Lorde and Taylor Swift are in good company
The 2018 Grammy nominations are out — and not all of your favorites got their due. (Sorry!) Childish Gambino, JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and more emerged as heavily favored contenders, each landing in the coveted Album of the Year category, but it wasn’t long before eyebrows began rising. Taylor Swift’s “Better Man,” released by Little Big Town, isn’t up for Song of the Year? Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory isn’t up for Best Rap Album? Lorde is nominated for Album of the Year but not in the pop category? (And Coldplay is in her place with an EP?)
Below, EW breaks down the biggest surprise omissions from the 60th annual Grammy nominations.
(P.S. Before anyone starts screaming “Drake!” at their screen: He didn’t submit his 2017 playlist, More Life. It wasn’t ignored.)
Taylor Swift, “Better Man” (performed by Little Big Town) for Song of the Year
Less than a month after winning the CMA Award for Song of the Year for “Better Man,” which Little Big Town dropped this past February, Taylor Swift didn’t find herself in the same category for the upcoming 2018 Grammys. (Reputation is not eligible given its November release date.) And that’s a shame because the Music City ceremony got it right. “Better Man” is everything that Swift — the most deft songwriter of her generation — does right: woefully cathartic, dear-diary lyrics and a gooey hook that latches on a sweetly sung, stinging insult. —Madison Vain
Jack Antonoff, Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
It’s true that some of Antonoff’s best work this year — on the St. Vincent album, on the Pink album, on the Taylor Swift album — didn’t come out during the eligibility window, and maybe he’ll get his due next year. But considering his instrumental role in helping craft one of the Album of the Year contenders (that’s Lorde’s Melodrama) as well as the megahit “I Don’t Want to Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker),” which got a Best Song Written for Visual Media, his absence here is surprising. And while it’s not a shock that the Stereotypes were nominated on the back of two Bruno Mars songs, the other songs in the body of work that clinched their nomination — including Iggy Azalea’s “Bounce” and Fifth Harmony’s “Deliver” — don’t feel nearly as essential in 2017. —Nolan Feeney
Lorde, Melodrama, Best Pop Vocal Album
How do you get a nomination for the overall Album of the Year category and then not get one for the best album in your genre? We can’t make sense of it — and neither, we’re sure, can Lorde, whose excellent 2017 LP rightly found itself in the AOY bracket, but then was beat out for Best Pop Vocal Album by the likes of Imagine Dragons and a Coldplay EP. Tsk, tsk. —M.V.
Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings, Album of the Year, Best Country Album
Nashville’s gutsiest female released her gutsiest record to date at the end of 2016 — a sprawling, 24-track emotional exorcism that followed her very public divorce from Blake Shelton — but it went largely ignored by the Recording Academy on Tuesday morning, earning neither a Best Country Album nod or, as many predicted it would, an Album of the Year nomination. That it was released a full year ago now certainly didn’t help its case, but its omission as a collection is desperately wrong. —M.V.
Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory, Best Rap Album
Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar — who’ve taken home Best Rap Album in the past two years, respectively — get touted as the future of hip-hop, and rightfully so. But Staples, the 24-year-old Californian MC, deserves similar recognition. In the same way that Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Chance’s Coloring Book revitalized the genre by infusing it with jazz and gospel, reflectively, Staples incorporated a forward-thinking selection of electronic sounds for the year’s most adventurous hip-hop record. (He even joked earlier this month that Big Fish Theory could’ve competed in the electronic category.) His verses were also among the smartest, funniest, and best delivered of 2017. Bonus points for assembling Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn, Lamar, and the electro producer Flume on the same album. —Eric Renner Brown
Harry Styles, Harry Styles
In the middle of a massively sold-out and still-expanding tour supporting his critically-acclaimed solo debut, Harry Styles had a surprisingly quiet Tuesday morning. The singer wasn’t eligible for the Best New Artist category given his history with One Direction, but his self-titled debut — which delighted in its blend of throwback rock sounds and contemporary pop melodies — deserved recognition elsewhere. Perhaps it was the genre-agnosticism that ultimately underserved it, making the effort an imperfect fit in the pop-specific or rock-specific brackets. —M.V.
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, Album of the Year
JAY-Z and Kendrick Lamar both received Album of the Years nods for the upcoming Grammys — the first time multiple rap albums have been nominated for the category since 2014, when Lamar and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis appeared. But even so, the Recording Academy glaringly overlooked another key hip-hop act: A Tribe Called Quest. We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service checked all sorts of boxes. For one, there’s the narrative: The seminal group’s final album followed an 18-year studio hiatus and came months after founding member Phife Dawg’s death. Plus, with an arrival just three days after President Donald Trump’s election, the record’s political messages took on new meaning. Moreover, the excellent album — 16 heady jazz-rap cuts that make an hour breeze by — features a who’s who of contemporary music that seemed tailored for the Academy: Kanye West, Elton John, Jack White, André 3000, Anderson .Paak, and Lamar all appear. And because this year’s slate of Album of the Year nominees skews startlingly young, A Tribe Called Quest would’ve been a viable legacy nomination. —E.R.B.