Before we get into it, there is an important fact about the Grammy nomination eligibility that needs to be addressed. The Academy accepts submissions of recordings for the 2017 awards that were released between October 1st, 2015 and September 30th, 2016. A year span, but with songs from the tail end of two years prior. That’s why nominations that make you say “Hasn’t that been out for a while now?”, indeed have.
That being said, the number of nominations are led by none other than Beyonce, with 9, who is competing for a number of them against other female powerhouse Adele. And of course there’s already “battle of the divas” dialect going around. Because one can’t be successful without undermining the other’s success. The two are completely different artists, and their albums, Lemonade for Beyonce, 25 for Adele, are perhaps the furthest from each other you could create, so the only similarity they have is their double x chromosomes.
For such a hectic past year or so in politics, feminism included, the number of pieces facing these issues seemed to be fairly tame. Of course every nomination of Beyonce’s is from Lemonade, her striking visual album that addresses socio-political issues, as well as infidelity, with strong Black Lives Matter inspirations, leading to her somehow controversial Super Bowl show.
Chance the Rapper, nominated for seven awards, whose mixtape is only eligible due to new rules that allow streamed content, has led political change in the past. Over one Memorial Day weekend, he helped lead a successful gun violence free campaign, leading to 42 hours of now shootings reported in Chicago. He also has met with President Obama for the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge initiative, which addresses young black men’s specific issues in modern America. However, his album wasn’t a large statement, instead influenced by his Christian values.
Frank Ocean made his own statement by not submitting however, claiming that the Grammys, which in their defense have never faced criticism like the #OscarsSoWhite movement, were still not up to par on diversity. He refused to submit his work this year, after previously winning awards for Channel Orange. He notes particularly the Album of the Year category, sort of the Actor/Actress of the year of the Grammy world, has been one by overwhelmingly white artists, with a small number of exceptions for legends like Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson.
He has a point in the sense that a love of Rihanna, Drake, and Beyonce, which has been a long time thing, should show our diversity. But the amount of categories let black artist shine in their own genres that historically developed with them. On the other hand, one way the academy is showing progress is through its focus on youth acts, with less posthumous awards than normal, though of course including Prince and David Bowie. In fact, many find Paul Simon’s lack of nomination surprising in a lineup that usually includes tried and trued favorites like Santana.
This year’s Grammy awards seem to really reflect a current trend in our country: the need to look at the good accomplished, but not stop there and continue towards further change, with a trust of youth to lead the way.
Top nominations include:
Record of the Year-
3) 7 Years//Lukas Graham
4) Work//Rihanna ft. Drake
5) Stressed Out//21 Pilots
Album of the Year-
3) Purpose//Justin Bieber
5) A Sailor’s Guide to Earth//Sturgill Simpson
Song of the Year-
3) 7 Years//Lukas Graham
4) I Took a Pill in Ibiza//Mike Posner
5) Love Yourself//Justin Bieber
Best New Artist
1) Kelsea Ballerini
2) The Chainsmokers
3) Chance the Rapper
4) Maren Morris
5) Anderson .Paak
See the full list of the nominations here and tune in February 12th for the results.