2018 Grammy Awards: how the Recording Academy has evolved into relevance


What a difference a decade ago.

Ten years ago, at the 50th Grammy Awards, Kanye West was the only hip-hop artist in the album race of the year, faced against English indie rock singer Amy Winehouse, the perennially nominated rock band Foo Fighters, country singer and songwriter Vince Gill and jazz veteran Herbie Hanbad; Hanbad won.

The 60 Grammy Awards will be a very different scene.

On Tuesday, the Recording Academy revealed the nominations heavily skewed for rap, hip-hop and R & B; the main categories were occupied by Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee and Bruno Mars.

After cautiously tracing the field of hip-hop urban music for nearly four decades, the academy has adopted the genre unconditionally.

For the first time in that six-decade story, there was not a white man among the album nominees of the year (Lorde is the only female), while the record and song of the year nominations included the first song in Spanish – "Despacito" by Puerto Rican musicians Fonsi and Daddy Yankee – to be recognized in four categories.

Jay-Z topped the list of nominations this year with eight for his "4:44" album, followed by Compton Lamar with seven and Mars with six. Gambino, the musical alter ego of the actor Donald Glover ("Atlanta", "Solo: A Star Wars Story"), the R & B / pop singer / songwriter Khalid, producer and composer of Chicago No I.D. and the R & B artist SZA tied with five each.

There are also no white men among the best new nominees for the artist, where women (Alessia Cara, SZA and Julia Michaels) outnumber men (Khalid and Lil Uzi Vert). [19659002] See the most read stories in Entertainment this time »

The increase in the number of artists of color and women this year may be a response to the current political climate in which many of these groups feel threatened and moved to talk. It certainly reflects the academy's attempt to respond to criticism that it is out of touch with notable artists and trends that shape pop music.

Most of the nominated works also indicate the continuous change of the musical property to the transmission. Virtually all nominees in the main categories regularly accumulate mbadive numbers online; "Despacito", for example, has been broadcast more than 4.4 billion times on YouTube.

"I think the nominations are a reflection of a membership with a lot of experience in the current vote that really have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening in music," said the president of the academy, Neil Portnow, on the mix in the nominations this year, adding that "it feels something historic."

Historical, but not accidental. In recent years, said Portnow, the academy pushed to ensure that the membership was dominated by active participants in the music business rather than "amateurs."

This year, to make voting more convenient for members whose schedules are quite "upside down" between recording, touring and promoting their music, online voting was conducted.

"Sitting and waiting to get a physical ballot in a mailbox is inhibiting," he said. "Now it's quite ubiquitous that you can vote from your phone, which generally improves participation and encourages the participation of managers, and it's more attractive to do so."

Add to that "the fact that hip-hop and urban [music] are widespread, not only in music, but in culture, and not only in the United States, but throughout the world" , said Portnow, "and it's a formula for the kind of results we're seeing today."

The change usually has a price; This year's biggest recognition of younger artists comes at the expense of veteran musicians who still perform acclaimed works.

The acclaimed album by singer-songwriter Randy Newman, "Dark Matter", received only one nomination, for the best arrangement for instruments and vocals in the song "Putin".

"Triplicate," Bob Dylan's three-volume continuation of his exploration of American pop standards, has received widespread acclaim, but is nominated only in the category of pop vocal albums; Not long ago I could have obtained a general recognition to the album of the year.

None of these works, however, resonated significantly with listeners or voters under 40 years of age. Or even 50.

Perhaps the most A visible example of this year's pivot is the absence of nominations for the Beatles, or recordings related to the Beatles.

Even the highly publicized and enthusiastically received 50th anniversary of the group's album, 1967 "Sgt. Pepper & Lonely Hearts Club Band" failed to qualify in the limited edition package, the historical album or the album notes .

In recent years, Grammy voters have often handed out key prizes to heritage artists such as Hanbad, Ray Charles, Santana, Steely Dan, Eric Clapton and Tony Bennett, a practice widely regarded as compensation for previous oversights rather than a reward for a particular job.

It often reflected the preferences of older voters in the academy, who favored veterans over newcomers although those artists had little connection to the current music scene.

This year, virtually all nominations distinguish artists who have reached the age of majority in the last decade. At 47, Jay-Z is the great old man of the lot.

Today, the Recording Academy has about 24,000 members, but only slightly more than half of them are eligible to vote. Where once the members could automatically renew their membership, they must now requalify by showing that they have done the work necessary to meet the membership criteria of the academy.

"We have been putting a lot of effort into this," said Portnow. "We continue to fight for a relevant voter membership."

While other voting organizations, including the film academy, work for racial and gender diversity, the music academy is also concerned about age and gender.

"Certainly diversity is a big part of that," he said. "Diversity means many things, not only about race and ethnicity, but also about gender – we have 84 categories – also a lot about age and having a youth component, about geography and being representative of music throughout the country, and gender as good

"As we continue to have that as an agenda, I think we're seeing the fruits of that work in this type of nomination," Portnow said. "You do not get that kind of list from an organization that has not made its task. "

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