"I'm the New Sinatra": Jay-Z and Ol' Blue Eyes, Snubbed by the Grammys 60 Years Apart

The Grammy Awards turned 60 years old this year, with the first ceremony—honoring the achievements of musicians in 1958—having taken place in May 1959. Still buzzing from the festivities last night, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at the successes and snubs from ‘58 alongside today’s winners.

Going into the ceremony that first year, Frank Sinatra was, rather unsurprisingly, the most-nominated musician of the night, with a total of six nods. This year, Jay-Z held that position, with a total of eight nominations. But despite high expectations, neither artist left the Grammys as decorated as they had entered.

Frank Sinatra at the 1st Annual Grammy Awards, 1959

Sinatra managed to snag his first Grammy as, of all things, an art director, with his Only the Lonely winning for Best Album Cover. But while the Academy recognized Ol' Blue Eyes in clown makeup as a good look, it snubbed the music itself.

Only the Lonely is an album of haunted beauty, full of heartbroken torch songs informed by Sinatra's recent divorce from Ava Gardner. The plaintive orchestral arrangements were written by Nelson Riddle, who lost his daughter just six months before the recording and lost his mother during the making of the album. Sinatra, famous for living the high life, never sounded so low. And the orchestra's harmonies seem to open deep pits beneath him, letting him sink even lower.

Inexcusably, the Academy instead awarded Album of the Year to Henry Mancini's The Music from Peter Gunn—a TV show soundtrack whose main theme is still recognizable but which is otherwise full of unremarkable West Coast pop-jazz.

In 2009's "Empire State of Mind" Jay-Z said, "I'm the new Sinatra," and unfortunately for him at last night's Grammy Awards, he turned out to be right. Hov's latest album, 4:44 was up for Album of the Year, but it lost to Bruno Mars' 24k Magic. To add further insult, Mars' "That's What I Like" also won Song of the Year against Jay-Z's title track. Whether or not 4:44 will turn out to be as exalted as Only the Lonely, only time will tell. Mars would end up winning six Grammys in total, making him the most-awarded musician of the night. Jay-Z did not win any.

Bruno Mars at the Grammy Awards, 2018

Though the Grammy's first show only featured 28 categories (as compared to today’s 80-plus), other big winners included Ella Fitzgerald—in the categories of Best Vocal Performance, Female and Best Jazz Performance, Individual—and Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who won the Best Recording for Children and Best Comedy Performance for "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)." That Bagdasarian named the Chipmunks after record executives Alvin Bennett, Simon Waronker, and Theodore Keep may have helped his chances.

As for last night, Kendrick Lamar closely followed Mars in number of wins, sweeping all four of the rap categories and taking home Best Music Video as well. Lamar also had the honor of opening the show, which he did with a conceptual performance of his song "XXX" with Bono, the Edge, and Dave Chapelle. Another notable performance of the night came when Kesha was joined on stage by Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha, and Andra Day for an emotional rendition of her hit "Praying."

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