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Tag Archives: Awards and prizes

Brad Pitt got political, the Cats cast got their claws out and Eminems appearance left everyone confused

Joaquin Phoenix went full vegan

After Phoenixs speech at the Baftas, in which he said that it was incumbent on the dominant culture to increase representation of minorities in the film industry, many were expecting something on a similar theme. But his Oscars speech went much further. Beginning with the uncontroversial view that people like him should use our voice for the voiceless, Phoenix went on to say that humans disconnection from the natural world makes us feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk thats intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. It must be one of the most high-profile avowals of veganism there has ever been.

Bong Joon-ho ruled the night

The South Korean director ran an Oscars campaign based on gently poking voters about their US-centric worldview. The Oscars are not an international film festival, he ribbed at one point. Theyre very local. His other tactic was a full-on charm offensive, with his interpreter Sharon Choi becoming a star in her own right as she helped Bong navigate the late-night talkshow circuit. On Oscars night, his fanbase the Bong Hive were busy on Twitter and the man himself roused the audience with his tribute to Americas finest: When I was young and starting in cinema there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart which is, The most personal is the most creative. That quote was from our great Martin Scorsese.

Parasite, which has taken $40m at the US box office could be a bellwether for a more-outward looking Academy although this is the same voting body that picked Green Book last year, so its anyones guess what will happen in 12 months time.

James Corden and Rebel Wilson put the boot into Cats

The pair awarded the prize for best special effects dressed in Cats costumes and announcing: As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects. It got a big laugh although probably not in the home of Tom Hooper, the films director.

The In Memoriam section still cant get it right

There was no mention of Cameron Boyce, the Disney star who died aged 20 after suffering a seizure due to epilepsy in June and who played one of Adam Sandlers sons in the film Grown Ups. Luke Perry was another notable omission. The former star of Beverly Hills 90210 died in March aged 52, and even appeared in one of the nights nominated films, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.

Eminems surprise guest slot was baffling

As if to confirm that the numbers up for best original song werent up to much this year, Eminem appeared for no apparent reason and blasted through Lose Yourself, his Oscar-winning song from 8 Mile back in 2003. He hadnt performed it, or even turned up, that year but this time he performed the tune sporting an alarming black beard as the audience nodded their heads with the exception of Scorsese, who merely seemed to be nodding off.

MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS)

Martin Scorsese reacts to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” performance #Oscars pic.twitter.com/ic1XeJPmSf

February 10, 2020

Taika Waititi has broken new ground

First of all, hes the first Mori film-maker to win an Oscar a fact he nodded to when he dedicated his awards to all the indigenous kids all over the world who want to do art and dance and write stories we are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well. Second, he gave the first land acknowledgment speech the ceremony has ever seen, saying: The Academy would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash. We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works.

cherrywaves (@heather28df)

Yes @TaikaWaititi!!!! #Oscars2020 pic.twitter.com/X8vp4ydgHG

February 10, 2020

Chris Rock is in no doubt on the question of Ford v Ferrari

Ive got both and it aint even close, said the comic at the top of the awards. Its like Halle Berry versus gum disease.

Brad Pitt can do politics

He has been acclaimed all awards season for his witty and charming speeches, but Pitt added some political bite at the Oscars with a nod to the thwarted impeachment of Trump. They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, he said. Which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.

Billie Eilish made everyone feel old

When asked on the red carpet about the films shed grown up with, Eilish mentioned The Babadook released in 2014. And when Eminem came out to perform a song released when she wasnt even a year old, she could not have looked more bemused.

Lights, Camera, Pod (@LightsCameraPod)

What a reaction to Eminem from Billie Eilish. #Oscars pic.twitter.com/h0eS0ZgflR

February 10, 2020

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/feb/10/like-halle-berry-versus-gum-disease-things-we-learned-at-the-2020-oscars

Dave wins album of the year and fellow rappers Stormzy and Tyler, the Creator win best male categories as Capaldi crowns breakthrough year

Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi has topped the winners at the 2020 Brit awards, though a strong year for rap music prevented a clean sweep of his four nominations.

Capaldi picked up best new artist and best song for Someone You Loved, which spent seven weeks at No 1 in spring 2019, later topping the US charts and earning a Grammy nomination.

His debut album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent its title typical of the dry self-deprecation that has won him millions of fans on social media was the biggest seller in the UK in 2019, but it lost the top prize of album of the year to south London rapper Dave and his emotionally fraught Psychodrama.

Dave, who in his performance earlier in the evening called Boris Johnson racist, decried the lack of support for survivors of the Grenfell tragedy and called attention to the disparity in the media treatment of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, used his acceptance speech to celebrate his fellow south Londoners, and to acknowledge incarcerated Britons including his brother, Christopher.

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Dave calls Boris Johnson ‘real racist’ in politically charged Brits performance video

In September 2019, Psychodrama won the other top album award in British pop music, the Mercury prize. Dave is only the second ever artist to win both, following the Arctic Monkeys wins for their 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, Thats What Im Not. Dave had been this years joint top Brits nominee with Capaldi on four.

Continuing a successful year for rap music, Stormzy beat a strong field Dave and Capaldi, plus Harry Styles and Michael Kiwanuka to be named best British male. His win follows a triumphant year in which he topped the UK singles chart three times, began a five-continent world tour, and played a headline set at Glastonbury that is already regarded as one of the greatest in the festivals 50-year history.

LA rapper Tyler, the Creator added to his best rap album Grammy award with a Brit for best international male, beating Bruce Springsteen and others. In his speech, he taunted former prime minister Theresa May, who as home secretary banned him from coming to the UK for five years. The restriction ended last year.

The rap wins show not only the current depth and breadth of the genre, but also that the Brit awards have adapted following accusations of under-promoting black talent. Following the #BritsSoWhite outcry of 2016, the Academy of voters was diversified to bring in more people of colour, and black British stars including Skepta, J Hus, Kano and Jorja Smith have all since appeared on shortlists.

Those Academy changes also brought in more women to move the gender balance of voters close to parity, but the awards have been criticised this year for not featuring enough women on its shortlists, as well as the longlists from which voters select nominees. Mabel was the only British woman to be shortlisted across 25 slots in the mixed British categories of best song, album, group and new artist. Voters could choose from 86 male artists for best British male, but only 26 women for best British female, while there were only 36 albums featuring women out of the 198 longlisted.

Mabels
Mabels opening performance at the 2020 Brits. Photograph: JM Enternational/Rex/Shutterstock

The lack of female nominees was a theme of the evening, with host Jack Whitehall skewering the Brits for failing to recognise women, and Foals, winners of best British group an exclusively male category expressing their desire to see more female artists in the category next year.

Joy Crookes, nominated for the rising star Brit award, was among those criticising the ceremony, telling the BBC: You take one look at that list to go theres not enough women on it. Its as simple as that you can tick all the boxes, but [diversity] just isnt there yet.

In the end, Mabel lost out to Capaldi in the best song category, but won best British female. Scoring a UK No 3 single and album last year as well as reaching the US charts for the first time, she is the daughter of another pop singer, Neneh Cherry, who won two awards at the 1990 Brit awards. Billie Eilish won best international female, adding to the five Grammy awards she won earlier this year.

The rising star award formerly the critics choice award had previously been announced, and was won by soul singer Celeste.

Two award categories from previous years, best international group and best video, were cut to make way for more performances at the ceremony a sign that the Brits is attempting to remain a vibrant TV fixture in an increasingly fragmented media landscape, and intent on creating potentially viral performances to be shared online. Other changes include the introduction of three performance stages around Londons O2 Arena where the awards are held, reducing the number of industry tables by 50%.

Performers at the ceremony, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, included award winners Capaldi, Dave, Eilish, Mabel, Stormzy and Celeste, plus Harry Styles and US rapper, singer and sometime flautist Lizzo. Rod Stewart reunited with Faces bandmates Ron Wood and Kenney Jones to close the show.

Brit awards 2020 winners in full

Male solo artist: Stormzy
Female solo artist: Mabel
Group of the year: Foals
Rising star: Celeste
New artist: Lewis Capaldi
Song of the year: Lewis Capaldi Someone You Loved
Album of the year: Dave Psychodrama
International solo male: Tyler, the Creator
International solo female: Billie Eilish

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/feb/18/brit-awards-2020-lewis-capaldi-winners-dave-stormzy-tyler

This week the novelist received the Olof Palme prize for achievement in the spirit of the assassinated Swedish statesman. He reflects on how a lack of leadership today has allowed us to sleepwalk into Brexit

A range of emotions, not all of them beautiful, passed through my head at the moment when I was offered the Olof Palme prize.

I am not a hero. I am a fraud. I am being offered a medal for another mans gallantry. Decline.

I am not a frontline advocate for truth or human rights. I have not suffered for my writing. I have been handsomely rewarded for it.

Neither did I feel myself the equal of any of the three writers who have preceded me at this rostrum: Vclav Havel, whom I briefly knew and revered, and the intrepid Roberto Saviano, both of whom in separate ways became martyrs to their work. And Carsten Jensen, writer on world conflict and sharer of its anguish.

If I wanted further proof of my inadequacy, I had only to listen to Daniel Ellsbergs moving speech at this same rostrum just a year ago. Why didnt I ever copy secret documents and stop a war?

It was only when I set out to explore the life and work of Olof Palme, and entered his spell, and discovered that same affinity with him that Ellsberg had so eloquently described, that it seemed just possible I might not be quite such a bad fit after all.

Reading and thinking about Palme makes you wonder who you are. And who you might have been, but werent. And where your moral courage went when it was needed. You ask yourself what power drove him golden boy, aristocratic family, brilliant scion of the best schools and the best cavalry regiment to embrace from the outset of his career the cause of the exploited, the deprived, the undervalued and the unheard?

Was there, somewhere in his early life, as there is in the lives of other men and women of his calibre, some defining moment of inner anger and silent purpose? As a child he was sickly, and partly educated at home. He has the feel of a loner. Did his school peers get under his skin: their sense of entitlement, their contempt for the lower orders, their noise, their vulgarity and artlessness? Mine did. And no one is easier to hate than a contemptible version of oneself.

Graham Greene remarked that a novelist needed a chip of ice in his heart. Was there a chip of ice in Palmes heart? He may not have been a novelist, but there was art in him, and a bit of the actor. He knew that you cant make great causes stick without political power. And for political power, you definitely need a chip or two of ice.

Olof
Olof Palme was assassinated in 1986. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

The United States did not take lightly in those days, any more than it does now, being held to account by a nation it dismisses as tin-pot. And Sweden was a particularly irritating tin-pot nation, because it was European, articulate, cultured, rich, and white. But Palme loved being the irritant. Relished it. Relished being the outsider voice, the one that refuses to be categorised, the one that shouldnt be in the room at all. It brought out the best in him.

And now and then, I have to say, it does the same for me.

Its a long time since my post box contained estate agents brochures for deep shelters in the Nevada desert. You entered by way of a tumbledown shack, designed to look like an abandoned outside loo. An elevator swept you 200ft underground to a luxury apartment where you could hold out till Armageddon was safely over and normal services were resumed. And when the all clear was sounded and you came up the escalator, the only people left would be your rich friends and the Swiss.

So why isnt the threat of nuclear war today as present or terrifying to us as it was in Palmes day? Is it simply that the nuclear threat is so ubiquitous, so diffuse and irrational? North Korea? Isis? Iran? Russia? China? Or todays White House with its born-again evangelists dreaming of the Rapture? Better to invest our existential fears in things we understand: bushfires, melting icebergs, and the uncomfortable truths of Greta Thunberg.

But the cold war was anything but irrational. It was two players facing each other across a nuclear chessboard. And for all their clever spying, neither knew the first thing about the other.

John
John le Carr at a pro-EU rally, Parliament Square, London, in October 2019. Photograph: Sean Smith/The Guardian

I try to imagine how it was for Palme in those times: the shuttle diplomacy, the tireless reasoning with people locked into their positions and scared of their superiors. I was the lowest form of spy life, but even I got wind of contingency plans for outright nuclear war. If you are in Berlin or Bonn when the Russian tanks sweep over you, be sure to destroy your files first. First? What was second? And I doubt whether your chances would have been much rosier in Stockholm.

In Berlin, in August 1961, I look on as coils of Russian barbed wire are unrolled across the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint, otherwise known as Checkpoint Charlie. Intermittently, in the days that follow, I watch the Wall go up, one concrete block at a time. Do I lift a finger? No one did. And maybe that was the worst part of it: the oppressive sense of your own irrelevance.

But Palme refused to be irrelevant. He would make himself heard if it killed him, and perhaps in the end it did.

Its October 1962 and Cuban crisis time. I am a junior diplomat at the British embassy in Bonn and I have just moved into a new hiring beside the river Rhine. German decorators are painting the walls. Its a sunny autumn and I think I must have been on leave because I am sitting in the garden writing.

The blare of the builders transistor radio is drowned by the din of passing barges, until suddenly it is belting out the news of Kennedys ultimatum to Khrushchev: Turn back your missiles, Mr Chairman, or your country and mine will be at war or words to that effect. The painters politely excuse themselves, wash their brushes, and go home to be with their families at worlds end. I drive to the embassy in case theres work to be done. There isnt. So I drive home again and continue writing The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Richard
Richard Burton in the film of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965). Photograph: Collectin Christophel/Alamy

So what was Palme doing while the Soviet fleet continued on its way to Cuba and the world waited dry-mouthed to see who blinked first? Until I knew better, I pictured him sitting head in hands in some lonely place, despairing. I am a failed peacemaker. My mediations have been in vain. If the world ends, its all my fault.

But he had no time for that stuff. He was in Stockholm, pressing for educational reform, bumping up Swedens international aid budget and picking up the pieces after Stig Wennerstrm, a senior Swedish air force officer, was exposed as a Soviet spy. And thats something thats too easy to forget about Palme the diplomat for world peace and nuclear disarmament: he had a country to run.

Spying? Palme? Theres been a lot of talk about it. As a young intern in Swedish intelligence, he had acquired an early taste for the black arts and it stayed with him for the rest of his political life. And who can blame him? When youre defending yourself on half a dozen home fronts; when youre sitting out the night on tedious committees; when a far right mob of hooligans is burning your effigy in the street and chucking darts at pictures of your face, what greater relief than to settle down comfortably with your spies and give yourself over to the consolations of intrigue?

And I am not at all surprised that in the midst of excoriating the Americans for the Vietnam war, Palme the pragmatist was reading secret American intelligence reports. After all, he had a country to protect.

Palme never saw the cold war end, but he experienced its worst years. And by the close of his life they had left their mark: testiness, distraction, impatience, battle fatigue. You only have to look at the last photographs to read the signs. You only have to hear the barely controlled anger breaking through his voice when he reads his statement on the bombing of Hanoi. I hear nervous advisers begging him not to use the forbidden G-word, genocide.

They wore you out, those American nuclear warriors. I have a particularly unpleasant memory and maybe so had Palme of the US governments twenty-something defence analysts who lived on rock music and Coca-Cola while they calculated to the last half-million or so how many of us would be turned to ash in a first strike.

It was their air of superiority that got to me, the we know better than you do about how youre going to die. I just couldnt warm to them. Did Palme have business with their Russian counterparts? I guess they were much the same.

And sometimes it was the sheer decency and good manners of Washingtons top warriors that wore you down. Good family men, I remember. Really decent people: touch football with their kids on Saturdays, church on Sundays. I met a few. And so, Im sure, did Palme. Well, theyd concede, they did do insomnia a bit. A nervous breakdown here and there, the odd broken marriage. And kids traumatised by what they picked up from the table talk, but that was just parental carelessness.

And Palme the determined non-combatant walked among them. Politely. Lawyer to lawyer. Man to man. And be sure never to mention the G-word, genocide.

As I continue to read and think my way through Palmes life, my sense of kinship becomes possessive. I want a Palme for my country, which in my lifetime hasnt produced a single statesman of his stamp. I want him now. Im not just a remainer. Im a European through and through, and the rats have taken over the ship, I want to tell him. Its breaking my heart and I want it to break yours. We need your voice to wake us from our sleepwalk, and save us from this wanton act of political and economic self-harm. But youre too late.

If Johnson and his Brexiteers had their way, it would be declared St Brexits Day. Church bells across the land would peal out the gladsome tidings from every tower. And good men of England would pause their stride and doff their caps in memory of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Trafalgar, and mourn the loss of our great British empire. Empires dont die just because theyre dead.

We Brits are all nationalists now. Or so Johnson would have us believe. But to be a nationalist you need enemies and the shabbiest trick in the Brexiteers box was to make an enemy of Europe. Take back control! they cried, with the unspoken subtext: and hand it to Donald Trump, along with our foreign policy, our economic policy, our health service and, if they can get away with it, our BBC.

So Boris Johnson with our blessing has taken his place beside two other accomplished liars of our time: Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. If Palme were trying to get the truth out of them, which of the three would he turn to? Or none of the above?

One day somebody will explain to me why it is that, at a time when science has never been wiser, or the truth more stark, or human knowledge more available, populists and liars are in such pressing demand.

But dont blame the Tories for their great victory. It was Jeremy Corbyns Labour party, with its un-policy on Brexit, its antisemitism and student-level Marxism-Leninism that alienated traditional Labour voters and left them nowhere to go. They looked to the left and didnt recognise their leader. They looked to the centre and there was nobody there. They were sick of Brexit and sick of politics, and probably as sick of Johnsons voice as I was. So they pinched their noses and voted for the least worst option. And actually, who can blame them?

Palme hated war, but I dont know how much of it he actually saw. A little goes a long way. Or it did for me.

My first cautious glimpse came when I visited Cambodia shortly before the American defeat. Forty years earlier, Palme had toured Southeast Asia and seen for himself the disastrous effect of French, British and American colonialism. By the time I got there, the disaster was wholly American-owned.

Phnom Penh is encircled. The taxi driver charges $30 to take you to the frontline. You want shooting? he asks. Yes, please, I want shooting. He parks, you walk the rest of the way. You get shot at and return to your taxi. On the road back through town to the hotel, children sit on the pavement selling bottles of petrol siphoned from abandoned cars.

At the edge of Phnom Penh an artillery battery is providing covering fire for an infantry attack against the invisible jungle enemy. Deafened by gunfire, children huddle round the guns, each waiting for his father to come back. They know that if he doesnt, his commanding officer will pocket his pay instead of reporting him dead.

Im in Sidon, South Lebanon, house guest of the Palestinian chief of fighters, Salah Tamari. He takes me on a tour of the childrens hospital. A boy with his legs blown off gives me the thumbs up. Another dreams of going to university in Havana once hes got his eyesight back. Palme had three sons, I had four. Maybe we had the same nightmares.

Which reminds me. As things stand, one of the first acts of Johnsons post-Brexit government will be to deny child refugees the right to be reunited with their parents in Britain.

How would Palme have responded to todays Orwellian lie machines that would have made Joseph Goebbels blush as they wear down our decency, our common sense, and drive us to question incontestable truths?

The last splinters of Jamal Khashoggi have, we assume, been swept under the carpet of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The culprits have freely confessed that they acted on impulse. They just went a bit wild, the way boys do. The Crown Prince is shocked. The rest is fake news. No bone saw, no screams, no Khashoggi lookalike walking out of the consulate wearing the wrong shoes.

So heres a question. If Palme were Swedens prime minister today, and Sweden had a fat arms deal running with Saudi Arabia, which way would he jump? Would he take a sensible, relaxed British view and say, look here, for heavens sake, lets stop moaning and get on with the next shipment, theyre Arabs and theyve got a war to feed? Or would he as I want to believe tell his arms industry: whatever it costs, just bloody well stop.

Alec
Alec Guinness as George Smiley: Smiley and I have history together. Sixty years of it. Photograph: BBC

I dont know whether Palme read me youd be amazed how many people havent. What I do know is that, quite soon after I began reading my way through his life, and the causes that inspired him, it seemed to me that every book I had written was some sort of unconscious footstep along his path.

My leading character, and the one I am best known for, is George Smiley. Smiley was recruited to the Secret Service in his early youth, as I was, and for all his earnest excursions into 17th-century German literature, at heart he knew no other world than the secret one. Throughout his long professional life he was besieged by moral doubt. When I was asked to draw a picture of him, I drew a lonely man carrying his horse uphill an image that might have won a weary smile of recognition from Palme.

Smiley and I have history together. Sixty years of it. When I took a new direction, Smiley followed me. And sometimes Smiley knew the way better than I did and I followed him, which is what happens when you invent a character who is smarter than you are.

Here is Smiley in 1979, when the cold war looked as though it would last forever. With exemplary tradecraft, he has lured his Soviet adversary, codename Karla, across the Berlin Wall. He has done this by exploiting a character defect, as we liked to call it, in this otherwise impenetrable communist diehard. The character defect in question is love: a fathers love for his mentally sick daughter. In defiance of every rule in the KGB handbook, Karla has spirited his beloved daughter to a Swiss sanatorium under a false name, and Smiley has used this knowledge to blackmail him. And now here Karla comes, Soviet zealot, loving father, defector, across the Glienicke Bridge from East to West Berlin.

George, you won, says Peter Guillam, Smileys loyal disciple.

Did I? Yes. Yes, well I suppose I did, Smiley replies.

Palme would have shared his self-disgust.

When the cold war ended and the western world was still congratulating itself, Smiley felt betrayed, and so did I. And Palme would have felt betrayed, if he had lived long enough. Where was the promised peace we had all been waiting for? Where was the Great Vision? The reconciliation? The nuclear disarmament treaty that Palme had been tirelessly working for? Where was the Marshall Plan that would pull battered nations off their knees? And above all, where was the voice of hope and renewal? Is it too fanciful to imagine that, had he lived, Palme might have supplied that voice?

Here is Smiley in 1990, one year after the Wall came down and four years after Palmes death: One day, history may tell us who really won. If a democratic Russia emerges why, then Russia will have been the winner. And if the West chokes on its own materialism, then the West may still turn out to be the loser.

I see Palme nodding.

And here is Smiley in great age he was always older than me, a father figure still hunting for the answer to a question that has haunted him all his life: did I compromise my humanity to the point where I lost it altogether?

We were not pitiless, Peter, he insists to his same disciple. We were never pitiless. We had the larger pity. Arguably it was misplaced. Certainly it was futile. We know that now. But we did not know it then.

But in my imagination I hear Palme vigorously object: That is an unsound, self-serving argument that could equally well apply to any monstrous act perpetrated in the name of democracy.

I see a sharp, swift face. Restless eyes, sometimes hooded. Smiles real and forced. A face that struggles for forbearance in the presence of lesser minds, vulnerable, watchful, and precious in the way we imagine young poets to be. The precise voice barely falters even when its owner is on fire. I feel an unbearable impatience burning in him, caused by seeing and feeling more clearly and faster than anybody else in the room.

Le
Le Carr in 1965. Photograph: Cine Text/Sportsphoto/Allstar

I would have been nervous to engage him in argument because he would have made rings round me even when I was right. But I never met him. I can only hear him and watch him and read him. The rest is catch-up.

The last speech of his life was to the United Nations in 1985: an unsuccessful appeal to ban the use of nuclear weapons under international law. Thirty years on, the Swedish government voted for just such a ban. Now called upon to reaffirm their vote, they have postponed their decision under American pressure. The issue is back on the table. We shall see.

How would Palme wish to be remembered? Well, by this for a start. For his life, not his death. For his humanism, courage, and the breadth and completeness of his humanist vision. As the voice of truth in a world hell-bent on distorting it. By the inspiring, inventive enterprises undertaken yearly by young people in his name.

Is there anything I would like to add to his epitaph? A line by May Sarton that he would have enjoyed: One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.

And how would I like to be remembered? As the man who won the 2019 Olof Palme prize will do me just fine.

David Cornwell, January 2020. This speech was given at the Olof Palme prize ceremony in Stockholm on 30 January.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/01/john-le-carre-breaking-heart-brexit

Billie Eilish and Lizzo are competing for a string of the top prizes, but could the likes of Ariana Grande, Lana Del Rey and Rosala cause upsets?

Noise threatens to drown out the music at the 2020 Grammy awards. A line had been drawn under the tone-deaf leadership of Neil Portnow, who had presided over the ceremony since 2002 between 2013 and 2018, Grammy winners were 91% male, but, after a 2018 ceremony where men swept the board again, Portnow said it was on women to step up and create opportunities for themselves.

A woman, Deborah Dugan, replaced him; a taskforce was appointed, and in December they published their report, calling for greater diversity in the Academy voters. Any hopes that they had moved on, though, were scotched last week by Dugan being suspended for alleged misconduct; Dugan countered by saying she had been sexually harassed, that the Academy had covered up an alleged rape by Portnow, and that the voting was corrupt.

So we go into this years ceremony more jaded than ever, but the irony is that, no matter how poisonous the Academy is and regardless of whether it is rigged or not, we ended up with a much more diverse range of nominees this year. Leading the pack are Lizzo with eight noms and Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X with six each a vibrantly youthful and non-conformist trio. But will the Academy members shake off the past and vote for the future?

Record of the year

Bon Iver Hey, Ma
Billie Eilish Bad Guy
Ariana Grande 7 Rings
HER Hard Place
Khalid Talk
Lil Nas X ft Billy Ray Cyrus Old Town Road
Lizzo Truth Hurts
Post Malone & Swae Lee Sunflower

Aside from the merely pleasant HER and Khalid tracks, this is a strong field. While lots of eyes are on Lizzo and Eilish, this could perhaps be Ariana Grandes year. Its her first time with nominations in the big four categories rather than being patronised in the pop awards and, with its My Favourite Things melody, doddering Academy voters might listen to 7 Rings and say: Hey, its one I know! Triumphant earworm Old Town Road is the longest-running No 1 in US history; Bad Guy is a showcase of the kind of fiendish genius usually employed by Hollywood horror movies to construct elaborate ways for teenagers to get killed. But an Academy eager to telegraph its modernity might go for Lizzo: Truth Hurts is a great underdog story, reaching No 1 two years after release, and her charisma is near universally infectious.

Will win: Lizzo Truth Hurts
Should win: Billie Eilish Bad Guy

Album of the year

Bon Iver i, i
Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Billie Eilish When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Ariana Grande Thank U, Next
HER I Used to Know Her
Lil Nas X 7
Lizzo Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)
Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride

This is Grandes best chance of a big win. Thank U, Next is a superbly realised almost-concept album about heartache, grief and moving on that can be witty, even caustic, but never cruel it sealed her as one of the three or four definitive pop stars of our time. Lizzo, HER and Lil Nas X are hampered with too much 6/10 material across their albums; Lana Del Rey was the critical hit of the year and will certainly beat out fellow Pitchfork darlings Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend, but may not cut through to the more august and mainstream Academy members. Eilish was the inescapable pop-cultural breakthrough of the year, and her album has such terrific range and invention. She will, hopefully, squeak this.

Will win: Billie Eilish
Should win: Billie Eilish

Song of the year

Lady Gaga Always Remember Us This Way
Billie Eilish Bad Guy
Tanya Tucker Bring My Flowers Now
HER Hard Place
Taylor Swift Lover
Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell
Lewis Capaldi Someone You Loved
Lizzo Truth Hurts

Piano-driven ballads dominate the songwriting category, including Taylor Swifts only big nomination. Lover is such classic American songcraft, though Lewis Capaldis powerful Someone Like You is the best of these ballads and it would be a British win to remember. Eilish is streets ahead in terms of songwriting innovation and should win for that Duh! alone. But, while Truth Hurts most famous lyric (I just took a DNA test, turns out Im 100% that bitch) may have been plagiarised and its British author later added to the credits, Lizzo has this sewn up. The lyrics are hilarious, and it is a massively successful example of that new school of songwriting where a single melody is repeated over and over until the brainwashed public is involuntarily chanting it and then clawing hopelessly at their faces.

Will win: Lizzo Truth Hurts
Should win: Billie Eilish Bad Guy

New artist

Black Pumas
Billie Eilish
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
Maggie Rogers
Rosala
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

Nice to see some country-soul curveballs here in the excellent Black Pumas and Yola, though the less said the better about the tune-free Tank and the Bangas at any rate, theyre all making up the numbers. Maggie Rogers didnt really break beyond her fanbase with her underrated debut album, and Im sure the Academy will see Lil Nas X merely as a two-hit wonder. Lizzos debut album came out in 2013, whereas Eilish has only just turned 18 and feels like the rightful owner of this award. But you can bet than every Latinx voter is going to be going for the astoundingly talented Rosala, who won big at the Latin Grammys and could cause an upset here.

Will win: Billie Eilish
Should win: Billie Eilish

Pop solo performance

Beyonc Spirit
Billie Eilish Bad Guy
Ariana Grande 7 Rings
Lizzo Truth Hurts
Taylor Swift You Need to Calm Down

Just as performances where you cry, shout and climb inside the carcass of a bear win you Oscars, the leading pop award rather behoves you to give it some welly not for nothing has Adele won it three times. Eilish and Grandes variously murmured and chatted performances will appear to the Academy like weirdo arthouse choices here, and even Swift is in a relatively conversational mode. Beyoncs ponderous Spirit was the lame old wildebeest eaten by the younger jackals on the Lion King soundtrack, so this is Lizzos to lose.

Will win: Lizzo
Should win: Billie Eilish

Rock performance

Bones UK Pretty Waste
Gary Clark Jr This Land
Brittany Howard History Repeats
Karen O & Danger Mouse Woman
Rival Sons Too Bad

Anyone looking for evidence of backroom dealing in the Academy might well make Bones UK their exhibit A: Pretty Waste is the kind of creative vacuum beloved only of nihilistically cocaine-addicted LA music industry execs looking for something to soundtrack rock bottom. The rest is pretty good. Rival Sons riffs and hollering make them the most tangibly rock thing here Karen O essays 60s pop, and Brittany Howards History Repeats is a kind of bluesy funk tune, but with mainstream rock stranded out on a sandbar while rappers and pop stars taunt it on jetskis, they need to blur the genre lines. Gary Clark Jr could edge this with his politically charged This Land, half-rapped over a heavily skanking backing.

Will win: Gary Clark Jr
Should win: Rival Sons

Rap performance

J Cole Middle Child
DaBaby Suge
Dreamville feat JID, Bas, J Cole, Earthgang & Young Nudy Down Bad
Nipsey Hussle feat Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy Racks in the Middle
Offset feat Cardi B Clout

Many voters hearts will go with Nipsey Hussle, whose murder last year robbed the world of a skilful, soulful MC who united backpacker hip-hoppers and mainstream rap fans. Racks in the Middle also features Roddy Rich, who has broken through spectacularly over the last year. But the track pales next to two others here: DaBabys Suge is a slowly prowling piece of minimalism that makes Offset sound fussily overworked in comparison; its ridiculous that DaBaby isnt up for best new artist. He is rather damaged goods after a series of run-ins with the law, however. That could hand Middle Child the win, on which J Cole raps as if hes high-stepping across the surface of a lake, his triplet time full of balletic grace.

Will win: J Cole
Should win: DaBaby

Country solo performance

Tyler Childers All Yourn
Ashley McBryde Girl Goin Nowhere
Willie Nelson Ride Me Back Home
Blake Shelton Gods Country
Tanya Tucker Bring My Flowers Now

If you scoff at country, youll probably always scoff at country, but this spread of songs shows off the admirable breadth of the genre and may pique your interest yet. Willie Nelsons song is a bit something-and-nothing; Tanya Tuckers Bring My Flowers Now is nominated in the song of the year category, and its live-for-today message and simple piano backing will appeal across the Academy, but its rather workmanlike. Ashley McBryde outdoes her in the ballad stakes, but its Tyler Childers and Blake Shelton both strongly channelling the gospel and soul music that not so secretly underpins country who are the strongest here. Childers song would make for a classy first wedding dance, while Sheltons stirring ode to proud Christian labour, while deeply unfashionable, will have you gazing soulfully across a cornfield.

Will win: Tanya Tucker
Should win: Tyler Childers

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jan/24/grammys-2020-who-will-who-should-win-lizzo-billie-eilish-ariana-grande-lana-del-rey-rosalia

From a lament for the victims of Grenfell Tower to snapshots of Windrush arrivals activist, musician and poet Roger Robinson discusses the inspiration behind his prizewinning collection

Since I was 19 Ive been living in England and thinking Id go home, but there was a point, around six years go, when I realised Im here now: Im black British. So says Roger Robinson, who this week won the TS Eliot prize for A Portable Paradise, a poetry collection born of this realisation.

Furious laments for the victims of Grenfell Tower are followed by a crisp snapshot of idealistic young Jamaicans disembarking from the Empire Windrush in 1948, and a didactic sequence about the legacy of slavery today. A moody evocation of riot brewing on the south London streets sits alongside a love song to the National Health Service, which saved the life of his own prematurely born son.

It was the arrival of this baby just the 1kg of him / all big head, bulging eyes and blue veins that prompted both his acceptance that he was here to stay, and his investigation of the possibility that paradise might be portable. I thought Id look at the utopian idea of paradise, which is so important in this country, and then it began to mean a lot of different things hope for my son, and the paradise that was denied to the people of Grenfell who had come looking to build theirs here and died because they werent in a position to do so, he says.

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A musician and cultural activist as well as a poet, Robinson is no stranger to public interventions. In 2018, he launched a Twitter appeal for 100 poems protesting about the mistreatment of the Windrush generation. He also recorded an eight-minute music track for BBC Radio 3, Survivor (For the Grenfell Survivors). Ive lived in tower blocks so I know what its like to live there and the community who do, he says. Theyre not all immigrants and not all poor, but theyre all trying to build a better life and get out of there. It wasnt that I was poor, I just didnt have lots of housing opportunities. So when Grenfell happened I felt it viscerally.

Robinsons own relationship with England doesnt follow an obvious narrative. Now 52, he was born to Trinidadian parents in the east London borough of Hackney due to the system of opportunistic parents who always had a plan for you to go to university here, he chuckles. When he was three years old, they returned to Trinidad, where his father became a PR executive for an oil company one of the first black men to rise that high and his mother worked as a nurse. His father encouraged him with comic book versions of the classics, while his mother is an incredible storyteller. To a certain extent my poetry came out of her storytelling at the dinner table.

He went to one of Trinidads top schools, where expectations were high and his teachers included the playwright and later government minister Ralph Maraj. Its impossible to make a living as an artist in Trinidad because its so small, so a lot of the teachers were artists who had returned from studying abroad. At 19 he returned to the UK, initially to live with his grandmother in Ilford, Essex. Now that was a real culture shock. I couldnt feel at home there. He soon found that Brixton was more congenial, forming a bond with the south London district that remains strong, even since he has forsaken its tower blocks for a three-bedroom house in Northampton, where he lives with his wife and their six-year-old son.

Beware these hot nights in Brixton, opens one observational poem, which is charged with the threat of urban unrest. Ashes to Fire was partly inspired by a night in 2011 when Robinson was dropped off in Brixton on his way home from a gig just as the London riots were starting. In a collection notable for its tonal and generic variety, this poem stands at one extreme a thrumming reminder that he started out as a dub poet, and that dub is the poetry of working-class suffering and protest. He has also released five albums, and is the lead vocalist for his band, King Midas Sound, for which surprisingly, given his rich bass speaking voice he often sings in a high tenor that spills into falsetto.

He began to make his name on the London poetry scene in the 1990s, eking out a living by doing workshops in London schools. It was a time when many schools were thinking about role modelling, he says. I was trying to convince kids mostly young black boys who were not doing well at school that poetry could touch their lives and reading could be useful to them. He looks momentarily bashful behind his grizzled beard then adds, I dress relatively decently now but I used to be a bit more urban swaggering.

His belief in mentoring was rooted in his own experience. I have had many mentors and one of them was [Booker prize-winner and poet] Bernardine Evaristo , who said: Youve got talent but you need to hone your craft. By his mid 20s he knew that he wanted to be an artist, and that if he was going to succeed he would have to live frugally. My mentors taught me that if you control your economics you can control your output.

Evaristo was working for the writers support agency Spread the Word and, crucially, offered him the chance to attend free workshops, which he snapped up. During one, he met the poet Kwame Dawes, who urged him to broaden his reading. He introduced me to Chinese and Russian and European poets. At the time I was only reading what I liked. They werent all black poets I was into Seamus Heaney but I was reading for culture; he made me read for craft, and think about why things worked.

Dawes also told him: If you get less than 36 rejections dont come to me and say its not working. On about my 37th attempt I got published. His first two pamphlets, Suitcase (2004) and Suckle (2009), were put out by another of his mentors, Nii Ayikwei Parkes. Portable Paradise is his fourth collection and, he says, it began to shape itself in a way that was beyond my authorial control, coming together so quickly that he was adding and removing poems until the day it went to press. (Even some of the poems in the ebook version didnt make the printed book.)

Beneath the idea of paradise lies the concept of prayer, whether this involves the refusal of an Afghan immigrant to accept the substitute of therapy If it is Allahs will, who is he to unload his burden on someone else? or Robinsons own fervent prayers for his newborn son to be spared. The collections two dominant impulses, observation and entreaty, come together in fortuitous ways, and never more so than in the name of the nurse who cradled his son in neonatal intensive care, which becomes the title of the most overtly moving poem, Grace. Was she really called that? Yes, yes, he insists. He occasionally spots her driving around, though he has heard she has recently retired.

Which brings us to the question of his own faith. I am Christian. I say prayers, but I dont get to church much, he says. Faith, for Robinson, is tied up with an idea of community and service. So many people came up to me after the [TS Eliot prize] readings and said: My child was premature, you expressed exactly what I felt. I want these poems to be useful and to help people to practise empathy. Demonstrating how a prayer might work to achieve this, he quickly improvises one that could also be a standalone poem: If you want people to understand the power of prayer in a time of trauma, let this book spread.

A Portable Paradise is published by Peepal Tree (9.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p on all online orders over 15.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/16/ts-eliot-prize-winner-roger-robinson

The academys chief executive alleges sexual harassment, voting corruption and rape coverup within the organisation

Deborah Dugan, the chief executive and president of the Recording Academy, which organises the Grammy awards, who was suspended last week after a misconduct allegation, has countered with her own 44-page legal complaint five days before 2020s awards ceremony. In it, she alleges sexual harassment and voting corruption in the company. Her most serious claim is the academy was aware of allegations that her predecessor Neil Portnow, who was chief executive from 2002 to 2019, raped an unnamed female recording artist.

The filing written by her legal team reads that after she was hired, Ms Dugan was hauled into a conference room and told for the very first time that a foreign recording artist (and member of the academy) had accused Mr Portnow of raping her following a performance that she gave at Carnegie Hall. The news was presented to Ms Dugan as though the board had just learned of the allegation. In reality, they were well aware of the allegation at the time Ms Dugan agreed to take on the CEO position, but never told her. The allegation of assault was, she was told, the real reason his contract was not renewed in 2019. She claims she was nonetheless pressured by the then chairman John Poppo to rehire Portnow as a consultant with a $750,000 salary.

Former
Former Recording Academy chief executive Neil Portnow. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

At the time, Portnow did not give reasons for stepping down as chief executive, and only said that he wanted to create a smooth transition for his successor. The end of his tenure had been heavily marred by comments he made in 2018, in the wake of very few female winners at that years Grammys, that female creatives needed to step up if they were to succeed.

Portnow has not yet responded to the rape allegation. The academy released a statement dismissing Dugans accusations. It reads in part: It is curious that Ms Dugan never raised these grave allegations until a week after legal claims were made against her personally by a female employee.

Dugan was placed on administrative leave last week, following the allegation of misconduct. A memo from the interim chief executive to academy members earlier this week gave further details, saying Dugan fostered a toxic and intolerable work environment and was abusive and bullying. Academy board member Christine Albert told the New York Times that Dugans leadership style had clashed with the academy, saying: What we expected was change without chaos.

In Dugans filing, she calls the academys allegation that she asked for $22m to resign flat out false. A further statement from her lawyer Douglas Wigdor alleges she was offered millions of dollars to drop all of this and leave the academy, and was put on leave when she refused, and says Dugan repeatedly raised concerns throughout her entire tenure at the academy, not just now following her suspension.

Elsewhere in her legal filing, made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Dugan alleges that she was sexually harassed by entertainment lawyer Joel Katz, who is general counsel for the academy. She says he acted extremely inappropriately during a business dinner in May 2019, repeatedly remarking on her physical appearance and attempting to kiss her and woo her. Katzs lawyer said her recollection was false and Mr Katz categorically and emphatically denies her version of that evening.

She also alleges corruption in the academys voting procedures. She gives the example of a song longlisted for the 2019 song of the year award, which was ranked 18th place out of 20 songs by the nominations committee, but which nevertheless ended up on the shortlist as the artist behind the song sat on the committee and was represented by a member of the Grammys board. She alleges that the nomination committees added in artists who werent selected by the academys voting pool.

Her complaint says that the Grammys board has decided to shroud the process in secrecy, and ultimately controls, in large part, who is nominated and manipulates the nominations process to ensure that certain songs or albums are nominated when the producer of the Grammys [Ken Ehrlich] wants a particular song performed on the show. The academy has not responded to these specific allegations beyond the aforementioned dismissal of Dugans filing.

Deborah
Deborah Dugan at the Latin Grammys in November 2019. Photograph: Eric Jamison/Invision/AP

Dugans filing says that the alleged behaviour was made possible by a boys club mentality in the company. In an accompanying statement, her legal team said those accused used tactics reminiscent of those deployed by individuals defending Harvey Weinstein.

The EEOC will now work to determine whether Dugans allegations have merit, and whether her suspension discriminates against her. Whatever the outcome, it is a damaging episode for a company that was trying to rehabilitate its image: as well as criticism of its bias towards male winners, artists including Frank Ocean, Kanye West and Drake have criticised the awards in recent years over a lack of support for non-white musicians in major categories.

In 2018, Michelle Obamas former chief of staff Tina Tchen was hired to head up a taskforce to examine how the Grammys operate. Its final report, published in December, proposed greater diversity in academy members and changes to voting procedures.

The 2020 Grammy awards take place on Sunday, with Lizzo earning the most nominations with eight, ahead of Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X with six each.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jan/22/suspended-grammys-chief-deborah-dugan-alleges-sexual-misconduct-in-recording-academy

Lizzo scores eight nominations with Eilish and Lil Nas X on seven, but British artists largely snubbed in major categories

The 17-year-old pop sensation Billie Eilish has become the youngest artist to be nominated in all four of the most prestigious Grammy award categories: record, album and song of the year, and best new artist.

Her gothic, innovative single Bad Guy, which topped the US charts, is nominated in the song and record categories, while her similarly chart-topping album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is nominated for the album prize. She completed a sweep of the top categories with a best new artist nomination, and has six nominations in all. Her album engineers got a nod in the best engineered album category, including her brother and collaborator Finneas, who received three nominations.

The most nominations were for Lizzo, who received eight, including in the top four categories. The powerhouse Minneapolis singer, known for her vociferous support of body positivity as well as her showboating flute solos, has been a slow-burn success, first releasing music in 2013 but scoring breakthrough hits this year with Juice, Tempo and US No 1 hit Truth Hurts.

Lil Nas X received six nominations, including three in the top categories, predominantly for his song Old Town Road. It is indisputably one of the most successful songs of the year, breaking a US chart record with its 19 consecutive weeks at No 1 Mariah Carey and Boyz II Mens duet One Sweet Day had held the honour since 1996. All three of Eilish, Lizzo and Lil Nas X have never received a Grammy nomination before.

Ariana
Ariana Grande, who receives five nominations. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

R&B singer HER scored five nominations, including record, album and song of the year, with Ariana Grande also earning five, including record and album of the year her first appearances in the major categories. Wisconsin singer-songwriter Bon Iver was nominated four times, including record and album of the year, while Beyonc in a relatively minor year with no solo album release still managed to secure four nominations, for her Lion King soundtrack work as well as her Coachella concert film, Homecoming.

While recent years have seen Grammy success for the likes of Ed Sheeran and Adele, British artists were mostly shut out of the top four categories. Lewis Capaldi received a nomination for song of the year for his ballad Someone Like You, which has topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Bristol country-soul singer Yola was nominated for best new artist, and received three further nominations in American roots categories.

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke earned three nominations in specialist categories, with Chemical Brothers scoring three, and two for R&B singer Ella Mai. Other nominated Brits include the 1975, Bring Me the Horizon, James Blake and Elvis Costello. A surprise inclusion was Bones UK, a Camden rock band who, despite their low profile, secured a nomination for best rock performance with their song Pretty Waste.

Lil Nas X also crops up in the rap categories, this time with his single Panini in the running for rap/sung performance. The genres biggest prize, best rap performance, features a posthumous nomination for Nipsey Hussle, the LA star who was shot dead in April.

Snubs include to Taylor Swift, who might have expected more than just one nomination in major categories song of the year for Lover, the only song in the category to feature a single songwriter and Ed Sheeran, whose collaborative album No 6 Collaborations Project only generated one nomination, for pop vocal album. Sam Smith received no nominations for their major US hit Dancing With a Stranger, nor did Halsey, whose single Without Me spent 29 weeks in the US Top 10 and went five times platinum.

The total lack of nominations for Solanges acclaimed album When I Get Home, or Bruce Springsteens Western Stars, is also surprising the Guardian has asked their record labels if their albums were put forward for nomination.

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A British success story … Yola. Photograph: Alysse Gafkjen

Grammy nominations 2020: the major categories

Album of the year
Bon Iver
i, i
Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Billie Eilish When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Ariana Grande Thank U, Next
HER I Used to Know Her
Lil Nas X 7
Lizzo Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)
Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride

Record of the year
Bon Iver Hey, Ma
Billie Eilish Bad Guy
Ariana Grande 7 Rings
HER Hard Place
Khalid Talk
Lil Nas X ft Billy Ray Cyrus Old Town Road
Lizzo Truth Hurts
Post Malone & Swae Lee Sunflower

Song of the year
Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Lori McKenna, songwriters (Lady Gaga) Always Remember Us This Way
Billie Eilish OConnell & Finneas OConnell, songwriters (Billie Eilish) Bad Guy
Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Tanya Tucker, songwriters (Tanya Tucker) Bring My Flowers Now
Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris. H.E.R. & Rodney Jerkins, songwriters (HER) Hard Place
Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift) Lover
Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey, songwriters (Lana Del Rey) Norman Fucking Rockwell
Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pere Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn & Sam Roman, songwriters (Lewis Capaldi) Someone You Loved
Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson & Jesse Saint John, songwriters (Lizzo) Truth Hurts

Best new artist
Black Pumas
Billie Eilish
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
Maggie Rogers
Rosala
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

Best pop album
Beyonc The Lion King: The Gift
Billie Eilish When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Ariana Grande Thank U, Next
Ed Sheeran No 6 Collaborations Project
Taylor Swift Lover

Best rock album
Bring Me the Horizon Amo
Cage the Elephant Social Cues
The Cranberries In the End
I Prevail Trauma
Rival Sons Feral Roots

Bon
Bon Iver. Photograph: Publicity Image

Best alternative music album
Big Thief
UFOF
James Blake Assume Form
Bon Iver i, i
Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride
Thom Yorke Anima

Best urban contemporary album
Steve Lacy Apollo XXI
Lizzo Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)
Georgia Anne Muldrow Overload
Nao Saturn
Jessie Reyez Being Human In Public

Best rap album
Dreamville Revenge of the Dreamers III
Meek Mill Championships
21 Savage I Am > I Was
Tyler, the Creator Igor
YBN Cordae The Lost Boy

Best R&B album
BJ the Chicago Kid 1123
Lucky Daye Painted
Ella Mai Ella Mai
PJ Morton Paul
Anderson .Paak Ventura

Best dance/electronic album
Apparat LP5
Chemical Brothers No Geography
Flume Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape)
Rfs Du Sol Solace
Tycho Weather

Best country album
Eric Church Desperate Man
Reba McEntire Stronger Than the Truth
Pistol Annies Interstate Gospel
Thomas Rhett Center Point Road
Tanya Tucker While Im Livin

Best Americana album
Calexico and Iron & Wine Years to Burn
Madison Cunningham Who Are You Now
Keb Mo Oklahoma
JS Ondara Tales of America
Yola Walk Through Fire

Best Latin pop album
Luis Fonsi Vida
Maluma 11:11
Ricardo Montaner Montaner
Alejandro Sanz #ELDISCO
Sebastian Yatra Fantasa

Best gospel album
Kirk Franklin Long Live Love
Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers Goshen
Gene Moore Tunnel Vision
William Murphy Settle Here
CeCe Winans Somethings Happening! A Christmas Album

Best pop solo performance
Beyonc Spirit
Billie Eilish Bad Guy
Ariana Grande 7 Rings
Lizzo Truth Hurts
Taylor Swift You Need to Calm Down

Best pop duo/group performance
Ariana Grande and Social House Boyfriend
Jonas Brothers Sucker
Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus Old Town Road
Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello Seorita

Best traditional pop vocal album
Andrea Bocelli S
Michael Bubl Love (Deluxe Edition)
Elvis Costello and the Imposters Look Now
John Legend A Legendary Christmas
Barbra Streisand Walls

DaBaby.
DaBaby. Photograph: Earl Gibson III/REX/Shutterstock

Best rap performance
J Cole Middle Child
DaBaby Suge
Dreamville ft JID, Bas, J.Cole, Earthgang and& Young Nudy Down Bad
Nipsey Hussle ft Roddy Ricch and Hit-boy Racks in the Middle
Offset ft Cardi B Clout

Best traditional R&B performance
BJ the Chicago Kid Time Today
India.Arie Steady Love
Jerome Lizzo
Real Games Lucky Daye
Built For Love PJ Morton & Jazmine Sullivan

Best rap/sung performance
DJ Khaled ft Nipsey Hussle & John Legend Higher
Lil Baby and Funna Drip Too Hard
Lil Nas X Panini
Mustard ft Roddy Ricch Ballin
Young Thug ft J Cole & Travis Scott The London

Best rap song
Chancelor Bennett, Cordae Dunston, Uforo Ebong and Daniel Hackett, songwriters (Ybn Cordae ft Chance the Rapper) Bad Idea
Noel Cadastre, Aubrey Graham, Anderson Hernandez, Khristopher Riddick-tynes, William Leonard Roberts Ii, Joshua Quinton Scruggs, Leon Thomas Iii and Ozan Yildirim, songwriters (Rick Ross ft Drake) Gold Roses
Jermaine Cole, Dacoury Natche, 21 Savage & Anthony White, songwriters (21 Savage ft J Cole) A Lot
Ermias Asghedom, Dustin James Corbett, Greg Allen Davis, Chauncey Hollis Jr and Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Nipsey Hussle ft. Roddy Ricch and Hit-boy) Racks in the Middle
DaBaby, Jetsonmade and Pooh Beatz, songwriters (DaBaby) Suge

Best R&B song
Dernst Emile Ii, David Swagg Rcelious Harris, HER and Hue Soundzfire Strother, Songwriters (H.E.R. Ft. Bryson Tiller) Couldve Been
Emily King and Jeremy Most, Songwriters (Emily King) Look at Me Now
Chris Brown, Tyler James Bryant, Nija Charles, Aubrey Graham, Anderson Hernandez, Michee Patrick Lebrun, Joshua Lewis, Noah Shebib and Teddy Walton, songwriters (Chris Brown ft Drake) No Guidance
David Brown, Dernst Emile Ii & Peter Lee Johnson, Songwriters (Lucky Daye) Roll Some Mo
PJ Morton, Songwriter (PJ Morton ft Jojo) Say So

Best rock performance
Bones UK Pretty Waste
Gary Clark Jr This Land
Brittany Howard History Repeats
Karen O and Danger Mouse Woman
Rival Sons Too Bad

Best metal performance
Candlemass ft. Tony Iommi Astorolus: The Great Octopus
Death Angel Humanicide
I Prevail Bow Down
Killswitch Engage Unleashed
Tool 7empest

Best country solo performance
Tyler Childers All Yourn
Ashley McBryde Girl Goin Nowhere
Willie Nelson Ride Me Back Home
Blake Shelton Gods Country
Tanya Tucker Bring My Flowers Now

Best country duo/group performance
Brooks and Dunn with Luke Combs Brand New Man
Brothers Osborne I Dont Remember Me (Before You)
Dan and Shay Speechless
Little Big Town The Daughters
Maren Morris ft Brandi Carlile Common

Brandi
Brandi Carlile. Photograph: Brandi Carlile/Alysse Gafkjen

Best country song
Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth and Tanya Tucker, songwriters (Tanya Tucker) Bring My Flowers Now
Jeremy Bussey & Ashley Mcbryde, songwriters (Ashley McBryde) Girl Goin Nowhere
Miranda Lambert, Hillary Lindsey, Lori Mckenna and Liz Rose, Songwriters (Miranda Lambert) It All Comes Out in the Wash
Eric Church, Clint Daniels, Jeff Hyde & Bobby Pinson, Songwriters (Eric Church) Some of It
Shay Mooney, Jordan Reynolds, Dan Smyers and Laura Veltz, songwriters (Dan and Shay) Speechless

Best rock song
Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor, Adam Jones and Maynard James Keenan, songwriters (Tool) Fear Inoculum
George Daniel, Adam Hann, Matthew Healy & Ross MacDonald, songwriters (The 1975) Give Yourself a Try
Ezra Koenig, songwriter (Vampire Weekend) Harmony Hall
Brittany Howard, Songwriter (Brittany Howard) History Repeats
Gary Clark Jr., Songwriter (Gary Clark Jr) This Land

Producer of the year, non-classical
Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
John Hill
Finneas
Ricky Reed

Best compilation soundtrack for visual media
Various artists The Lion King: The Songs
Various artists Quentin Tarantinos Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Taron Egerton Rocketman
Various artists Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/20/lizzo-billie-eilish-and-lil-nas-x-top-2020-grammy-nominations

Swift won six American Music Awards, taking her all-time total to 29 and breaking Michael Jacksons record

Taylor Swift reflected on a year of highs and lows as she was named both artist of the year and artist of the decade at the American Music Awards.

The pop superstar won six awards at this years AMAs, taking her all-time total to 29, organisers said, surpassing Michael Jacksons record of 24.

The artist of the decade honour was announced well before Sunday nights ceremony, but Swift also scooped the biggest prize of the night, artist of the year, from Drake, Ariana Grande, Halsey and Post Malone.

Accepting the award for the latter, an emotional Swift told the crowd gathered at Los Angeles Microsoft Theater that the previous 12 months had given her some of the most amazing times as well as the hardest things Ive gone through in my life.

Swift, 29, has been embroiled in a high-profile feud with prominent talent manager Scooter Braun and her former record label over the rights to her back catalogue of six albums a dispute that briefly put her performance at the AMAs under a cloud.

Swift publicly accused Braun last week of refusing permission for her to sing songs from her back catalogue at the awards show, urging her 122 million Instagram fans to let Braun know how you feel about this.

The public spat culminated last week with Braun saying that his family had received numerous death threats and that he would like to find a resolution.

Swift did not directly reference her dispute with Braun on Sunday night, but she did say that this industry is really weird before thanking her fans, adding: This year for me has been a lot. Its been a lot of good, its been a lot of really complicated.

Before she accepted the prize for artist of the year, Swift followed a video retrospective of her career to date with the performance of a medley of some of her biggest hits, opening with a brief portion of her song The Man, which debates how much more successful she would be if she were a male.

She performed in a white button-down jacket featuring the titles of her earlier albums, including Speak Now, Red and Fearless, and on a piano that was also inscribed with the titles of these albums, which some fans interpreted as a coded message about the feud with Braun.

During her acceptance speech, Swift said the honour celebrated 10 years of hard work and of art and of fun and memories.

She added: All that matters to me is the memories I have had with you guys, with you the fans, over the years.

Earlier, Swift won favourite pop/rock album for her latest album Lover. Her wins make her the most successful AMAs artist ever, dethroning Michael Jackson.

Elsewhere, teenager Billie Eilish continued her year to remember by scooping best new artist. The 17-year-old appeared emotional as she thanked fans for the award, her second of the night, after her win for alternative rock artist.

Eilish showed her support for environmental causes by wearing a T-shirt with the slogan No Music on a Dead Planet as she gave her first awards show performance with All the Good Girls Go to Hell.

Selena Gomez kicked off the ceremony in her first live TV performance in two years, after undergoing a kidney transplant in 2017 and battling anxiety and depression.

Rapper Post Malone, whose seven nominations were the most of any artist this year, won favourite rap/hip-hop album for Hollywoods Bleeding.

Pop star Halsey won the prize for favourite pop/rock song for her hit Without Me, and Carrie Underwood won favourite country artist and country album of the year.

The ceremony included performances from singer Toni Braxton, 25 years after winning her first AMA, who belted out her 1996 pop ballad, Un-Break My Heart. Meanwhile new artist of the year nominee Lizzo treated fans to her single, Jerome.

Country music star Thomas Rhett and celebrity couple Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes were also among the performers.

Ozzy Osbourne, who spent much of 2019 recovering from injuries he suffered in a fall at home, returned to the stage to perform Take What You Want alongside Malone and Travis Scott.

Canadian singer-songwriter Shania Twain closed the night with a medley of songs mashing up the biggest hits of the last 12 months with some of her own best-known tracks, including 1998s That Dont Impress Me Much.

Before the show officially kicked off, Dan + Shay were named favourite duo or group in the country category, while K-pop favourites BTS won in the pop/rock category.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/nov/25/taylor-swift-wins-2019-ama-artist-of-the-year

Ceremony looks backward with its host but forward in its music, with Spanish performances, space gear, and a crowd-rousing tribute to Elliott

The 2019 VMAs often didnt seem to know what year it was a mix of dad jokes, Latin music, double-denim outfits and one performance set in 2079, in a ceremony that mostly lacked the typical controversy. With awards split between longtime pop dominator Taylor Swift and the very 2019 star Lil Nas X, it was perhaps fitting that the nights top honor celebrated the genre- and era-defying musical work of Missy Elliott.

Swift opened the show with two singles from her new album Lover: the technicolor trailer park-themed You Need To Calm Down, and return-to-form acoustic track Lover. The colorful performance kicked off a big night for Swift, who took home Video of the Year for You Need To Calm Down: a song pitched as an LGBTQ anthem for Pride Month. In her acceptance speech, she pointed to the Equality Act, for which the video solicited petitions. By voting for this video, you showed that you want a world where everyone is treated equally, she said. Swift also took home the trophy for the Video for Good category.

Lil
Lil Nas X took home two moonmen, for the Old Town Road Remix with Billy Ray Cyrus. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

The nights other major winner was Lil Nas X, whose genre-smashing hit Old Town Road spent a record-breaking 19 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, and took home the award for song of the year. This is my first award ever, he said as he unrolled a person-sized scroll as his speech causing Lizzo to nearly drop her diamond-encrusted tequila.

After the notable no-shows of 2018s event, this years VMAs went deep on the talent bench, with performances from newer acts such as H.E.R. alongside veterans including Miley Cyrus, who performed Slide Away: a song released earlier this month, just days after news broke of her split from Liam Hemsworth.

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What are the VMAs?

The MTV Video Music Award ceremony (VMAs) are an annual award show for music promo videos run by the music cable channel in the US. First held in 1984, as well as an award for the overall best video, there are awards in various music genre and for technical aspects of video production.

Over the years the award show has seen several notable controversies, including in 2015 when Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus clashed on stage, and in 2009 when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift receiving her award to declare that ‘Beyonc had one of the best videos of all time'”.

To date the most successful artists in VMAs history are Beyonc with 24 wins, Madonna with 20, and Lady Gaga and Peter Gabriel with 13 each. Gabriel set the record for the most wins in one night, when in 1987 the video for Sledgehammer won 9 awards, and Gabriel also picked up an award as a video pioneer.

The music largely overshadowed host Sebastian Maniscalco, a 36-year-old Italian-American comedian who MCd the event after last years VMAs went without a host. Following a muted introduction seemingly aimed at the dads in which he admonished the kids to put away their phones, joked about MTV offering a safe space (If you feel triggered or offended theyre providing a safe space backstage where youll get some stress balls and a blankie, he said), and ensured everyone knew there were no participation trophies Maniscalco was largely quiet for the rest of the night.

Instead, the spotlight belonged to Missy Elliott, who received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. The hip-hop icon earned the loudest cheers of the night and a standing ovation for her performance of hits including Supa Dupa Fly, Get Ur Freak On, Work It and Lose Control which was, in the words of presenter Cardi B, FIRE.

Missy
Missy Elliott performs a medley of hits before accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. Photograph: Jamie McCarthy/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV

Nobody deserves to be the Video Vanguard more than Missy, Cardi B said in an introduction for Elliott that highlighted the Virginia natives influence on songwriting, fashion and, of course, music videos.

In her acceptance speech, Elliott was visibly emotional: I have worked diligently for over two decades and I never thought I would be standing up here receiving this award, she said . She name-checked her video influences (Busta Rhymes, Janet Jackson, Peter Gabriel and Madonna), offered a tribute to Aaliyah (who died 18 years ago on Sunday) and celebrated the dance community all around the world.

This is the next generation, she said, bringing out her youngest dancers, and I promise yall I love yall with all my heart.

Despite the choice of host, the next generation emerged as a theme of the night, with several performances illustrating the dominant global, meme-able, Spanish-seeking forces in music. Barcelona native Rosalia performed in Spanish, and took home the award for best Latin video; Colombia native J. Balvin and Bad Bunny, of Puerto Rico, performed their hit Qu Pretendes in a 3D-accentuated emoji playland; and former Fifth Harmony member Normani had a breakout performance of her dance showcase single Motivation.

In a nod to the feverish coverage of their summer romance, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello performed a teasing, nose-to-nose rendition of their duet Seorita. The couple topped favorites Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus for best collaboration. Other winners included Jonas Brothers Sucker for best pop, Cardi Bs Money for best rap, Billie Eilish for best new artist and an absent Ariana Grande for best artist.

In the end, the final star of the night was New Jersey, the oft-second fiddle to New York which hosted the VMAs for the first time. In what frontman Joe Jonas called a Jersey dream, the Jonas Brothers originally from Wyckoff, New Jersey received their award from three stars of the Sopranos; and the show closed with a tour of the states contributions to hip-hop, featuring New Jersey natives Ice-T (born in Newark), Fetty Wap, Naughty by Nature, Wyclef Jean, Lords of the Underground, Redman and Queen Latifah.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/aug/27/mtv-vmas-2019-taylor-swift-lil-nas-x-win-big-but-missy-elliott-is-the-star

The Ohio institution will select its 2019 cohort at a ceremony in Brooklyn next March

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has revealed the list of nominees for induction into its 2019 cohort. Def Leppard, Devo, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, the Cure, Todd Rundgren, Rufus and Chaka Khan and the Zombies are all in consideration for the historic honour.

Artists become eligible for selection 25 years after the release of their first record. An international voting committee of more than 1,000 artists, historians and members of the music industry will select five or six of these acts for induction into the Hall of Fame. Fans are also eligible to vote: the top five artists selected by the public will be tallied along with the committees votes.

Radiohead were among 2018s potential inductees, but declined to attend the ceremony. The bands guitarist, Ed OBrien, said at the time: As a British band, its one of those things that its very lovely to be nominated, but we dont quite culturally understand it. Its a very American thing. Us Brits are very bad at celebrating ourselves.

Def
Def Leppard in 2017.

It is likely to be welcome news to Def Leppard. In 2017, guitarist Phil Collen said it was pathetic that the English heavy metal band had yet to be nominated for the award. Were a rock band that sold 100 million albums, most of them, actually, in America, Collen told Blabbermouth. Were a real rock band, weve been together for 30, or nearly 40 years, and the fact that thats not recognised is kind of a bit weird.

LL Cool J was also nominated for the 2018 list. If the New York rapper is selected for the 2019 group, he will be the seventh hip-hop act to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, following Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, NWA and Tupac Shakur.

If Stevie Nicks makes the 2019 class, it will mark her second induction to the Hall of Fame. She is a member of Fleetwood Mac, who were inducted in 1998. She would become the first woman to be inducted more than once. As of 2017, 22 male performers had been inducted twice or more, with Eric Clapton receiving three inductions as a solo artist, with Cream and with the Yardbirds.

Snubbed
Snubbed again? … Bjrk performing in Barcelona, May 2018. Photograph: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

The Zombies have been nominated multiple times. In 2017, keyboardist Rod Argent told Billboard that the psychedelic band would be flattered, gratified and absolutely delighted to be inducted. I know there are some people that actually portray themselves as unaffected and dont care and, Oh, well, it would be nice, but, really I dont get it. Its not something that I particularly want. Were not those people at all.

There are likely to be complaints from the US about the Halls perceived snubs artists including Bjrk, Kate Bush, Roberta Flack, Whitney Houston, Depeche Mode, the Monkees and Chic are considered overdue for induction. The ceremony holds great significance in the American music industry, but does not command similar significance in the UK.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame organisation was established by the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun in 1983. The museum opened in Cleveland, Ohio in 1986. That year, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Elvis Presley became the first inductees. Aretha Franklin became the first female inductee in 1987. In 2018, Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues and Nina Simone were selected for induction.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2019 induction ceremony will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, on 29 March.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/oct/09/radiohead-stevie-nicks-the-cure-2019-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-nominees