Both ’80s icons returned in huge ways this year with new albums: Madonna, touting her dance-heavy 13th effort Rebel Heart; and Prince, with Tidal exclusive HITNRUN Phase One. But lo and behold, neither could muster any love from the academy (save for Madge collaborator Diplo, whose work on Heart helped nab him recognition for producer of the year).
It’s one of the most ubiquitous songs of the moment, but Drake’s viral hip-hop smash wasn’t submitted for Grammys consideration, despite its July release (well before the Sept. 30 eligibility cutoff). Still, the Toronto rapper has other contenders in Energy and Back to Back, as well as rap album hopeful If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
Swift, The Weeknd and Ed Sheeran cleaned house in key categories, but many of their pop peers were left in the lurch. Selena Gomez (Good For You), Demi Lovato (Cool For The Summer), Rihanna (B*** Better Have My Money) and Jason Derulo (Want to Want Me) were among the high-profile artists who didn’t see gold from Monday’s nominations. Even Justin Bieber — featured on Jack Ü’s best dance recording nominee, Where Are Ü Now — couldn’t find footing for his own What Do You Mean?
The Grammys liked the folk-pop tune enough to have Kanye West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney perform it on February’s telecast. So it’s anybody’s guess why voters bypassed the easygoing hit and instead heaped praise on Kanye’s polarizing All Day. (Maybe they’re sick of waiting for ANTI, too.)
The academy didn’t pass up the chance to nominate Sonic Highways, which saw Dave Grohl and his band recording songs in eight different cities nationwide. But the popular favorite isn’t contending for best rock album or album of the year — instead nominated for best music film (for its HBO companion series) and rock performance (for Something From Nothing).
When Wap released his self-titled debut just days before September’s eligibility cutoff, we assumed it’d guarantee him a coveted new artist slot. Alas, the rap wunderkind was shut out of the category but still managed two nods for best rap song and performance for Trap Queen.
Women were refreshingly front-and-center across all rock categories, led by Alabama Shakes and Florence + the Machine, and newcomers Elle King (Ex’s & Oh’s) and Wolf Alice (Moaning Lisa Smile). In turn, many of the guys just couldn’t hang. Mumford & Sons, who won album of the year in 2013 for Babel, failed to land nods for their new Wilder Mind, and Fall Out Boy’s comeback album American Beauty / American Psycho was similarly ignored.
Gird your loins, pop music fans: Jepsen’s critically adored Emotion didn’t land a single Grammy nomination. A glaring omission? Totally. Surprising? Not really. After all, the album had no major hits, and its sales were wretched (it launched with a mere 16,000 sold its first week this summer). Still, we can’t have been the only ones who really, really, really, really, really, really liked it?
Both are disaffected rebels with pin-up looks and talent to burn. But neither singer could rally much support for her latest efforts, despite strong reviews and past Grammys love (including two wins for Musgraves). Musgraves’ Pageant Material rallied only one nomination for best country album, and Del Rey’s Honeymoon was completely ignored (although she managed a nomination as featured artist on The Weeknd’s album-of-the-year contender, Beauty Behind the Madness).
Each managed MTV Video Music Awards wins — Beyoncé’s 7/11 for best editing and Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk for best male video — but neither viral sensation could manage a spot in this crowded field. While Taylor Swift’s squad-starring Bad Blood and Kendrick Lamar’s stark Alright were recognized, as expected, The Dead Weather’s I Feel Love (Every Million Miles) is a little-seen surprise to spice up the competition.
It’s unfair to complain about this year’s alternative-music-album bunch when top-shelf talent such as Alabama Shakes (Sound & Color), Tame Impala (Currents) and Björk (Vulnicura) is vying for the prize. And yet, plenty of seemingly obvious contenders managed no nominations whatsoever, including Beach House (Depression Cherry), Sleater-Kinney (No Cities to Love), Modest Mouse (Strangers to Ourselves) and most egregiously, Sufjan Stevens (Carrie & Lowell).
D’Angelo returned to much fanfare last December with his surprise Black Messiah, his first album in 15 years. Picking up nominations for R&B album and song (Really Love), the R&B/funk artist and his band, the Vanguard, also managed a record-of-the-year nomination — a truly unexpected but well-deserved feat, given that the category tends to lean toward pop.
Girl Crush locked lips with radio controversy this summer, but that didn’t stop Little Big Town from netting an unexpected song-of-the-year nod for the Top 20 single. In addition to the band’s country album nomination for Pain Killer, Crush is in the running for country duo/group performance and country song.
After picking up a traditional pop-vocal album Grammy with Tony Bennett for Cheek to Cheek at the 2015 awards, Gaga has kept herself busy on tour and starring in FX’s American Horror Story. But she still managed to squeeze in a nomination with songwriting legend Diane Warren for Til It Happens to You, written for campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground.
Without Fetty or another person of color in the mix, best new artist sadly remains — like last year — an all-white batch of nominees. If there is a silver lining, it’s that Australian indie rocker Courtney Barnett flew in under the radar for a well-deserved nod, taking the wildcard spot filled (and later won) by Bon Iver and Esperanza Spaldingin years past.
Not that it’s terribly shocking to see the British producer nominated here, given that his debut In Colour is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year. Still, it’s satisfying to see his sophisticated brand of electronic/dance music leap into the big leagues, nominated alongside perennial favorites Disclosure (Caracal), The Chemical Brothers(Born in the Echoes), and Skrillex and Diplo (Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü).