[See the list of nominees.]
CARAMANICA Here is the problem, as it may unfold: Those who helped finalize the nominations had an eye toward making the big categories as fair and open-eared as possible. That means acknowledging hip-hop’s primacy as a cultural force, and also its indisputable popularity. But when these nominations are subjected to the entire pool of Grammy voters, many of whom hail from different generations with different aesthetic values, they might skip right past Drake and Kendrick — among the most meaningful artists of this decade — in favor of something a little more relatable. So if Kacey Musgraves or Brandi Carlile walk away with the album of the year trophy, you’ll understand the primary reason. And if some of the most famous figures in hip-hop refuse to come and keep smiles on their faces while they are summarily marginalized, you’ll understand that, too.
COSCARELLI Let’s talk snubs. The obvious one is Taylor Swift, who despite being a Grammys darling, landed only one genre-category nomination for “Reputation” after the album’s lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” was similarly minimized last year. Did she get Ed Sheeran-ed — that is, left out of the major categories, like some figured Sheeran did last time, because the Grammys were too afraid that they’d have to answer for it if the voters just went ahead and picked her again over an artist of color?
CARAMANICA That’s totally plausible, but given Taylor Swift’s place as one of the most significant and also popular musicians of the past decade, it’s a little surprising to arrive at a point in which she has been underrated, and also unacknowledged. But here we are: “Reputation,” which came out last November, is an excellent pop album, but also Swift’s least successful. Her stylistic jolt to an aggressive pop sheen was perceived as too sudden, and the album, by her standards, is a dud — certified only three times platinum. And here in the Grammy conversation, she was effectively ignored; nominated for best pop vocal album, and nothing else.
GANZ I suspect the Grammys will regret the Taylor snub. She’s a reliable creator of awards-show content: reaction shots in the crowd, big performance numbers, memes. If she can encourage people to register to vote, she can lure people to watch an awards show with increasingly dwindling ratings.
COSCARELLI Pop vocal album is basically a Top 40 graveyard, seemingly where the Grammys put all the big pop acts that may have once made it to the album of the year pile: Ariana Grande (“Sweetener”), Camila Cabello (“Camila”), Shawn Mendes (self-titled), Pink (“Beautiful Trauma”) and Kelly Clarkson (“Meaning of Life”). Others who were openly gunning for an album of the year nomination, like Travis Scott, also ended up only in genre awards, while old-school Grammy shoo-ins like Paul McCartney and U2 were shut out entirely. (Kanye West, meanwhile, is only in the producer of the year category, despite being ubiquitous for a large portion of this exhausting year.) Is this an actual sea change moment in terms of who gets nominated where?