Earlier today, the nominations for the 2016 Grammy awards were announced and while they are not perfect, but are awards ever perfect, they show that the Grammys have been making strides towards becoming more legitimate as an awards show. Instead of voting for artists that have been commercially successful, we see many smaller, critically acclaimed artists getting attention. The decision to nominate acts like Alabama Shakes, Chris Stapleton, and Courtney Barnett in the top four categories over more commercially successful artists like Drake, Fetty Wap, and Foo Fighters was definitely a nice change.
That obviously is not to say that there were not some poor decisions made with these nominees. One big snub is Hozier, who was completely shut out, which is shocking seeing that he would have fit perfectly in the Best New Artist category, and is more deserving than Meghan Trainor or Sam Hunt. The same goes for Walk the Moon who I was excited to see get something, but sadly it seems they were not able to make a big enough splash to be recognized. His excellent self-titled album was also eligible, yet did not get noticed. I was also upset to see Twenty One Pilots and their album Blurryface could not get into any of the alternative categories. And while this is not shocking, I was hoping Sufjan Stevens would finally be able to get his first Grammy nomination after releasing the heartbreaking and brilliant Carrie & Lowell but sadly he must continue his wait.
Besides for snubs, some of the nominees were very questionable. As you can probably tell, I am not a fan of Sam Hunt and I am hoping that he does not rule the country categories. And, while it was inevitable, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” is filling up a Song of the Year slot that could have gone to something a little more deserving. But I understand that the song was a huge hit and a tribute to Paul Walker so it makes sense why it is here. I also was not blown away by any of Kelly Clarkson’s work this year and am actually a little surprised to see her taking the Pop category spots I assumed were going to Walk the Moon. I was also disappointed to see Muse’s Drones getting in for Best Rock Album but that category seemed overall underwhelming this year anyway.
Besides those gripes, I was very impressed with this year’s nominees. First of all, Kendrick Lamar received the most nominations by far with 11. Since To Pimp a Butterfly is nearly universally acclaimed by critics, this is not surprising but I was still very happy he did as well as he did. Pretty much all of the Album of the Year nominees are deserving. Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd and 1989 by Taylor Swift were going to be nominated for having both critical and commercial success. On the less commercial side, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller received a deserved nod most likely due to its surprise success at the CMAs and Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color got in to add plenty of diversity.
There were a few major surprises that I found to be a welcome surprise. The first one being D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s “Really Love” nominated for Record of the Year. D’Angelo also got nods in the Best R&B Song and Album, for last year’s incredible Black Messiah. Another huge shock was Courtney Barnett for Best New Artist. Barnett had a great year with her smart debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Also another worthy nominee here is James Bay who also got nominated in the Rock Categories for his album Chaos and the Calm and his song “Hold Back the River.” I was also surprised to see Florence + The Machine to get nominations in the Pop categories for her album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. While I really enjoyed the album I would think it fair better in the Alternative album category. I also found it interesting that her song “Ship to Wreck” got nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance but “What Kind of Man” received a nominated for Best Rock Performance.
Just to wrap things up, I was glad with how many of my favorite albums of this year received nominations. Tame Impala’s Currents was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album, Jamie XX’ In Colour got in got Best Dance/Electronic Album, Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free for Best Americana Album and Miguel’s Wildheart for Best Urban Contemporary Album, to name a few. I am glad the Grammys have been thinking outside the box when it comes to nominating and hope this trend continues. And if last year’s Beck upset over Beyoncé taught us anything it is that any of these deserving nominees could become winners so look out.