Grammy Nominations 2017: David Bowie, Paul Simon & Rock In General Shut Out of Major Categories

When the 2017 Grammy nominations were announced Tuesday (Dec. 6) morning, rock was largely absent from the main four categories. Twenty One Pilots earned the only nomination for a rock-oriented artist, with “Stressed Out” receiving a nod for Record of the Year. Noticeably absent in the major categories was David Bowie for his final album Blackstar -- a critical favorite that translated into a commercial success, becoming the Thin White Duke’s first-ever album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this past January. That, coupled with its intriguing backstory, made it seem like a lock for an Album of the Year nomination.  

Bowie did receive three nominations in the rock categories: the title track “Blackstar” received Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance nominations, while the album was nominated in the Best Alternative Album category.

The Best Rock Album category surprised with three pop-punk acts, as Blink-182, Panic! At The Disco and Weezer all received nominations. Blink-182’s California and Panic! At the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor both topped the charts this year with albums that were largely well received by their fanbases. Weezer on the other hand? Their latest self-titled album, dubbed The White Album, yielded a few fun singles, but seemed devoid of the comeback buzz that surrounded their 2014 release, Everything Will Be Alright in the End.

The Best Rock Album outliers are Cage the Elephant’s Tell Me I’m Pretty and French hard rock band Gorija’s Magma. Both albums demonstrated stylistic changes, and it feels like the Recording Academy rewarded them for that. Blink-182 will likely win, but Cage the Elephant could be the dark horse.

The Best Alternative Album category reads like an indie-rock fan top 5: Grammy favorites Bon Iver and Radiohead and joined by Iggy Pop, PJ Harvey and Bowie. Fun fact: Both Pop and Harvey have never won a Grammy and Bowie has only won two: one Best Short Form Video in 1984 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Chances are a veteran in the field will finally get his or her due in 2017 for an album.

Last year, the Grammys rewarded critical darling Courtney Barnett with a few nominations, but this year, buzzy indie-rock acts like Car Seat Headrest and Mitski were not so lucky.

Besides Bowie’s Album of the Year snub, who else didn’t fair so well? A big surprise was British rock band The 1975, who topped the charts in March with their sophomore album i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. It was a breakout year for the band and they seemed poised for a Best New Artist nomination and several in the rock categories; they came up empty.

Institutional favorites Red Hot Chili Peppers and Paul Simon also received bad news this morning, as their latest releases were ignored, too. The Chili Peppers were not exactly shoo-ins, but considering Weezer’s nomination, it would make sense to see Anthony Kiedis and co. on the list somewhere. Simon, however, feels like a real miss. Released in June, his album Stranger to Stranger performed well on the charts early on, and fans and critics reveled in songwriting that felt familiar to Simon but also experimental at times.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the rock field came from someone no one really thinks of rock at all: Beyonce. The R&B queen received a nomination in the Best Rock Performance category for her Lemonade track “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” featuring Jack White. Two Grammy powerhouses teaming up for a fiery rock number? Irresistible to the Grammys -- just think of that opening number!

2017 Grammys

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