Music

The Grammys Has Always Been a Huge, Disappointing Mess

Coldplay for Album of the Year? Really?
IMAGE The Weeknd
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I'm not going to get into the long, sad history of the Grammys being an immense disappointment. I don't need to recap the same mistakes this rapidly fading institution has made in the last few years. You don't need me to list out all the artists—titans of the industry today—who have publicly denounced the Recording Academy for its history of ignoring the talents of women, of people of color, of rap music, of Latin music, on, and on, and on.

This was supposed to be the year that the Grammys were going to turn it around after the public humiliation following accusations made by ousted Recording Academy chief executive Deb Dugan.

Nope. Not the case. After a disastrous year for the music industry, in which artists still managed to produce some incredible music in uncertain times, the Recording Academy produced a list of nominees for the 2021 Grammys that are absolutely baffling.

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Look no further than the Album of the Year category, which includes Post Malone and Coldplay, who you didn't even know was still releasing music. Jacob Collier? Strangely, Black Pumas made the cut with the deluxe version of an album that was released outside of the eligibility window. No love for The Weeknd's chart-smashing album. No general category nominations for Fiona Apple, whose Fetch the Bolt Cutters seemed like a lock for Album of the Year. The same goes for Bad Bunny, and Latin music in general, which didn't see any love in the major categories when the genre is the dominant force in pop music right now. Even BTS, the biggest band in the world, couldn't even get a major category nod for Song of the Year. You've even got Justin Bieber complaining about his three nominations, which only shows that no one is happy with these nominations.

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There are some highlights, yes. It's wonderful to see all women in some country music categories and rock categories. I'm thrilled for Haim, Dua Lipa, and, of course, Megan Thee Stallion. Hell, I love that Taylor Swift album. It's also wonderful to see Beyonce lead the nominations with nine, but it's hard not to feel like it's too little too late after she's been historically snubbed by this voting body (remember the Lemonade debacle?). I would be astonished if Beyonce even bothered tuning into a digital ceremony.

The rap categories are mostly boring. No Run the Jewels or Mac Miller or Lil Uzi Vert. And Best New Artist includes either musicians who should be in the major categories (Phoebe Bridgers and Megan Thee Stallion), or artists who have been making Grammy-worthy albums for years (Kaytranada), or artists who simply have no place being there (Noah Cyrus, really?).

It's a huge disappointing mess, but what should we expect from a year like 2020 and an institution like the Grammys? It feels like one big set-up to ensure Grammys darling Taylor Swift takes home Song and Album of the Year.

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See the full list of 2021 Grammy nominations below and try not to throw whatever device you're reading this on out the window.

Album of the Year
Chilombo, Jhene Aiko
Black Pumas (Deluxe), Black Pumas
Everyday Life, Coldplay
Djesse Vol. 3, Jacob Collier
Women in Music Pt. III, Haim
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone
Folklore, Taylor Swift

Record of the Year
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“Colors,” Black Pumas
“Rockstar,” DaBaby and Roddy Ricch
“Say So,” Doja Cat
“Everything I Wanted,” Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Circles,” Post Malone
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion

Song of the Year
“Black Parade” (Beyoncé)
“The Box” (Roddy Ricch)
“Cardigan” (Taylor Swift)
“Circles” (Post Malone)
“Don’t Start Now” (Dua Lipa)
“Everything I Wanted” (Billie Eilish)
“I Can’t Breathe” (H.E.R.)
“If the World Was Ending” (JP Saxe and Julia Michaels)

Best New Artist
Ingrid Andress
Phoebe Bridgers
Chika
Noah Cyrus
D Smoke
Doja Cat
Kaytranada
Megan Thee Stallion

Best Pop Solo Performance
“Yummy,” Justin Bieber
“Say So,” Doja Cat
“Everything I Wanted,” Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Watermelon Sugar,” Harry Styles
“Cardigan,” Taylor Swift

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Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Un Día (One Day),” J. Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, Tainy
“Intentions,” Justin Bieber and Quavo
“Dynamite,” BTS
“Rain on me,” Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande
“Exile,” Taylor Swift and Bon Iver

Best Pop Vocal Album
Changes, Justin Bieber
Chromatica, Lady Gaga
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Fine Line, Harry Styles
Folklore, Taylor Swift

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Blue Umbrella, Burt Bacharach and Daniel Tashain
True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter, Harry Connick Jr.
American Standard, James Taylor
Unfollow the Rules, Rufus Wainwright
Judy, Renee Zellweger

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
Dave Cobb
Flying Lotus
Andrew Watt

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Black Hole Rainbow (Devon Gilfillian)
Expectations (Katie Pruitt)
Hyperspace (Beck)
Jaime (Brittany Howard)
25 Trips (Sierra Hull)

Best Remixed Recording
“Do You Ever (RAC Mix),” RAC (Phil Good)
“Imaginary Friends (Morgan Page Remix),” Deadmau5 (Morgan Page)
“Praying for You (Louie Vega Main Remix),” Jasper Street Co. (Louie Vega)
“Roses (Imanbek Remix),” Saint JHN (Imanbek Zeikenov)
“Young & Alive (Bazzi vs. Haywire Remix),” Bazzi (Haywyre)

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Best Engineered Album, Classical
Danielpour: The Passion of Yeshua
Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
Hynes: Fields
Ives: Complete Symphonies
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13, ‘Babi Yar’

Producer of the Year, Classical
Blanton Alspaugh
David Frost
Jesse Lewis
Dmitriy Lipay
Elaine Martone

Best Rock Performance
“Shameika,” Fiona Apple
“Not,” Big Thief
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers
“The Steps,” Haim
“Stay High,” Brittany Howard
“Daylight,” Grace Potter

Best Metal Performance
“Bum-Rush,” Body Count
“Underneath,” Code Orange
“The In-Between,” In This Moment
“Bloodmoney,” Poppy
“Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe) — Live,” Power Trip

Best Music Film
Beastie Boys Story, Beastie Boys, Spike Jonze
Black Is King, Beyoncé
We Are Freestyle Love Supreme, Freestyle Love Supreme
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, Linda Ronstadt
That Lil Ol’ Band From Texas, ZZ Top

Best Rock Song
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers, Morgan Nagler, and Mashall Vore (Phoebe Bridgers)
“Lost In Yesterday,” Kevin Parker (Tame Impala)
“Not,” Adrianne Lenker (Big Thief)
“Shameika,” Fiona Apple (Fiona Apple)
“Stay High, Brittany Howard (Brittany Howard)

Best Rock Album
A Hero’s Death, Fontaines D.C.
Kiwanuka, Michael Kiwanuka
Daylight, Grace Potter
Sound & Fury, Sturgill Simpson
The New Abnormal, The Strokes

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Best Alternative Album
Hyperspace, Beck
Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers
Jaime, Brittany Howard
The Slow Rush, Tame Impala

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for Esquire.com
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