61st Grammy picks are controversial, as usual

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61st Grammy picks are controversial, as usual

The nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards were announced Dec. 7.

The nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards were announced Dec. 7.

Courtesy of Recording Academy

The nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards were announced Dec. 7.

Courtesy of Recording Academy

Courtesy of Recording Academy

The nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards were announced Dec. 7.

Erik Wallin, Staff Writer

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As per usual, the 61st Grammy nominations that were released on the morning of Dec. 7 carried some controversy. After expanding the number of general category nominations from five to eight to increase the competitive field, the issues surrounding nominated albums were supposed to be quelled.

Arguably, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year nominations left out three expected front-runners: Sweetener by Ariana Grande, reputation, by Taylor Swift, and Everything is Love, by The Carters, otherwise known as power couple, JAY-Z and Beyoncé.

Rap continues to dominate the music industry, with half of the Album of the Year nominees belonging to the genre. However, there have been a few wondering about the rap category nominations.

Artists who write their own songs are typically considered over artists who just perform the songs given to them. Cardi B, one of the nominees for Record of the Year and Album of the Year, however, had no writing credits on her album Invasion of Privacy. Yet, other Hip-Hop artists who released critically acclaimed albums that they had at least partially written, such as Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott, J Cole, and Lil Wayne, were not nominated at all.

Sweetener broke the highest streaming weekend for a female artist’s album when it dropped in August.

Another artist subject to the controversial nominations was Ariana Grande. Her 4th album,  Sweetener, released on August 17th of 2018, recorded the biggest Spotify streaming week for a female artist with 109 million streams. It also claimed 1,442,000 million worldwide sales and 207,000 pure-album sales in the US, broke multiple records and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. Additionally, Sweetener sourced the hit-single, no tears left to cry, Grande’s comeback single. It debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and has garnered 397,286,568 streams–the most streamed song of the album.

The reason it was so controversial that Grande only received nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo performance is that after dropping successful album Sweetener, Grande was expected to run away with multiple awards.

Everything is Love, is the comeback album for both Beyonce and JAY-Z after they both lost the Album of the Year award in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

 

Everything is Love, the joint studio album from superstars, JAY-Z and Beyoncé, was a surprise album that

dropped on June 16th. This album, which completed the trilogy of albums that the Carters have released as insight into their marriage, holds hit-single APESH*T. It did receive three nominations, but along with reputation and Sweetener, the Recording Academy denied it Record of the Year and Album of the Year nominations.

One of the biggest surprises was Taylor Swift’s reputation only being nominated in one category, Best Pop Vocal Album.

In 2017, which ended seven weeks after Swift released reputation, it sold 1.9 million copies and had the best album sales of the year, beating Ed Sheeran’s Divide. It topped the 2018 Billboard’s Year-End Album chart in sales as well, beating out Drake’s Scorpion, despite being released in November of 2017. Worldwide, reputation has sold 4,458,000 copies and has 2,172,000 pure album sales in the US.

The conundrum is, why reputation, the highest selling album of both 2017 and 2018, was not nominated for album of the year. In fact,

reputation was the highest selling album in both 2017 & 2018 and yet was not nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy’s.

reputation outsold every album nominated for Album of the Year combined in pure sales and was the source of Swift’s record-breaking tour.

 

The Reputation Stadium Tour visited the United States, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. It became the highest grossing tour in the United States, beating out the Rolling Stones. It also is now the second highest grossing female tour ever at $345.7 million, with Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour grossing even higher, at $408 million.

The Tour was 100% sold out and cycled in rave reviews. The Arizona Republic wrote that “there were many moments in the course Swift’s performance that felt like she was playing to the back rows of the stadium by simply sharing with her fans.”

While successful tours may not have the largest effect on nominations, it should still be considered that the largest U.S. tour ever stemmed from the album with the most sales. That should have been enough to secure Swift an Album of the Year nomination.

Billboard, Rolling Stones, Daily Mail, People, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, USA Today, and the LA Times have named reputation as one of the albums that got snubbed.

USA Today remarked “If the entirety of the Grammy’s main categories were made up of shining examples of representation, Swift’s exclusion would make sense. But they aren’t- it’s a rat race that pits the actual best albums against random nominees whose names seem drawn from a hat.”

The Rolling Stones even went as far as saying it was the Grammy’s biggest snub of the year saying “Swift’s sixth LP was the biggest-selling and most divisive album of 2017 and 2018 — and it’s now her least-nominated album since her self-titled debut.”

Despite this, the increase in female nominees in the top four categories is refreshing, going from six last year, to fourteen this year. It’s especially remarkable to see Janelle Monáe, H.E.R., Brandi Carlile, and Kacey Musgraves in the Album of the Year category after many doubted they’d be nominated. One of the most notable surprises was Christina Aguilera, scoring two nominations–one with Demi Lovato for Best Pop Duo Performance in Fall in Line, and one with Goldlink Best Rap/Sung performance for Like I Do, both off of Aguilera’s Liberation, her first album in six years.

With or without the controversy, the Grammy Awards is still the biggest night in music and all of the artists nominated released music exceptional enough to be noticed by the Recording Academy. The Grammy Awards will be broadcast live on CBS from 8 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Feb. 10.

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