×

Grammy Nominations: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Every year, in the hours after the nominees for the Grammy Awards are announced, howls of outrage can be heard across the globe. “He/She was/They were robbed!” “Who is he/she/they?” “This is BS!” The ranks of the disgruntled are endless.

While the winners are a whole other conversation, it’s fair to say that the Grammys’ list of nominees has become increasingly and impressively diverse in recent years, at least when one considers the fact that the awards aim for consensus and thus are, by nature, “middle of the road.” With all of that in mind, they never lose their ability to surprise, and there is no shortage of surprises and snubs in this year’s nominee list.

SURPRISES

Brandi who? H.E. who?
There’s little question that the biggest surprises are the big looks for veteran singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile — who has a whopping six nominations, second only to perennials Kendrick Lamar and Drake — and R&B newcomer H.E.R., who has five, along with superstars Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Childish Gambino. While both saw their number boosted with genre categories, both are up for Album of the Year; Carlile is also up for Record and Song of the Year and H.E.R. for Best New Artist.

Kacey is still country
Just a few years after Taylor Swift publicly transitioned from being a country artist to a pop artist, we see Kacey Musgraves making a similar move with her “Golden Hour” album, but still has nominations in the country category — something that did not happen with Swift’s “1989.”

Rebellion in Best Music Video
Interestingly, the most politically outspoken category is probably Best Music Video: We have not just two expected nominees — Jay-Z and Beyonce’s “Apesh—“ and Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” — but also Janelle Monae’s wildly same-sex-centic “Pynk,” newcomer Terra Whack’s “Mumbo Jumbo” and rapper Joyner Lucas’ “I’m Not a Racist.” Incidentally, all of the nominated artists in this category are people of color.

Many Best New Artist nominees are actually new!
The four top categories (Best Album, Song and Record of the Year and Best New Artist) were all expanded from five nominees to eight, and the change is most obvious in Best New Artist. There, along with widely recognized artists like Dua Lipa, Bebe Rexha and Greta Van Fleet we also have H.E.R. (see above), young R&B duo Chloe x Halle, country singer Luke Combs and 21-year-old British R&B singer Jorja Smith, who is quite famous in her home country but considerably less recognized in the U.S., despite rapturous reviews (including one from Variety). Oddly, however, there are no rappers in the category.

SNUBS
Taylor draws a short straw
There’s little question that the biggest snub goes to 10-time Grammy winner and 31-time nominee Taylor Swift, who has just one nod for her controversial “Reputation” album — even Bradley Cooper, nominated twice for “Shallow,” his duet with Lady Gaga from “A Star Is Born,” has more. While the album definitely challenged some longtime fans with its more-controversial music and tone, this may actually reflect a move for change within the Academy’s nominating committees, as Swift has dominated the Grammys in many past years.

Soundcloud/Emo rappers shut out
However you want to term it, the emo/Soundcloud rap associated with artists like Juice Wrld, Tekashi 6ix9ine, Lil Pump and the late XXXTentacion and Lil Peep has been the fastest-rising genre of recent years — yet those artists are completely absent from this year’s nominations, and no rappers at all are up for Best New Artist.

Just two nods for Ariana, Camila, Dua, Bebe
A wave of young female pop singers has hit the charts in recent years, and four of the leading lights are Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Dua Lipa and Bebe Rexha. Yet each has just two nominations, generally in pop categories, where many were predicting Best Album or Song or Record nods. It is especially surprising to see Grande and Cabello shut out of the big categories, as both had No. 1 albums and ubiquitous singles this year, particularly Cabello’s smash “Havana.”

More Music

  • Garth Brooks Brings Blake Shelton to

    Garth Brooks Brings Blake Shelton to Boise for a Beer-and-Tears Stadium Gig (Watch)

    “I was singing with Garth Brooks! I’m freaking out!” said Blake Shelton, shortly after joining his fellow Okie on stage in Boise, Idaho Friday night. Shelton had flown out to the first of Brooks’ two nights at Albertsons Stadium to shoot a live music video for “Dive Bar,” the recently recorded duet that Brooks just [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • Ryan Adams Sexual Harassment

    Ryan Adams Re-Emerges After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

    Singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, who was blasted with accusations of sexual misconduct earlier this year, including inappropriate texting with a minor, re-emerged on social media with a long post early Saturday. “I have a lot to say. I am going to. Soon,” he wrote. “Because the truth matters. I know who I am. What I am. [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Black Ball

    President Trump Speaks in Support of A$AP Rocky (Watch)

    UPDATED: In one of the more surreal moments from a presidency filled with few not-surreal moments, President Trump spoke out today in support of rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been jailed in Sweden for more than two weeks after an altercation with fans he said were harassing him. “A$AP Rocky is a situation in Sweden, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content