The nominations are in for the 2018 Grammy awards, and Jay-Z is the surprise leader, with eight.
The rapper-mogul, who plays the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia on Friday, is up for album of the year for 4:44, plus record and song of the year. On a list in which hip-hop dominates, acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar has the second most, with seven, and Bruno Mars got six. Four acts, including R&B singer and songwriter SZA, got five.
Philly is strongly represented, starting with Lil Uzi Vert, who's up for best new artist, one of the top-four categories, along with album, record, and song of the year. The rapper born Symere Woods, most recently heard from on his 2017 album Luv Is Rage 2 and his breakout hit "XO Tour Llif3," is also up for rap song of the year for his feature on Migos' "Bad and Bougee." Vert will be in North Philly on Dec. 22 at the Liacouras Center for A Very Uzi Christmas show.
Adam Granduciel's the War on Drugs are competing for best rock album with A Deeper Understanding, going up against Metallica, among other heavy hitters. If the Grammys were just, Deeper would also be nominated for album of the year, but we all know the Grammys aren't a true barometer of quality. Instead, the nominees with Jay-Z in that prestige category are Lamar's DAMN., Mars' 24K Magic, Lorde's Melodrama, and "Awaken, My Love!" by Childish Gambino, the musical stage name of Renaissance man Donald Glover, who is a big Grammy winner with five nominations.
Other Philly nominees include Doylestown native Pink — née Alecia Moore — who's up for best pop solo performance for "What About Us," from her album Beautiful Trauma. Kevin Hart is up for best comedy album for What About Now?, going up against Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jim Gaffigan. Bassist and bandleader Christian McBride's Bringin' It competes in the best large jazz ensemble category. Musiq Soulchild is up for R&B album for Feel the Real. Lancaster metal band August Burns Red is nominated for the second year running, this time in the metal performance category for "Invisible Enemy" from their album Phantom Anthem.
Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin's DVD of Verdi: Otello with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus is cited along with producer David Frost's credits in the latter's nomination for classical producer of the year. Composer Jennifer Higdon had her fifth nomination for best contemporary classical composition for her Viola Concerto, recorded with the Nashville Symphony. "It's an honor I don't take lightly," she said. "I know that violists in particular are excited to have a new concerto….we've been getting lots of orders for the piece." The disc also had a "compendium" nomination.
Curtis Institute composition professor Richard Danielpour is in the running for best engineered classical album with Songs of Solitude & War Songs, and "Songs of Solitude" from that album is up for best contemporary classical composition. The Philadelphia-based choir The Crossing had its second Grammy nomination for best choral performance in Gavin Bryars: The Fifth Century, first here in 2014; the commission was funded locally by Anthony Creamer.
Tony- and Oscar-winning Ardmore native Benj Pasek can add a Grammy or two to his trophy collection: Dear Evan Hansen, the Broadway musical he coproduced and wrote the songs for with partner Justin Paul, is up for best musical theater album. And La La Land, which the duo also collaborated on, is up for best compilation soundtrack for visual media. You can hear his music next in The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman.
Other nominees of note: Bruce Springsteen is up for best spoken word album for his Born to Run audiobook. The Boss goes up against Bernie Sanders, Carrie Fisher, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson in that category.