Grammy awards 2019: Absentee male artistes threaten to steal spotlight from female nominees
R&B singer Alicia Keys hosts a female-flavoured Grammy Awards show on Sunday featuring performances by Cardi B, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Diana Ross and Dolly Parton, but which risks being overshadowed by the absence of some of music's most influential stars.
The live ceremony in Los Angeles could see Cardi B take home her first ever Grammy and potentially become the first rapper since 2004 to win the coveted album of the year award for her Invasion of Privacy.
Yet Sunday's show, billed as music's biggest night, is going ahead without leading nominees Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Childish Gambino, the alter ego of actor Donald Glover.
Their absence is seen as a snub by the three rappers for an awards show that has shut hip-hop artists out of its top prizes for a decade, despite rap's dominance as the biggest music genre in the United States.
Only two albums by hip-hop artists have ever won the album of the year Grammy - Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999, and Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004.
Rappers Post Malone (Beerbongs & Bentleys) and the absent Drake's best-seller Scorpion are also vying for the top prize. Janelle Monae's Dirty Computer, country singer Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour, eclectic musician Brandi Carlile's By The Way, I Forgive You, newcomer H.E.R's self-titled H.E.R., and the soundtrack album to superhero movie Black Panther, which was produced by Lamar, round out the contenders for best album.
Grammy organizers this year expanded the top four categories - album, record, song of the year, and best new artist - to eight nominees from five in a bid to diversify the contest.
But the larger field makes predicting a winner harder than usual. "I don't think you can say anyone is a front-runner," said Melinda Newman, West Coast editor of Billboard magazine.
"You can't assume someone will win just because their song or their album was incredibly popular. Grammy voters are less concerned with commercial success and more concerned with the work as a whole," she said.
Lamar, Drake and Gambino aren't the only nominees who will be missing on Sunday night.
Ariana Grande, with two nominations in the pop field, pulled out of the show late last week after a dispute with producers over which songs she would perform.
"This is live television and things happen up until the minute the shows starts," said Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, which puts on the Grammy Awards.
Taylor Swift, who has just one nod for her best-selling 2017 album Reputation, is filming in London. Actor Bradley Cooper is also in London to attend the BAFTA film awards, while his A Star is Born lead actress Lady Gaga takes the Grammy stage to perform record and song of the year nominee Shallow.
Rapper 21 Savage, who is featured on Post Malone's record of the year contender Rockstar, will also be absent after he was arrested in Atlanta last week on immigration violation charges.
Sunday's show will include tributes to Diana Ross, to mark her 75th birthday in March, and to Aretha Franklin, who died last August.
Here is a list of nominees in the major categories for the Grammy Awards. Rapper Kendrick Lamar leads the nominations with eight, followed by Canada's Drake at seven. Folk rocker Brandi Carlile is the most-nominated female artist with six nods:
- Album of the Year -
Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy
Brandi Carlile, "By The Way, I Forgive You"
Post Malone, "Beerbongs & Bentleys"
Janelle Monae, "Dirty Computer"
Kacey Musgraves, "Golden Hour"
Various Artists, "Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By"
- Record of the Year, recognizing overall performance on a song -
Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin, "I Like It"
Brandi Carlile, "The Joke"
Childish Gambino, "This Is America"
Drake, "God's Plan"
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, "Shallow" (from "A Star Is Born")
Kendrick Lamar & SZA, "All The Stars" (from "Black Panther")
Post Malone featuring 21 Savage, "Rockstar"
Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, "The Middle"
- Song of the Year, recognizing songwriting -
Kendrick Lamar and SZA, with songwriters Al Shuckburgh, Mark Spears and Anthony Tiffith, "All The Stars" (from "Black Panther")
Ella Mai with songwriters Larrance Dopson, Joelle James and Dijon McFarlane, "Boo'd Up"
Drake with songwriters Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels and Noah Shebib, "God's Plan"
Shawn Mendes with songwriters Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris and Geoffrey Warburton, "In My Blood"
Brandi Carlile with songwriters Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth, "The Joke"
Zedd and Grey, with songwriters Sarah Aarons, Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson and Marcus Lomax, "The Middle"
Lady Gaga with songwriters Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt, "Shallow"
Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) and Ludwig Goransson, "This Is America"
- Best New Artist -
Chloe x Halle
Greta Van Fleet
- Best Music Video -
The Carters, "APES**T"
Childish Gambino, "This Is America"
Joyner Lucas, "I'm Not Racist"
Janelle Monae, "Pynk"
Tierra Whack, "Mumbo Jumbo"
- Best Rap Album -
Cardi B, "Invasion Of Privacy"
Mac Miller, "Swimming"
Nipsey Hussle, "Victory Lap"
Pusha T, "Daytona"
Travis Scott, "Astroworld"
- Best Rock Album -
Alice in Chains, "Rainier Fog"
Fall Out Boy, "Mania"
Greta Van Fleet, "From the Fires"
Weezer, "Pacific Daydream"
- Best Pop Vocal Album -
Camila Cabello, "Camila"
Kelly Clarkson, "Meaning of Life"
Ariana Grande, "Sweetener"
Shawn Mendes, "Shawn Mendes"
P!nk, "Beautiful Trauma"
Taylor Swift, "Reputation"
- Best Alternative Music Album -
Arctic Monkeys, "Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino"
David Byrne, "American Utopia"
St. Vincent, "Masseduction"
- Best World Music Album -
Fatoumata Diawara, "Fenfo"
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, "Black Times"
Soweto Gospel Choir, "Freedom"
Yiddish Glory, "The Lost Songs of World War II"
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