by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Recording Academy announced its nominees Tuesday for the 60th annual Grammy Awards to acknowledge outstanding achievement in the predominantly English-language music industry.
What is most notable about this year's nominees is the range and diversity of the artists. For the first time in Grammy history, no white male performer was nominated for Album of the Year, every male lead Record of the Year nominee was a person of color, and Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito," featuring guest singer, Justin Bieber, became the first ever Spanish-language Record of the Year and Song of the Year nominee.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, singer/songwriter, Moses Edward, who pens songs for Pink, Will Smith and other chart-toppers, said "Now, more than any other time in history, more voices are being heard. It's easier for people to find the artists they can identify with organically, rather than being force-fed by industry execs."
Veteran rapper, Jay-Z, one of the best-selling musicians of all time, nabbed his first Album of the Year nod, as well as Record of the Year for "Story of OJ" and Song of the Year for "4:44."
Kendrick Lamar, joined him for Album of the Year and Record of the Year.As did five-time Grammy winner, Bruno Mars, and two-time Grammy nominee, Childish Gambino.
Childish Gambino is helmed by the multi-talented Donald Glover, who has snapped up two Emmys and two Golden Globes for acting and directing in the popular TV series, "Atlanta." He's teed up again for a another five shots at a Grammy with his neo-soul-funkadelic, "Redbone," nominated for Record of the Year and "Awaken my Love," for Album of the Year.
Also nominated for Album of the Year was New Zealand's hitmaker, Lorde, the youngest solo performer in 50 years to nab a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100.
Mega-star, Ed Sheeran, who many considered a lock for a best album nomination, was only penciled in for Best Pop Solo Performance for his hit, "Shape of You," and Best Pop Vocal Album for "Divide."
Best New Artist nominees included unconventional pop singer, Alessia Cara; R&B artist Khalid, hip hop's Lil Uzi Vert; double platinum singer/songwriter, Julia Michaels; and R&B sizzler, SZA.
Newcomer rapper, Cardi B, who topped the charts with her hit "Bodack Yellow" edging out perennial favorite, Taylor Swift, nabbed debut Grammy nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.
Keeping it in the family, Cardi B is competing for Best Rap Performance against her fiance Offset, whose group Migos got their nod for "Bad and Boujee," featuring Lil Uzi Vert, also a Best New Artist nominee.
It was a big year for rap. In the Big Four categories, only two artists out of twenty, Lorde ("Melodrama") and Julia Michaels ("Issues") haven't been in some way influenced by hip hop production or phrasing.
Many credit this year's more diverse line up to the Academy's new voting procedures. The Grammy Awards have been increasingly under fire for having voting procedures which were too skewed to accurately represent what's culturally relevant in the American music scene.
In a Huffington Post blog piece, Steve Stoute, author of "The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy," lambasted the Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards for having "lost touch with contemporary popular culture" and snubbing artists whose music is "shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation."
Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic went further, accusing the Grammys of "sidelining a black visionary work in favor of a white traditionalist one," while Maynard James Keenan of the metal band Tool, called the Grammys, "nothing more than some gigantic promotional machine for the music industry."
Evidently, such widespread criticism has hit home. The powers-that-be behind the Grammys at the Recording Academy have made sweeping changes to their voting procedures which are now having a real impact.
This past year, the Grammys moved from a cumbersome paper ballot to a web-based voting system that not only allows its 13,000 members to vote online wherever they may be touring in the world, but it also allows them to access the performers in competition on their website instead of having to go out and find it.
Voters can listen to all the nominated recordings, watch the artists' videos and see the artists' packaging designs for side-by-side comparisons all in one site without having to hunt around or purchase them themselves.
Former Universal Music Group music executive, Eddie Cane, told Xinhua, "Regardless of who is nominated, we can't lose sight of the real goal: It's got to be about the artistry. It's got to be about merit. The best will shine through, no matter what their color is."