grammys 2020

2020 Grammy Nominations: the Snubs and Surprises

Did you wake up punching the air this morning? Photo: Vulture and Getty Images

If you woke up this morning compelled to punch the air, chances are you’re Taylor Swift. The Grammys announced its nominations for the 2020 ceremony bright and early on Wednesday and, per usual, it’s a mixed bag of delightful acknowledgments (Michelle Obama! Nipsey Hussle!), oddities (see: whatever’s happening in the rock field), and puzzling omissions across the board — namely, Swift’s absence from Album of the Year. First-time nominees lead music’s biggest night, from Billie Eilish to Lizzo to Lil Nas X, a sign that the generational shift that’s been building throughout music over the last couple of years has peaked. Below, we run down all of the biggest snubs, surprises, and beyond of the 2020 Grammy nominations.


Taylor Swift’s out of contention for Album of the Year again.
For the second year in a row, Taylor Swift can’t get any Album of the Year love. After getting shut out at the 2019 Grammys with Reputation, it seemed like Lover might fare better off its (mostly) positive reception, but no dice. Taylor, who has two previous wins in this category, has been denied a chance to three-peat with either of her latest albums. It’s not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the music or reason for Taylor (or her fans) to hit the panic button, but it certainly says something about how far from grace the Grammys, at least, feel like she’s fallen. (And in choosing to give a panned, rushed EP from Lil Nas X more shine than an 18-song, thought-out chapter of a seasoned artist’s body of work, the Grammys seem to also be saying that it’s time for a reset.) —Dee Lockett

Where’s Megan Thee Stallion?
Just nine months after Cardi B made history as the first solo woman to win Best Rap Album, the Grammys are back on its bullshit: At the 2020 Grammys, Cardi B will be the only woman competing in the rap field … as a featured artist on a song with her husband (“Clout”). This, in a year with heat bubbling from all corners of the next generation of women in rap (see especially: Megan “Knees of Steel” Thee Stallion, hello!), isn’t just an oversight, it’s intentionally playing dumb. —D.L.

No love for the Boss.
Western Stars is Bruce Springsteen’s most acclaimed solo album in a decade and yet, the Grammys, the one place you’d expect to absolutely care, somehow missed the memo? He’s nowhere to be found on the nominations list, snubbed entirely. That’s no way to treat a living legend! —D.L.

Where are Ally’s sellout bops?
In 2018, one brave singer-songwriter with tangerine hair dared to ask the important questions: Why do you look so good in those jeans? Why’d you come around me with an ass like that? That singer was Ally Maine (née Campana), and she was onstage at Saturday Night Live, in a little movie called A Star Is Born. Thirteen months after that movie’s release, however, Ally’s sellout bops have been robbed of the Grammy nominations this high-octane pop goddess deserves! (“I don’t necessarily view her music as superficial,” Bradley Cooper said, correctly, upon the movie’s release. “I think she’s performing with all her heart.”) Songs from A Star Is Born showed up in other categories (notably, “Always Remember Us” for Song of the Year), but come on! Ally’s solo pop songs deserved more love. Why did you, Grammys, do that, do that, do that, do that, do that to me? —Hunter Harris

Same. Photo: Warner Bros.

And where the hell is Jackson Maine?
While we’re on the subject: The Grammys showed no love for our country-rocker with a drinking problem and a heart of gold, Jackson Maine! (Was it that he showed up and showed out the last time he was at the Grammy Awards?) Writer-director Cooper dropped his voice a dozen octaves and crooned out a few love songs for the movie, co-produced by Lukas Nelson. Maybe it’s time for someone to let the old ways die, step into a white Golden Globes tuxedo, and throw a tantrum! —H.H.

Some old and new faves are curiously missing.
No flowers (or barely any) this time around for Solange and Maren Morris. Halsey? Nope. Miley Cyrus? Nada (except for a Wuki remix). Carly Rae Jepsen? Stiffed again. BTS? Egregiously ignored. (And you’re damn right Halsey’s not amused; see her tweet below.) And while the 2019 Grammys’ lovefest for H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar seemed like it might open doors for more newcomers in the R&B field … it’s mostly just their faces again (and, in H.E.R’s case, now she’s leveled up to Album of the Year); sadly no love for Summer Walker, Snoh Aalegra, Kehlani, Normani, or Ari Lennox (who’s not having a great week with awards shows as it is). But let it be known that Drake and Chris Brown’s “No Guidance” made the cut. —D.L.


Big Early ’10s Indie Energy in the Main Categories
Only one indie album has won Album of the Year at the Grammys, and it happened earlier this decade, when Arcade Fire claimed the award for The Suburbs in 2011. With the top-four categories now nominating eight artists instead of the usual five, there’s a lot more room for indie music — specifically some mainstays from the early 2010s. Lana Del Rey shows up in Album and Song of the Year for her magnum opus Norman Fucking Rockwell! and its title track, Bon Iver (who confused viewers when he won Best New Artist in 2012) makes similar appearances in Album and Record of the Year for I, I and single “Hey Ma,” and Vampire Weekend’s jammy double album Father of the Bride gets an album nomination, too. Crack open an IPA and throw on one of these vinyls to celebrate. —Justin Curto

Fresh blood has run away with the show.
The 2020 Grammys will be all about the next era of stars: The three names at the top of the nominations leaderboard — Lizzo, Billie Eilish, and Lil Nas X — are all first-time nominees. Eilish and Lil Nas X can’t even legally drink yet in the U.S.; hell, Eilish isn’t a legal adult, period. That, combined with a surprise Best Rap Album nomination for 22-year-old SoundCloud rapper YBN Cordae, is as good a sign as any that the next generation has arrived in full force. —D.L.

All the Best New Artist dark horses.
The Grammys could’ve went for Megan Thee Stallion, Ari Lennox, and DaBaby, among others, to round out its Best New Artist pool. Instead, it gave shine to lesser-known names beloved by their respective bases: British singer Yola, New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas, and Black Pumas (composer Adrian Quesada and songwriter Eric Burton). —D.L.

That’s Grammy-nominated voice Michelle Obama to you.
She’s a first-time nominee for Best Spoken Word Album for the audiobook version of her best seller, Becoming. It just so happens that her hubby, Barack, has won in this category twice, so hopefully the Grammys know what time it is again. —D.L.

Finneas is up for Producer of the Year off just one project.
Billie Eilish is the future of pop, blah, blah, blah — you’ve heard it before. But her older brother and producer, Finneas, deserves his own share of credit for developing her dark, heavy, hip-hop-inspired sound (in his bedroom, no less!), and he got it at the Grammys. Find Finneas’s name next to big hitters like Jack Antonoff and Ricky Reed nominated for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, but unlike his busy peers, he’s there only for his work on Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, a rare testament to the strength of his sound and Eilish’s music. Finneas also gets in on his sister’s Album, Record, and Song of the Year nominations — so expect a big night for both of them at the ceremony. —J.C.

Imogen Heap’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child score makes it into the Best Musical Theater Album category.
Cursed Child has a ton of magical (and moving staircase) choreography, but it’s not musical theater, and Heap’s score, which is largely reworked versions of her older songs (including a version of “Hide and Seek” that will make you think about The O.C.), missed out on a Tony nomination for Best Original Score. Still, it’s exciting to see Heap get recognition for it, even if she’ll probably lose to the Baz Luhrmann–produced Moulin Rouge!, sexy Oklahoma!, or the awards-sweeping juggernaut that is Hadestown—Jackson McHenry

Nipsey Hussle has three posthumous nominations.
Prior to his murder, Hussle received a surprise Best Rap Album nomination at the 2019 Grammys. He’s now garnered three more nominations to add to his continuous marathon, including Best Rap Song for “Racks in the Middle.” So, yes, you could say we’re a little weepy this morning. What of it! —D.L.

Aziz Ansari is a first-time Grammy nominee.
For Best Comedy Album for his Netflix stand-up special Right Now. Do with this information what you will. —D.L.

Beyoncé is still better than us all.
No surprise: In what is technically a chill year by Bey standards, she’s still up for four more awards, including Best Pop Solo Performance for her Lion King original song “Spirit,” bringing her grand total to 70 (!) overall nominations. That puts her just ten away from matching honorary Vulture blogger Quincy Jones’s all-time record. Rest easy knowing we’ll all probably live to see it happen. —D.L.

2020 Grammy Nominations: the Snubs and Surprises