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2024 Grammy Nomination Hits and Misses
The 66th Annual Grammy Awards will air February 4, 2024
Friday marked the announcement of the nominees for the 66th annual Grammy Awards, which air February 4, 2024. With it, comes celebrations and fuckery, and the realization that they need more gays in the Academy of Recording Arts and Science. Here are a few notable hits and misses from this year’s Grammy Award nominees:
Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly released not one, but two solid bodies of work during this year’s eligibility period: 2022’s The Loneliest Time and 2023’s b-side-driven The Loveliest Time. Both were fantastic additions to her catalog, easily superseding her previous Dedicated and Dedicated Side B. From the melancholic disco of “The Loneliest Time” with Rufus Wainwright to the irresistible pop of “Come Over,” these albums are both full of award-worthy cuts, and both award-worthy as whole bodies of work. Yet not a single nomination, a gross oversight on the nominating committee’s part.
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There’s been enough time and redeemable other music since the Bangerz appropriation era that it can be reasonably said that Miley Cyrus is a true talent that has not received her Grammy due over the years, notching just two nominations prior to this year. “Flowers,” the lead single to 2023’s Endless Summer Vacation was a monster, aided by its resilient spirit, memorable video, and “I Will Survive” interpolation. It is fully deserving of its nominations for Record and Song of the Year. The album, however, was nothing to run home about. In fact, it’s not even worth a listen. It was that underwhelming, which is surprising considering the magnitude of its lead single. Yet the album (and another track) account for half of her six nominations. “Flowers” may be Record and Song of the Year material, but the accompanying album is not Album of the Year nor Best Pop Vocal Album material. Not even close.
Earlier this year, MTV was chastised when it was revealed that they declined to invite Victoria Monet to perform because she wasn’t seasoned enough in their eyes. It was a severe miscalculation. After years of proving herself as a songwriter and producer (Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” and “Be Alright,” Chloe x Halle’s “Do It”) her debut LP, Jaguar II was an R&B juggernaut. Whether the smooth “On My Mama,” including a video brimming with well-executed nods to Ciara and Mya, the club-ready “Alright,” or the moving “How Does It Make You Feel,” she proved that her songwriting talent is just the tip of her iceberg of talent.
It’s been over 5 years since Shania delivered her last body of work, which marked the end of a more-than-dozen year break between albums. That album was somewhat solid, but displayed a still-wobbly Twain in the wake of some significant vocal issues that have been written about elsewhere ad nauseum. On this year’s Queen of Me though, she hit her stride again. Opening cut “Giddy Up” feels like quintessential Twain: it’s upbeat, catchy, and irresistible. The album’s closing cut, “The Hardest Stone,” is a brooding alternative ballad with some serious emotional weight. Yet Twain, once a Grammy darling, earned zero nominations.
After 2020’s marked departure into dance, Jessie Ware thrust herself even deeper into the genre on this year’s That! Feels Good! There are still flourishes of her earlier self, but she’s become a dance floor queen, where even her down-tempos are dance-floor ready. The disco ball has illuminated her in brilliant fashion, and That! Feels Good! is a no-skips album. It deserved at least one nomination in a pop or dance category.
Taylor Swift has become a Grammy darling, and as expected, she has been nominated six times this year, including all Big Three categories. She already has three trophies for Album of the Year, putting her in a four-way tie for most AOTY awards as an artist alongside Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder. Not only does that make her the most awarded woman, it puts her miles ahead of other women, who are historically under-recognized and awarded in the category. None of that is Swift’s fault. BUT, the precedent for awarding her has created an expectation and a pressure that needs to be relieved with another loss this year (she’s lost twice, which ties her for most-nominated woman with Barbra Streisand). Midnights may have been your album of the year, but it is not THE album of the year. Same goes for “Anti-Hero.” Sorry ‘bout it. If the teenage girls and basic white gays get ahold of this they’re gonna try it with me, but I’m really not interested in their featherweight stan commentary. If you love Taylor Swift, it is your God-given right. I encourage it, even! Please. Buy and enjoy her music, her merch, and go to her concerts. You can love a musician and we can disagree on that. Absolutely. It’s a foundational component of art, analysis, and critique. But I implore you, do not attempt to tell me that she is superior at anything short of mesmerizing basic white people. Taylor Swift is mediocre, over-awarded, and over-celebrated. I can point to a dozen better of everything she does: singers, songwriters, and performers. But it’s unlikely she’ll leave without a handful of awards.
The MVP of this year’s nominations is, of course, SZA, who topped the nominations with 9. Her album SOS and single “Kill Bill” were nothing short of monstrous this year. SZA not only broke records, becoming the longest-running number one album of the decade by a woman, the most-streamed R&B album in a week, the first R&B album to spend 7 weeks atop the Billboard 200 since 1987’s Whitney, and became the longest-running number one song on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, with 21 weeks at the peak position. It will be a joy to see her walk away with Grammys, plural.
This one is a solid mix. On the one hand, LaVette notched a nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album for her latest, LaVette! It’s more or less the only genre nomination she could secure considering the lack of awards for blues (there are only two, both for albums, one for contemporary and one for traditional). On the other hand, a nomination in a major category wouldn’t have been overdoing it. The awards are known for throwing a few surprises into the mix in the Big Three (see Bonnie Raitt’s nomination and win for Song of the Year last year). Lavette! was a sublime body of work. Seeing her perform “Concrete Mind” live earlier this year was tear-inducing. LaVette’s career is marked by false starts, and has soared in the last two decades. With 6 nominations to her name, she’s overdue to take one home and get what she’s had coming for decades.
It’s been a thrill to see Kylie Minogue soar again with the release of September’s Tension. Summer 2023 was the summer of Padam, with the album’s lead single “Padam Padam” overtaking the social vernacular, and rocketing Kylie back onto charts she hasn’t touched in years. It became an inescapable colloquialism for hello, goodbye, and everything in between. It’s rightfully nominated for Best Dance Pop Recording, but it warranted a Record of the Year nomination too.
This was a “blink-and-you-missed-it” nomination, since Mariah released no new music this year, and isn’t herself nominated. However, she did celebrate the 30th anniversary of Music Box with a sprawling reissue. It included two unreleased songs from the album’s sessions, and two brand-new remixes by Terry Hunter. One remix, for the previously unreleased “Workin’ Hard,” was the high point of the entire reissue. Though Mariah herself wasn’t nominated (it’s been over a decade and the Academy has a history of slighting her), Terry Hunter did earn a nomination for Best Remixed Recording for his mix of “Workin’ Hard.” Considering his nomination last year for his remix of Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul,” it shouldn’t be a complete shock, but this was a somewhat niche release. Listen to the way he brilliantly expanded on this unreleased cut.