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Who Are The Record Of The Year Nominees? | 60th GRAMMY Awards

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Who Are The Record Of The Year Nominees? | 60th GRAMMY Awards

Spanning Childish Gambino, Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee/Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Kendrick Lamar, preview all five tracks that are up for Record Of The Year

GRAMMYs/Nov 28, 2017 - 06:35 pm

Hip-hop cuts comprise two-fifths of the Record Of The Year nominations for the 60th GRAMMY Awards: Jay-Z's bold "The Story Of O.J." and Kendrick Lamar's edgy "HUMBLE." If one of these win, it would mark the first time a hip-hop track took the award in GRAMMY history. 

Rounding out the eclectic mix in this year's field are Childish Gambino's soul-inflected "Redbone"; Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber's crossover smash, "Despacito"; and Bruno Mars' golden hit, "24K Magic."

Here's a closer look at this year's Record Of The Year nominees:

 "Redbone," Childish Gambino

With its sturdy groove, funky bass and synth-laden production, "Redbone" bleeds with vintage R&B touches and modern flourishes. On top, Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) turns in a sexy falsetto-based vocal that recalls '80s Prince and screams — literally — with timeless soul.

"I think people hear "Redbone" and are like, 'Oh, he pitched up his vocals,' but there was no vocal pitching on the album — I just sang differently," Glover told Triple J's "Breakfast" radio program. 

"Redbone" was produced by Childish Gambino and collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who plays various instruments on the track, including bass, guitar and synthesizer.

Childish Gambino has five current nominations. His other four are for Album Of The Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album for "Awaken, My Love!" and Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for "Redbone." 

Childish Gambino has two prior GRAMMY nominations to his credit. This marks his first career nod for Record Of The Year.

"Despacito," Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber

It's the jam you could not escape this past summer: "Despacito." Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Bieber's collab spent a record-tying 16 weeks at No. 1. And the song is fresh from winning four Latin GRAMMY Awards, including the remix taking Best Urban Fusion/Performance. 

"'Despacito' started with a melody hook that I had with my guitar only," Fonsi told Billboard. "The beat for this track came after I wrote the lyrics, which I wrote as if I was writing a ballad. I sat with my guitar and started this cumbia pattern with my guitar." 

Co-produced by Josh Gudwin, Mauricio Rengifo & Andrés Torres, "Despacito" — which translates to "Slowly" — flowered into a lush track propelled by an infectious rhythm and augmented by steel drums, classical and acoustic guitars, and multilingual vocal hooks galore.

Fonsi, Yankee and Bieber have three total nominations each for "Despacito": Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Fonsi and Yankee have one prior GRAMMY nomination each. Bieber has seven prior GRAMMY nominations and one prior win. "Despacito" marks the first Record Of The Year nomination for each artist. 

"The Story Of O.J.," Jay-Z

Jay-Z's provocative "The Story Of O.J." tackles hard-hitting topics such as civil rights, socioeconomics, stereotypes, and business acumen. Its potent commentary on African-Americans in America is definitely a case of an artist intent on making a profound statement.

"We tend as black people — because we never had anything, which is understandable — we get to a place and we just think we separate ourselves from the culture," Jay-Z said about the song via Tidal. "Like where O.J. will get to a space where he's like, 'I'm not black, I'm O.J.'"

"'The Story of O.J.' is really a song about we as a culture, having a plan, how we're gonna push this forward," Jay-Z told iHeartRadio. "We all make money, and then we all lose money, as artists especially. But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger," a sentiment underlined by the lyric "Financial freedom our only hope/F* living rich and dying broke."

Produced by Jay-Z and No I.D., "The Story Of O.J." masterfully incorporates a sparse driving beat and piano embellishments with samples of Nina Simone's "Four Women" and Kool & The Gang's "Kool's Back Again."

Jay-Z has eight nominations to lead the 60th GRAMMY Awards field: Record Of The Year, Best Rap Song and Best Music Video for "The Story Of O.J."; Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album for 4:44; Song Of The Year and Best Rap Performance for "4:44"; and Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Family Feud" featuring Beyoncé

One of the top GRAMMY winners of all time, Jay Z has 21 prior GRAMMY wins and 66 prior nominations. He has three prior nods for Record Of The Year: "Crazy In Love" with Beyoncé (46th GRAMMY Awards), "Umbrella" with Rihanna (50th GRAMMY Awards) and "Empire State Of Mind" with Alicia Keys (53rd GRAMMY Awards). 

"HUMBLE.," Kendrick Lamar

On "HUMBLE.," Kendrick Lamar lays his cards on the table in the form of a dare to his peers: "B*, sit down/Be humble."

But it's also a cautionary reminder to Lamar himself. 

"It's [about] the ego," Lamar told Rolling Stone. "That's why I did a song like that, where I just don't give a f, or I'm telling the listener, 'You can't f with me.' But ultimately, I'm looking in the mirror. ...

"That beat feels like my generation, right now. The first thing that came to my head was, 'Be humble.'"

Produced by Mike Will Made It, Lamar spits his verses on "HUMBLE." over an 808-constructed drum groove, throbbing bass and a menacing piano riff. Mike Will has described the urgent track as having "an N.W.A./Dr. Dre feel [and] an Eminem kind of feel."

Including Record Of The Year, the rapper has seven nominations this year: Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album for DAMN.; Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song and Best Music Video for "HUMBLE."; and Best Rap/Sung Performance for "LOYALTY." featuring Rihanna.

The Compton, Calif., rapper has seven prior GRAMMY wins and 21 prior nominations. "HUMBLE." marks his first Record Of The Year nomination.

"24K Magic," Bruno Mars

"Guess who's back again?" It's party-meister Mars and this time he's "a dangerous man with some money in my pocket." 

"24K Magic"'s infectious foundation is built upon funky disco-meets-R&B elements as well as a prominent synth riff reminiscent of "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash. It's exactly the upbeat brand of pop that has become synonymous with the Hawaiian-born singer/songwriter. 

"We wrote '24K Magic' when 'Uptown Funk' was No. 1," Mars told NME. "So if you hear the same spirit in that song, that's why."

Produced by Shampoo Press & Curl, "24K Magic" has a smooth lead vocal and glittery hooks at every turn, including layers of synths, jangly guitars, bouncy rhythmic hooks, and a juicy talk-box-laced intro.

Including Record Of The Year, Mars has six current nominations: Album Of The Year and Best R&B Album for 24K Magic; Song Of The Year, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for "That's What I Like."

Mars has five prior GRAMMY wins and 21 prior nominations. With five prior Record Of The Year nominations, he is the lone artist in the field with a previous win in the category: "Uptown Funk" with Mark Ronson at the 58th GRAMMY Awards.

The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28, 2018, airing live on CBS from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT. 

How Hip-Hop Took Over The 2023 GRAMMYs, From The Golden Anniversary To 'God Did'
LL Cool J, Flavor Flav, Busta Rhymes, Lil Uzi Vert, Nelly, Spliff Star, Queen Latifah, Ice-T, Chuck D, Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, Grandmaster Flash, and Black Thought at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Recording Academy

list

How Hip-Hop Took Over The 2023 GRAMMYs, From The Golden Anniversary To 'God Did'

It's the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, but the 2023 GRAMMYs celebrations didn't stop at the epic, MC-saturated blowout. Here are five ways the genre took over Music's Biggest Night.

GRAMMYs/Feb 6, 2023 - 10:06 pm

The 2023 GRAMMYs' ambitious, world-beating tribute to hip-hop's 50th anniversary is getting a lot of ink — for a very good reason.

Featuring an ensemble ranging from progenitors like Grandmaster Flash and Run-DMC, to legends such as Too Short and Missy Elliott, and modern-day practitioners like Lil Baby, GloRilla and Lil Uzi Vert, the tribute segment was stunning not only on a logistical level, but on conceptual, emotional and historical planes.

But the Recording Academy's tribute to this landmark in time wasn't siphoned off to that 15-minute segment — not even close. In fact, the entirety of Music's Biggest Night radiated with the courageous, intrepid, forward-thinking spirit of hip-hop.

The tribute performance was just one of many nods to rap during GRAMMY week. Days before, Lil Wayne, Missy Elliott and Dr. Dre were honored by the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective in a ceremony that contained performances by Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz and Ciara. And the pre-GRAMMY gala featured a performance from Weezy, Latto and Lil Baby.

At Music’s Biggest Night, the hip-hop love roared fully to life. Here are five ways hip-hop took over the 2023 GRAMMYs, a foreshadowing of an entire year in celebration of the epochal artform — with the extended hip-hop tribute as a springboard.

GloRilla 2023 GRAMMYs

GloRilla performing at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Photo: Getty Images for the Recording Academy

A Global Hip-Hop Rager For The Ages

Until Music's Biggest Night, to fit hip-hop's evolution and essence into 15 minutes would seem logistically untenable. But the Academy did the impossible.

The Questlove-curated set moved lightning-quick from '70s and '80s pioneers, to 2000s radio dominators like Nelly, all the way to the current era.

Like with the last Super Bowl's ensemble cast of rap greats, the result was emotionally walloping, historically edifying and visually spectacular.

Most importantly, the music was exceptional — a tip of the hat to a precious form of American expression. To anyone who still subscribes to some form of stigma — you don't know what you're missing.

The Rap Categories Contained Serious Jewels

Let's take a step back, though, and examine the 2023 GRAMMYs' hip-hop nominees and winners themselves.

Kendrick Lamar was well-represented in both the General and Rap fields, and commensurately for Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers and Lamar's non-album single "The Heart Pt. 5."

For the former, Lamar won Best Rap Album; for the latter, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. With the success of "The Heart Pt. 5," he is now the most-awarded artist in the latter category.

Together, these offerings comprise something of a creative and emotional watershed for Lamar. As for Pusha T, It's Almost Dry — nominated for Best Rap Album — contained some of his most crystal-sharp coke raps to date.

Plus, the sheer range of guests on DJ Khaled's GOD DID — nominated for Best Rap Album — could be the ultimate testament to his indomitable spirit, curatorial acumen and infectious sense of largesse.

This also applies to fellow nominees from Future, who won Best Melodic Rap Performance for "WAIT FOR U," to Jack Harlow, who was nominated liberally throughout the Rap field.

Given the level of craft throughout, hip-hop isn't just ripe to be celebrated for its past, but for its boundless future.

Dr. Dre Was Presented With A Global Impact Award

At the 2023 GRAMMYs, seven-time GRAMMY winner Dr. Dre was the recipient of the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award for his multitude of achievements through his innovative, multi-decade career.

Dr. Dre was presented the award after a plethora of televised bona fides, and offered his thanks to the Recording Academy and Black Music Collective for the prestigious honor in light of the Recording Academy's celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.

Takeoff Tribute 2023 GRAMMYs

A tribute to Takeoff during the 2023 GRAMMYs. Photo: Getty Images for the Recording Academy

Quavo Performed A Moving Tribute To The Late Takeoff

There's a bittersweetness to celebrating hip-hop on a global scale in 2023, as so many of its best and brightest have died far too young in recent years.

Among these tragedies was the senseless death of Takeoff, one-third of the family-bound rap trio Migos, along with Offset and Quavo.

Read More: Remembering Takeoff: Why The Unassuming Rapper Was Foundational To Migos

As part of the In Memoriam segment, backed by worship ensemble Maverick City Music, Quavo honored his late nephew with a soul-searing version of "Without You."

"Tears rollin' down my eyes / Can't tell you how many times I cried," he rapped before an empty microphone stand, poignantly hung with Takeoff's chain. "Days ain't the same without you / I don't know if I'm the same without you."

DJ Khaled 2023 GRAMMYs

John Legend, Fridayy, and DJ Khaled performing at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

DJ Khaled & Company Closed The Curtain With "GOD DID"

At the end of the ceremony, DJ Khaled brought out collaborators Jay-Z, John Legend, Lil Wayne, Fridayy, and Rick Ross for a rendition of GOD DID's title track, which was nominated for Song Of The Year, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

Seated horizontally in an opulent, Last Supper-esque tableau, the stars sang their hooks while bathed in purple light, closing out the 2023 GRAMMYs with laconic flair.

It was a fitting conclusion to Music's Biggest Night, one that placed hip-hop where it belongs: on the top shelf.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Winners & Nominees List

Watch Kendrick Lamar Win Best Rap Album For 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' | 2023 GRAMMYs Acceptance Speech
Photo of Kendrick Lamar winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Watch Kendrick Lamar Win Best Rap Album For 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' | 2023 GRAMMYs Acceptance Speech

Kendrick Lamar took home the award for Best Rap Album, recognizing how 'Mr. Morale' allowed him to grow as an artist.

GRAMMYs/Feb 6, 2023 - 02:37 am

Kendrick Lamar won the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Lamar thanked his family for giving him the "courage and vulnerability" to tell his stories, as well as his fans for trusting him with the stories. 

DJ Khaled, Future, Jack Harlow, and Pusha T were the other nominees in the prestigious category. 

Watch Lamar's speech below, and listen to music from all of the nominees on our official Amazon Music playlist.

Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Hip-Hop's Secret Weapon: Producer Boi-1da On Working With Kendrick, Staying Humble And Doing The Unorthodox
Boi-1da in Toronto in January 2023.

Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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Hip-Hop's Secret Weapon: Producer Boi-1da On Working With Kendrick, Staying Humble And Doing The Unorthodox

The self-described "young veteran" producer, up for four awards at the 2023 GRAMMYs, including Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical, has his hand on songs by Drake, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar. He spoke with GRAMMY.com about creating with hip-hop greats.

GRAMMYs/Feb 1, 2023 - 04:22 pm

If a rapper staying atop the mainstream for more than a decade is a herculean feat, then a producer doing the same is downright sisyphean. Boi-1da, the 36-year-old Canadian producer who netted four nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs — including the coveted Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical — has risen to the very top of the industry, and remained there because he hasn’t lost the perspective from when he first started rolling the boulder up the hill

"I feel like my awareness is a lot of the reason I’ve been doing this for a long time, because I’m very socially aware of what’s going on and I can see," he tells GRAMMY.com. "In some rooms, you’ve got to find out what role you play. Sometimes, you've gotta play a bigger role. I find, working with newer artists, you have to play more of a mentoring role. But I find with other people, it’s about finding your use and being a utility." 

Boi-1da initially rose to prominence as one of Drake’s trusted beatsmiths and has his thumbprint on hits like "Best I Ever Had," "Over," and the GRAMMY-winning "God's Plan." His credits grew to include Rihanna's "Work" and Kanye West's Donda. Yet, even by these standards, 2022 was a banner year: Boi-1da contributed to Beyoncé’s Album of the Year nominee Renaissance ("Heated"), scored a pair of credits on Kendrick Lamar’s progressive, polarizing AOTY hopeful Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers ("N95," "Silent Hill"), and crafted the understated, elegant instrumental for Jack Harlow and Drake’s Best Rap Song contender "Churchill Downs." 

Hip-hop producers are often pigeonholed, but Boi-1da’s three biggest records from last year have virtually no sonic overlap. This malleability is the cornerstone of the self-described "young veteran"’s success, as he realized that eschewing one signature sound was the best way to remain in the zeitgeist.

"There have been many times where I’ve created sounds and it gets emulated and everybody starts doing it," he says. You’re liable to hear Boi-1da in every phylum of contemporary rap and pop music, from the horror movie menace of Nardo Wick’s "Wicked Freestyle," to Alessia Cara’s emphatic kiss-off "Lie to Me" to the bristling boom-bap of Freddie Gibb’s "Space Rabbit." More than 15 years into his career, Boi-1da continues to reinvent himself, and is gearing up to release his first solo studio album later in 2023.

Ahead of Music's Biggest Night, the GRAMMY-winning producer shared stories about working with Drake, Beyoncé, and Kendrick, as well as the importance of mentoring young talent, and why even after more than a dozen nominations, getting GRAMMY recognition still feels special.

This is your second time getting the Producer Of The Year nod after being nominated in 2019. What does that recognition mean to you and are there any ways it feels different than the first time?

I feel like it’s the highest honor as a producer. So I was extremely honored the first time and to be here again is even more of an honor. I’m not gonna lie, the first time I did it, I was going crazy and I was like, Man, that was so hard to even get nominated. I didn’t win the first time, so I was like, I’m gonna try equally hard and see if I can get back here. And by the grace of God, I’m back here again. You know, it just took a lot of hard work, a lot of putting my head down and making a lot of sacrifices.

What do you think has changed the most about the way you’ve approached making music since you were last nominated?

I think the growth point is truly the way I listen to music and the way I intake music. I’m learning to do that differently. I think the approach of creating is always the same for me, other than adding new elements, new sounds and whatnot. 

I feel like music is so different and it’s rapidly changing, so there’s a lot of adjustments. I feel like that’s the only thing that has really changed for me. I’ve been doing this for a long time; I feel like I’m kind of like a young veteran. Right now, there are a bunch of new kids growing up in this generation of music and their taste and style is totally different. I like to come left-field and do stuff unorthodox and different, so figuring out how to pivot and keep yourself relevant is what I’ve been doing.

The Daft Punk sample on that Drake and 21 Savage song "Circo Loco" feels like something the Boi-1da of 10 years ago wouldn’t have done.

Definitely. What I find today with a lot of music is people love extremely familiar samples over really straight-to-the-point beats. Not a lot of detail, something familiar, which is basically what we did with a song like "Circo Loco." The type of producer I am, I like to make beats; I’ll make one of five types of beats that sound the same, or use ideas that sound the same, and then I’ll move on.

That’s the way I’ve been able to stay relevant for so long, moving on from sounds. There have been many times where I’ve created sounds and it gets emulated and everybody starts doing it. You can be mad and sit there and be like, "Yo, everybody’s biting my style." I feel like I’m just that creative where I can move onto the next thing and be like "Okay, cool, you guys can have that. I’ll make something else."

It shows, because the three biggest songs you produced this year, "Heated," "Churchill Downs," and then "N95," those are wildly different poles in rap/R&B/pop music production. Were you and Drake already working on "Heated" when Beyoncé reached out?

Drake had been working with B; that was just an idea that we had started with Drake and he and B ended up finishing up the idea with me. I think Beyoncé added to the production as well.

I wasn’t around for the process of Beyoncé making that song, but I was heavily involved in the production. Whenever I work with Drake or someone like Beyoncé, it’s on easy mode. You have something they like, they usually know exactly what they want to do with it and you just trust ‘em completely. Sometimes, I’m hands off, I’m like, "Cool, y’all like it? Here you go. I know what you guys do and you guys do that."

The liner notes on a lot of your songs, like "I Got a Shot" off Jack’s album, that has a ton of people credited. Is there a level of ego sublimation with that where it’s like "You might not be able to hear my contributions in the final product, but I know that I did my part to get this song where it needs to go?"

[Jack Harlow] likes it to be a room full of producers. It’s like a band. We’d construct stuff and put it together. I have no ego when it comes to collaborating. I really just want the song to sound exactly how I want it to sound. If it takes 50 people to do that, then so be it. I’d rather it sounds the best that it can sound than like, "Oh, no, I’m getting lower publishing on this song."

It’s so fun to be in there with a bunch of people. You get that feeling of doing something and you see somebody else’s reaction and it just motivates you to be like, "Yeah, okay, I know what I’m doing." When I was younger, I’d sit in a room by myself and make music. That’s cool and all and I still do it, but it’s so much fun to be in a room of people with different energies. 

How did the "Churchill Downs" record come together?

When it comes to "Churchill Downs," I worked pretty closely with Jack. He and Drake are very good friends. Jack would always say, "Yo, I wanna do a song with Drake. Let’s make an idea." We were really and truly figuring it out. We were working in L.A. for some-odd weeks and I ended up going back home.

I went to a friend’s birthday party and he told me, "I’ve been working with this producer, I want you to hear some of his stuff." He gave me a flash drive…and it was full of samples. The first sample I heard was the one for "Churchill Downs." It sounded like a harp and a woman singing. I got home and chopped it up and did a little bounce to it and sent it over to my boy [TT] Audi, and he added some stuff to the beat and it was complete. 

I had sent it to Jack because he was still in the studio. He immediately fell in love with the beat. He played me his part in the song and said, "I really want Drake on this record." I was like, "S—, you’re homies with Drake, too. Just hit him. I’m pretty sure he’ll rock with this. It’s hard." They met up on their own and recorded that song together.

I was amazed looking back through stuff you were doing 10, 11 years ago that there were songs of yours that Kendrick was on back then. How has your creative relationship with Kendrick changed over the decade that you’ve known each other?

I’ve known Kendrick Lamar for a long time. I knew him actually before Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. I had met him through one of my good friends who actually signed him.  Our relationship hasn’t changed. Kendrick is one of the coolest guys ever. Me and him always lock in and create music together. We have tons of music that we’ve made together and he’s just a great dude. 

Kendrick really makes folks wait and wants to come with something that feels totally different and distinct with each new body of work. What was the direction that he was trying to push on Mr. Morale, and what did you bring to it?

When it comes to me working with Kendrick, it’s really just raw ideas and raw thoughts. A lot of the time, I’m not sure where it’s going or what he’s gonna do with it because I’m not really around for the song recording process. I like to sometimes just give artists…their own creative space and free-flow and whatnot. That’s why he’s one of my favorite guys to work with, because you go in there and it’s like, "Alright, what are we doing?" 

I didn’t really know what was gonna happen with ["N95"] and where he was gonna go with it lyrically. I just recall me, Jahaan [Sweet] and Sounwave in there, we had cooked up the idea and I was like, "Man, this sounds really dope but I’m not sure where it’s going." 

I ended up hearing it right before the album came out. We had done that before the pandemic and the pandemic happened and nobody saw each other for the longest time…and he did what he did to it. It’s always fun working with Kendrick because it’s just raw, it’s literally everybody doing whatever they wanna do and it meshing together.

You’ve done a lot through collaborations with Splice and people like Jahaan Sweet and WondaGurl, who’ve come up as proteges of yours. Why is taking that active role in mentorship and demystifying the production process important to you?

I didn’t have a mentor. I didn’t have YouTube, I didn’t have tutorials, I had to figure out everything [on my own]. I lived in Durham, Ontario, there was absolutely nothing to do, nothing going on. There was no way of reaching out to artists or reaching out to producers. So it’s like, if I could be some kind of mentor or do anything for anybody, I do it because I never had it. I know how it feels to be not heard and have to fight, tooth and claw, to get to where you gotta get to.

The feeling of serving and giving back is always rewarding, more rewarding than getting, to be honest. Remember, I had nothing, I came from Canada. People didn’t know we made hip-hop music in Canada or take us seriously. I’d go to America and people would ask me if there were polar bears where I live. But that’s the reason why I do it and I love it and I still continue to do it. I give bursaries to the highest music marks of my high school. I just always stay in tune and check stuff out. I love music and I love being around it and inspiring as much as I can.

You gotta stay in tune with the young guys, that’s the future right there. You’ve gotta [be] tapped in with them, because at the end of the day, it’s like you’re making music for them.

You’ve been nominated for 19 GRAMMYs, that’s staggering. Does that ever stop feeling special for you and the people in your circle, like Drake and 40?

No, it always feels great to be nominated and even win awards, as well. It just goes to show that sometimes, everybody that’s a human being will get into their head, especially as a musician. Especially someone like myself who has been doing it for a really long time, you sometimes question if you’re still doing the right thing, if you’re still dope. So literally being nominated for awards is a great feeling and [one] that will never get old to me. It lets me know that I’m still doing stuff that people love and heading in the right direction. 

Is there anything else you want to mention about what you’re working on in 2023?

I’m working on a compilation album right now. It’s gonna be really dope, a lot of your favorite artists, a lot of new artists you’ve never heard of. A lot of dope music and I’m really excited to finish it and put it out. 

It’s been in the works for a while. I’ve started and stopped it a few times because I’m really a perfectionist and I want to get it right. I’m not caring about numbers, I want to make the best project. I want people to hear it and be like "Wow, this is amazing." I care more about that than anything, which is why I’ve started and stopped it so many times. Music changes and I really just want to get it perfect.

Babyface Reflects On Collaborating With Whitney, Toni, Ella Mai & More: How The Legendary Hitmaker Learned To "Speak In Their Voices"

The Soundtrack Hit Makes A Comeback: How 'Encanto,' 'Top Gun' & ‘Black Panther’ Went From Chart-Toppers To GRAMMY Nominations

Photo: RgStudio via GettyImages

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The Soundtrack Hit Makes A Comeback: How 'Encanto,' 'Top Gun' & ‘Black Panther’ Went From Chart-Toppers To GRAMMY Nominations

The once-golden bridge between Hollywood and Billboard has been quiet in recent years, perhaps due in part to the pandemic. But over the past 12 months, that trend has been truly broken.

GRAMMYs/Jan 23, 2023 - 04:15 pm

It’s the kind of development even an animated fortune teller voiced by John Leguizamo couldn’t have predicted.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2021 animated film Encanto was all-conquering, and its success also touched the Billboard charts. The film's "We Don't Talk About Bruno" entered the first Hot 100 chart of 2022 at No. 50, quickly becoming a record-breaking, multi-million-selling phenomenon. It also led to the renaissance of a particular crossover: the soundtrack hit.

With the domestic box office now showing signs of returning to pre-COVID days, the soundtrack single has, once again, become a key marketing tool and chart staple. The nominees for Best Song Written For Visual Media at the 2023 GRAMMYs are proof: Four of the six nominated songs charted on the Billboard Hot 100, with "We Don't Talk About Bruno" sitting at No. 1 for five weeks — the highest tally for a soundtrack release in seven years. (Aladdin favorite "A Whole New World" is also in the exclusive club of Disney animation No. 1s.)

2022 spawned five Top 10  hits from film soundtracks — a feat last achieved in 2018 via Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther collabs with the Weeknd ("Pray for Me") and SZA ("All the Stars"), Swae Lee and Post Malone’s "Sunflower" (Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse), Khalid & Normani’s "Love Lies" (Love, Simon), and the A Star Is Born cut "Shallow." Yet the once-golden bridge between Hollywood and Billboard was quiet in the intervening years, perhaps due in part to the pandemic.  Not one TV or movie tie-in graced the Top 10 in 2021 or 2020. And although Oscar-winning “Shallow” reached pole position in 2019, it began its chart trajectory the year previously.

Over the past 12 months, however, this drought has been well and truly broken. And for a while, single-handedly by Encanto.

The Encanto OST picked up three GRAMMY nominations — Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media, Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media and Best Song Written For Visual Media for "Bruno" and spawned seven Hot 100 singles, including another Top 10 smash, "Surface Pressure." Not bad for an album which in its first week entered the charts at No. 197.

Unlike the inescapable "Let It Go" from 2013's Disney juggernaut Frozen, the success of "Bruno" happened more organically. Its chart and streaming dominance wasn't steered by record executives, but by the public who deemed it more stream-worthy than any other track from the film. The biggest soundtrack from a live-action film, Top Gun: Maverick, told a similar story.

Lady Gaga’s power ballad "Hold My Hand" was primed to replicate the chart-topping, Academy Award-winning success of Berlin’s "Take My Breath Away" from the 1986 original. But while Gaga's lead single received a Best Song Written For Visual Media nomination at the 65th GRAMMY Awards, its chart peak was overwhelmingly eclipsed by OneRepublic’s "I Ain’t Worried."

The uptempo Peter, Bjorn and John-sampling track played over key scene where Tom Cruise, Glen Powell and Miles Teller play football shirtless on the beach, and became Ryan Tedder and co.’s biggest hit since 2013’s "Counting Stars" (No. 6 on Hot 100, over 660 million streams). The synergy between moviegoers and OneRepublic fans caught the band's record label off guard; Interscope pulled promotion of then-current single "West Coast" to capitalize on all the buzz.

2022 also witnessed a return-to-form from pop music-savvy director Baz Luhrmann, whose expert curation helped Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby spawn radio hits. Luhrmann was never going to give his Elvis Presley biopic a traditional soundtrack; instead he favored a mix of nostalgia and anachronism.

Elvis is peppered with songs performed by The King himself, as well as covers sung by former teen idol/lead actor Austin Butler and a host of newcomers and established artists. Yet the film's sole Top 10 hit was contemporary: Doja Cat's "Hound Dog"-sampling "Vegas." For Luhrmann's vision, Elvis was nominated alongside Encanto, "Stranger Things," Top Gun: Maverick and West Side Story for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media GRAMMY Award.

Even Rihanna came out of self-imposed musical retirement for a film soundtrack, releasing the lead single from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in late October. While the dramatic balladry of "Lift Me Up" might not have been the floor-filling banger many fans hoped for — the song is Rihanna's first solo single in six years — it still returned the Barbadian to the upper echelons of the hit parade, reaching No. 2.

No stranger to the film soundtrack, Taylor Swift’s contribution to haunting drama Where the Crawdads Sing, "Carolina," is also nominated in the Best Song Written for Visual Media category alongside "Nobody Like U" — Turning Red’s fictional boyband song co-penned by Billie Eilish. And while the monolithic state of the comic book universe has rarely translated to the singles chart, The Batman’s use of Nirvana’s "Something In The Way" catapulted 1992's Nevermind up the charts.

As movie hits were abundant, so were songs featured in big-time TV shows — bringing new songs and decades-old hits back into public consciousness. Chief among these small screen-to-chartoppers was  Kate Bush's 1985 single "Running Up That Hill," which played over a significant moment in the mammoth fourth season of Netflix’s "Stranger Things."

The song was the British singer/songwriter's first Top 40 hit in the U.S., peaking at No. 30 on the Hot 100 in the '80s. Nearly 30 years later, without any label backing, the majestic synth-pop classic enjoyed a much-deserved second wind, shooting all the way up to No. 3 faster than you can say "flesh-eating Demogorgon."

The sci-fi nostalgia-fest also gave another, although much heavier, ‘80s gem a new lease of life when Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson shredded Metallica’s "Master of Puppets" in its season finale. The thrash metal favorite subsequently enjoyed a belated chart debut at No. 35, returning the headbangers to the Hot 100 for the first time in 14 years.

Elsewhere, video game adaptation "Arcane" spawned the first TV theme hit in eons with unlikely dream team Imagine Dragons and JID’s "Enemy," while "Euphoria" regular Labrinth scored a chart hit with "I’m Tired," a gospel-tinged song he performs in the second season's fourth episode as Zendaya's Rue imagines entering a church. The new golden age of television combined with the return to multiplexes ensured that 2022 was a banner year for the OST.

2023 looks promising, too: Dua Lipa is rumored to be contributing to Barbie’s long-awaited cinematic debut; Disney is set to give The Little Mermaid the live-action treatment featuring Chloe x Halle’s Halle Bailey; and several franchises that previously spawned No. 1 soundtrack songs have new installments on the way (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Fast X). Regardless, expect the soundtrack hit renaissance to continue growing like the "grapes that thrive on the vine."

Watch The 2022 Nominees For Best Song Written For Visual Media Nominees At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards