Grammys Snubs and Surprises: Kacey Musgraves, Jon Batiste and Abba

Rather than an obscure cabal taking the members’ best voters, considering them, and still making their own final decision on the nominees, the Recording Academy says those choices are pure: whoever got the most votes from their peers in the world. The music industry is who is listed on the final ballot.

Do you see that reflected here? I feel like it benefits those with wide notoriety and enduring relationships and respect with the industry – Bieber, Abba, maybe even Carlile, who has a record of the year nominating and two for the song, including an Alicia Keys duet. At the same time, one could imagine the secret committees that keep outside something like Lady Gaga and Bennett’s “Love for Sale”, because it’s so stereotypical of the Old and Stuffy Grammys – the kind of thing that felt like they were stepping away from recent history.

CARAMANIC I’m not going to lie: my heart pounded a little erratically (and worryingly) when I read the first category name, record of the year: Abba. Now listen, I exult at weddings just like the next sap, and I honor everyone whose albums were in my parents’ vinyl collection. But this new Abba music is thin, thin, thin. It exists primarily as an advertisement for Abba’s old music and the band’s avatar-led stage show that will debut next year.

PARÉLES This is obviously one of the Grammys’ later-than-ever nominations. Abba never had a Grammy at his peak; this appointment is the excuse.

Meanwhile, count me surprised that Arooj Aftab comes up in the category of best new artist. She is a Pakistani musician who studied at the Berklee School of Music and is based in Brooklyn, mixing South Asian music, jazz and chamber music; some of the songs from his (third) album, “Vulture Prince”, probably the one that caught the attention of the Grammys, have lyrics by the 13th-century Persian mystical poet Rumi. It’s a beautiful album, but I didn’t expect to see his name alongside Rodrigo and Saweetie. Aside from Persian, there is still a language barrier for Grammy voters in this category; where are streaming blockbusters like Rauw Alejandro, whose debut album was released last November?

COSCARELLI Best New Artist is confusing, especially with the removal of the nominating committees taken into account. Enough people knew Aftab, Baby Keem, and Japanese Breakfast to put them before, say, Polo G, Tems, Jack Harlow, and Maneskin (shudder)?

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