The Grammy nominations are in — and by now, we hope you’ve had time to do the following: Read the full list of major nominees, peruse Kyle Anderson’s take on the biggest snubs and surprises, and enjoy Scooter Braun’s Twitter tantrum.
But if all that’s not enough for you, we’ve cobbled together some interesting trends about this year’s crop of Grammy nominees — so even if you’re not a Grammys aficionado, you can pretend to be one around the office.
* The Best Album category this year is oddly rock-heavy With the notable exception of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, the Best Album category is dominated by rock acts. But whereas the category (until very recently) used to feature the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, it’s now honoring a newer crop of rockers.
Or, as one of my co-workers put it, “It’s like the Grammy voters have replaced their old fogies with young fogies.” The inclusion of The Black Keys’ El Camino and Jack White’s Blunderbuss feels especially odd, since both of those acts’ previous albums were substantially better than those efforts. (Though the White Stripes’ excellent 2004 release Elephant did get a nod that year.) Add in Mumford & Sons’s Babel and fun.’s Some Nights, and you’ve got a very dude-ish, very guitar-heavy category.
* There’s a still a major disconnect with hip hop and rap For the most part, we think the rap categories got the nominations right. They’re filled with interesting, relevant choices (If only we could include Kendrick Lamar or Meek Mill. Alas, stupid release date rules!) But its still frustrating to see deserving work like Drake’s Take Care shut out of the major categories. It reminds us of last year, when Kanye West earned the most nominations, but was conspicuously left out of the Best Album race. We (still) don’t approve!
* This year boasted a lot of great new talent That the Best New Artist race does not include Gotye, Ellie Goulding, and Ed Sheeran is a testament to how strong this year’s crop of new talent really was. And though our music department may not have reached a consensus on their long-run talents, good for Hunter Hayes, The Lumineers, and Alabama Shakes for scoring nominations — and taking out some expected contenders.
* They’re not giving top prizes just for sales Perhaps Grammy voters decided against giving One Direction, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Gotye Best New Artist nominations because they’re perceived as of-the-moment pop novelties, rather than artists with real staying power. No one can deny their chart power: One Direction has had two No. 1 albums this year, Carly Rae’s “Call Me Maybe” was downloaded over 6 million times, and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” has a staggering 350 million-plus YouTube views. One Direction received no nominations. “Call Me Maybe” got song nominations, and Gotye did score a nom for Best Alternative Album (more on that in a sec), but both were notably missing from the Best New Artist category.
* Grammy voters have finally figured out what they think Americana is Whereas last year, the lines between the Americana, folk, country, and alternative categories were exceedingly blurry — Fleet Foxes, Civil Wars, and Mumford & Sons were all wedged into different genres — this year, the Americana category has a distinct identity, perhaps because the genre had a breakout year. The Best Americana Album race has The Avett Brothers The Carpenter facing off with Mumford & Sons’ Babel, The Lumineers’ The Lumineers, Bonnie Raitt’s Slipstream, and John Fullbright’s From The Ground Up. It’s a cohesive quartet of mostly-acoustic (but still produced), Appalachian-tinged (mandolins and banjos FTW), hopeful lyric-featuring albums.
* But there’s still no consensus about what Alternative means What do Best Alternative Album nominees Bjork, Gotye, Fiona Apple, M83, and Tom Waits have in common artistically? If only the nominee committees could talk.