David Bowie, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, and more were overlooked

By Kevin O'DonnellNolan FeeneyEric Renner BrownJessica Goodman and Madison Vain
December 06, 2016 at 07:52 PM EST
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Credit: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images; Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

The Recording Academy announced the 59th annual Grammy nominations early Tuesday morning. And not surprisingly, Beyoncé and Adele emerged as big contenders.Other artists who scored several nominations included Drake, Rihanna, and Chance the Rapper, while country newcomers Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris each picked up nods for Best New Artist.

But as always, the deciding body seemed to get a few things wrong. No love for Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home”? And how come David Bowie wasn’t honored in any of the major categories? Below, EW’s music team breaks down some of the biggest snubs of this year’s Grammy nominations.

Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop the Feeling”

The pop star dominated airwaves and earbuds this year with “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” a Max Martin-produced earworm that’s spent 30 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100. While the track was released as a tie-in for this summer’s Trolls movie, its cultural impact in 2016 went beyond the multiplex; Timberlake certainly deserved Grammy recognition in the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories. Instead, he was offered a paltry Best Song Written for Visual Media nomination. –Kevin O’Donnell

Rihanna, ANTI

Rihanna was hardly ignored this year: Her excellent eighth LP, ANTI was recognized for Best R&B Urban Contemporary Album, while her collab with on-again-off-again beau Drake, “Work,” got a nod for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. “Needed Me” was called for Best R&B Performance, “Kiss It Better” was nominated for Best R&B Song, and her feature on Kanye West’s “Famous” landed her in the running for Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Rap Song. But the best DGAF album from our most DGAF star should have found its way into the Album of the Year race. –M.V.

Fifth Harmony, “Work From Home”

With lyrics like “Let’s put it into motion/ I’mma give you a promotion,” Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” probably wasn’t on anyone’s shortlist for a Song of the Year nomination. But Record of the Year? That’s another story. From its massive, bone-shaking beat to the weird little squeaky sound effects on the second verse, it’s a shame that producers like Ammo and DallasK aren’t getting recognition for assembling one of the hardest-hitting, most hypnotizing club-bangers of the year. Someone tell the Recording Academy they forgot to put in work, work, work, work, work on this one. — Nolan Feeney

David Bowie, Blackstar

Grammy voters have never been kind to the Thin White Duke. In his almost five decades as one of rock and roll’s most visionary artists, he’s only taken home one award in a competitive category: Best Video, Short Form for 1985’s Jazzin’ for Blue Jean. (He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, however.) And while Bowie’s final album Blackstar got nominations in the Best Alternative Music Album, Best Rock Performance, and Best Rock Song categories, it should have been a contender for Album of the Year: Blackstar isn’t just one of the best albums of 2016, it’s one of Bowie’s finest creative statements period. — K.O.

Margo Price, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter

Margo Price had one of the buzziest debuts of 2016 with Midwest Farmer’s Daughter — a gorgeous sprawl of throwback country, honky-tonk, R&B, and rock. She wasn’t afraid to slam the Nashville music scene with lyrics like “It’s who you’ll blow that’ll get you in the show,” so it wasn’t a huge surprise she found herself essentially shut out from the country radio this year. But that shouldn’t have kept the Recording Academy at bay. Price deserved a look for Best Country Album. –M.V.

Kaytranada, 99.9%

The 24-year-old Canadian broke out in 2016 with his acclaimed studio debut 99.9%. The project deftly blends hip-hop (the Vic Mensa-assisted “Drive Me Crazy”), R&B (“Got It Good”), and electronica (“Track Uno”) for nearly an hour of forward-thinking, infectious dance music. Kaytranada isn’t going anywhere — two of his best beats of the year, for “All Night” and “Lite Weight,” appeared on albums by Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak, respectively — but this eclectic masterpiece deserved recognition. –Eric Renner Brown

Selena Gomez, Revival

Selena Gomez laid her vulnerabilities bare on last year’s slinky, breathy collection — her first since leaving Disney for Interscope. And with soaring pop ballads (“Sober”), a feature from A$AP Rocky (“Good For You”), and a ton of sexy whispers (“Hands to Myself,” “Same Old Love”), Gomez’s new sound upended the world’s expectations of this former child star. But the Recording Academy left her out of the nominations, entirely, when she deserved nods in categories like Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. –Jessica Goodman

“Hotline Bling” music video

Drake’s booty call heard round the world was honored in the Best Rap/ Sung Performance and Best Rap song categories but the meme-worthy music video, which became an internet sensation last year, was shut out of the Best Music Video category, leaving Drake and his turtleneck without a chance to walk away with a trophy for those impeccable dance moves. — J.G.

Ariana Grande, “Into You”

The pop star’s 2016 album Dangerous Woman may not have been a thrill from start to finish, but it did feature “Into You,” one of the catchiest songs of the year. She deserved props in the Song and Record of the Year categories. –K.O.

Frank Ocean, Blonde

Kanye West said earlier this year that he would boycott the Grammy awards if Frank Ocean wasn’t nominated. And while Ocean was not, in fact, nominated for anything on Tuesday morning — Kanye West can still attend. Ocean explained that he was giving the event two middle fingers way up last month in an interview with the New York Times. Arguing that the Academy has not fairly represented black artists over the years, he said, “That institution certainly has nostalgic importance. It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.” — M.V.

Beyoncé, “Daddy Lessons”

Sure, Bey was nominated nine (NINE!) times for her showstopping visual album Lemonade and the songs that appear on it, but one track, in particular, was left without honors: The dark, brooding sing-along “Daddy Lessons.” The country landscape was stacked with entries from artists like Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, and Thomas Rhett, but Bey’s venture into an unfamiliar genre was a slam-dunk success — hell, she even performed the tune with the Dixie Chicks at the CMA Awards — and would have been right at home in the Best Country Song category. –J.G.

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