It is with an apprehensive and tired sigh that I announce: the 2023 Grammy nominations are out.
The Grammy Awards are music’s most exhilarating and disheartening night of the year. Year after year, we’re all forced to sit through hours of pomp and ceremony. At the end of it, stars are disappointed by losses and audiences are disappointed by the boring spectacle the show has become.
There was a time when The Grammys felt relevant and important. I believe that era ended in 2013 when Macklemore beat out Kendrick Lamar for Best Rap Album. Now, we’re questioning how much authority the Grammy Awards actually hold. Major stars like Drake, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and more have stopped submitting their tracks for consideration. And even more musicians have spoken out about being unfairly categorized or snubbed.
This is especially true of Black Artists. While Jay Z and Beyonce now hold the record for most Grammy nominations of all time, their list of wins deserves to be higher. Sure, their trophy cabinet is already heavy with awards. Let’s not forget that their daughter, Blue Ivy, has a Grammy of her own — but the annual event often comes with major snubs. For example, Beyonce’s never won Album of the Year. Despite the fact that Lemonade exists … much to think about.
In fact, only 11 Black artists have ever won Album of the Year. Since 2000, there have been only four Black winners: Outkast in 2004 for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below; Ray Charles, posthumously in 2005; Herbie Hancock in 2008 for a Joni Michael cover album; and, most recently, Jon Batiste in 2022.
On Tue, November 15th the 2023 nominations were announced. Once again, they’ve prompted equal parts celebration and confusion. It’s a fool’s errand to try to guess what the Grammy voters are thinking. And this year is no exception. The disappointment starts early.
But here are the biggest snubs and surprises of the season:
Snub: Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version)
Yesterday, Taylor Swift fans were fighting a war with Ticketmaster, virtually fighting and clawing for tickets to her upcoming The Eras Tour. And it’s a good thing they were distracted because Taylor’s Red (Taylor’s Version) was notably missing from nominations for the Album of the Year.
Swift is one of four artists to win Album of the Year three times — along with Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Sinatra — but since she was shut out of album categories this season, this year will not be one of them. While the original recording of Red was nominated for AOY, the latest version was not. The 30-song tracklist consists of new songs — some of which were given nods like song of the year for "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" and best country song for "I Bet You Think About Me. But even if Red (Taylor’s Version) wasn’t considered Album-of-the-Year-worthy, it deserves a shot at Best Country Album.
Her most recent offering, Midnights, doesn’t qualify for this year’s Grammys, but we better see it in 2024. Next target on Taylor’s next revenge album: The Grammy voters.
Surprise: Jack Harlow
It seems the Grammys have fallen victim to the Jack Harlow trap, an affliction that usually befalls college girls in their Nike Air Force Ones. Harlow recieved a nomination for his sophomore album Come Home the Kids Miss You for Best Rap Album. And his single “First Class” — which samples Fergie’s “Glamorous,” went TikTok viral landed a nom for Best Melodic Rap Performance. Honestly, this is simply humiliating. It only proves that the Grammys still know nothing about rap music. And they’re starting to prioritize streaming, charts, and — heaven help us — TikTok in their considerations.
Another TikTok surprise was Gayle’s nod for “abcdfu” — nominated for Song of the Year. If the TikTok star’s already wondering how to follow up that viral hit, the bar has been raised. So, I bet you a buck, we’ll be seeing a lot of TikTok songs among future Grammy Award noms. Choose your TikTok sounds wisely.
Snub: Megan Thee Stallion
Megan is not just one of our favorite rappers, she’s one of the best. Indisputably. The only people who don’t understand that are Academy voting members. They awarded Megan Best New Artist in 2021 … but since then they haven’t found her albums worthy of nomination. Her striking debut only received one nomination in 2022. And despite the acclaim for her sophomore album, Megan was ignored this year. Traumazine was poignant and electric, and deserves better.
Snub: The R&B girlies
Other neglected Black female artists include Summer Walker and Tems. Summer Walker is now on her second album, but it seems the Grammys haven’t heard. They’ve never even whispered her name, despite her established place as an R&B mainstay.
Tems is one of the most fantastic artists to emerge over the past few years. We all expected her to earn a Best New Artist nom at the very least. She wrote Rihanna’s smash-hit for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And worked with artists like Drake, Future, and Beyonce on chart-topping tracks. So what does it take?
Snub: Charli XCX and Florence and the Machine
Other industry mainstays include Charli XCX and Florence and the Machine, and Mitski. All are veterans of the indie/alternative scenes, and all released career-defining projects this year.
Charli is one of the hottest names in the industry, not just as a performer but also as a writer. Yet, the Grammys love to ignore her — despite her “considerable impact on the music landscape” and her own genre-bending, soaring work. She was nominated for Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” in 2016 but since then, silence.
Florence is an indie darling, and her most recent album is a stunner — which is saying a lot. Yet, this indie-alt triumph got scarcely any love from the Grammys. Astounding.
Snub: Where are the Indie girls at?
A number of our favorite indie/alt albums of the year were nowhere to be found in the nominations list. Artists like Maggie Rogers and Lizzie McAlpine dominated the indie scene but when it came to the nominations? Crickets.
Another major snub? Mitskian — an indie-alt favorite foreverrr. But after touring with Harry Styles, she certainly “achieved a ‘breakthrough’ into public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape” this year reaching a thrilling new fanbase. So she should be a shoo-in for the Best New Artist category. Justice for Mitski.
Arguably the most famous girl group performing right now, Blackpink deserved some kind of recognition. C’mon. They’re selling out global stadiums and they can’t even get a stinkin Grammy nomination? Someone introduce the Grammy voters to KPOP, stat.
Surprise: Viola Davis
This Grammy season, the actress is on the precipice of an EGOT. She’s nominated for Best Audio Book, Narration, and Storytelling Recording for her memoir, Finding Me. Hopefully, we’ll have something to celebrate come the 65th Grammy Awards.