Posted in GRAMMY Awards

56th GRAMMY Nominees Announced: Analysis and Reactions

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The 56th GRAMMY Awards Nominations have just been released. And the Academy just won’t stop giving us jaw-dropping moments. By far, some of the most surprising nominees ever. With many shocking unpredictable contenders and unbelievable snubs.

Rapper Jay-Z conquered a total of nine nominations, more than any other artist, despite only appearing in the general field as a featured artist on Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.

Justin Timberlake despite being completely snubbed in the general field,  still managed to garner seven nods alongside Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pharrell Williams, and Lamar. It was definitely a big year for urban music after all. Click here for a full list of nominees; check how I did on my predictions here; and continue reading my complete analysis.

The Freshmen’s YearKendrickLamar1

Breakthrough artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were the second most nominated acts of the night with seven each. Lamar’s album is a masterpiece which I subsequently took off from my Album of the Year line-up at the expense of Macklemore’s because I didn’t expect to see two rap albums in the category. It is actually only the second time we see this (after Eminem and Nelly competed for the award in the 45th edition in 2003). There was also the fact that the Academy rarely agrees with the critics.

On the other hand it was crazy not to see “Thrift Shop” up for Record of the Year. If there was one category that would have prevented the Seattle duo from scoring all the four general field awards was AoTY but they eventually did. 

On the other hand, Lorde‘s omission from Best New Artist surely raised many eyebrows. The 17 year-old Kiwi sensation followed the same pattern Vanessa Carlton had back in 2003. I didn’t really think “Royals” would actually be considered bigger than her but it apparently is. However, Lorde managed to grab four other nods.

A diversified Album of the Year 

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Pop made it two years ago and rock dominated last year but this time we have four distinct genres: Rap represented twice by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist and Kendrick Lamar -even though while the latter is solid rap the first falls more into the pop/hip-hop radio-friendly category-; Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories is the first fully EDM album to get here (that explains why I didn’t think it could make it); Pop/AC’s contender is The Blessed Unrest by Sara Bareilles; and whether you’d call Taylor Swift‘s Red country or pop it is definitely a distinctive sound from that of Bareilles’s or any other of the nominees. As a matter of fact, Taylor is only the third female artist -behind Bonnie Raitt and Barbra Streisand- to grab an AoTY nod for an album of her own. The so-called (and discussed) rock spot was eventually blacked out.

The Record of the Year award, despite failing to have a country representative featured a more notorious blend. From the real rock tune by Imagine Dragons; the soul/urban-esque “Blurred Lines” from Robin Thicke with T.I. and Pharrell; the pop/soul-esque Bruno Mars‘ “Locked Out of Heaven”; Minimal pop sound of Lorde’s “Royal”; and house-oriented “Get Lucky”. Pharrell’s feat of competing against himself as a performing artist took more than 40 years to be achieved. Carole King did the same back in 1972 eventually winning the prize for her solo “It’s Too Late”.

katy-perry-sara-bareillesThe “filler” nominees 

I like to be wrong in my predictions and get surprises but there were some that I greatly disliked. First off, Bareilles’ AoTY spot was undeserved. The album was not particularly praised by critics and it was not even a best-seller. I didn’t even think it could make it to Pop Vocal Album (and it actually didn’t). It was shocking to see Justin’s The 20/20 Experience snubbed here. This actually proved there are newer Academy lovers now, Taylor’s at most?

As for what Song of the Year concerns: Too bad Katy Perry‘s “Roar” turned out to be the ‘WTF’ nominee there. The song is just weak and lacks of originality. Speak of the devil, both “Roar” and Bareilles’ “Brave” are against each other for Pop Solo Performance. A move that was totally unexpected. On the other hand, James Blake (which I had predicted for Song of the Year) managed to get into Best New Artist along fellow Briton Ed Sheeran whom I totally underestimated.

The Rock field IS for Rock music

Rock is not dead. And it definitely isn’t for the Academy voting members in the rock field. As much as an avant-garde band like Vampire Weekend are categorized as ‘rock’. They aren’t. And a proof of this is their nonappearance in this field. Voters definitely prefer a traditional guitar/bass/drums ensemble and that is why these awards are being filled with veterans –David Bowie, Led Zepellin, The Rolling Stones-. Now there’s even more need for a songwriter’s and performer’s award in the Alternative field.

Major upsets

Apart from Timberlake’s being wiped out off the general field is Kacey Musgraves’ exclusion from Song of the Year; The Civil Wars’ sole nomination for Country Duo/Group showed that the Academy paid no attention to their grunge and could care less; and Janelle Monáe is still GRAMMY-less for another year.

The guessing game for the winners will start in a couple of the days. So stay-tuned. Good bye, for now.

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