Grammy Awards 2018: Will Kendrick Lamar finally win Album of the Year?

‘DAMN.’ artist is poised to take at least one of the top awards after being snubbed for two previous albums

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Tuesday 28 November 2017 16:17
Kendrick Lamar has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards
Kendrick Lamar has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards

It wouldn’t be the Grammys without a few shocks and surprises. The 60th year of the “biggest night in music” ramped up the anticipation by announcing its full list of nominees on 28 November, two months ahead of the awards ceremony.

Leading with eight nominations is JAY-Z, who released his acclaimed record 4:44 earlier this year; closely followed by Kendrick Lamar and his incendiary album DAMN., with seven.

DAMN. was listed among The Independent’s top 10 albums of the year, with a review calling it “another masterpiece for the rap canon; the master storyteller outstripping his closest competitors once again with a work that was impossible to second-guess”.

Among the most notable snubs for 2018’s awards ceremony was Ed Sheeran, who broke countless records with his multi-million selling album ÷ [Divide] yet did not appear in any of the four major categories; receiving just two nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Vocal Performance, the latter for his song “Shape of You”.

Taylor Swift‘s only eligible single, “Look What You Made Me Do”, produced by Jack Antonoff, was also ignored, but the reputation artist did receive a nod for her songwriting talents on “Better Man” by Little Big Town, nominated for Best Country Song. She was also nominated with Zayn Malik for “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”, which appeared on the Fifty Shades Darker film soundtrack,

The top four categories were rather male-dominated: Lorde was the only female artist nominated for Album of the Year, while Record of the Year was taken up by entirely-male artists.

Lorde received a nomination for her second album Melodrama, which The Independent praised for its ”off-kilter rhythms and quirks in the production [which] expose the inner workings of her music, where other artists would demand their albums are buffed and polished into generic perfection”.

Top ten albums of 2017

Critics noted, however, that there appeared to be an obvious, positive attempt by the music academy to make up for its history of overlooking work by black artists. Along with Lamar and JAY-Z, the nominations recognised major achievements by artists such as Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, Khalid, SZA and Lil Uzi Vert, all of whom were nominated for four of the top categories.

The past three years have all seen controversies where a black artist was overlooked in favour of a white singer. Beyonce was famously snubbed in 2015 when the Grammy Award for Album of the Year went to Beck, for Morning Phase. Then in 2016, Lamar and his universally acclaimed album To Pimp A Butterfly lost out to Taylor Swift’s fifth record 1989. This year, at 2017’s awards, a tearful Adele insisted that her Best Album award should have been given to Beyonce. Lamar was also nominated for, but did not win, Album of the Year for Good Kid, M.A.A.D City in 2014.

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Platinum-selling singer Khalid, nominated for five Grammys including Best New Artist, expressed his thanks on social media following the announcement. “I’m in shock. I’m so thankful man this is unbelievable,” he wrote on Twitter.

In an interview with The Independent in June, the 19-year-old spoke about the impact of early fame and how his mother was one of his biggest influences as an artist.

“She sings she just retired but she still sings,” he said. “If it wasn’t for her I definitely wouldn’t have the voice that I do. I heard her singing the records I grew up on. We listened to a lot of stuff, my mum introduced me to a lot of music and allowed me to keep such a broad ear.”

One Direction fans were disappointed that none of the latest solo efforts by Harry Styles, Niall Horan or Liam Payne received a nomination, despite some critics predicting they could be eligible for a Best New Artist award.

The 60th Grammy Awards will take place on 28 January in 2018.

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