Saturday, December 6, 2014

The 57th Annual Grammy Award Nominations

The Grammys, perhaps rightfully, have a reputation for being ridiculous and unnecessary at best and aggressively blind to current pop tastes at worst. This is really true of any awards show, but the Grammys take the biggest lumps for it. This is namely because the music industry is so far-reaching that it's impossible to compile a selection of all the great music in a given 12-month period in general, much less fit them into five-to-six-nominee categories. So, naturally, just about every decision is going to be controversial in some way. C'est la Grammys.

Anyway, this year's nominees feature an interesting mix of sounds and artists, almost all of which had major pop success this past year. Beyonce, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams lead the nominees with six apiece, while a number of other artists - including Jack White, Iggy Azalea, Eric Church, Sia, and Usher - have four each. Here are the nominees for the four major general field categories.

"Fancy," Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX
"Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)," Sam Smith
"Chandelier," Sia
"Shake It Off," Taylor Swift
"All About That Bass," Meghan Trainor

All of these songs made an appearance in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 chart at some point this past year, so none of them come across as particularly surprising. Notable omissions "Happy," by Pharrell Williams, and "All of Me," by John Legend, were not eligible, having been released during the previous eligibility period (for the 57th Grammys, this is October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014).

The rest after the jump.

Morning Phase, Beck
In the Lonely Hour, Sam Smith
X, Ed Sheeran
Girl, Pharrell Williams
Beyonce, Beyonce

The biggest surprise here is Morning Phase, a very well-received album from Beck that came out this past winter but has largely been forgotten since then. The Grammy committee apparently remembered, however, giving Beck his third career nomination in this category. Not bad for a guy best-known to most for the fluke slacker-rock hit "Loser." Similarly, I don't know how many people were counting Sheeran in for this one, but he's been nominated in one of these four categories for three consecutive years now, which is rather impressive. Where is Taylor Swift's 1989, you ask? It was released after the eligibility cutoff, so expect her to clean up next year.

"Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)," Sam Smith (James Napier, William Phillips, and Sam Smith, songwriters)
"Chandelier," Sia (Sia Furler & Jesse Shatkin, songwriters)
"Shake It Off," Taylor Swift (Max Martin, Shellback, and Taylor Swift, songwriters)
"All About That Bass," Meghan Trainor (Kevin Kadish & Meghan Trainor, songwriters)
"Take Me to Church," Hozier (Andrew Hozier-Byrne, songwriter)

It's exciting to see Hozier receive a nomination here, especially now that the Irish blusey-rocker is reaching the apex of success Stateside. On another note, I'm a bit disappointed in the nomination for "Shake It Off." I say that as a big fan of Swift and the song, but it's not exactly the best representation of her writing talents (in fact, it's easily the weakest track on the 1989 album).

Sam Smith
Iggy Azalea
Brandy Clark

Sam Smith

This is always one of the most interesting categories, not only for its ridiculously convoluted rules but also for the eclectic mix of genres and styles that end up here. I'm extremely happy for Haim, a group that landed very high on my top albums and top songs lists from last year. Sam Smith, as you may have noticed, is nominated in all four of these categories. Should he win them all (and it could very well happen), he would join Christopher Cross as the only artists to win all four categories* in a single night.

*Adele is the only other artist to win all four general field Grammys, but she didn't do it in the same year, winning Best New Artist in 2009 and the rest three years later. Fittingly, Smith has garnered a lot of comparisons to Adele, so here's another one that could end up coming true.

A full list of nominees can be found here. The 57th Annual Grammy Awards will be held February 8, 2015.

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