Grammy snubs and surprises: Lizzo leads, Taylor Swift underperformed and rock is a mess

From left, Lewis Capaldi, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Lizzo are earned Grammy nominations in key categories such as album of the year and song of the year. 

The Grammy nominations are out.

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards won’t be handed out until January, but Wednesday’s announcement of the nominees was exciting. Lizzo was nominated for eight awards while Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X each got six nods.

And all three were nominated for record of the year, album of the year and best new artist.

Music’s most prestigious award shows off the state of music today, and there’s a lot to be excited about, a few snubs to consider and more than one head-scratching decision.

Lizzo leads the pack. As well she should. Those of us who have known about her for awhile have been trying to tell others about her genius, especially after “Cuz I Love You” dropped with banging songs like “Juice.” It's good she's finally getting the recognition.

Record of the year is a good category. The award for the best single is appropriately diverse, showing the breadth of good music that’s out there these days. There’s pop songs and hip-hop and indie rock. And also (unfortunately) Post Malone.

Album of the year highlights some great albums. It’s definitely pop-focused, but that shouldn’t be surprising. Bon Iver’s excellent “I,I” is up for it as well as Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Lil Nas X’s respective releases, each of which caused a sensation in the pop world. And one of my favorite albums, Vampire Weekend’s “Father of the Bride,” is also up, which I’m happy about.

Song of the year has the best slate of nominees in the big four categories. It’s also wildly different from the others. The songwriting award features writers such as Brandi Carlile, Jack Antonoff and Natalie Hemby as well as artists including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Tanya Tucker and Lewis Capaldi.

Best new artist is once again baffling. How is BTS not on this list? In fact, the K-pop sensations weren’t nominated for a single Grammy even though they meet the qualifications and have outsold many of their American competition. Lizzo is nominated here even though she’s been releasing popular music for quite awhile. (Though admittedly not as popular as her recent breakout.) There’s also artists such as Black Pumas and Yola that don’t seem to match the level of other artists on the list. But it probably doesn’t matter. With Lizzo and Billie Eilish, the competition is between them.

Lil Nas X grabbed some nominations, and that’s great. Look, some people are going to criticize the rapper and his song, “Old Town Road,” for being so praised even though it’s frankly kind of silly. But even if you don’t love the song, you have to recognize its impact. It broke chart records. It was inescapable all summer. And it made Billy Ray Cyrus relevant again. It deserves some recognition.

Nipsey Hussle got three posthumous noms. As he should have. Sadly, the rapper’s untimely death probably gave his music more prominence. He should have been recognized more when he was alive.

The nominees overall are pretty dang diverse. The Grammys have taken heat in the past for not having enough recognition of black or female performers, and that has definitely changed for the better. More than half of the nominees for the big four categories are women and nearly half are people of color.

The rock categories are a mess, and the academy should retool them. As it stands, the rock categories include rock performance, rock song, metal performance, rock album and alternative music album, which highlights genres in weird ways. (Why is it metal single and alternative album?) They could do better.

And the rock nominees? They’re weird. Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys and the Raconteurs all dropped well-received, top-selling new albums, but none are nominated. Instead, you’ll see Bones, Rival Sons and Bring Me the Horizon, who aren’t household names. At least Gary Clark Jr. got a couple nods.

Taylor Swift didn’t get as many nominations as some expected. Her new album was well received by critics but still not as lauded as “1989,” the record that earned her a total of 10 nominations and three trophies. Three nominations isn’t bad.

Maren Morris missed the top categories and was nearly shut out of country. Some are surprised by this, but I’m not. Though her star is rising, I didn’t like her new album, which was more of a turn to pop. It didn’t land well with me, and apparently not with the Recording Academy either.

The American roots and Americana categories are once again way better than the country categories. I'll take Keb Mo, Yola, Roseanne Cash, Vince Gill, Calexico and Rhiannon Giddens over Blake Shelton, Dan + Shay and Thomas Rhett. I mean, c'mon: Luke Combs was nominated for a cover of a Brooks & Dunn song. Ludicrous. At least Tanya Tucker, Eric Church and Reba McEntire were nominated, but we'll see if they actually win anything.

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