Friday: The television special “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” starring Sara Bareilles, Alice Cooper and John Legend, landed a nomination next to Tony Award winners “The Band’s Visit,” “Carousel,” “My Fair Lady” and “Once on This Island.”

Long considered Broadway’s Grammy category, the winner is often a cast album for whichever show won the best musical or best musical revival Tony Award. “Dear Evan Hansen” won last year. In 2016, “Hamilton” took the Grammy.

Thanks to this year’s twist, the Tonys’ best musical, “The Band’s Visit,” and musical revival, “Once on This Island,” are not exactly shoo-ins for a Grammy win.

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Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Brandi Carlile lead as 2019 Grammy nominations expand, diversify

Artist Kendrick Lamar performs Feb. 16 at L.A. Live.
(Patrick T. Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Recording Academy voters were most impressed this year with the sound of Wakanda, the fictional African country from the film “Black Panther.”

The music assembled by Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar to accompany the Marvel Studios blockbuster received a field-leading eight nominations for its album and singles, including the hat trick of recognition in the top three categories of record, album and song of the year.

This is the second time in Lamar’s career that he has led the Grammy nominees. Lamar went into the 2016 ceremony with 11 nominations tied to his “To Pimp a Butterfly” and last year, his “Damn” competed for album of the year, ultimately losing to Bruno Mars.

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The full Grammy nominations list

An illustration of the Grammy Award statue
(Alessandro Pautasso / For the Times)

Nominations for the 2019 Grammy Awards were revealed Friday in Los Angeles, with multiple nominations going to Drake, Brandi Carlile, Cardi B and the soundtracks to “Black Panther” and “A Star is Born.” The 61st Grammy Awards are scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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Album of the year: Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monáe, Drake among nominees

Cardi B arrives at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Oct. 9.
(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

And the nominees are…

On Friday, the Recording Academy unveiled the nominees for album of the year.

Cardi B, “Invasion of Privacy;” Brandi Carlile, “By the Way, I Forgive You;” Drake, “Scorpion;” H.E.R., “H.E.R.;” Post Malone, Beer Bongs & Bentleys;” Janelle Monae, “Dirty Computer;” Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour;” and the “Black Panther” soundtrack overseen by Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar will will be in the running at the 2019 Grammy Awards. This marks the first time eight artists will battle it out for the top prize.


Can this year’s nominations avoid last year’s #GrammysSoMale criticisms?

Janelle Monae during the arrivals at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Janelle Monae during the arrivals at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a safe bet that more eyes than usual will be focused on Friday’s announcement of the 2019 Grammy Award nominations.

For the first time in Grammy history, the ceremony is rolling out under the watchful eye of a high-profile diversity and inclusion task force created by the Recording Academy.

January’s 60th awards ceremony won praise for emphasizing hip-hop and R&B in many top fields — the pop-leaning R&B of Bruno Mars won the album of the year — but was almost immediately overshadowed by a #GrammysSoMale backlash. Female artists were largely shut out in the top awards categories, and in an interview after the ceremony, Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow compounded the issue by stating that women should “step up.”

But it doesn’t require a task force to see that #GrammysSoMale shouldn’t be an issue for the Feb. 10 awards. That’s provided, of course, that the Recording Academy’s approximately 13,000 voting members had their pulse on the most important music of 2018.

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Nominations are coming: Three story lines to watch for on Friday

Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour at the Rose Bowl on May 18.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Even people not obsessed with music are likely asking some of the big questions set to be answered Friday morning, when the Recording Academy announces its nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards.

Will Taylor Swift earn her fourth nod for album of the year — more than Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Prince or Madonna have received — with the polarizing “Reputation,” which sold well but drew mixed reviews?

Will Cardi B become only the third female rapper in history (after Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott) to be nominated for that prize with her blockbuster debut, “Invasion of Privacy”?

And speaking of women: Will the academy do a better job of recognizing their work overall than it did at the 60th Grammys, in which a dearth of female nominees resulted in an awkward interview in which academy President Neil Portnow infamously advised women to “step up”?

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Dear voters: Here’s how to get the nominations right

Dear Grammy voter,

It’s been a while! Hope you’re well.

I’m getting in touch, of course, because it’s that time again: First-round voting for the 61st Grammy Awards — in which you and your colleagues in the Recording Academy are sorting out nominations for the music industry’s most coveted prize — opened last week and will run through Oct. 31.

Which means I’ve got just a few days to help guide your picks with my unsolicited advice.

The most recent ceremony, as I’m sure you remember, was a doozy. After assembling a rather forward-looking set of nominations for the 60th Grammys (which took place in January), you guys reverted to type with a deeply conservative slate of winners headed up by Bruno Mars.

Who is great, by the way! You should definitely go see him play this weekend at Staples Center. But handing Mars the awards for album, record and song of the year over the culture-shaping likes of Kendrick Lamar, Luis Fonsi and Lorde? That just demonstrated the academy’s attachment to old values — and its inability (or unwillingness) to judge art using fresh criteria.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I think you could use the assistance.

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Grammy Awards increase nominees in record, album, song and best new artist categories to eight in a bid to diversify

Adele is shown backstage in 2017 with her multiple Grammy Awards.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

“The more the merrier” — and, presumably, the greater the diversity — is the guiding principle behind one of the biggest changes to the Grammy Awards process in recent years. The Recording Academy will up the number of nominees from five to eight for its 2019 Grammy ceremony in each of the general categories of record, album, song and best new artist.

The changes are detailed in a letter going out this week to all 24,000 academy members advising them of several modifications that are part of the ongoing process of fine-tuning the awards.

They arrive as the Grammy Awards are facing increased scrutiny over diversity, a conversation that accelerated after Recording Academy President and Chief Executive Neil Portnow stated that women in the music industry needed to “step up” after this year’s male-dominated Grammy Awards results.

In a statement on the changes, Portnow said, “Throughout the year, we team up with music people across all genres and disciplines to consider revisions and subsequently make amendments to our rules and entry guidelines to ensure we’re keeping up with our ever-changing industry and meeting the needs of music creators.”

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