It’s hardly a surprise that Adele and Beyoncé are squaring off in the Big Three Grammy categories again, or that Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar and Lizzo are joining them. But there were plenty of snubs and surprises elsewhere on the ballot for the 65th annual Grammy Awards.
Take a look.
Snub: Nicki Minaj: Minaj was vocal about her displeasure with the Academy moving “Super Freaky Girl” from rap to pop. Minaj would have had a far easier time being nominated in rap than in pop. Of course, the Academy’s role is not to put records in the category where the artist is most likely to best nominated or win, but to put them in the category in which they fit best. We’ll never know if Minaj would have been nominated in rap, but we do know she wasn’t nominated in pop.
Surprise: ABBA: The Swedish group received its first nomination in any category last year when “I Still Have Faith in You” was up for record of the year. Still, it felt to some like a fluke. It was no fluke. The group is back in that category this year with “Don’t Shut Me Down” — and also rated an album of the year nod for Voyage.
Snub: Morgan Wallen: Wallen is one of the best-selling recording artists of the past couple of years, but he has yet to land a Grammy nomination. Wallen was radioactive at awards shows for a year or more following his videotaped use of the N-word in early 2021. But he was nominated for two key awards at the CMA Awards on Nov. 9 – entertainer of the year and male vocalist of the year. He was entered and eligible for nominations in several key Grammy categories, including record and song of the year, best country solo performance and best country song, all for “Wasted on You,” but was skipped over in every category.
Surprise: Mary J. Blige: The queen of hip-hop soul has broad appeal, but few thought she had a good chance of landing nods for both record of the year (her second) and album of the year (her first). Blige’s performance at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, for which she won a Primetime Emmy, reminded people how much they like her.
Snub: Em Beihold, Dove Cameron, GAYLE, Tate McRae and Lauren Spencer-Smith: Five promising young pop stars, all of whom have landed top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, were all passed over for best new artist nominations. In past years, they would have likely been shoo-ins for nominations. (GAYLE did rate a song of the year nod for her delightful “abcdefu.”)
Surprise: DOMi & JD Beck, Samara Joy, Tobe Nwigwe: These best new artist nominees are probably going to be sending a lot of people to Wikipedia. It won’t do much good in the case of Joy, a jazz vocalist who doesn’t have a Wiki page just yet.
Snub: Country music: No country artists cracked the Big Four categories, which happens all too often. Lainey Wilson, who won the CMA Award for new artist of the year, was passed over for a best new artist nod. Morgan Wallen’s “Wasted on You” and Cody Johnson’s “‘Til You Can’t” were passed over for song of the year nods. Zach Bryan’s American Heartbreak, Luke Combs’ Growin’ Up and Miranda Lambert’s Palomino were passed over for album of the year nods. No country album has received an album of the year nod since Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour four years ago (which went on to win the award). Country is a major genre and should get more attention from Grammy voters. The Academy could do better here.
Surprise: Coldplay: The group landed its third album of the year nomination; its second in the past three years. No one is surprised at the group’s continued success, but who expected Coldplay to be one of only two acts (along with Taylor Swift) to land two album of the year nods in the first three years of the 2020s?
Snub: “Encanto”: Encanto dominated pop culture in the opening months of 2022 but it didn’t get any love in the Big Four categories. Encanto is up for three awards in the music for visual media field, but was passed over up top. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, winning a Pulitzer Prize was easier than landing a Grammy nod in a Big Four category.
Not a snub: Sam Smith and Kim Petras: The pair’s “Unholy” was nominated for best pop duo/group performance but was passed over for record and song of the year nods. But you couldn’t call that a snub. The arresting single, which was released just eight days before the Sept. 30 eligibility cut-off date, didn’t have enough time to really register before voting in the nominations round closed on Oct. 23. This is Smith’s first nomination in any category since they won four Grammys, including record and song of the year for “Stay With Me,” eight years ago.
Surprise: Randy Rainbow: Everybody loves Rainbow’s song parodies, but who knew he would land his first Grammy nomination for best comedy album? He’s facing past category champs Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K. and Patton Oswalt, and seven-time nominee Jim Gaffigan.