It’s Grammy season again, which means more outrageous snubs, more left-field coronations, more suspiciously established Best New Artist nominees, more wayward rap opinions, and more delightful calamity overall. Nominees for the 2019 Grammys, to be held February 10, were announced Friday morning; here are the biggest winners, sorest losers, and most GIF-worthy selections, whether the GIF in question involves Lady Gaga or Nick Young.
Loser: Pop Stars (?!)
No Taylor Swift. No Ariana Grande. No Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Despite expanding to eight nominees apiece this year, the three major categories—Album of the Year, Song of the Year (for songwriting), and Record of the Year (for an overall single)—are conspicuously light on the most conspicuous names. You’ll find Drake, Cardi B, and Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack there, but the suspects get awfully unusual from then on. Snubbing the Carters’ relatively minor Everything Is Love maybe makes sense, given that it includes Jay rapping the line “Tell the Grammys fuck that 0-for-8 shit.” But the big-three blackout for Swift’s Reputation is a major deal, even more so than last year’s monumental disrespect for Ed Sheeran. I feel sorrier for Grande, though: No pop star had a more prominent year, and a major-category win for Sweetener or one of its many fine jams would’ve been a crowd-pleasing sort of coronation. (“Thank u, next” came out too late to be eligible, though, so watch this space this time next year, probably.)
Winner: Nonchalant Chaos
So here’s what the Album of the Year field looks like instead: Drake’s Scorpion, Cardi’s Invasion of Privacy, Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer, Kendrick’s Black Panther soundtrack, and Kacey Musgraves’s Golden Hour were nominated, as was more or less expected. And the nomination for Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys comes as no great surprise, wince as you might. But the nods for R&B upstart H.E.R.’s self-titled debut album (with an October 2017 release date that barely beat the eligibility window) and country singer Brandi Carlile’s By the Way, I Forgive You are legitimate shocks. Carlile is wonderful and undersung, such that her previous five albums netted one Grammy nomination total, for Best Americana Album; H.E.R. is a well-liked newcomer, though any win for her will only magnify last year’s nearly-as-monumental disrespect for SZA. I am glad that confused listeners are likely flocking to both of those very fine records Friday morning. But I can understand their confusion.
Winner: The Raddest Soundtracks
Here’s the nominations for Record of the Year: Cardi for “I Like It,” Carlile for “The Joke” (OK, sure! It’s great!), Drake for “God’s Plan,” Post Malone for “Rockstar,” Zedd and Maren Morris for “The Middle,” Childish Gambino for “This Is America,” and two primo multiplex jams in Kendrick and SZA’s “All the Stars” and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow.” The Black Panther soundtrack may lack Kendrick’s cult-of-personality focus, but it’s a very deep and strange and rewarding head trip, and it’s an endearingly Peak Grammys notion that it might get the major-category love that his Pulitzer-winning Damn. did not. “Shallow,” meanwhile, kicks all kinds of ass and deserves to win even those categories in which it is not nominated, such as Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Notably, the unlikely box office and Billboard-chart juggernaut The Greatest Showman did not share in this major-category bounty, though “This Is Me” got one nomination, and the full album will vie for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media with the likes of Stranger Things, Call Me by Your Name, Deadpool 2 (!), and Lady Bird (!!!).
Song of the Year keeps “God’s Plan,” “The Joke,” “All the Stars,” “This Is America,” “Shallow,” and “The Middle,” boots Cardi and Post Malone, and adds Shawn Mendes’s “In My Blood” and Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up.” If you must speak against “Shallow,” root for the two outliers: “Boo’d Up” was the rare legit Song of Summer candidate that never grew tiresome, and “In My Blood” cowriter Teddy Geiger has a hell of a story. I would’ve subbed in Kacey Musgraves’s “High Horse.” Still, her Album of the Year nomination for Golden Hour is an excellent capper to a quietly dominant year, and she looks poised to wreck shop in the country subcategories, unless the Grammys shift to autopilot and just hand all the trophies to Chris Stapleton. (Including, yes, Best Improvised Jazz Solo.)
Loser: Particularly Intense Rap Fans, As Usual
By a certain, uh, enlightened way of thinking, Travis Scott is likewise a major-category snub, with “Sicko Mode” left to fight it out in the rap-song categories with the likes of Drake, Kendrick, and (!!) Eminem, and Astroworld vying for Best Rap Album along with Cardi, Pusha T, Nipsey Hussle, and Mac Miller in a lovely gesture, at least. The Grammys still struggle enormously with rap music, with no Album of the Year victors in that sphere since Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004. It would be very funny, and very bad, if Post Malone broke that streak; it would be theoretically justified but somehow even funnier if Drake’s Scorpion did, given that the album will likely turn out to be longer than the Grammy ceremony itself.
Winner: Lovers of “Best New Artist” Wackiness
The historically goofiest Grammy category, which was won last year by Alessia Cara in a bizarre upset she’s still getting sassed about, is this year toplined by H.E.R. (promote your publicist), Bebe Rexha (your publicist was already promoted), and the oldest young people on planet earth, Greta Van Fleet, who you might be rooting for whether you love or hate ’em, given that Best New Artist is probably cursed.
Winners: Lovers of Grammy Wackiness in General
Presented without comment, here are your Best Music Video nominees: Jay-Z and Beyoncé for “Apeshit,” Childish Gambino for “This Is America,” Janelle Monáe for “Pynk,” Tierra Whack for “Mumbo Jumbo,” and Joyner Lucas for “I’m Not Racist.” OK, fine, one comment: I love the Grammys.