Though the 2020 Grammy Award nominations presented an inspiring array of industry veterans and newcomers—Ariana Grande! Lana Del Rey! Lizzo! Billie Eilish! Lil Nas X!—in the top categories, as always there just wasn’t enough space to please everybody.
Or, in some cases, do all of the deserving work justice.
For instance, though Lover is up for Best Pop Vocal Album, the title track is nominated for the prestigious Song of the Year and “You Need to Calm Down” is up for Best Pop Solo Performance, those three nominations weren’t enough for fans who swooned over what was arguably Taylor’s best work in years and represented a significant shift in style for the artist.
However, if she does win Song of the Year, Swift—who was just feted at the Sundance Film Festival for the premiere of her hotly anticipated Netflix documentary Miss Americana—will be the first solo writer to win in the category since Amy Winehouse in 2008. (All of the other nominated songs have at least two and as many as five credited writers.)
For the record, to be considered for this year’s ceremony, work had to be released between Oct. 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2019.
To qualify for Album of the Year consideration, the work must have at least five original songs, which Map of the Soul: Persona does (it has seven!), but it’s considered an EP and, though it did indeed sell 3.2 million units in a month to make it the best-selling album in South Korea in 24 years, it just didn’t stack up against the likes of the 14-track Cuz I Love You (Deluxe) by Lizzo or Ariana Grande‘s 12-song Thank U, Next.
It was more surprising that their collaboration with Halsey, “Boy With Luv,” didn’t get a Best Pop Duo/Group Performance nod—but as it turned out, Halsey and her No. 1 hit “Without Me” were also thoroughly snubbed.
After BTS fans were similarly bothered last year for the across-the-board snubbing, the Recording Academy did extend an invitation to the group members to join their ranks. And the lads, who presented last year, harbor no hard feelings—they’ll be making their Grammys performance debut on Sunday with Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus and Diplo.
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And despite the deserving stars of Parasite not earning any acting nominations from the Academy, last weekend the film made history by winning Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture at the 2020 SAG Awards, the first-ever foreign-language film to take that prize.
So, it goes to show that the opening of doors and paving of ways has always been frustratingly slow-going, but the industry gatekeepers are at least attempting to open those gates wider. As BTS fans who rationalized that they’re the real arbiters of how successful the group is pointed out, any awards that are based on fan votes—they’ve got this.
Rapper GoldLink wasn’t having it—on Tyler’s behalf or anybody else’s—and took to Instagram immediately to give the Grammys a piece of his mind.
“Honestly, its f–k Grammys til the day I die,” wrote the Diaspora artist, who was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance in 2018 for “Crew.” “I am no longer participating in that wild ass slave ass political ass cheating ass game any longer. The lack of relevance you have just solidified today is unbelievable. Tyler got one f–kin nomination in a category he didn’t even participate in knowing damn well he deserved album of the year.”
GoldLink, whose real name is D’Anthony Carlos, continued: “Burna Boy deserves more, Koffee deserves more. DaBaby couldn’t ‘qualify’ for best new artist apparently because he had ‘mixtapes’ in the past. No nod to Solange for taking a risk pushing the boundaries when nobody else was brave enough to do so. There’s not even a category for internationally black artist at all. Wtf do you think these kids learn when you tell them there black art isn’t good enough? Or isn’t noticed at all? I’ve just gotten to a point after three years of being silent on this topic, that my value is much beyond what closed door establishments have been giving us. Even how our peers are voting against us. I cannot partake.”
“Spirit’s” chances in the Pop Solo Performance category up against Grande’s “7 Rings,” Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” Billie Eilish’s Bad Guys and Swift’s anti-discrimination anthem “You Need to Calm Down” seem nil, but it’s free to soar in Song Written for Visual Media, since “Shallow” won last year.
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But no Album of the Year recognition, to the consternation of many still heartbroken Ally-Jackson shippers, meaning O Brother, Where Art Thou? remains the last film soundtrack to win in that category, back in 2002.
At least three female acts—Tanya Tucker, Reba McEntire and Pistol Annies—make the Best Country Album field a good ol’ boys-and-girls club, alongside Eric Church and Thomas Rhett.
For the second year in a row, five out of the eight nominees for Album of the Year are by women—Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, H.E.R. (for the second straight year) and Lana Del Rey. Bon Iver, Lil Nas X and Vampire Weekend, back with their first album in six years, round out the category.
(As for some men who may have been deserving, however, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships by English band The 1975 was named British Album of the Year at the 2019 Brit Awards but the lads only received one Grammy nomination, Best Rock Song for “Give Yourself a Try.”)
However, this year’s Best Americana Album field—Calexico and Iron & Wine, Madison Cunningham, Keb’ Mo’, J.S. Andara and Yola—and a more diverse array of artists in the Best American Roots Song and Performance categories at least up the chances that a person of color who’s under 70 years old is going to finally win in one of those three categories for the first time.
And while we’re on the subject of very set-in-their-ways genres…
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“Old Town Road” also has several chances to be recognized for the wildly successful melding of cultures that it is, with nods for Record of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video—three of Lil Nas X’s six nomination.
As dire as the situation might seem in any given year, there’s (almost) always a chance to do better next time.