The Recording Academy announced their selections for the 2020 Grammy nominations this Wednesday. Historically, the Grammys has been a tension point of social justice, racism — we love you, “Lemonade” — and measure of diverse representation in music. The 2020 Grammy nominations, however, represent a fresh age of music, one that uplifts new Black voices and paves the way for young artists to run their claim to fame.
In particular, the 2020 Grammy nominations highlight Tank and the Bangas, a newly crowned New Orleans legend.
Tank and the Bangas represents the synthesis of social activism and musical art. Lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball rose to fame through performing as a slam poet for national team, Slam New Orleans. There, she wrote and performed verse, speaking out against issues such as racial injustice and gender based oppression. After winning the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk concert, the New Orleans locality’s fame only grew larger and larger. Tank and the Bangas are nominated for Best New Artist.
This year’s nominations represent the pulse of a new generation, one ready to move beyond the traditional limitations of music and speak truth to power the issues affecting young people. The nominations span subjects from LGBTQ discrimination to alcoholism to grappling with sexual violence. Here are our top seven songs to listen to from the 2020 Grammy nominations.
“ilomilo,” “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” -Billie Eilish
We would be remiss not to say that we suspected Billie Eilish’s music to revolve around teenage angst and first-world problems, but close listening to the young artist’s music truly shows a depth of intelligent songwriting and personal emotional intelligence. ilomilo is based on a video game Billie played in her childhood. In the game, characters ilo and milo tackle several difficult obstacles, barriers keeping them apart, just to reach the one goal of embracing each other. The wholesome meaning behind the lyrics combined with the soft, subdued rhythms of the song makes for an amazing piece of music that is relaxing, romantic and a really pleasant sound.
“hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me – but I have it,” “NORMAN FUCKING ROCKWELL!” -Lana del Rey
Lana del Rey, queen, icon, trailblazer, where do we end? Lana del Rey’s multiple nominations for NORMAN FUCKING ROCKWELL! were much deserved for the album’s vast variety of human emotion and musical range. This song brings us to a familiar intimacy Lana fans are always chasing. Lana’s vulnerability in her music strips down a musical sound that makes her listeners ride through their own personal connections with the song in every beat. This song feels magical and we, too, feel like we have been tearing around in our fucking white gowns. So much love, Lana, thank you for this album.
“Ants,” “Green Balloon” -Tank and the Bangas
This New Orleans classic brings you down to the Bayou whenever you turn it on. The combination of alternative sounds and familiar jazz brings a new style of music to a growing field of similar sounds. Tank’s verses are poetry as she both serenades and story-tells in an unforgettable song.
“Jerome,” “Cuz I Love You” -Lizzo
If anything comes out of the Grammy Awards, it better be multiple awards for Lizzo. The most nominated artist this year, Lizzo racked up eight nominations in this Grammy cycle. Each of Lizzo’s songs is an anthem of empowerment, but “Jerome” hits differently. It is a fresh take on the classic break up song, showing both sides of a fluctuating love affair.
“Always Remember Us This Way,” “A Star is Born” -Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga was robbed when she did not win the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance as Ally in “A Star is Born.” That being said, she better win the Grammy for this heart-wrenching love song to Bradley Cooper A.K.A Jackson Maine. In our opinion, the entire A Star Is Born soundtrack is worth listening to as Gaga and Cooper come together to make a truly unforgettable score to their extraordinary performance. If you haven’t seen that movie, please grab some popcorn, tissues and cuddle up in your twin XL bed to watch this gem.
“Playground,” “Apollo XXI” -Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy’s “Apollo XXI” album in its entirety was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album, but “Playground” is one of the best songs on the album. The bright guitar rift followed by the groovy bassline puts you in one of the best moods. Lacy himself recently played live at the New Orleans House of Blues, which one of us had the chance to see. We highly recommend seeing him live at least once as it is a unique musical journey.
“Talk,” “Free Spirit” -Khalid
A good tune during summer 2019, “Talk” by Khalid shows the importance of talking about your relationship with a partner so neither parties are left in the dark about where the relationship is going. We’ve all been in that situation where some things should have definitely been discussed about a relationship before someone’s feelings got hurt.