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THE GRAMMY NOMS: A PRELIMINARY CHEW

The 2020 Grammy nominations are definitely a mixture of “uh-huh” and “huh?” Some made perfect sense, some were right down the middle and a few twisted our melons.

As expected, the Committee did the right thing by showering Billie Eilish and Lizzo with multiple noms, including all four of the top-tier categories.

As expected, Lil Nas X was anointed—and his haul exceeded expectations to include an Album nod for his seven-song EP.

As expected, Rosalía made the top tier with a Best New Artist nom.

As hoped, Ariana Grande got her due and was finally invited into the Grammy club for real, as the creative leaps she made in the last couple of years were recognized.

As hoped, Maggie Rogers made it into the Best New Artist field.

It was good to see the Academy give top-tier love to critically acclaimed artists like Lana Del Rey, past honoree Bon Iver and beloved Alterna-rockers Vampire Weekend, all of whom earned big plaudits for their full-length releases (Album seems to be especially influenced by critical love).

It made sense that Post Malone got one top-tier nod as well as recognition in Pop Duo/Group.

Taylor Swift’s Song nod for “Lover” made perfect sense. Her exclusion from Album? Not so much.

Lewis Capaldi, once believed to be a strong contender for every top-tier category, was acknowledged only in Song for the mega-smash “Someone You Loved.”

Capaldi’s exclusion from Best New Artist opens the topic of that category’s composition, which is equal parts “uh-huh” and “huh.” Billie, Lizzo, Lil Nas, Maggie and Rosalía? Absolutely. Black Pumas, Tank and the Bangas and Yola? We’ve heard of most of them, but at the expense of important arrivals like Capaldi and Summer Walker? Huh.

Tyler, The Creator's wildly inventive IGOR didn't make the AOTY cut. Huh?

Similarly, it was mystifying to see two smashes that had enormous impact—“Señorita” by Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello and the Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker”—relegated to Pop, when both would seem to have all the requisite qualities for a Record nod.

HER’s surprise inclusion in AOTY underscores that this artist—who has already been crowned by the Academy—is now part of the in crowd, much the way Sheryl Crow and John Mayer became in the past.

We note that Pop Vocal Album will see an array of megastars—Taylor, Ariana, Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran—battle it out with Billie. Has this category become the place where established stars are recognized? Huh. (It’s interesting to note that Billie and Post both garnered several noms in the Pop categories, which is duly reflective of how they’ve helped redefine what “pop” is now.)

Traditional Pop, meanwhile, is a catch-all cocktail party with an extremely eclectic guest list: Andrea Bocelli, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Michael Bublé and Barbra Streisand. Pass the canapés.

We’ll have more commentary soon, but for now we note a number of logical choices, some long overdue justice done and a few headscratchers. That’s what makes it a ball game, right?

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