Beyonce leads Grammy nominations in crowded field
Beyonce led the Grammy Award nominations Tuesday amid acclaim for her “Lemonade” album but she faced spirited competition from other chart-topping artists including Adele.
Beyonce received nods in nine categories for the music industry’s biggest night including Album of the Year for “Lemonade,” her contemplative look at African-American women that she intertwined with an original movie.
The pop diva will face off at the February 12 awards in three of the most prestigious categories against English balladeer Adele, whose “25” has been one of the top-selling albums of the 21st century.
Besides Album of the Year, Beyonce and Adele go head-to-head for Record of the Year, which recognizes individual tunes, and Song of the Year, which looks at songwriting.
Adele was nominated in the two categories for her power-track of lost love “Hello,” while Beyonce is in the running for “Formation,” a bouncy song that marks her deepest foray into hip-hop.
The 59th Grammy Awards will be presented at a gala in Los Angeles after voting by 13,000 music professionals.
Showing the breadth of support for Beyonce, she was even nominated in a rock category for a track off “Lemonade” she performed with Jack White.
If she wins in all categories, Beyonce would break the record for most Grammys by a female artist.
Beyonce has won 20 Grammys over her career but has never won Album of the Year, despite being nominated twice in the category.
– Rule change for streaming –
Two of hip-hop’s biggest names, Kanye West and Drake, were each nominated in eight categories as was R&B star Rihanna.
West, a media celebrity who recently was hospitalized after a reported breakdown, took advantage of a change in Grammy rules to consider streaming-only releases.
West put out his last album, “The Life of Pablo,” only through streaming as the on-demand online format rapidly grows.
With no physical product, West challenged traditional industry notions of an album, tinkering with his music after its “release.”
Along with Adele’s “25” and Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” nominees for Album of the Year included Drake’s “Views” — the top-selling album released in 2016 in the United States — and fellow Canadian star Justin Bieber’s “Purpose.”
The biggest surprise for Album of the Year was “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” by Sturgill Simpson, a country singer who has won a high-brow audience with abstract lyricism including meditations on Tibetan Buddhism.
It marks the second straight year that an alternative-minded country star was nominated for Album of the Year after Chris Stapleton, who ultimately lost to Taylor Swift in February.
– Low-key nods for Bowie –
Among other surprises, rock legend David Bowie, who died in January from an undisclosed battle with cancer, was passed over in the top categories.
His acclaimed final album “Blackstar,” released two days before his death, was nonetheless nominated for five awards including Best Alternative Music Album.
Bowie, who always enjoyed more accolades in his native Britain than in his adopted home of the United States, was up for Best Alternative Music Album against other favorites of critics — Bon Iver, PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop and Radiohead.
Lukas Graham, the Danish pop group with songs that explore income and social inequalities, was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “7 Years.”
Chance the Rapper, the introspective Chicago artist known for freestyles, was nominated in seven categories. It was a rare feat for an artist who refuses to sign to record labels — which historically lobby for Grammy nominations.
Chance the Rapper, whose latest mixtape “Coloring Book” is only available through streaming, was in the running for Best New Artist even though he has been active for several years.
Other nominees for Best New Artist, considered one of the top four categories, included the experimental California hip-hop artist Anderson .Paak, electronic sensations The Chainsmokers and the country singers Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris.
The Recording Academy’s selections each year inevitably come in for criticism from those who see omissions.
Frank Ocean, one of the most critically acclaimed voices in hip-hop, recently said that he refused to submit his long-awaited album “Blonde” for Grammy consideration.
Ocean, one of the darlings of the 2013 Grammys, said the award system was outdated and marred by racial bias.