Last year I gave credit to the Grammys for making some efforts to become a more legitimate awards show. It gave me hope that this year would see some more nominations for music that would have previously not gotten attention. While the nominations were not a total disappointment, I am feeling less than enthused about their choices.
I will start with giving credit where it is due. As far as Album of the Year goes, 25 and Lemonade were safe bets and they deserve to be nominated, they were great albums. What caught my attention was the nomination for Sturgill Simpson’s phenomenal A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. It was probably the biggest shock of the nominations but considering how great that album is, I cannot complain.
“Hello” and “Formation” are both fine songs so I do not mind seeing them nominated for Record and Song of the Year. I am also happy to see “Stressed Out” for Record of the Year and “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” for Song of the Year, those were definitely some of the better songs to chart high this year.
Best New Artist was also about as inoffensive as it could have been. While the inclusion of Courtney Barnett last year made me hopeful someone like Margo Price, The 1975 or go really out there for someone like Car Seat Headrest. While that did not happen, Chance the Rapper is an excellent inclusion, who should be a frontrunner, as well as Anderson .Paak who I am glad to see included. Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini are also doing well in their respective genres so their inclusions do not bother me. While I do not care for The Chainsmokers, it only makes sense that they would be here as well.
In the various genre categories there are plenty of good choices sprinkled in. Ariana Grande deserves to get some attention in the pop categories for Dangerous Woman. Flume could dominate in a fairly weak Dance/Electronic field. I do not know how competitive the metal category will be but Baroness’ “Shock Me” does deserve to be where it is.
In the rock categories, Beyonce’s nomination for her Jack White collaboration is a bold choice that I will not argue with. While it was not my favorite on the album, “Blackstar” getting some rock nominations will be the one to beat, it is a great song. The same goes for Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch.”
For Best Rock Album, I am glad Weezer got in for their latest self-titled album. While flawed, Cage the Elephant’s Tell Me I’m Pretty and Panic! At the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor were both fun and deserve some attention, even if there were better albums that were snubbed. Best Alternative Album was a rare perfect category where every record deserves to be included. It should be a toss-up between David Bowie’s Blackstar and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, both of which deserved to be up for Album of the Year. Bon Iver, PJ Harvey and Iggy Pop’s nominations are also all great, as well.
My praise needs to end there, as these nominations represent how little the Grammys actually care about the quality of what they nominate. For Album of the Year, how does Justin Bieber get in over David Bowie and Radiohead? How does Drake get his first Album of the Year nod for his worst album? These are gross decisions and I do not understand how the Grammys can justify it.
While I gave them some praise in my initial review for them, my opinion on Lukas Graham has soured quickly. “7 Years” does not deserve to be nominated over something like “Lazarus” by David Bowie for Song of the Year and it sure does not belong anywhere near Record of the Year. Say what you want about it, the song is a simply constructed song and there are actually hundreds of more eligible songs that should have gotten in. Also, nominating “Work” for Record of the Year despite the beat actually being incomplete is pure laziness on the Grammy’s part.
Despite getting on nomination for Best R&B Performance, Solange’s A Seat at the Table deserved to receive greater attention. While I understand The Getaway by the Red Hot Chili Peppers not getting a nod for Best Rock Album, “Dark Necessities” deserved to be nominated for Best Rock Song.
In the rap categories, Kendrick Lamar getting shut out makes no sense considering the attention he got at last year’s awards. While not near the quality of To Pimp a Butterfly, Untitled Unmastered deserved to be nominated more than DJ Khaled, Drake, Schoolboy Q and Kanye West’s albums.
While I understand that he intentionally did not submit any music, the lack of Frank Ocean is still hard to see. Honestly, considering how these nominations went, I would be shocked if he had done well anyway. I know he has his own personal reasons for not wanting to be nominated, but seeing Blonde up for Album of the Year, or Endless up for one of the video awards, or even just seeing “Ivy” get in somewhere would have added to the overall quality of these nominations.
I understand the logic in most of these nominations, it will help to get more eyes on the television for the show. I just hope that next year’s nominations feel a little less calculated and more based on merit. The voters still seem to be clearly out of touch with what people who care about the art of music. There are already plenty of music award shows that can put more of a spotlight on mainstream artists. We just had the American Music Awards last month, we do not need a repeat with the Grammys. I just hope that the few songs and albums that were nominated get to go home with the trophies, but if last year’s Meghan Trainor win taught us anything, it is that the Grammys can be cruel to worthy winners.