The latest batch of Grammy nominations were announced last night at a televised event hosted by NCIS: LA actor LL Cool J (check out the list here), and they once again are sure to bewilder music fans at all points of the taste and genre-disposition spectrum. Here we go!
1. Despite releasing the unofficial front-runner for album of the year, Kanye West garnered only one nomination, in Best Rap Solo Performance for “Power.” But this actually has nothing to do with the Grammy voters' odd decision-making process. Instead, it has to do with the Grammy's odd eligibility period: Because My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was released in November — a whole two months after the September cutoff for 2010 award eligibility — it won't be up for anything until the 2012 ceremony, at which point we may have all moved on to whatever awesome thing Kanye does next. (“Power” is eligible because it was an early single.) That's why Lady Gaga is incongruously all over the place this year, too: The Fame Monster dropped in November 2009.
2. Of the nominees for Best Rock Album — Neil Young, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Jeff Beck, and Muse — four could safely be said to be just a touch past their prime. This isn't so much a reflection on the Grammys, however, as is it is on the paltry goods being offered up by mainstream rock music. Here's a suggestion: Maybe it's time to combine the Best Rock Album and Best Alternative Music Album (nominees this year: Arcade Fire, Broken Bells, the Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, and Band of Horses)? All of those acts are probably selling the same amount anyways, right? While we're on the subject, two quick nitpicks: How come the Band of Horses album everyone liked the least gets nominated? Was there some kind of shady Harvey Weinstein–like campaign being waged by Fat Possum Records? Also, since the Grammy apparently loves workmanlike indie rock so much, should the National be outraged right now?
3. Probably the most indefensible decision in this year's batch: Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot ... The Son of Chico Dusty was shut out of Best Rap Album. At some level this is supposed to be about critical consensus, and as far as that goes Sir Lucious is a supremely, forehead-slappingly obvious choice. B.o.B.'s The Further Adventures of Bobby Ray should graciously cede its spot to Sir Lucious, just like when the fans didn't vote Jordan into the All-Star Game that year but Vince Carter gave up his spot anyway.
4. Buoyed by the success of the single “Deuces,” Chris Brown is enjoying a moderate, low-simmering comeback these days. But you know who's already totally cool with him? The Grammys, who nominated him three times, including Graffiti in Best Contemporary R&B Album (that's a separate category from Best R&B Album, by the way).
5. Hey, remember T.I.'s big triumphant comeback single “I'm Back”? The one that was actually left off his album? You don't? No worries, the Grammys remembers for you and nominated it in Best Rap Solo Performance.
6. And now, a word on “Empire State of Mind.” The track is nominated three times, including for the big one, Record of the Year. This is bad. It's enough that the track has become the most successful song of Jay-Z's career; if it goes on to win the award, which it very well might, a whole generation of misinformed children may be led to believe it's the best song of his career, too. Responsible parents: Put “Where I'm From” on a loop for your kids one of these days.
In the interest of fairness, polite golf-clap for the Grammys offering nominations to Robyn, Janelle Monáe, “Fuck You,” Arcade Fire, and Young Jeezy's “Lose My Mind.” That last one was a particular favorite of Vulture's but didn't do that great overall. Looks like we have more in common with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences than just a propensity for list-making.
2010 Grammy nominees [Official site]