2017 Grammy Nominations: The Snubs and Surprises

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The 2017 Grammy nominations are out, and it’s clear that next February will be a heavyweight bout between Beyoncé and Adele, who are both nominated for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year and netted nine and five noms, respectively. Unsurprisingly, they’re both up for Album of the Year alongside Justin Bieber, Drake, and (slightly more surprisingly) Sturgill Simpson. And while the Big Four categories will likely dominate the conversation from now until the ceremony on February 12, there were plenty of shocks of both the good and bad variety in the very large field of nominees. Let’s take a closer look at all the biggest wins and most glaring missteps from this year’s Grammy noms.

2017 Grammys: The Snubbed

David Bowie: While David Bowie did end up getting his first-ever nominations for an individual song or album, none of them came in the expected big categories. Most people (Vulture included) predicted Bowie would be nominated for Album of the Year, given Blackstar’s critical praise coupled with the magnitude of his death — and yet, he’s been shut out from the top once again. Instead, you’ll find Bowie up for Best Alternative Album (just another indication of what the Recording Academy thinks of him), Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance (both for “Blackstar”), and Best Recording Package. —Dee Lockett

Radiohead: More on the matter of people losing to David Bowie’s Blackstar: The awards Bowie did get nominated for are all rock categories, where releases like Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool and Bon Iver’s 22, A Million — albums that frankly might have slid into the AOTY convo had it not been for Adele, Bieber, Drake, and Beyoncé’s six-month hit parade — have essentially been sent in as cannon fodder. —Craig Jenkins

Rihanna’s Anti: Rihanna’s up for a handful of Grammys for “Work,” “Kiss It Better,” and “Needed Me” as well as an appearance on Drake’s Views, but Anti as a whole only getting recognized for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Recording Package feels bittersweet. We’ve always known Rih as a singles artist, but Anti was a powerful rebuttal to the notion that we should only come to her in three-minute bursts. For the Grammy response to that to be “work work work work work work” feels unfortunate. —CJ

2017 Grammys: The Surprises

The Grammys considers Sturgill Simpson a bona fide country star: In nominating Sturgill Simpson for Album of the Year, the Grammys aren’t just saying that he’s worthy of national attention, but that he’s worth Nashville’s time. Simpson’s also up for Best Country Album, which is a reverse from his previous 2015 nomination in the Americana category. The Grammys don’t generally switch up genres for an artist, especially not in so short a time, but it appears to be a pointed message: Sturgill’s always maintained a rather contentious relationship with the rest of country music, often feeling like an outsider both in his attitude and the way he’s been treated by Music Row — he recently spoke out against the Academy of Country Music for exploiting Merle Haggard and has been traditionally snubbed by country-music awards shows. For the Grammys to change its description of Sturgill’s sound now is just about the most institutional form of shade thrown at Nashville that you can imagine. —DL

Beyoncé got nominated in the rock category: Lemonade was a sweet blend of genres fitting of its title and, rather surprisingly, the Grammys have recognized it as such. She’s nominated all over the place, from the Big Four to rap, to pop, to “urban contemporary,” to even … rock! In fact, it’s the first time any artist has ever been nominated in this many genres in one year. “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” which features Jack White, is up for Best Rock Performance against David Bowie, Alabama Shakes, Twenty One Pilots, and, most hilariously, Disturbed. The Grammys Head of Awards says Beyoncé’s record label intentionally submitted “Don’t Hurt Yourself to compete as a rock song, to which, the Grammys didn’t even try to fight: “The committee listened to it and said, ‘Yeah, that’s rock.’” 2016, your unpredictability strikes again. —DL

Drake got his “Hotline Bling” nomination after all: One of the biggest behind-the-scenes controversies of the 2016 ceremony was Drake’s “Hotline Bling” snub. Turns out, it wasn’t a snub, but rather a reported paperwork fail (someone allegedly forgot to submit it). Drake being the savvy pop star that he is, however, has found a workaround: In throwing “Hotline Bling” (and its millions in streams) onto Views, he reopened it for Grammy consideration. Just like that, Drake has gotten his way, because “Hotline Bling” is now up for Best Rap/Sung Performance. —DL

All the nominations leaders are artists of color: Unlike this year’s Oscars — and despite Frank Ocean’s preemptive boycott — there will be no #GrammysSoWhite at next year’s ceremony. Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West, and Chance the Rapper are the top five artists to net the most nominations this year, and, whaddya know, they’re all black. Next year, there will be an artist of color represented in all the major categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist — and while it’s likely not the first time that’s happened in Grammys history, it’s more than most general awards shows can usually say in any given year. —DL

Amy Schumer is a first-time nominee: Yes, really. While Beyoncé was busy adding to her Grammy noms tally with an impressive nine this year, several artists are probably plenty thankful to just be getting one. The 2017 Grammy class is a mix of legacy acts and first-time nominees, running the gamut from Demi Lovato to even Amy Schumer. Schumes is up for Best Comedy Album (for her HBO special at the Apollo), and Best Spoken Word Album (for her The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo audio book). Also making their first Grammy nomination appearances this year are Solange, Desiigner, Chance the Rapper, Ro James, the Chainsmokers, Twenty One Pilots, Halsey, Maren Morris, Lukas Graham, Kelsea Ballerini, and many more. —DL

The Stranger Things soundtrack is nominated twice in the same category: In a field dominated by films, there’s one show that got double love. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s insta-classic Stranger Things soundtrack is up for Best Score/Soundtrack for Visual Media — along with The Force Awakens, Bridge of Spies, The Hateful Eight, and the Revenant — for both volumes. Yep, they’re nominated twice in the same damn category against themselves. The power of Eleven wins! —DL

The Grammys found a way to celebrate Vinyl: Just as the Emmys couldn’t totally ignore Vinyl, neither could the Grammys. Its soundtrack is up for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, which, given HBO got every artist under the sun to cover the classics, almost makes more sense than recognizing it for the show itself. —DL

Streaming won: The Grammys have spoken and it appears that, yes, streaming is officially a Thing now. In its first year of eligibility for streaming-only albums, the Grammys gave Apple Music (and, in some ways, Tidal) a leg up on the competition. Chance the Rapper received seven nominations (not all for his album), meaning Coloring Book is the first streaming exclusive to be Grammy-nominated. He’s also up for Best New Artist, which is an all-around win for independent artists, creative freedom, and innovation alike. Beyoncé’s streaming-only-on-Tidal Lemonade is also up for Album of the Year, while Kanye’s (formerly never-on-sale) The Life of Pablo is up for Best Rap Album. The futch’ is here. —DL