That One Odd Grammy Nominee

Vinyl Bay 777 looks at some of the more unusual 2017 Grammy nominations

This morning (December 6), the nominees for the 2017 Grammy Awards were announced. A lot of the pop artists you would expect have been nominated. Beyoncé has the most nominations with nine, followed closely by Rihanna, Drake and Kanye West, each with eight nods.

But this article isn’t about the expected. For a few years now it seems that the Grammys have been trying to throw a little variety into the mix. It’s not necessarily enough to make it seem fair, but there has been this tendency as of late to put someone in there to make it look like they are paying attention to more than what is traditionally popular.

Go back to 2010. During that year’s ceremony, the Best New Artist award went to a singer named Esperanza Spalding. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you are not alone. Spalding is a jazz singer and upright bassist, not your typical big Grammy winner. That same year, Arcade Fire’s ‘The Suburbs’ won Album of the Year. Again, even though they are a great band, the general audience of the Grammys probably wouldn’t know who they are. The very next year, the same thing happened. Bon Iver won the award for Best New Artist and everyone freaked out because no one knew them, nor did anyone know how to pronounce their name.

Now that there is this trend as of late for the academy to try their best to add some variety to the big four categories, how do this year’s nominees stack up? There are a lot of head-scratching choices here. For one, Sturgill Simpson’s ‘A Sailor’s Guide To Earth’ is nominated for Album of the Year amongst four of the best-selling pop albums of 2016, most notably Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ and Adele’s ’25,’ which single-handedly brought the music industry back from its all-time album sales low. Then under best new artist you have Anderson .Paak, who we haven’t heard a lot from yet, against artists like Kelsea Ballerini, The Chainsmokers and Chance The Rapper, who have been everywhere in the last year.

This is going on in the smaller, more defined categories as well. In rock music, newcomer Highly Suspect’s “My Name Is Human” is nominated for Best Rock Song” and black metal band Gojira are nominated for Best Metal Performance (not surprising) and Best Rock Album (a little surprising given that the other artists nominated are more well known).

Then you have some nominations that do not make sense at all. For some strange reason, Beyoncé is nominated for Best Rock Performance among the way more deserving Alabama Shakes, David Bowie, Disturbed and Twenty One Pilots. Under Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, folk rocker Bob Dylan and country staple Willie Nelson are up against the more traditional Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and Barbra Streisand.

Perhaps The Grammys should be lauded for including a more interesting array of artists in their nominations. After all, the artists nominated always get a little boost in sales and the added bonus of an extra month of name recognition. Will an artist like Sturgill Simpson beat out powerhouses like Beyoncé and Adele? No one will know until February 12, the night of the show. One thing is for certain, off beat nominations keep the show interesting and show that there might actually be some thought put into what gets to be considered good art.

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