In an effort to make the Grammy Awards more prestigious, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) slashed over 30 categories earlier this year. So how come the nominations for the 54th annual edition of these kudos are such a mixed bag? Sure, there are the expected and deserving contenders as well as some pleasant surprises, but, overall, a sea of mediocre music overshadows the Grammy nominees.
Adele capped off an incredible year with six, well-deserved nominations, including Album, Record and Song and of the Year for her multiplatinum “21.” As her competition is fairly underwhelming the British chanteuse, who won 2008 trophies for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal (“Chasing Pavements”), will likely go 6-6.
Many talented, quality acts who didn’t dominate pop radio -- including folk group Mumford and Sons, indie sensation Bon Iver, rap artist J. Cole and dub step act Skrillex -- all scored bids in the General Field.
With seven nominations, Kanye West is the most nominated artist this year and deservingly so. Both of his eligible albums are two of the better releases of this Grammy cycle.
Grammy voters continue to pepper some of the genre fields with interesting nominees. Corinne Bailey Rae’s excellent cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” was nominated in the R&B field while Tony Bennett’s “Body and Soul,” a duet with the late Amy Winehouse, was recognized in the pop field.
All the acts nominated in the dance categories are actual dance/electronica artists. In recent years, pop divas -- Rihanna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga -- have dominated this field.
With 16 wins, Beyonce has been well rewarded over the years. However, this year, her disappointing new disc "4" was limited to just two nods. And other veteran acts, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, received minimum nods for their so-so efforts.
The Grammys have a habit of rubber stamping artists a year after they were already honored. Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Rihanna all received multiple nominations last year, but voters still threw them filler nods this year.
The bland, stagnant R&B and country fields continue to weigh down Grammy ballots. Both genres had an unremarkable year quality wise and that is reflected in the lackluster nominations. The Band Perry, one of the year’s most popular country groups, scored a Best New Artist nomination but wasn’t able to garner any nominations in the country field. Meanwhile, voters filled the R&B categories with dull nominees yet snubbed Jill Scott and Jazmine Sullivan who put out two of the year’s better soul albums.
Not a single female-based act received a nomination in the male-dominated rock field.
Album of the Year is one of the worst lineups ever. It’s baffling that voters elected to nominate four pop albums, two of them middling, and one above average rock album. Bon Iver released one of the year’s most critically acclaimed albums and scored Record and Song of the Year and Best New Artist citations; he should’ve easily placed in Album of the Year as well. Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” is the most acclaimed rap album in years. It currently has a 94 on Metacritic and received perfect five-star reviews from several publications, including Rolling Stone. West’s snub in particular is disgraceful.