2010 Grammy Nominations Leave Critics Scratching Their Heads

Bloggers greet the contenders for popular music's biggest awards with equal parts criticism and confusion

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On the one hand, the Grammy Awards are the most prestigious award for mainstream music, on the other hand, they're superficial, pointless, onanistic, and commercially-driven trinkets--or so runs the conventional wisdom. Thus it's unsurprising that nominations for the 52nd Annual Grammys, unveiled in a televised music special on Wednesday, got few standing ovations from music critics. But instead of tut-tutting the predictability of the picks, bloggers this year are startled by some odd inclusions and omissions. The actual awards-ceremony won't be occur until the end of January, but already the oddsmaking has begun in earnest:

  • 'Where to Begin?' The LA Times' Todd Martens liveblogged the event. One of his first takes reflected the general mood of many of his fellow bloggers:  "The 2010 Grammy nominations are a complete puzzler, and one has to wonder just where Recording Academy voters are discovering their music. Locking Kanye West's '808s and Heartbreak' out of major categories is just the beginning. As far as Dave Matthews albums go, one can do far worse than 'Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King,' but that album's friendly light rock was not as inventive or challenging as '808s.' Likewise Beyonce's 'Sasha Fierce,' which is less deserving of the R&B nod than Maxwell's 'BLACKsummers' Night.'"
  • 'Beyonce, Taylor and…Hall and Oates?' At PBPulse, Leslie Gray Streeter singled out a jarring nod to 70s hit-makers Hall & Oates for the category of Best Pop Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocals: "Also getting a major shout-out: Hall and Oates’ 'Sara Smile,' from their 'Live at the Troubador' album. This confused the audience, and, momentarily, yours truly. I thought maybe there was some sort of mistake – I think the dudes from Linkin Park did, too."
  • Is the Recording Industry Still Holding a Grudge Against Kanye, Too?  Kanye West caused a ruckus at several awards shows before, most notably barging onstage at the MTV video Music Awards before Taylor Swift's acceptance speech. With West nominated this year for collaborations in non-major categories, many bloggers wondered if the National Academy of Recording Arts was snubbing him for his misbehavior. As Simon Vozick-Levinson explained at Entertainment Weekly: "Kanye West and Young Jeezy’s 'Amazing' was nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, and West got five more nods for work he did on others’ records. But his own album 808s & Heartbreak came out well within the eligibility window, and it didn’t get so much as mentioned in any of the album categories — quite a contrast with the copious Grammys love each of his three previous albums received. Could VMAs backlash have hurt him with the Recording Academy?"
  • Why Nominate a Has-Been Artist Nobody Remembers? Ever-sarcastic blogger Stuart Heritage of Heckler Spray was merciless with the year's Grammy nominee selections, trashing the institution for playing it safe and boring. However, one nomination left him particularly stumped: "Great – Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Kanye West get to be in the same room together again. We can’t imagine how that’ll turn out. And the Black Eyed Peas were always going to get a load of Grammy nominations, because they’re always nominated for everything, even though they’re awful. But Maxwell? Maxwell? Maxwell from the mid-1990s? Maxwell from no songs we can remember?"
  • What Exactly Is the Criteria for Record of the Year? HitFix blogger Melinda Newman made a key observation that female artists vastly dominated the award nominations this year. Yet she argued that the nominations for Record of the Year were entirely incomprehensible: "I have no idea why 'Single Ladies' isn’t nominated for Record of the Year and 'Halo' is. When you think 'record,' think about the totality of the sound of the song: the performance, the production, etc. That’s why this award doesn’t go to the writer; it goes to everyone who crafted and massaged the song. 'Single Ladies' boasts a far more interesting production than 'Halo,' which does get the nod for Beyonce here.  'You Belong to Me' doesn’t belong here. There is absolutely nothing noteworthy about the production and sound of that song other than Taylor Swift sounds on key (did I really just write that?)"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.