First, something positive: Despite the lack of love shown for the artists and releases below, the Recording Academy got more right this year than they have in recent memory. In an era that contains little in the way of cultural consensus, the nominations for the 58th annual Grammy Awards do a fairly excellent job of reflecting what was actually happening in the music world over the past 12 months or so (save for the juggernaut that is Adele, who will have to wait until the 2017 show to be properly feted for the jaw-dropping series of victories that is 25). Even if you disagree with the bulk of the nominations, you can at least take solace in the fact that no matter who takes home the Album of the Year prize, there’s no chance of an embarrassing Steely Dan or Herbie Hancock situation.
Still, even with all the right calls, the Grammy nominations still contain an alarming number of snubs. So let’s toss our hands up in rage and confusion while we observe the biggest snubs of this year’s Grammys. Be sure to let us know your snubs down below or on Twitter.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen doesn’t have the same kind of commercial clout as Taylor Swift or the Weeknd, but pound for pound, there were few pop releases as consistently rewarding as Jepsen’s EMOTION. It’s also been one of the best written-about albums of the year, growing and revealing itself with every listen. Plus, Jepsen deserves bonus points for handling the pressure of following up a ubiquitous smash like “Call Me Maybe” with confidence and defiance. Album of the Year would probably be too much to ask, but our favorite Canadian can’t get a Best Pop look?
It’s weird to complain about Elle King, whose ascendant single “Ex’s & Oh’s” was nominated for Best Rock Performance. But considering how her debut album Love Stuff is the ideal combination of professional execution, songwriting excitement, and chart success, it’s shocking she didn’t score a nomination for Best New Artist. Plus, considering King simultaneously exists in the rock, pop, and country worlds, it would not have been surprising to see her show up in any of those individual categories or even under Album of the Year.
You could easily fill the Album of the Year category with the series of game-changing hip-hop albums that have landed in the last year. In addition to the 11-time nominated Kendrick Lamar’s Top Pimp A Butterfly, there’s Rae Sremmurd’s adrenal Sremmlife, Drake’s thoughtfully dreamy If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and Vince Staples’ gutsy debut Summertime ’06. But after Lamar, the best hip-hop anybody heard all year came from A$AP Rocky, whose second full-length At.Long.Last.A$AP was not only denied a place in the general categories but also in the rap section. (Rocky has a single nomination for Best Music Video.) Drake got himself five nominations, but the denial of the rest of the above releases—particularly Rocky’s—shows that the Recording Academy is still a step or two behind on hip-hop.
Damon Albarn is no stranger to the Grammys, though almost all of his noms (and his single victory) have come as part of Gorillaz. His original band made a stunning comeback this year with The Magic Whip, which managed to marry their Britpop roots with their noisier, more experimental tendencies better than just about anything in their catalog. But they got no love from any of the rock categories, and their absence from Best Alternative is particularly galling.
You could actually look above, swap out out the name “Blur” and insert “Sleater-Kinney” and get pretty much the same narrative. One of the most important bands of the ’90s returned stronger than ever after a near-decade hiatus from recording, and their No Cities To Love pulsated and swayed with a remarkable balance of cocksure aggression and weary wisdom. The denial of their album in either the Rock or Alternative categories (not to mention the awesome Bob’s Burgers-assisted music video for “A New Wave”) is mildly enraging.
Most Every Good Metal Band
It’s cool that the Academy has discovered the greatness of Swedish Goth ghouls Ghost, the rest of the nominees are a laughable collection of also-rans and not-at-alls. It wouldn’t be a problem if metal wasn’t operating at such a high level at the moment. It may be commercially invisible, but the music being made by acts like High on Fire, Torche, Royal Thunder, At the Gates, and dozens of others totally dwarfs the tired grinding of Slipknot or Lamb of God.
Fetty Wap’s signature single got nods in two of the rap categories, but how does 2015’s most infectious and subversive crossover tune not get entry Record or Song of the Year parties? Plus, Fetty has himself a great underdog narrative—the kind of story the Grammys cabal loves to tell. And how is Fetty not a Best New Artist nominee?