All of the nominees for the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards have been revealed, and now, it’s time to peruse the huge list and spot the biggest surprises nestled among the no-brainer selections. “How did that happen?!” we shriek in excitement and exhaustion, as the major categories are always poised to elicit a few gasps.
Click here for the full list of 2016 GRAMMY nominees, then click on for the 10 biggest snubs and surprises from this year’s field of nominations!
The biggest lock to show up in this year’s album of the year category was Taylor Swift’s blockbuster pop pivot, and 1989 did indeed lock up a nod; meanwhile, “Blank Space” placed Swift in the record of the year and song of the year category, a clean major-category sweep for an artist who wasn’t eligible for best new artist.
But the narrative on Monday morning is all Kendrick Lamar: Swift got seven noms, while the Compton rapper led all artists with 11 nominations, including album of the year for To Pimp A Butterfly, song of the year for “Alright” and a placement in every single rap category. Two artists who were up for album of the year in 2014 (and lost to Daft Punk) will square off again in February, but today was clearly Kendrick’s day.
Remember in 2012, when everybody loved Bon Iver’s album and no casual fan could name a specific standout song, but then he got nominated for record of the year (for “Holocene”) and not album of the year? That odd decision feels similar to D’Angelo and the Vanguard failing to secure an album of the year slot this year for the universally beloved Black Messiah, but earning a record of the year nod for “Really Love.” Sure, the song’s fantastic, and it’s great to see D’Angelo back in a major category, but the album getting snubbed for something like the Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness feels off.
What a difference a month makes, huh? When Traveller, the debut album from country newcomer Chris Stapleton, was released in May, it couldn’t crack the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart; then the CMAs happen last month, with Stapleton performing alongside Justin Timberlake and winning album of the year, and Traveller rocketed to No. 1 on the chart after being off the tally altogether. The CMAs helped mint Stapleton as an essential act in 2015, and now, Traveller will compete for album of the year at the GRAMMYs.
I did okay with my personal GRAMMY nomination predictions, but my biggest mistake was penciling in Leon Bridges as a best new artist contender and his debut album, Coming Home, as a surprise album of the year nominee. Coming Home did score a best R&B album nod, but Bridges’ inviting neo-soul was left out in the cold in the major categories.
For the second year in a row, the best new artist category does not feature a single non-white contender. The aforementioned Bridges seemed like a shoo-in, and we were rooting for Fetty Wap, who undoubtedly enjoyed one of the breakout years of anyone. All five nominees here — Meghan Trainor, Sam Hunt, James Bay, Tori Kelly and Courtney Barnett — are more than worthy contenders, but the lack of diversity remains disappointing.
Amazingly, Australian indie-rocker Courtney Barnett will be competing in the best new artist category instead of much more well-known artists like Chris Stapleton and Hozier. Her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, is tremendous, but she was far from a safe bet for an actual nomination. Can she pull an Esperanza Spalding and trump superstars like Meghan Trainor and Sam Hunt? We’ll see in February.
E•MO•TION, Carly Rae Jepsen’s triumphant studio return, failed to score a single nomination, despite being easily one of the best-reviewed pop albums of 2015. Maybe its tepid commercial reception sunk its GRAMMY hopes, but it was a solid bet for best pop vocal album, at the very least. Instead, Jepsen is on the outside looking in at Kelly Clarkson, Mark Ronson and James Taylor, among others.
Whoa, did Dave Grohl and co. really get left out in the cold in the rock album and rock song categories? The Foos could still win best rock performance for “Something From Nothing,” but the Academy apparently did not like last year’s Sonic Highways concept album, and the follow-up to 2011’s Wasting Light, an album of the year nominee, was shrugged off.
Jill Scott is an R&B powerhouse who continues to collect No. 1 albums, but her latest full-length, Woman, surprisingly did not place in any of the R&B or urban contemporary categories this year. It’s great to see artists like Andra Day, Jeremih, Kehlani and the Internet get some GRAMMY love, but Jill’s omission remains glaring.