Grammy voters had to know something was amiss last year, when even winners
started protesting their picks.
This year, the Album of the Year nominees suggest that voters are trying to make
up for it and head off any accusations of being out of touch from the start. The five
contenders announced Tuesday are impressively representative of the best pop
music around — not just the artist that sold the most.
Bruno Mars’ slick third album “24K Magic” is the most obvious, big-budget pop
release of the year in the category, but the snubs are glaring.
Ed Sheeran’s “Divide” is among the missing, so the poor lamb will just have to make
do with his gargantuan sales and nearly $70 million net worth.
Also shut out are Harry Styles’ self-titled album and Lady Gaga’s “Joanne,” which refer
strongly to the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Elton John — the kind of middle-of-theroad,
dated soft-rock influences that Grammy voters usually lap up.
Instead — and unusually — the Album of the Year nominees tend toward work rooted
in the present, not the past.
Consider Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” and Jay Z’s “4:44,” choices that highlight hiphop’s
continued creative dominance. Lamar is the premier modern emcee at the
peak of his power, pushing the genre into new territory. Meanwhile, Hova has looked
inward with “4:44” and produced the most painfully honest album of his career. His
tally of eight Grammy nods in total — more than any other artist — is a just reward.
Childish Gambino’s superb psych-funk odyssey, “Awaken, My Love!,” could have
easily slipped through the cracks, as he didn’t tour or promote it extensively. The
same could be said of Lorde’s “Melodrama,” which hit No. 1, but didn’t spawn any
smash hit singles. Their inclusion shows that Grammy voters have been paying close
When the award for “Album of the Year” is handed out at Madison Square Garden in
January, there really shouldn’t be any huge miscarriage of justice this time around.
Unless Sheeran decides to invade the stage in a Kanye-style protest.
By Hardeep Phull