Rapper leads pack; Swift and Weeknd garner seven each
BY RANDY LEWIS
LOS ANGELES TIMES (TNS)
Rapper Kendrick Lamar, pop superstar Taylor Swift and Canadian R&B experimentalist the Weeknd led the field in the 2016 Grammy Award nominations, collectively taking 25 nods in this year’s industry-bestowed honors.
Lamar is well out in front of the field with 11 nominations, the bulk of them tied to his almost universally lauded third album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” but also including two for his collaboration with Swift on her hit “Bad Blood” and one for co-writing Kanye West’s nominated rap song “All Day.”
Lamar’s politically charged album is nominated in an especially diverse category alongside Swift’s blockbuster “1989,” the Weeknd’s breakthrough collection “Beauty Behind the Madness,” Alabama Shakes’ sonically adventurous “Sound & Color” and country singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton’s powerfully reflective “Traveller.”
“This all comes from artists today who are emboldened, who are fearless and who are not willing, or wanting to be, sort of put in a nice little box with a bow on it,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told The Times. “Artists today have the ability to be exposed to multiple kinds of genres in music, and we’ll give credit to the world of technology we live in that gives easy access to whatever direction you want to head in.”
Nods for best song
Swift (who, like the Weeknd, collected seven nominations) and British pop singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran scored in three of the top four general field categories: record, album and song, with Sheeran nominated in the album category not for his own album but for his participation on the Weeknd’s latest.
Song nominees run from Lamar’s “Alright,” which touches on police brutality, to Swift’s tongue-in-cheek celebration of romantic fickleness, “Blank Space.”
The other contenders are Little Big Town’s sly play on controversies over same-sex relations, “Girl Crush,” written by Nashville pros Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose; Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth’s hit from the “Furious 7” soundtrack, “See You Again,” written by Puth, Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks and Cameron Thomaz; and Sheeran’s vulnerable “Thinking Out Loud,” for which he collaborated with Amy Wadge.
The best new artist category singles out Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, British guitarist-singer James Bay, country singer-songwriter Sam Hunt, YouTube phenom Tori Kelly and pop singer Meghan Trainor.
Five for Drake
Among this year’s other multiple Grammy nominees, producer-songwriter Max Martin, who was deeply involved in Swift’s “1989,” has six nominations, and five apiece go to Canadian rapper Drake and recording engineers Tom Coyne, Serban Ghenea and John Hanes, who are recognized for their work on record and album nominees.
The absence of Madonna and her latest album “Rebel Heart” among this year’s nominees is likely to be viewed by some as a snub of the veteran singer. And despite a massive promotional campaign behind “Cass County,” Don Henley’s first solo album in 15 years received just one nomination, in the Americana roots song category, for “The Cost of Living,” which he wrote with Merle Haggard.
Likewise, Dr. Dre’s well-received “Compton,” his first solo album in 16 years, generated only one nomination for the esteemed hip-hop star and producer, in the rap album category. That’s something of a surprise given the high-profile year he enjoyed thanks to the glowing reception for the “Straight Outta Compton” film, which detailed the rise and fall of his former group, N.W.A.
Overall, nine artists scored four nominations each, and an additional 17 are up for three awards apiece. With more than 400 nominations across 83 categories for 2016, there is plenty more recognition spread out among the music community.
Plenty of collaborations
In fact, if West’s Paul McCartney collaboration “All Day” wins the rap song category, a total of 19 songwriters can line up to take the stage Feb. 15 at the Grammys broadcast at Staples Center in Los Angeles when winners are announced. Lamar’s album, should it win, would generate 30 awards for the collective group of performers, producers and engineers who are nominated.
That’s reflective of the broadly collaborative nature of hip-hop, which typically generates the most nominations for individual artists, who often find they are competing with themselves in some categories.
Indeed, even if Lamar wins in every category he’s nominated in, the most Grammy statuettes he can hope to collect is nine, because he is nominated opposite himself in the rap song and music video categories.
Winners will be determined by about 13,000 voting members of the Recording Academy. The 58th Annual Grammy Awards will air on Monday, Feb. 15.