The nominations for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards were revealed this week, with (per usual) very few surprises. Beyonce snagged nine, while Drake, Rihanna and Kanye West trailed closely behind with eight a piece. Other notables were Bowie (five), Adele (five), Bieber (four) and Chance the Rapper (seven) — with enough random underdogs (Sturgill, Disturbed) and popular snubs (Shawn Mendes, Radiohead, Justin Timberlake) to keep viewers invested (or enraged, not sure).
The big night won’t air until Feb. 12, so leading up until then, here’s a preliminary playlist of some of this year’s most interesting and noteworthy nominees. Look for more in weeks following.
“No Problem,” Chance the Rapper
The label-free entry from Chance the Rapper snagged seven noms this year, putting him up against mega promotion/production machines like Kanye West and Drake. The Apple Music exclusive is the first streaming-only project to enter the Grammys, following the musician’s (successful) petition to the academy for inclusion — a big step forward for hip-hop artists and mixtapes. Check “No Problem,” an extremely catchy, bouncy gospel-tinged track featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne.
“Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Beyonce featuring Jack White
Queen Bey is nominated across a myriad of categories for her epic visual treat, “Lemonade,” but her Best Rock Performance nom is by far the most intriguing. “Don’t Hurt Yourself” is exemplary of just how diverse and versatile Beyonce is as a performer, and “Lemonade” is as an album.
“My Name is Human,” Highly Suspect
Highly Suspect lost Best Rock Song (for “Lydia”) but their second nom in the category for “My Name is Human” is extremely promising. The sound of the gritty prog-rock trio — featuring lead singer Johnny Stevens, drummer Ryan Meyer and bassist Rich Meyer (they’re twins) — was likened to “a Guitar Hero song that you’ve five-starred but can’t stop playing” by Rolling Stone, which in certain circles, sounds like it’s probably a good thing.
“In Bloom,”Sturgill Simpson
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the trippy country sleeper star from Kentucky yet, now’s a pretty good time to start. Nominated for Album of the Year and Best Country Album, Simpson sounds like Hank Williams on acid and is cover famous for his dreary, string-heavy rendition of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” Check it out above, and don’t be surprised if you hear his name again.
“Cranes in the Sky,” Solange
We all know Solange can write one hell of a pop track, but her new release this year was more introspective and atmospheric, with timely, topical thought processes, deep and dreamy enough to rival even the boldest of divas. “Cranes in the Sky” plays like an artist statement, transporting the listeners to Solange’s inner monologue of quiet creative struggles.