Female Artists Dominate 1999 Grammy Nominations - Rolling Stone
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Female Artists Dominate 1999 Grammy Nominations

The Grammys have always been a bone of contention for music lovers.
Not only do listeners not get to vote, but they’re forced to watch
as their favorite artists get passed over in favor of commercial
successes, cookie-cutter bands and the Old Guard.| It got to be so
frustrating, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
(NARAS), which spearheads the awards, even changed its nominating
rules two years back to leave room for new talent and baby bands
(no, that doesn’t mean Hanson), rather than just focusing on the
obvious.

But change comes slowly, and since the voting committee consists of
industry insiders and not music fans, rarely do the nominations
reflect what’s truly happening in the rock, rap, R&B and pop
world. This year, the nominations are as expected as always, with
only a few twists in an otherwise straight and narrow path. Radio
hits “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, Celine Dion‘s
“My Heart Will Go On,” Brandy and
Monica‘s “The Boy Is Mine,”
Madonna‘s “Ray of Light” and Shania
Twain
‘s “You’re Still the One” predictably received
nominations for Record of the Year. (Confusingly for laypersons,
that award goes to a track, not an entire record).

Swap Brandy and Monica for Kirk Franklin (“Lean on
Me”) and Madonna for Aerosmith (“I Don’t Want to
Miss a Thing”), and you’ve got the Song of the Year nominations.
The couple tiny shockwaves came from Radiohead‘s
Best Alternative Music Performance nomination for the EP
Airbag/How Am I Driving?, and the placement of the
Beastie Boys in both the Best Alternative Music
Performance and the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group
categories.

The biggest surprise came not in the form of genre, but gender.
Nineteen-ninety-eight appears to have been the year of the woman —
in music at least.Madonna shone with her dance single “Ray of
Light,” which garnered thematerial girl a nod for Record of the
Year. Her album of the same name is upfor a total of five
nominations, including Album of the Year.

Shania Twain, with her crossover pop-country, placed in all of the
four general categories for which she qualified (Record of the
Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year). Had she been a
newcomer, no doubt the committee would have thrown Mrs. Mutt Lange
in the Best New Artist category as well. Twain and Sheryl
Crow
got six nominations apiece, but were trumped by the
high priestess of hip-hop, Lauryn Hill, who was
granted a generous ten nominations. Both were granted spots in the
Album of the Year category, as were — quite surprisingly,
considering slouchy sales — the Shirley
Manson
-fronted group Garbage. Add it all
up, and not one single Y-chromosome lurks anywhere near the Album
of the Year.

Even the Best New Artist category was swarming with chicks. The
Dixie Chicks, for one, as well as Natalie
Imbruglia
and Lauryn Hill outnumbered Andrea
Bocelli
and the Backstreet Boys, the only
male representatives.

But even with their girl power message, the ruling powers behind
the Grammys are still mostly related to commercial prowess. To wit,
check out the Best Pop Album category, where perennial mega-sellers
Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Natalie Imbruglia,
Madonna and Brian Setzer are all up for the same
award. Where are the nominees for less commercial pop albums, like
Liz Phair‘s whitechocolatespaceegg? And
what about such stellar releases as Sunny Day Real
Estate
‘s How It Feels to be Something On or
Belle and Sebastian‘s The Boy With the Arab
Strap
, which are on countless “Best of 1998” lists? Guess if
they don’t make the industry richer, they don’t get patted on the
back for a job well done.

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