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Kendrick Lamar (#110 of 15)

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

Brendan Walter

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

Even the resilience of retroism was, this year, tinged with the irony of watching those not knowing the past being doomed to repeat it. But in a grasping-at-straws moment, grim reality checks, bubblicious-pop contraptions, stripped-down folk-soul, and, yes, Old Music 2.0 seemed to coexist on a playlist sending signals of life from the Upside Down, or at least one designed to help us feel some type of way. So even though, as our list of the year’s top singles reveals, we more often than not had to travel all the way to Japan and England to satisfy our memories of hip-thrusting better days that we may never see return, the pleasure of the perfect three- or four-minute escape will never be quashed. Though we’re at the point where even Katy Perry knows we’re all metaphorically in chains.

Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions Album of the Year

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Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions: Album of the Year
Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions: Album of the Year

The last time Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar faced off in this category, a reluctance to award an artist twice in four years (Swift’s Fearless won back in 2010), as well as the Academy’s reticence toward hip-hop in the general field, resulted in Daft Punk’s star-studded commercial juggernaut Random Access Memories taking home the top prize—an outcome, it should be noted, we predicted. It’s tempting to make a case that voters, with #OscarSoWhite on their brains, will want to distinguish themselves from their myopic cinematic counterparts by rewarding a socially conscious album by a black man. But it’s unlikely they’ll feel obligated to make that course correction here, especially for a relatively new rapper whose album title contains the word “pimp.”

Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions Song of the Year

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Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions: Song of the Year
Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions: Song of the Year

When deliberating over how we expected the general field to go down this year, the question was never trying to figure out why Taylor Swift would win. Rather, it was: How could she not win? It may seem like eons ago in this current era of welcoming Adele to our collective heaving bosom to the tune of eight million albums, but for a brief while her publicists were doing a pretty bang-up job of selling the entire industry on Swift as their cute, crossover savior. The sentiment of “How many Grammys can we give you?” hangs thick in the air despite her nomination haul of seven seeming rather paltry against Kendrick Lamar’s 11.

Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions

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Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions
Grammy 2016 Winner Predictions

Beginning tomorrow, we’re predicting the winners in the so-called Big Four categories at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Monday, September 15th on CBS. Kendrick Lamar is nominated for a whopping 11 awards, besting Eminem for the rapper with the single most nods in one night, and second only to Michael Jackson, who was nominated for 12 awards back in 1984. Of course, Lamar will have to compete with Taylor Swift, Alabama Shakes (pictured above), Kanye West, and more. We’re kicking things off with our picks in some of the smaller genre categories, including the usual suspects—dance, rock, R&B, and rap—as well as musical theater (the opening number from hip-hop-infused frontrunner Hamilton will be broadcast live from Broadway during the show). Keep an eye on our predictions all this week to see how we think things will shake out!

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2015

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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2015
Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2015

The singles we’re betting on for the long game tended to play with shorter fuses, blaze less gargantuan trails, flourish in the crawlspaces of our collective consciousness—and not, as per Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s ubiquitously catchy but elementally reductive fraternity rocker “Uptown Funk,” strut their retro bona fides around like Meryl Streep’s bass-ackwards crab walk in Death Becomes Her. That’s not to say the artists represented below didn’t find new, inventive means of correspondence between the past and the present; the best of them helped show that bridge as a conduit and a nourishing source of inspiration, while the worst of them set up a T-shirt stand at the midway point.

Bonnaroo 2015 Photo Diary Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, Against Me!, Flying Lotus, Tears for Fears, Sylvan Esso, Elle King, Earth Wind & Fire, & More

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Bonnaroo 2015 Photo Diary: Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, Against Me!, Flying Lotus, Tears for Fears, Sylvan Esso, Elle King, Earth Wind & Fire, & More
Bonnaroo 2015 Photo Diary: Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, Against Me!, Flying Lotus, Tears for Fears, Sylvan Esso, Elle King, Earth Wind & Fire, & More

Photographer Chris Jorgensen has once again set up shot at Bonnaroo, a four-day, multi-stage camping festival held on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. Each day we’ll be posting some of his up-close-and-personal shots of the bands, the fans, and the press events.

Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions: Album of the Year

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Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions: Album of the Year
Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions: Album of the Year

Last year I made the mistake of second-guessing the Academy’s recent trend of awarding the biggest selling album in this category, giving the edge to the Black Keys’ El Camino, which had been outsold by Mumford & Sons’ Babel by only half a million copies. Mumford’s (both initially and in retrospect, obvious) win, however, makes predicting this year’s victor all the trickier. Justin Timberlake, whose The 20/20 Experience was 2013’s top seller (even before the second volume’s scanned an additional 800K copies), failed to snag a nomination here, which leaves Taylor Swift’s Red as the category’s big kahuna. Trouble is, it’s unlikely NARAS will be so quick to award the country-pop ingénue with the top prize twice in four years. The last artist to pull off a double win was Paul Simon way back in 1987, and he had to wait more than a decade for the honor. [NOTE: As “lazarus” points out in the comments below, the last act to win two Album of the Year awards was actually U2 in 2006, and the gap was even longer than Simon’s.]

Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions: Best New Artist

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Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions: Best New Artist
Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions: Best New Artist

Few Grammy categories are as easily derided as Best New Artist, which with each passing year continues to push the word “new” to the absolute limits of its meaning. Three of this year’s nominees released widely praised albums in 2011, while the other two, co-favorites Kacey Musgraves and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, have been actively recording for more than a decade. And yet there’s something noble, and perhaps even worthwhile, in attempting to bring artists as diverse as these five under a single cultural umbrella, however flawed the process might be.