Snubs at the 2015 Grammys: 7 Artists Who Should Have Gotten More Love
Awards shows can’t please everyone, but the Grammys in particular are famous for some major snubs over the years. Bob Marley never scored a win, and the Rolling Stones have snagged only two. More recently, after Macklemore won last year’s award for Best Rap Album, the family-friendly rapper admitted that he didn’t deserve it over Kendrick Lamar. “You got robbed,” he wrote to Lamar in a text message that he later shared on Instagram. “I wanted you to win. You should have won.” Also confounding is the Grammys’s complicated tree of classification, which splinters artists into 78 different categories—and the increasingly arbitrary and outdated distinctions between them have a way of creating a different kind of snub. This year, for example, Beyoncé was nominated for her song “Drunk in Love” in the Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song categories. Does her status as the biggest pop star in the world not qualify her for the pop category? At this point, it is practically expected that the Grammys will fail to give nods to some of the most relevant and innovative artists of the year. Here is 2015’s crop.
Twigs’s exploration of moody electronica on her debut album LP1 landed her on just about every critic’s end-of-year list. So why no Grammy nomination? The London singer has an avant-garde sense of style and writes lyrics with S&M themes, and that might be too much for Grammy voters, who tend to prefer mass appeal and relatability. To our ear, she was a shoo-in for the Best New Artist category.
YG’s 2014 album My Krazy Life, a concept record about a day in the rapper’s L.A. life, was heralded as a strong, consistent LP in an era more suited to one-off viral hits. But in a moment that feels like Kendrick’s snub all over again, YG failed to receive any love from the Grammys for his opus. Fans were so disappointed that they even took to the sidewalks in protest. “I really feel some type of way,” YG said of the shut-out. “I know it got something to do with me being from the streets and representing what I represent and talking about what I talk about on these records.”
Sturgill Simpson is a breath of fresh air in Nashville (Rolling Stone wrote that he is, in fact, country music’s “savior”). On his 2014 album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, he tackles philosophical themes in the lyrics, reimagines an eighties New Wave classic as a whiskey-soaked ballad, and sings about his experiences with psychedelic drugs. But even with a title that nods to country, he landed a nomination only in the lesser-known Americana category. Might he push the limit a little too much? “One year ago today we threw together an album in four days. Today it got nominated for a fucking Grammy. Not exactly sure what Americana means, but apparently it means a lot more than country,” he told concertgoers in December. “I’d rather be in a category with Rosanne Cash and Brandy Clark than fucking Kenny Chesney anyway.”
Though Beyoncé’s self-titled masterpiece scored a nod for Album of the Year, her hit song “Drunk in Love” is surprisingly missing from all of the primary pop categories. It’s possible that the record has been out too long (released in December of 2014, it marked the very beginning of 2015 eligibility) and voters are bored with Beyoncé-mania, or that the Grammys prefer artists who play by the rules instead of breaking them. (Beyoncé dropped the record on iTunes in one fell swoop, and without a traditional promotional tour.) But more likely, Beyoncé’s slight had something to do with genre rules. The song dominated pop radio. Why no pop love?
There was no bigger viral phenomenon in 2014 music than Pharrell’s “Happy,” so it seems strange that it was left out of all major song categories. The Grammys granted him four wins at last year’s ceremony for his work on “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines.” Perhaps they just wanted to spread the love this time around.
Lana Del Rey
Will Lana Del Rey ever earn respect? Though her well-received 2014 album Ultraviolence finally silenced her critics, she was shunned completely by the Grammys. Perhaps the media scrutiny that met her 2012 album, Born to Die, left a bad first impression on voters, or maybe her lyrics about drug use and domestic abuse make her a tough sell.
Tinashe combined R&B and pop in an ingenious way on her first studio album, Aquarius, which spawned a massive hit with the DJ Mustard–produced “2 On.” But Tinashe’s blend of genres appears to have been a liability when it comes to the Grammys—not a single nomination.
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