Last night’s announcement of the nominees for the 2012 Grammys came with them few surprises: Kanye West earned a leading seven nominations for his solo work on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the Jay-Z collaboration Watch the Throne and Adele’s mega-selling 21 and its ubiquitous lead single “Rolling in the Deep” dominated the top categories. There were, however, several notable snubs among the nominations, the most glaring of which we’ve cataloged below.
Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Album of the Year
How Kanye West could score the most nominations, including Best Song for “All of the Lights,” and not see his critically adored Fantasy nominated for Album of the Year is beyond us. The set enjoys a 94 out of 100 rating on album review aggregator Metacritic, a full 18 points better than the highest-rated album to make the Grammy cut (Adele’s 21 with a 76).
Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” Song of the Year
Lady Gaga has released so many singles off her hit album Born This Way that we sometimes lose track, but the one track that has really stuck is “The Edge of Glory.” Lyrically inspired by the death of her grandfather, the song features soaring hooks and the most anthemic chorus to hit Top 40 radio this year. That the Academy chose to honor only four songs with nominations in this category rather than the usual five while overlooking the highlight of an album it chose to award a nomination for Album of the Year is silly business.
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Beyonce’s 4, Best R&B Album
Perhaps the Recording Academy thinks Beyonce has enough Grammys? It would be easy enough to make a case that 4 should be a contender for Album of the Year – it’s Metacritic rating of 73 is better than four of the nominated albums, and while music critics are far from definitive, consensus acclaim shouldn’t be overlooked – but we would have settled for Best R&B Album because, well, it’s the perfect R&B album. On 4 Beyonce eschewed club bangers for soulful and complex ballads and insanely catchy mid-tempo jams (like “Love on Top” and “Countdown”). In its review, New York Magazine commented on the album’s throw-back vibe, writing, “There’s a streak of nostalgia running through the sound, whether it’s the kind of traditionalist R&B that sells Adele albums or the cheery funk of a track like ‘Love on Top,’ which feels as cozy as seventies Stevie Wonder or eighties Michael Jackson.” And when it comes to R&B, does a higher compliment exist than a comparison to seventies Stevie Wonder and eighties Michael Jackson?
Britney Spears’ “Till The World Ends,” Best Dance Recording
Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale album brought her the best reviews of her career, earning the pop superstar the same Metacritic rating as Rihanna’s Album of the Year-nominated Loud, and became the first album of Spears’ 12-year multi-platinum career to yield three top-ten hits (“Till The World Ends,” “I Wanna Go,” and the #1 “Hold It Against Me”). “Till The World Ends” was one of the year’s biggest radio hits, giving Spears the largest weekly audience of her career in mid-May, and topped Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart the week of May 28. Spears’ sole Grammy win came in the Best Dance Recording category in 2005 for “Toxic,” and she should have scored a nod in the same category this year because, as Rolling Stone said in its three-and-a-half star review, “You want a party song, call a partier. Written by Ke$ha (with Max Martin and Dr. Luke), the second single from Femme Fatale is ginormously pumping uber-Euro uber-disco: sky-sucking synth streaks, a beat that sounds like blimps f**king and a thousand shirtless drunken sailors chanting along on the chorus.” In dance music language, that’s a pretty huge compliment.
Taylor Swift’s Speak Now, Album of the Year
Taylor Swift may have caught a case of the Beyonces. Swift swept through the 2009 Grammys and took home the Album of the Year prize for Fearless, in addition to three other prizes in the country categories. With that win, she became the first female country soloist to win the top prize at the Grammys. And, sure, Speak is up for a number of country-centric prizes this year and that’s nothing to scoff at. But the acclaimed set failed to receive a nod for Album of the Year, despite widespread and near-universal praise. Perhaps the Academy missed all of the subtleties that the New York Times picked up on in its rave review. “It’s [Speak Now] the most savage of her career, and also the most musically diverse. And it’s excellent too, possibly her best,” the Times writes. “In these new songs relationships are no longer fantasies, or neutered; they’re lived-in places, where bodies share space.”