Grammys: Snubs and Surprises Include David Bowie, Alessia Cara and Beyonce in Rock
Who got left out for best new artist? Why isn’t Bowie in the major categories? And how hard should Mike Posner be partying right now? Inside the biggest shocks and letdowns.
The 59th annual Grammy Awards on Tuesday officially revealed their nominations, and although some of the major mentions were no-brainers — hello (again), Adele — as always, there were some glaring omissions and delightful inclusions, one of which includes the most surprising album of the year nominee in years.
Here are the 10 biggest snubs and surprises from this year’s field of competitors:
Where’s Alessia Cara? The “Here” singer was hoping for a best new artist nomination, and understandably so: Her positive pop-R&B has made her a Top 40 darling, as recently proven again on “Scars to Your Beautiful.” A major nom didn’t happen, but zero mentions at all for the 20-year-old Canadian? A complete shutout feels darn near irresponsible.
“One Dance” Sits Out This One. Drake has to feel pretty good today, with nominations throughout the rap categories and his first album of the year nom for Views. Still, it’s strange to see “One Dance” — the biggest song of the summer, and now one of the defining hits of Drake’s career — get shunned for lesser hip-hop singles, as well as in the record of the year category. At least Nineteen85, who produced “One Dance,” is up for producer of the year, Non-Classical.
Blackstar Doesn’t Get Anything Major. Smart money was on David Bowie’s swan song to have a shot at album of the year, delivering the legend his first win posthumously; the title track also was predicted to have a strong showing for record of the year and song of the year. Yet he is nowhere to be seen in the big four categories, and has been relegated to the rock and alternative fields. Bowie received a touching tribute at last year’s Grammys, but he’ll likely be remembered with awards outside the telecast in 2017.
Justin Timberlake Comes Up Short, Again. Do the Grammys have a problem with Justin Timberlake? A few years after The 20/20 Experience was shrugged off in the major categories, his No. 1 hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” couldn’t muster a record of the year nom, or show up anywhere in the pop categories (it did get nominated for best song written for visual media). A sunny smash like “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” should have been catnip for older Grammy voters, but this year, Timberlake got Troll-ed.
Kelsea Ballerini Makes Her Only Nomination Count. Kelsea Ballerini is one of the brightest young talents in country music, which is why she secured a coveted best new artist nomination. Still, it’s head-scratching that the 23-year-old doesn’t show up in any other category, unlike her fellow BNA nominee Maren Morris, who is all over the country categories. “Peter Pan” couldn’t have flown into best country song, or best country solo performance?
Sturgill Simpson’s AOTY Shocker. You’d have to go back three years, to Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest, to find a more startling album of the year nominee than Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. The country-rock auteur’s major-label debut, Guide was critically acclaimed but not universally beloved; the album debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart, but was not a commercial blockbuster. In other words, very few people saw this nomination coming — but kudos to an underrated singer-songwriter for surprising the industry and broadening his listenership.
Mike Posner’s Comeback Is (Nearly) Complete. It was one thing for the “Cooler Than Me” singer to return to the upper reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 with a song about how falling out of fame damaged his psyche. It’s quite another for Mike Posner to be nominated for song of the year for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” especially since it was an uptempo remix of the song that brought it to the masses. Here’s to one of the more amazing comeback stories of 2016; let’s see if Posner can polish off the fairytale ending in February.
Beyonce Is In a Rock Category! That’s right, Queen Bey will compete against Bowie, Alabama Shakes, Disturbed and Twenty One Pilots in the best rock performance category, with Lemonade standout “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Sure, Jack White assisted on the track, but still, that’s pretty surreal to consider. Imagine a Grammy voter trying to decide between Disturbed and Beyonce for best rock performance! Sometimes, the Grammys can be wacky fun.
Gojira and Highly Suspect Crash the Rock Party. Speaking of the unexpected delights from the rock nominees, alt-rock underdogs Highly Suspect’s “My Name Is Human” getting a best rock song nod, as well as French heavy-metal band Gojira stumbling into the best rock album roundup with Magma, are both completely unexpected and undoubtedly thrilling for the two groups. Do they have a shot at beating mainstays like Radiohead, Weezer and Panic! at the Disco? No, probably not. But look at how far they’ve already come...
De La Soul’s Passion Project Gets Rewarded. And finally, three cheers for hip-hop pioneers De La Soul, whose journey to the release of new album And the Anonymous Nobody… was long and well-documented. The indie release will compete against more high-profile projects from Drake, Kanye West and Chance the Rapper for best rap album, but for De La Soul, returning to the Grammys will be a treat. (Fun fact: The group has won one Grammy in its 30-year history, for the Gorillaz collaboration “Feel Good Inc.”)
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.