The Most Critically-Acclaimed Snubs Of The 2016 Grammys

At least the nomination committee got the Kendrick Lamar part right.

Rapper Drake — (REUTERS)
Dec 07, 2015 at 3:51 PM ET

This year’s Grammy nominations have landed, and unsurprisingly, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd cleaned up, racking up 11 and 7 nominations respectively.

But it’s also time once again to collectively grimace at the nomination committee’s complete lack of awareness—and relevance—when it comes to the rest of its nomination rationale. As such, we went through the major categories: Album of the Year, Song (and Record) of The Year, Best New Artist, and the Best Albums For Pop, Urban Contemporary, R&B, Rap, Rock, Alternative and Country, subjectively highlighting notable Grammy snubs based on personal opinions, published reviews and placement on year-end lists.

(And for anyone about to start yelling about Adele, 25 missed the September 30th cutoff date to be eligible for this year’s awards.)

Album of the Year
Nominees: Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color; Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly; Chris Stapleton – Traveller; Taylor Swift – 1989; The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

Trying to pick the five “best” albums from a never ending sea of music is basically futile, but at the very least, the Musical Ministry of Truth managed to find a sweet spot between critical acclaim, commercial performance and diversity of sound with this year’s picks, which include Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Taylor Swift’s 1989.

That said, Sufjan Stevens, Sleater-Kinney and Vince Staples can all make legitimate case they were slighted when it came to their respective releases, Carrie & Lowell, No Cities To Love and Summertime ‘06.

Song/Record of the Year
Record Of The Year Nominees: “Really Love” – D’Angelo And The Vanguard; “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars; “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran; “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift; “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

Song Of The Year Nominees: Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”; Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”; Little Big Town – “Girl Crush”; Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”; Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

The Song and Record Of The Year categories–whose differences you can learn about here–is almost always the exclusive domain of chart topping singles. And while this means we’re stuck discussing the relative merits of Ed Sheeran and a song from the “Furious 7” Soundtrack, the Musical Kremlin sometimes comes to its senses and finds room for D’Angelo as well.

That said, Drake’s “Hotline Bling”–a song that spawned a billion covers and a whole goddamn mixtape from Erykah Badu–is nowhere to be found on this list. Even if it did sort of rip off that D.R.A.M. song, it’s still the best “big time” single of the year. Jack Ü and Justin Bieber’s “Where Are You Now” isn’t too far behind either.

Best New Artist:
Nominees: Courtney Barnett; James Bay; Sam Hunt; Tori Kelly; Meghan Trainor

Courtney Barnett and Meghan Trainor are generally inoffensive picks here, but it’s hard to imagine a world where Fetty Wap, who basically had every song he ever recorded this summer hit the Billboard charts, isn’t a part of this conversation.

Vince Staples, Tinashe, and Arca–who put out his debut album, Xen, last November and was a main contributor to Björk’s album Vulnicura–should all probably be on this list as well.

Best Pop Album
Nominees: Kelly Clarkson – Piece By Piece; Florence + The Machine – Piece By Piece; Mark Ronson – Uptown Special; Taylor Swift – 1989; James Taylor – Before This World 

Even though her sophomore album Emotion was pretty-good-if-not-life-changing, it’s still surprising not to see Carly Rae Jepsen’s name here because her music is more or less tailor-made for nominations in this category.

Miguel’s Wildheart should probably be amongst the nominees as well, but instead it has been relegated to “Best Urban Contemporary Album,” which is basically the Musical Stazi’s way of ghettoizing pop music made by people with melanin.

Tinashe’s Aquarius, is nowhere to be found on either list. However, non-memorable contributions from Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor are.

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Nominees: The Internet – Ego Death; Kehlani – You Should Be Here; Lianne La Havas – Blood; Miguel – Wildheart; The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

This horrifically-defined category, which includes releases from Miguel, Kehlani, The Internet, Lianne La Havas, and The Weeknd, is one of the stronger ones this year as far as quality albums go. But inclusion on this list should be treated as a snub of the highest degree.

Best R&B Album
Nominees: Leon Bridges – Coming Home; D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah; Andra Day – Cheers To The Fall; Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show; Charlie Wilson – Forever Charlie

If you count Miguel and Tinashe as slightly more pop than R&B, this year’s list isn’t too shabby (especially considering that many of the year’s major releases came out after the September 30th cutoff.)

Best Rap Album
Nominees: J. Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive; Dr. Dre – Compton; Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late; Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly; Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint

The only saving grace of this category is that Kendrick made his way in, but that was a no-brainer considering he’s also up for 10 other awards. In a fair and just world, Future’s Dirty Sprite 2, Young Thug’s Barter 6, Killer Mike and El-P’s Run The Jewels 2 and Vince Staples’ Summertime ‘06 would round out this list.

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Nominees: Caribou – Our Love; The Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes; Disclosure – Caracal; Jamie XX – In Colour; Skrillex and Diplo – Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

Caribou’s Our Love aside, these are not the best electronic albums of 2015. But they are the best ones that were heard by more than 10 people, so the Department of Musical Services gets a pass here.

Best Rock Album
Nominees: James Bay – Chaos And The Calm; Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi; Highly Suspect – Mister Asylum; Muse – Drones; Slipknot – .5: The Grey Chapter

Anything else–yes, ANYTHING–which qualifies as a “Rock” album was snubbed in 2015. Does Sleater-Kinney really not count as “Rock”?

Nominees: Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color; Björk – Vulnicura; My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall; Tame Impala – Currents; Wilco – Star Wars

The musical crimes committed here are minimal, but if I were Sufjan Stevens, Destroyer, Courtney Barnett, or Father John Misty, I’d probably still be a little pissed off.

Nominees: Sam Hunt – Montevallo; Little Big Town – Pain Killer; Ashley Monroe – The Blade; Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material; Chris Stapleton – Traveller 

For the most part, these nominees look completely respectable!