All were spurned to some degree by Grammy voters.
The nominations for the 2019 awards ceremony were announced on Friday morning, with Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B and Lady Gaga each picking up multiple nods in major categories. But each year, there are surprising oversights and confusing categorization issues, and the 2019 Grammy field is no different. Some of these omissions are predictable: Despite the increasing prevalence of Spanish-language music and hip-hop in every facet of pop culture, the Recording Academy does not reliably engage with those genres’ biggest and brightest names. Some were more surprising: Grammy darlings like Taylor Swift were nearly shut out. Here are the 10 biggest snubs.
Few artists have a more impressive track record at the Grammys than Taylor Swift: 31 nominations and 10 wins, including two for Album of the Year. Since 2008’s Fearless, every one of her full-lengths has received a nomination of some sort, and while 2017’s Reputation wasn’t as strong as 1989 or Red, it still sold well. So it was a shock to see that Swift is almost a non-factor in the Grammy nominations. Reputation received a nod in the Best Pop Vocal Album category but nowhere else. And none of the album’s singles were nominated in any category.
This versatile, propulsive genre has taken hold in every corner of the U.S. — the Puerto Rican star Ozuna has sold more than half a million albums in the country this year, according to Buzz Angle, which tracks music consumption — as well as the rest of the planet: The Dominican singer Natti Natasha is one of the most popular artists on YouTube around the globe. Depressingly, the Grammys continue to ignore Latin music in the general categories except in cases where Spanish-speaking artists are accompanied by American stars: Last year, that meant Justin Bieber with Luis Fonsi; this year, it’s Cardi B escorting Bad Bunny and J Balvin. And even within the Latin-only categories, the nominations remain a mess by ignoring what’s known as “Latin urban” music: Balvin’s Vibras and Ozuna’s Aura were obviously worthy of a Grammy nod, but both were shut out.
Astroworld was impeccably crafted — with help from wide-ranging, hyper-musical guests, including Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey — and wildly successful: It’s sold 1 million copies to date, and single “Sicko Mode” is the most popular record in the country this week. But shockingly, Scott is not nominated in any of the general categories. That’s all the more frustrating when you consider that Astroworld was made with Grammy voters in mind. “A real driver on this album too was when we got snubbed for the Grammys in 2016,” Scott’s A&R told Rolling Stone this year. “We were like, man, are they not respecting us? That’s when it was like, ‘No, y’all got it fucked up.’ We went back and wanted to make an album that was undeniable.” Yet the Recording Academy still denied them.
Grande was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance (“God Is a Woman”) and Best Pop Vocal Album (Sweetener), but she also came up empty in the general categories. This is odd, since Grande is one of the few pop singers seemingly unaffected by the streaming dominance of hip-hop: Sweetener, her fourth album, earned Grande her biggest opening week to date, and it has already spawned three hits. Her smash loosie “Thank U, Next” came out after the eligibility period for Grammy consideration had already ended. But the fact that it flew to Number One on the Hot 100 suggests that Grammy voters may have misjudged Grande.
K.T.S.E. was the biggest surprise from G.O.O.D. Music’s five-albums-in-five-weeks deluge: a succinct, varied, frequently beautiful record that revealed new aspects of Taylor’s artistry. It was also a bright spot for R&B, deviating from the sound that dominates the genre’s mainstream yet still spawning a sleeper hit in “Gonna Love Me.” But both the album and the single were overlooked in the Grammys’ R&B categories, which relied heavily on previous favorites — Toni Braxton (seven wins before this year) Meshell Ndegeocello (10 nominations before this year) and Miguel (10 nominations, one win) — or choices that would surprise most R&B fans, including Childish Gambino’s “Feels Like Summer” and Chloe x Halle’s The Kids Are Alright.
The Greatest Showman
Movie soundtracks fared well in the general categories. Black Panther: The Album received nods for Album, Song and Record of the Year, while “Shallow,” which appeared on the Lady Gaga–helmed soundtrack to A Star Is Born, also picked up nominations for Song and Record of the Year. But the glaring omission is the soundtrack to the Hugh Jackman vehicle The Greatest Showman, which has sold a stunning 1.7 million copies so far this year in the U.S. — more than Black Panther: The Album and A Star Is Born combined, according to data from Buzz Angle. With numbers like that, it’s bizarre that The Greatest Showman was stuck in the Best Compilation Soundtrack category. Sure, it would be an outlier, but so were the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack and the opera album The Three Tenors in Concert 1994.
It feels odd to say that Drake was snubbed since he has five nominations, including Album, Record and Song of the Year. But he’s not nominated for Rap Album of the Year, which is baffling, and none of his songs are up for Best Rap/Sung Performance — “In My Feelings,” anyone? — even though Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” is. This is even more confusing when you consider that during the past decade, no one has done more than Drake to bring down the wall between rapping and singing.
Lil Wayne sneaked out Tha Carter V just before the end of the Grammy eligibility period. The album was years in the making, and delayed multiple times by label shenanigans, and as a result, it was highly anticipated by hip-hop fans. But not, it seems, by Grammy voters. Lil Wayne did not receive a single nomination in any category.
Post Malone was excluded from consideration in the Best New Artist category, reportedly because his Stoney album had already introduced him to the masses. However, Alessia Cara was allowed into the category last year, despite having a massive hit already in “Here.” Hard-to-follow logic like that makes the Grammys puzzling for music fans.
Few casual listeners knew Juice Wrld in 2017; at this point, he’s almost a household name, with “Lucid Dreams” even managing to become a hit on rap-averse pop radio. That was not enough to impress Grammy voters, though. They ignored him in every category, including seemingly obvious ones like Best New Artist or Best Rap Song.