This year’s slate of Grammy nominations did not include much in the way of surprises — but what did happen? The biggest omissions were a couple of top-selling artists that had been nominated the previous two years, and the category that should have been put off to five nominees has instead become six (i.e., a commensurate spike for Bruno Mars). Musgraves and Batiste were the two most prominent winners who are obviously surprised. Musgraves thought she was cut off from consideration in the “Best Country Album” category last year but did get credit for “Best Country Song” in an interesting group that included her collaboration with Tim McGraw on “Rainbow.” The Golden Globe winner will compete in the “Best Country Song” category this year but her standout album, Golden Hour, which will also be nominated for “Best Country Album,” will be nowhere to be found.
Bruno Mars will face off against four other top-selling singers — Maren Morris, Alessia Cara, Little Big Town and Chris Stapleton — for “Best Pop Vocal Album.” The “Dangerous Woman” singer, who this year got his own movie, will compete in a category that other artists were left to overlook: One Direction, which released its final album this year, did not get a nomination in a category that was at least one per category rather than two-and-a-half.
Bruno Mars and other top-selling artists (Payless) also not featured in Best Pop Vocal Album category for @Grammys. Other performers listed but not nominated: 4 Non Blondes & Robert Plant. #Grammys pic.twitter.com/cjtVx89ehN — Movie Traffic (@MovieTraffic) August 21, 2018
Rap and soul delivered strong performances. Post Malone had been one of the big surprises in the nominations this year; in the Best Rap Album category, he competed with Drake, who failed to earn a nomination for his album Scorpion. Cardi B is definitely the show’s breakout star, bringing a hip-hop feel to the reality television categories like Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best R&B Album. Like Garland, many of the little-known artists in the categories were excluded from the “Best” performances slots; however, in the Best Pop Solo Performance category, Childish Gambino put up a challenge, even though his album this year did not make the shortlist.
SZA, who had a hit this year with “The Weekend,” was one of the only young performers to be nominated in both Best New Artist and Best R&B Album. Young M.A and SZA were awarded Best Rap/Sung Performance together for their collaboration on “OJ Da Juiceman.”
Colin Kaepernick, another subject of controversial national anthem protests, did not get nominated for Album of the Year, although he received the award in 2009.
Abba will have a new trophy given to them by Muse, which won the award for Best Rock Album. The Queen-member members were given an honorary Grammy for “services to music” and are also going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With the record company they sold 75 million albums, it’s hard to argue that the group did not deserve at least some kind of acknowledgement from the Grammys, even if it was late in the game.
Beneath the big winners was an eclectic list of performers. Jack White , the only rocker in the Top 5, and comedian Dave Chappelle sent up past Grammy nominees in his much-lauded set. Stapleton, who was briefly a joke in comedian Chris Rock’s opening routine, was solid and gave a classy performance. Ariana Grande’s performance of the James Bond song “For Your Eyes Only” was a big hit with the Twitter crowd.
This post has been updated throughout.