Grammy Nominations 2023: Surprises, Snubs, & More Takeaways

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MTV/Paramount Global)

Grammy Nominations 2023: Surprises, Snubs, & More Takeaways

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MTV/Paramount Global)

For such a mundane institution, the Grammys have a way of bringing out extreme emotions, from scathing of-course-they-did laughter to searing oh-no-they-didn’t anger. Here are some takeaways from the newly unveiled nominations.

Extremely Predictable Even By Grammy Standards

The Recording Academy of course always ignores vast galaxies of great music, but within the awards-bait tier of the music industry, the biggest surprise about this year’s crop of nominees is how predictable it is. The “big four” general field categories mostly lined up with oddsmakers’ predictions. Even omissions from the major categories, like Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Raise The Roof (a prestige Americana sequel that seemed like a shoo-in for an Album Of The Year nod) and Encanto’s “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (the biggest Disney hit in years, penned by awards magnet Lin-Manuel Miranda), were nominated in genre categories.

Superstars like Harry Styles, Adele, Doja Cat, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, and Bad Bunny were showered with the expected wealth of nominations, as were longtime Grammy favorites like Brandi Carlile and Coldplay. Beyond her place in the major races, Beyoncé landed nominations in categories labeled as R&B, Traditional R&B, and Dance/Electronic; we’re surprised they didn’t find space for her in rock, pop, and country too. Although the Academy did not go so far as to nominate a re-recorded Taylor Swift album, several tracks from Red (Taylor’s Version) are up for awards — including one in a country category. Silk Sonic, who won big with debut single “Leave The Door Open” last year, opted not to submit their album for consideration.

Snubs Of Note

Still, there are some big stars who are probably feeling pretty disappointed. Perennial snub Ed Sheeran, the kind of guy who seems like he would be swimming in nominations, was left out in the cold again, save for one measly Camila Cabello collab in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. We would have expected to see Rosalía’s MOTOMAMI in the Album Of The Year race, but she’s been limited to Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album. (Somehow that decidedly not-rocking album been dropped into the Latin Rock Or Alternative bucket instead of Latin Pop or Música Urbana.) John Legend, a Recording Academy associate who can’t seem to stop winning awards, only got on the slate through a collaboration with DJ Khaled, who has way more nominations than anyone could have expected. Legend, it’s worth noting, recently told me he’d be OK with never winning any more awards.

There was no love for Alicia Keys, Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion, Carrie Underwood, Nicki Minaj, or Blackpink, either. Perhaps most notably within the Grammy universe, last year’s big winner, Jon Batiste, was not nominated for either of the new tracks he released within the nomination window. And as Billie Eilish would surely tell you, the Grammys usually love to nominate low-stakes follow-up singles from last year’s winners. (Speaking of which, don’t worry, the Grammys remembered to nominate Eilish’s concert film and the song she wrote for Pixar’s Turning Red.)

Oddsmakers Whiff On Best New Artist

The one major category that defied projections was Best New Artist, where favorites like Zach Bryan, Joji, Dove Cameron, Blxst, Tate McRae, and Mitski (lol) were all omitted. One band the Grammys and this website can agree on is Wet Leg, who we named a Band To Watch in 2021. The young jazz duo DOMi & JD Beck also cracked our recent list of this year’s Best New Bands. On the other hand, emphatically do not agree with the inclusion of Måneskin.

Cancel Culture Doesn’t Exist At The Recording Academy

Louis C.K. and Arcade Fire, two acts that have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, are both nominated this year. So is Dave Chappelle, whose takes on transgender people have made him a lightning rod but haven’t seemed to cost him any career opportunities. (He hosted SNL three days ago.) So the lack of nods for Morgan Wallen, who faced blowback for his use of a racial slur last year but was fairly rapidly welcomed back into the industry’s good graces, must be strictly qualitative and not disciplinary. We will assume that Kanye West’s Donda 2 would not have been nominated even before his recent pivot into antisemitism.

The Rock Categories Are Still So Confusing

The rock categories continue to be a bizarre grab bag. Best Rock Album pits first-time nominees Spoon and Machine Gun Kelly against each other. The field for Best Rock Performance somehow includes both Bryan Adams and Turnstile. Turnstile also ended up in Best Metal Performance, where they’re competing against… Muse? Somehow the category that includes Brandi Carlile, Ozzy Osbourne, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Turnstile, and the War On Drugs is the most coherent slate under the rock umbrella. We’d offer alternatives the Academy should have considered if we had any idea what kind of calculus went into these selections.

The Rap Categories Are Still So Depressing

Jack Harlow, a proven chart champion who has completed his immersion into the broader entertainment industry, was preordained as a multiple nominee, but it still makes the soul ache to see his godawful Come Home The Kids Miss You taking up real estate in the Best Rap Album category. DJ Khaled’s inclusion there is puzzling and nihilistic. No one was expecting, like, billy woods to be nominated, but it would have been nice to see some love for Vince Staples, who has similarly entrenched himself within the halls of power. At least we can be fairly certain Kendrick Lamar will win that one, right? Right? (Oh lord, they’re going to give it to DJ Khaled, aren’t they?)

ABBA? ABBA!

The legendary Swedish pop hit-makers ABBA are up for Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year, as well as Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. The Grammys couldn’t Grammy much harder than an ABBA explosion in 2023. It would be like Steely Dan over Radiohead and Eminem all over again. If we could bring ourselves to care about who wins these things anymore, we’d almost be rooting for that kind of chaos, Joker-style. Almost.

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