Pharrell Willliams, Labrinth (pictured) and Isabella Summers of Florence & The Machine could all wind up with Emmys this year. So, for that matter, could Ingrid Michaelson, Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor and veteran pop producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
All were among nominees in the music categories as the Television Academy announced the nominations for the 72nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards for work in TV during the 2019-20 season.
This year’s crop was the most diverse in memory. More than one-fourth of all the music nominees are people of color, and more than half are first-time nominees for television’s highest honor.
Said Academy governor Rickey Minor, who’s nominated twice this year for his music direction of “The Oscars” and “The Kennedy Center Honors”: “Living through this time in our history, has made us all awaken to the truth that we — as a humanity — are all the same. The inclusive list of this years Emmy nominees reflects and celebrates our diversity and the commitment we have made for the future. It’s an honor to be nominated.”
What’s surprising about the number of nominees from the pop, rock and rap world is that they’re not all in the song category. Labrinth is nominated for his score for HBO’s “Euphoria” as well as for a song in its last episode; Reznor and his scoring partner Atticus Ross are nominated for the score of HBO’s “Watchmen” as well as for a song in its sixth episode.
Summers is nominated (along with scoring partner Mark Isham) for the underscore of Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere,” while Michaelson is up for best song from that series’ final episode. The RZA has been nominated for his theme for Hulu’s “Wu-Tang: An American Saga.” Williams is also up for best song (for the documentary “The Black Godfather”), while Jam and Lewis are, along with co-nominee Sheila E., up for best music direction for the CBS special “Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince.”
Composer Nathan Barr received three nominations, most of any today, for his score and theme for Netflix’s “Hollywood” and his theme for Amazon’s “Carnival Row.” His reaction probably echoes that of most of today’s nominees: “To be nominated with so many other amazingly talented composers is a huge win in itself. It’s gratifying to have all those hours and days spent in the studio seen and heard and acknowledged.”
Barr is a TV veteran, but some of his competitors hail from the film world. Joining Reznor and Ross among past Oscar winners (“The Social Network”) vying for their first Emmy is Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”), whose music for the Disney+ “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian” was among the year’s most talked-about.
And Pinar Toprak, whose “Captain Marvel” score last year made her the most successful female composer in terms of box office, received her first Emmy nomination for her documentary score (shared with Alex Kovacs) for HBO’s “McMillion$.” And Mark Mothersbaugh, the ex-Devo band member long active in films, is represented (along with frequent collaborators John Enroth and Albert Fox) for his score for the wildly popular Netflix series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”
Double nominees, in addition to Minor, Labrinth, Reznor and Ross, include Laura Karpman, for her theme and score for the Discovery documentary “Why We Hate”; and Australian-born, Paris-based Antonio Gambale for his theme and score for the Netflix limited series “Unorthodox.”
Perennial favorite “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” received nominations for both original song (Thomas Mizer and Curtis Moore’s “One Less Angel”) and for its music supervision, which has won the last two years in a row (supervisor Robin Urdang and series producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino).
Prize for the most outrageous song among this year’s nominees goes to HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” for its stunningly profane “Eat Shit, Bob,” aimed at a coal tycoon who dared to sue the talk-show host.
Previous Emmy winners hoping to score again this year include Nicholas Britell, who won last year for his “Succession” theme and is up for a “Succession” score; Isham, who last won in 1997 for “EZ Streets”; and “Saturday Night Live” music director Eli Brueggemann, his eighth nomination for that series (he won in 2018).
For the estimated 600 composers, songwriters and music supervisors in Emmy’s Music Peer Group, choosing the final nominees has become more difficult than ever. More than 300 programs were entered in the seven music categories, and it’s impossible to see and evaluate them all. So those finally chosen often represent those shows which were most watched and most liked.
Fantasy and science fiction, for example, were again mostly overlooked, with such talked-about scores from “His Dark Materials,” “The Dark Crystal,” “Tales From the Loop,” “The Witcher,” “Dracula, “Black Mirror” and “Star Trek: Picard” all missing from the final nomination list.