The Recording Academy may finally be getting hip to dance/electronic music, but it still appears ignorant of the genre’s overall impact and importance.
The 2016 Grammy nominees for best dance/electronic album and best dance recording are mostly defensible — save for one colossal snub in Major Lazer & DJ Snake‘s “Lean On” — with no cringe-worthy surprises like 2013’s Al Walser fiasco.
Grammy voters rightfully renewed their love affair with Skrillex, who took home six Grammys in 2012 and 2013, nominating both his Jack Ü album with Diplo and the LP’s crossover hit “Where Are U Now” — which offers featured vocalist Justin Bieber a good shot at taking home his first Grammy Award.
Jamie xx‘s solo debut In Colour deservedly earned him his first Grammy nod in the best dance/electronic album category, where he’ll go up against Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü, Disclosure‘s underrated Caracal, Caribou‘s critically acclaimed Our Love and The Chemical Brothers‘ eighth LP Born in the Echoes.
For best dance recording, Grammy voters wisely rewarded Galantis‘ efforts to revitalize main-stage EDM by nominating festival staple “Runaway (U&I)” alongside tracks by trance titans Above & Beyond (“We’re All We Need”) and The Chemical Brothers (“Go”), while Flying Lotus‘ overdue Grammy nod for “Never Catch Me” helped cap Kendrick Lamar‘s impressive 11 total nominations. But the baffling decision to omit Spotify’s most-streamed song of all-time in spite of its critical and commercial success casts a pall over this category.
Despite a crossover year in which styles like tropical house and trap ruled the charts, dance/electronic acts still struggle for recognition outside of their niche. Once hailed as a watershed moment, Daft Punk‘s five-Grammy breakthrough, which included album of the year and record of the year wins for Random Access Memories and “Get Lucky,” now looks like an outlier. Following a fruitless 2015 Awards, dance was once again blanked in the four major categories this year.
While the record of the year merits of “Where Are You Now” may be debatable, there’s no rationalizing away Jamie xx’s album of the year snub. And coming off a banner year for emerging electronic talent, it’s sad to see not one dance act (Galantis? Kygo?) nominated for best new artist. Skrillex is arguably the only proper dance artist to ever register in the historically maligned category, losing to Bon Iver in 2012. At least he’s in the good company — just look at what happened to 2016 marquee nominees Lamar and Ed Sheeran two years prior.
If the Academy wanted to reward a “new artist” one year removed from their breakthrough hit, why not DJ Snake over Meghan Trainor? Both had three Hot 100 charting singles this year, and Snake’s outperformed hers across the board. Grammy voters can afford to ignore chart numbers, but not cultural impact.
The Recording Academy may have avoided embarrassment in 2016, but it’s showing its age by continuing to prioritize yesterday’s genres in major categories at the expense of the electronic movement currently defining youth music culture.
Best Dance Recording
• We’re All We Need
Above & Beyond Featuring Zoë Johnston
Andrew Bayer, Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness & Paavo Siljamäki, producers; Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness & Paavo Siljamäki, mixers
The Chemical Brothers
Tom Rowlands & Ed Simons, producers; Steve Dub Jones & Tom Rowlands, mixers
• Never Catch Me
Flying Lotus Featuring Kendrick Lamar
Steven Ellison, producer; Kevin Marques Moo, mixer
Track from: You’re Dead!
• Runaway (U & I)
Linus Eklöw, Christian Karlsson & Svidden, producers; Linus Eklöw, Niklas Flyckt & Christian Karlsson, mixers
Track from: Pharmacy
• Where Are Ü Now
Skrillex And Diplo With Justin Bieber
Sonny Moore & Thomas Pentz, producers; Sonny Moore & Thomas Pentz, mixers
Track from: Skrillex And Diplo Present Jack Ü
Best Dance/Electronic Album
• Our Love
• Born In The Echoes
The Chemical Brothers
• In Colour
[Young Turks Recordings]
• Skrillex And Diplo Present Jack Ü
Skrillex And Diplo