Sunday Reading: Grammy Nominees, Past and Present

If all goes effectively, Sunday night time’s Grammy Awards will fail to draw something just like the bitter notoriety and social-media mania of this yr’s Academy Awards. We’ll hope for a extra pacific spirit in Las Vegas than we noticed on the stage in Los Angeles. Even if the Grammys by no means actually make excellent sense of the previous yr in music—this week, on The New Yorker Radio Hour, Sheldon Pearce tells us which performers and recordings have been unjustly neglected—the present is often extra spirited and fewer sanctimonious than the proceedings in Hollywood.

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In that optimistic spirit, we’re bringing you a choice of items about nominees previous and current—the center of any Grammys ceremony. In “The Unexpected Introspection of Lil Nas X,” Carrie Battan explores the rapper’s savvy, considerate imaginative and prescient. (“We’ve experienced Lil Nas X as an Internet troll, a hypersexual provocateur, a pop star with a Warholian visual sensibility, but ‘Montero’ shows something different: a human being.”) In “Billie Eilish and the Changing Face of Pop,” Doreen St. Félix writes in regards to the artistry of certainly one of Gen Z’s most radiant stars. In “The United States of Dolly Parton,” Lauren Michele Jackson examines the life and evolution of a songwriter and performer who appears to be revered by almost everybody. In “The Queen,” Sasha Frere-Jones considers Beyoncé, who holds the title for essentially the most nominations of any feminine musician within the historical past of the Grammys. Finally, in “The Misunderstood Talent of Gladys Knight,” Emily Lordi chronicles the singer’s central position within the evolution of soul music. “Gladys Knight and the Pips became known,” Lordi writes, “for songs that are now so ingrained in our popular consciousness that we take their innovations for granted.”

David Remnick

Portrait of Lil Nas X

Fans could have thought that the artist’s début album, “Montero,” can be a bawdy romp. Instead, it takes a flip towards the morose and the self-searching.

Singer Billie Eilish poses for a portrait as her recently released debut album "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" has had more than 1 billion plays.

The singer-songwriter gives a covertly girlish perspective on the present male-dominated wave of moody and pessimistic “sad pop” music.

Dolly Parton smiling.

A voice for working-class ladies and an icon for all types of girls, Parton has maintained her star energy all through life phases and political cycles.

Beyoncé performing in a black and white outfit

Black-and-white photo of Gladys Knight and the Pips performing.

Gladys Knight and the Pips have at all times been extra beloved by followers than by music historians, however they’re important to the evolution of soul.

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