No Maren Morris, lots of Lil Nas X, and more snubs and surprises from the 2020 Grammy nominations
The annual Grammy nominations announcement usually sparks a spirited debate over genre categorizations and how the Recording Academy is completely out of touch with the general public. While the 2020 nods may generate some of that discussion, they’re not quite as rage-inducing as they have been in years past. Just look at the top of the list, which features three of-the-moment, first-time nominees in Lizzo (eight nods), Billie Eilish (six), and Lil Nas X (six). Elsewhere, Taylor Swift misses, Yola hits, and Bruce Springsteen is nowhere to be seen. (And for kooky match-ups look no further than the Best Spoken Word Album category where former first lady Michelle Obama will duke it out with John Waters.) They’re all a part of EW’s Grammy nominations snubs and surprises, which you can read below. The 62nd Grammy Awards will be televised on CBS on Jan. 26 with Alicia Keys returning to host.
SNUB: The Grammys still calm over Taylor Swift
The archer may be adjusting its aim at a new target. While this year didn’t feature quite the same bloodletting for Taylor that the 2019 Grammy nominations did (she received only one last year, in the Best Pop Vocal Album category, for Reputation), the 2020 nods aren’t the return-to-form that many expected. In August, Swift released an acclaimed album in Lover, but she received only three nominations for it, including just one from the major categories (“Lover” for Song of the Year).
SURPRISE: Lil Nas X’s not so lil nomination
One of the biggest music stories of the year was the rise of Lil Nas X. The rapper’s impossibly catchy song-turned TikTok meme-turned-breakaway hit “Old Town Road” not only helped usher in our current era of cowboy chic, it also sat atop the Hot 100 for a record-breaking 19 weeks. But, and with all due respect to Billy Ray Cyrus’ Maserati, it’s shocking to see the rapper’s EP, 7, with an Album of the Year nomination. “Old Town Road” may have been 2019’s ubiquitous crowd-pleaser but 7 was the opposite: an underwhelming and undercooked effort from a musician searching in vain for a sound that works (or, as Brian Josephs wrote for EW, “It’s not the work of a star, but of a timid upstart, which happens when you hide yourself with enough memes”).
SURPRISE: Praise Yola
The rising British singer-songwriter managed to snag a total of four nominations, including the coveted Best New Artist nod. It’s a much-deserved accomplishment for Yola, whose solo album, Walk Through Fire and lead single “Faraway Look,” received critical acclaim but less commercial success. Her other three nominations come in the Grammys’ Roots categories (Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots songs, Best Americana Album).
SNUB: The lack of Rosalía
Last weekend, the Spanish singer won three of the five categories in which she was nominated at the Latin Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for her 2018 record El Mal Querer. The stakes at the 2020 Grammys will be decidedly lower, having racked up only two nominations: Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album along with Best New Artist, thus continuing the long Grammys trend of nominating musicians in the New Artist category despite the fact that they’re not new (Rosalía’s first record, Los ángeles, came out in 2017). It’s unfortunate Rosalía’s quick ascent on the American music scene didn’t get more recognition here.
(SORTA) SURPRISE: “Truth Hurts,” or everything old is new
Fun fact: Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” one of the biggest songs of 2019, is actually two years old. Not that that mattered to the Recording Academy, which bestowed it with Song and Record of the Year nods. So how is a track that came out in 2017 eligible for the 2020 ceremony? Well, because it was never submitted for Grammy contention when it first dropped, and because it appeared on a new album this year, Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You.
SNUB: Where is Maren Morris?
The country singer has become a Grammy favorite over the last two years, having racked up 10 nominations since the 2017 ceremony and winning one for her single “My Church.” Yet she appears only once on the 2020 list, with a Best Country Duo/Group Performance nod for her song “Common” with Brandi Carlile. It’s pretty shocking her second full-length Girl — which just won Album of the Year at the CMAs — didn’t get any additional love.
SURPRISE: Grammys are … for the children?
The Recording Academy has always struggled to shake its dinosaur reputation (see: not wanting to televise the award for Best Rap Album, Herbie Hancock winning Album of the Year in 2008, Neil Portnow telling female musicians to “step up” if they want to be nominated more, etc.). Which is why it’s so surprising to see a new vanguard of artists with the most nominations for 2020. Lizzo, Billie Eilish, and Lil Nas X snagged a combined 20 nods, with the latter two being nominated in all four major categories, a first for the Grammys.
SNUB: Goodbye sunshine, Bruce Springsteen
Apparently Sleepy Joe’s Cafe regulars lost their ballots in the mail. Though Western Stars, Bruce’s first album of original material since 2012, received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and was backed by a feature-length film directed by the Boss himself, Springsteen came up short in Grammy nods this year, with a grand total of zero. Not that it should matter to him: the rocker already has 20 golden gramophones at home to keep him company.
SURPRISE: Tanya Tucker gets her nominations while she’s livin’
The veteran country star mounted an incredibly endearing, and overdue, comeback in 2019 to reclaim her legacy. Powered by producers — and newly minted Grammy favorites — Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, Tucker netted four nominations including Song of the Year for While I’m Livin’s elegiac single “Bring My Flowers Now.”