The 2021 Grammy Awards nominations were announced on Tuesday.
Some are clearly amiss, like Justin Bieber's best pop solo nod for "Yummy" and JP Saxe's song of the year nod for "If the World Was Ending."
This year's slate of candidates for album of the year is particularly baffling.
Nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday.
The 63rd annual ceremony will honor music released within the eligibility period, from September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020. The show will be broadcast live on January 31, 2021, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
This year's slate of nominees is, in part, refreshing: Historically male spaces like best country album and best rock performance are dominated by women; Megan Thee Stallion earned recognition for her iconic hit "Savage," including a nod for best new artist; Harry Styles is finally Grammy-approved; Beyoncé leads the pack with nine nominations, even though she didn't release an album this year.
But there were also numerous blunders and baffling details that beg to be dissected and debated.
In addition to many obvious snubs, there are several eyebrow-raising nominees in this year's bunch — either because they seemed out of place in a certain category, stole a spot from someone more deserving, or simply released lackluster music.
In particular, the 2021 album of the year category hits like spaghetti that was thrown against a wall.
Keep reading for a list of the biggest missteps, in no particular order.
Coldplay certainly did not release the album of the year.
Listen, my professional title is literally Music Reporter and I didn't even know that Coldplay released an album this year.
To suggest that "Everyday Life" is the album of the year — in the year of our Lord (Fiona Apple) no less? Frankly, it's embarrassing.
Neither did Jacob Collier.
Jacob Collier makes ambitious, maximalist music that sometimes sounds like a robot having an aneurysm. And that can be great, for certain moods. But it can also be messy and tiresome.
I'm not saying "Djesse Vol. 3" is bad, but I am saying that "Fetch the Bolt Cutters" and "After Hours" and "YHLQMDLG" and "Punisher" are all better.
Post Malone didn't need an album of the year nomination, either.
And while that may explain why he's consistently nominated in the Big Four categories, it certainly does not justify all of those decisions.
Post Malone definitely has an excellent ear for hooks, and he creates undeniably fun music.
It makes perfect sense to nominate "Circles" for record and song of the year, and "Hollywood's Bleeding" would've been a fine contender for best rap album, though it was not nominated and would not have deserved to win.
"Hollywood's Bleeding" feels like an autopilot choice from a predictable voting bloc, which is even more tragic when you consider the superior albums it beat out for the spot.
HAIM should have been nominated for best rock album, not album of the year.
I am very confused by how many album of the year nominees were not nominated in best album categories for more specific genres: not "Everyday Life" for best pop, nor "Hollywood's Bleeding" for best rap, nor "Djesse Vol. 3" for best dance/electronic, nor "Black Pumas" for best Americana or folk.
How can it be an "album of the year" if it isn't even the best in its field?
"Women in Music Pt. III" illustrates that very disjunction. It's HAIM's best album, but it's not the best rock album of 2020; that honor belongs to Phoebe Bridgers' "Punisher."
It should have been nominated for best rock album, to be sure, but it would not have deserved to win — so why should it compete for the ceremony's top honor?
Justin Bieber's "Changes" just wasn't a great album.
Justin Bieber received four nominations this year: best pop solo performance for "Yummy," best pop duo/group performance for "Intentions" featuring Quavo, best pop vocal album for "Changes," and best country duo/group performance for "10,000 Hours" with Dan + Shay.
The country nod I'll grant, but I do not understand nominating Bieber for "Changes." It was a lukewarm, uninspired album that I listened to exactly once and have never had the urge to revisit.
"Intentions" is reasonably catchy, but it's not Grammy-worthy. And "Yummy" may be the Recording Academy's most unpardonable failure. It's a bad song.
JP Saxe's "If the World Was Ending," featuring Julia Michaels, isn't song of the year caliber.
"If the World Was Ending" is a sweet, well-written song.
I respect that JP Saxe and Julia Michaels are the only two credited songwriters, so I get that it seems like a worthy contender for song of the year, which is an award that honors lyrics.
But I can name at least five songs off the top of my head that I'd rather see recognized in this category: "Moral of the Story" by Ashe, "Lose You to Love Me" by Selena Gomez (which was ironically cowritten by Michaels), "Supalonely" by BENEE, "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd, "You Should Be Sad" by Halsey. I could go on.
Lady Gaga should've gotten more nominations for "Rain on Me" instead of best pop vocal album.
"Chromatica" has some bangers — namely "Rain on Me" and "Sour Candy" — but it's not one of the year's top five best pop albums.
"Manic" should have been nominated in its place.
While "Chromatica" fails to maintain its high notes, "Manic" is unrelentingly affecting, flitting between genres with ease and establishing Halsey as one of music's strongest and bravest songwriters.
Drake and Future continue to garner praise for "Life Is Good," a music video that isn't very good.
As I wrote when Drake and Future were nominated for video of the year at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards: "Life Is Good" is almost too self-aware, clearly designed for the Twitter meme mill, and conceptually frustrating in the midst of a global pandemic.
To be fair, "Life Is Good" was released in January, a few months before the coronavirus got out of control and everyone decided to (metaphorically) eat the rich.
But now, watching two of music's wealthiest men pretend to be mediocre middle-class workers — when many of the people in those very jobs are having the hardest times of their lives — feels insulting.
Also, while we're at it, "Laugh Now, Cry Later" is a middling song in Drake's catalog. I'm not convinced it deserves a nomination for best rap song, especially when compared to strokes of genius like "Savage" and "The Box."
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