A Night of Music: What to expect from the 60th GRAMMY Awards

A movement pushing for increased diversity among nominations has shaken up the various awards shows in recent years, and in 2018 it appears the GRAMMYs have finally caught up with the times. Now in its 60th year, voters have already made history by doing something that’s never been done before: not placing a single white man in contention for the most-coveted award, Album of the Year.

Instead, two rap albums, two R&B/funk-influenced projects and one within the realm of electropop will vie for the title, with all five candidates seeking their first win in the category. Bruno Mars (24K Magic) and Kendrick Lamar (DAMN.) have been in this position before and are seeking to avenge losses to the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift and Macklemore, while Lorde (Melodrama), Jay-Z (4:44) and Childish Gambino (“Awaken, My Love!”) are in the running for the first time. A hip-hop album hasn’t won since OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and while Bruno Mars’ radio-friendly 24K Magic will be tough to beat, the genre has as good a shot as ever with two legendary lyricists in consideration.

The aforementioned Jay-Z leads all artists with eight nominations, but GRAMMY newcomer SZA isn’t far behind him, competing in five categories including Best New Artist. Leading all women in nominations, the R&B star will look to carry Ctrl’s unstoppable momentum into 2018, before heading out on the star-studded TDE Championship tour alongside Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and the rest of the label.

The Best New Artist category is truly stacked this year; along with SZA, breakout R&B talent Khalid and industry darling Alessia Cara have strong cases for why they deserve to win. It won’t be the only hard-fought battle; while Childish Gambino has to be considered an underdog in the Album of the Year race, his viral smash “Redbone” is one of the favorites for the Record of the Year category. With songs like “Despacito,” “24K Magic” and “HUMBLE.” also in the running, however, the tag of “favorite” is little more than a matter of personal preference, as each song had its own massive cultural moment that could easily propel it to victory.

Graphic by Naylee Nagda | Daily Trojan

Undeniably, the GRAMMYs switch to an online voting system, previously relying on mail-in ballots, played a role in the increased diversity and representation. Younger voters and those rarely at their permanent address during voting season saw their voices unfairly and unnecessarily quieted, but now have a better opportunity to vouch for the right candidates.

Additionally, superstar talents such as Frank Ocean and Drake have made their distaste for the awards show known by failing to submit their albums for consideration, only increasing the pressure applied by many music fans across the country. Ocean further detailed his frustrations with the committee in a lengthy Tumblr post following the 2017 ceremony, arguing that GRAMMY voters were out of touch and citing the impressive sales of his independently released Blonde as the only accolades he needed. With a slate of nominees much more representative of what’s dominating the music industry, however, the committee has set themselves up to turn the tide this Sunday night, and win back some of their outspoken critics in the process.

It’s fitting that the GRAMMYs will be held in New York this year, rather than the award show’s usual home at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. It feels like a fresh start for the ceremony in more ways than one, as it seeks to reverse the trend of frustration and controversy following recent awards shows.

The committee has already initiated a change in the nominated artists and a change in the venue; let’s see if Sunday also brings a change in the typical winners.