Grammy second-guessing is one of the most popular armchair games of the award-nomination process -- as nearly anyone who was on Twitter late last night knows. But amid the cries of outrage on social media and elsewhere, it's worth taking a look at some of the sales totals of some of the albums and songs that did not receive nominations this year.
A couple of the bigger-selling albums from veteran artists notable by their exclusion include Lionel Richie, whose first country-leaning album "Tuskegee" album has scanned 1.05 million units so far this year. The fact that he's a heritage artist with an all-star duets album performing his best-known hits seems on paper like easy Grammy bait (given the awards won by similar-themed projects by Herbie Hancock and Tony Bennett in recent years), but perhaps the genre shift threw voters off. Also, Madonna's "MDNA" album has scanned 521,000 units and her world tour has been one of the year's very biggest -- but the album has not been among the best-received by fans or critics during her nearly 30-year-long recording career.
Other past Grammy winners who released eligible albums but didn't score nominations were nine-time winner Norah Jones, whose "Little Broken Hearts" has scanned 385,000 units; and the "Sparkle" soundtrack (76,000 units to date), featuring the last recordings from Whitney Houston, who tragically died the night before this year's Grammy show. Other past winners with big-selling albums include Linkin Park, whose "Living Things," has scanned 530,000 units; John Mayer's "Born and Raised," with 514,000 units; and Dave Matthews Band's "Away From The World," at 458,000 units.
Some younger artists' exclusion met with a somewhat louder public outcry, most notably One Direction and Justin Bieber.
One Direction's "Up All Night," has scanned 1.4 million units, making it the third-best-selling title of the year to date, and more notably the top-selling eligible title. (The band's latest album, "Take Me Home, which debuted recently atop the Billboard 200 with scans of 510,000 units, is not eligible this year for a Grammy nomination.)
Meanwhile, Bieber took home three American Music Awards last month, and his "Believe" album scanned 1.1 million units since its release in June, making it the fifth best-selling title of the year -- and the third-best of those eligible for a Grammy nomination. Yet, he didn't get a single nod in the nominations -- something that did not sit well with manager Scooter Braun who issued a series of tweets commending those who were nominated but said that the Academy "blew It" by not nominating Bieber. ( Braun later discussed the hubbub surrounding his tweets to Billboard.biz.)
When looking at the record and song of the year categories, the nominating committees picked songs like the Black Keys "Lonely Boy," which has scanned 695,000 units; Frank Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You," with scans of 571,000 units; and Miguel's "Adorn," which has scanned 480,000 units; while ignoring songs like Nicki Minaj's "Starships," which has scanned 3.9 million units and had its sales debut in the week ending Feb. 19, 2012; Phillip Phillips "Home," which has scans of 2.7 million units since its debut on the sales charts during the week of June 10; and Psy's "Gangnam Style," which has scanned 2.85 million units and would be eligible based on having scans of 300,000 units, beginning the week ending September 23. Whether his label or U.S. distributor submitted a nominating form for the record was unclear at press time.
While sales can be a factor in the Grammy nominating process, the degree to which they are or are not considered is unclear. In recent years, however, the Grammy nominations have been leaning away from the heritage artists that were prominent in past years -- witness the recent big wins by the Arcade Fire and Bon Iver. In the case of the Black Keys, Frank Ocean and Miguel, among others, the Grammys may be making such a statement this time around.