Even as the music industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace — from the domination of streaming services to a free-flowing, drop-out-of-nowhere release schedule — one thing hasn’t changed: When it comes to awards, nothing compares to a Grammy.
On Sunday (airing at 7:30 p.m. on WJZ-CBS), artists with Maryland ties will learn if they need to make room on the mantle for a gold gramophone. Here’s a look at the musicians to watch:
Brothers Osborne, “It Ain’t My Fault”
Best country duo/group performance
The siblings from Deale, John and TJ Osborne, hope their third straight nomination in this category (“Stay a Little Longer” and “21 Summer” fell short in 2016 and 2017, respectively) finally sticks. While the previously nominated tracks were lyrically and musically wistful, “It Ain’t My Fault” sounds like the type of hand-clapping rocker they played at waterfront tiki-bars in Anne Arundel County as teenagers. The duo will release their second album, “Port Saint Joe,” on April 20 via EMI Nashville, and will open for Dierks Bentley at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia on May 18. (Read the Sun’s profile of Brothers Osborne from 2017 here.)
The competition: Zac Brown Band, “My Old Man”; Lady Antebellum, “You Look Good”; Little Big Town, “Better Man”; Midland, “Drinkin’ Problem”
Logic, “1-800-273-8255 (feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid)”
Song of the year
Best music video
Logic, the popular Gaithersburg-raised rapper, is up for one of the biggest prizes of the night — song of the year (which recognizes the songwriters, not performers, though there’s often overlap). Named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number, the song aims to uplift in the face of hopelessness (“I want you to be alive / You don’t gotta die,” Logic sings on the hook). That’s usually a good formula for a Grammy win, though Logic — born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II — has tough competition from some of the music industry’s biggest names. (Read the Sun’s profile of Logic from 2013 here.)
The competition: Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, “Despacito (feat. Justin Bieber)”; “Jay-Z, “4:44”; Julia Michaels, “Issues”; Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like.”
Logic is also nominated for best music video for the same track. The clip, directed by Andy Hines and featuring Hollywood stars including Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman, feels like a throwback — a video light on performances and heavy on narrative. Like the song, it addresses serious topics (bullying, sexuality, shame) and ends on a note of optimistic acceptance.
The competition: Beck, “Up All Night”; Jain, “Makeba”; Jay-Z, “The Story of O.J.”; Kendrick Lamar, “Humble.”
Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy”
Best alternative music album
A heady provocateur raised in Rockville, Josh Tillman is now best known as Father John Misty, a talented singer-songwriter whose wide-ranging interviews earn him as many headlines as his music releases. “Pure Comedy” is a 75-minute odyssey down the rabbit hole that is Tillman’s constantly churning mind, exploring topics like technology, fame, love, religion and much more. “Eventually, the dying man takes his final breath / But first checks his newsfeed to see what he’s about to miss,” he sings. The album is also nominated for best recording package. Listen to the album on Spotify here.
The competition: Arcade Fire, “Everything Now”; Gorillaz, “Humanz”; LCD Soundsystem, “American Dream”; The National, “Sleep Well Beast”
Ricardo Valentine (better known as 6lack, pronounced “Black”) spent his first four years in Baltimore before relocating to Atlanta as a child. From there, he has cultivated a murky sound that fits in the pocket between rap and R&B. On Sunday, he’ll be recognized for his debut album “Free 6lack” and the hit single from it, “Prblms” in two highly competitive categories.
The competition (best urban contemporary album): Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love!”; Khalid, “American Teen”; SZA, “Ctrl”; The Weeknd, “Starboy”
One of the most pleasant surprises in rap this past year was “Crew,” a shimmering hit for D.C. rapper Goldlink that felt like a breath of fresh air whenever it came on the radio. While Shy Glizzy, another Washington rapper, steals the show with an exuberant guest verse, the song’s glue is Columbia-raised R&B singer Brent Faiyaz, whose sublime hook feels like a party to itself.
Singer/songwriter and guitarist Raul Midón grew up in New Mexico but now calls Columbia home, according to Baltimore Magazine. Blind since birth, Midón has released nine albums, including 2017’s “Bad Ass and Blind,” which earned him his first Grammy nod this year. Before the awards, Midón will perform at Creative Alliance on Saturday evening.