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What Do ‘Black Panther,’ Childish Gambino Share? A Swede — 4x Grammy Nominee Ludwig Göransson

Black Panther
Marvel/Disney/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

In looking for what “Black Panther” and Childish Gambino have in common, you might not look first to Swedish heritage. But a transplant from that country, composer Ludwig Göransson, managed a surprising and possibly unprecedented coup in this year’s Grammy nominations, earning one nod for his work as a film scorer on “Black Panther,” and three more as Donald Glover’s producing and songwriting partner in Childish Gambino.

Göransson’s “Panther” score  — much of it rooted in the West African sounds he recorded while researching the project — makes its stand in the Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category. In his other life as a member of Childish Gambino, Göransson’s work with Glover pulled in three nominations, two of them for the acclaimed single “This is America,” in the all-genre Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories. The additional Childish Gambino nomination came for “Feels Like Summer” as Best R&B Song.

It’s a major boost for the film composer, whose other screen credits include “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler’s earlier films “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed,” as well as this year’s “Venom” and “Creed II.” Göransson also received a Golden Globe nomination Thursday for his “Black Panther” soundtrack.

Göransson met Coogler at USC, the former studying in the film-scoring program and the latter in the film school. After USC, Göransson became composer for TV’s “Community,” where he met Glover and joined him as a creative partner in Childish Gambino. They performed on last year’s Grammys show, with Göransson playing guitar.

Within the pop realm but straying afield from Childish Gambino, Göransson has worked with acts from Chance the Rapper to HAIM. He was nominated for three Grammys last year, as part of Childish Gambino; this year marks his first time getting a Grammy nomination for his film-scoring day job.

Grammy’s Visual Media categories were the usual mix of 2017 and 2018 releases because of the award’s curious eligibility year, which ends in September. So Göransson’s “Black Panther” soundtrack competes with four scores from last year: John Williams’ “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Alexandre Desplat’s “The Shape of Water” (the Oscar winner last spring), Michael Giacchino’s “Coco” and Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s “Blade Runner 2049.”

Similarly, only one 2018 release is among those nominated for Best Compilation soundtrack: “Deadpool 2.” The others are the song-dominated albums for “Call Me By Your Name,” “The Greatest Showman,” “Lady Bird” and TV’s “Stranger Things.”

Two of the five Best Song nominees are from 2018 releases: Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars,” heard at the end of “Black Panther,” and “Shallow,” the much-touted Lady Gaga song from “A Star Is Born.” The 2017 songs in this category are Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love” from “Call Me By Your Name,” “Remember Me” from “Coco” (the Oscar winner) and “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”

Film composers also dominated the Grammy composing and arranging categories, with John Powell managing nominations for Instrumental Composition (“Mine Mission” from “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” shared with John Williams) and Instrumental Arrangement (“Madrid Finale” from the animated “Ferdinand”); Alexandre Desplat receiving two more nods for his “Shape of Water” score in both Instrumental Composition and Instrumental Arrangement categories; and Terence Blanchard and Alan Silvestri earning Instrumental Composition nods for tracks from their “BlacKkKlansman” and “Avengers: Infinity Wars” soundtracks, respectively.

In addition, keyboardist Randy Waldman scored nominations for two tracks on his “Superheroes” album, both classic TV themes: “Batman” (Instrumental Arrangement) and “Spider-Man” (Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals).