Graphics by Nicole Bae
By Lily Doolin, Blog Editor
The beginning of a new year ushers in the busiest, and perhaps most interesting, times in the realm of pop culture: Award season. Yes, my friends, it’s once again time for your news feed to be filled with articles about “who wore that designer dress that’s more expensive than my current home better?”
The smell of freshly rolled out red carpet is in the air, and it’s time to peruse the seemingly endless list of nominees for each award show.
For us here at 88.9, the Grammys this weekend has been the topic of much conversation. We’ve combed through the nominations to bring you a comprehensive list of WERS faves that are nominated for the Grammys this year. Some may be on your playlists already, and some you may have never heard of. Either way, here’s your guide to the 2020 Grammy-nominated WERS faves you’ll want to have on your radar.
Nominated for: Record of the Year (“Hey, Ma”), Album of the Year (I, I), Best Alternative Music Album (I, I), Best Recording Package (I, I)
“Hey, Ma” was one of our favorite songs of the year here at the station. Any time it would come on the radio and I was sitting in the on-air booth, I’d turn it up to max-volume and sing it at the top of my lungs. Bon Iver, aka Justin Vernon, began his solo career in 2006 and has transformed become one of alternative music’s biggest stars. Besides his own impressive discography, he’s written and produced for artists like Kanye West, and several other side-projects of his. His acoustic, folk-inspired mellow sound, coupled with the simple arrangements contrasted against Vernon’s powerful vocals, is the perfect storm: He’s sure to be a big contender in the categories he’s nominated in.
Lana Del Rey
Nominated for: Album of the Year (Norman F***ing Rockwell!), Song of the Year (“Norman F***ing Rockwell!”)
Queen Lana has struck gold again with her latest album, Norman F***ing Rockwell!. Though a common thread running through a great deal of her discography has always been an exploration of Americana, modern-day romance, and “sad girl” culture, her latest album stands on its own. From her cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time,” to the title track bearing the album’s name, Lana dives into the America of famous artist Norman Rockwell and the picturesque life of Southern California. I’ve always admired her ability to take readers on a different journey through each of her albums, and perhaps the road traveled during this album was my favorite one yet. For a full commentary of Norman F***ing Rockwell!, check out WERS Staff Writer Kenneth Cox’ album review.
Nominated for: Best New Artist
I had the privilege of standing just feet away from singer Eric Burton from Black Pumas as he performed songs off of the band’s self-titled album, including overnight-sensation “Colors.” Burton, in conjunction with guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada, crafted a particular sound that goes beyond the soul genre–their music is more of a spiritual experience, touching upon themes of humanity and relationships in such a particular way that strikes a chord with all. Their songs, however, are not about making a political statement: Instead, the two are, through their music, attempting to unite all individuals under common experience. Check out Burton’s performance of the song OCT 33 here.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Nominated for: Best Traditional Blues Album (KINGFISH)
We were lucky enough to have Kingfish here in the studio in early September. Ever since then, he’s been on my radar. A self-proclaimed “old soul,” Kingfish stays very true to classic blues, but still manages to fuse in modern influences, such as hip-hop and rap. He’s mainly inspired by his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi, which he proclaims to be the “mecca of blues.” Kingfish went from opening for Vampire Weekend to his very own tour all over the states. I can’t think of any other artist whose music fits the bill of “Best Traditional Blues Album” as well as his album KINGFISH does; it’s a debut album for the books. You can check out his live mix from September here.
Nominated for: Best Americana Album (Tales of America)
We’ve had the honor of following J.S. Ondara closely from his beginnings. He’s been in the studio for a live mix, we’ve reviewed his most recent show in Boston, and WERS Staff Writer Megan Doherty interviewed him as well! The Nairobi-native artist grew up listening to the music of great American alt-rock singers. After specifically falling in love with Bob Dylan, he moved to America to pursue a music career. His album Tales of America is an exploration of his “American Dream story.” He details both his triumphs and struggles of being an immigrant through classic folk music that speaks to the true heart of America.
Nominated for: Album of the Year (Father of the Bride), Best Rock Song (“Harmony Hall”), Best Alternative Music Album (Father of the Bride)
Vampire Weekend’s tremendous return to the music scene after a six-year hiatus was sure to gain them several nominations. There’s no one way to describe VW because their sound is ever-changing. While some bands stick to a particular format album-after-album, Vampire Weekend continues to evolve, with influences on this album ranging from hip-hop, rock, ’80s synth-pop, and so much more. This album also includes the witty songwriting that lead-singer Ezra Koenig is notorious for. It’s a record that boasts both maturity and loyalty to the band’s fanbase. Check out our most recent Vampire Weekend show review here.
Nominated for: Record of the Year (Hard Place), Album of the Year (I Used to Know Her), Song of the Year ("Hard Place"), Best R&B Performance (Could’ve Been), Best R&B Song ("Could’ve Been")
Anonymous artist H.E.R (Having Everything Revealed) came onto the music scene in 2016. Just three years later, she managed to rack up five Grammy Nominations with her second album I Used to Know Her. If you’re an avid 88.9 listener (and if you’re not, get on that!), you probably know H.E.R’s song “Something Keeps Pulling Me Back.”
She collaborated with countless artists like Alicia Keys, Ed Sheeran, and Khalid. However, I personally love her solo songs the best. Whereas her first album dealt with post-breakup trauma, her second album feels like a rebirth. While her sound retains the smooth, chill vibe-inspiring feel, the themes in this album feel a bit more evolved. It's as if we’re watching H.E.R transform as a person.
Nominated for: Best New Artist
We’ve been following Maggie Rogers here at the station since she opened Boston Calling in 2018. Her music blends pop, dance, R&B, and a dash of folk to create a lighthearted, airy sound that is perfect for Sunday drives or Friday night dance parties. Her debut album, Heard It In A Past Life, is full of variety. Every song is like a new experience, and yet each is united under the breezy quality of Rogers’s voice. She’s a favorite of Pharrell Williams, and a favorite of ours as well. Check out Kenneth Cox's album review of Heard It In A Past Life here.