The Grammys are in contrast to the Oscars, which are usually more or less accurately predicted always full of surprises, and this year is hardly an exception. Jon Batiste gets five leading wins? Who saw this coming – except for anyone who saw him coming with 11 leading nominations and thought the math might translate?
But that arithmetic didn’t translate to highly nominated Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X, who went home empty-handed (but still full-hearted, we hope), or the results expected for Olivia Rodrigo and Tony Bennett/Lady Gaga -Teaming.
Meanwhile, during the presentation of the pre-broadcast premiere ceremony, which was streamed live on the Recording Academy’s YouTube channel, there were other surprises, including some seemingly honest confusion about first names and gender, attended by Arlo Parks, who won Best New Artist was nominated, and presenting prior to airing, was bluegrass veteran (and pre-telecast winner) Bela Fleck. After all, the Grammys are a very, very long day for everyone involved.
Here’s a rundown of this year’s biggest snubs and surprises:
SURPRISE: Silk Sonic Sweeps
The duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson. Paak had the only perfect record of the evening, at least among the nominees with a significant number of bats. “We’re really trying our best to stay humble at this point,” .Paak said, “but in the industry we call that a clean affair.”
They won in all four categories in which they were nominated: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance. If they had competed for album of the year (Silk Sonic’s collection doesn’t qualify until next year because it came out after the October 1 cutoff), they probably would have gotten that one too. So for those who’d rather see a little love thrown around, small favors are in for a treat, and Silk Sonic 2023 has a few other categories to dominate. Looking back, Silk Sonic might not have been that big of a Grammy bait. Surprising as it was, considering how Bruno Mars walked away with six wins when he last performed as a solo artist four years ago.
SNUB: No moderator calls Lil Nas X by his name
“I can’t believe I lost all my Grammys,” the hip-hop artist wrote on Twitter. “I’m not gay anymore!” Here’s a man who not only doesn’t avoid the topic of his losses, but embraces them. Of course he still has his Old Town Road wins from two years ago to keep warm. But any thought that Nas would be rewarded for coming out so brave was quickly brushed aside.
Even though he was never the leading contender for winning album or record of the year, how can he lose for the music video when he had water cooler clip of the year with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)?” Simple: he loses when this video gets in the way of Recording Academy and their love affair with Jon Batiste.
SURPRISE: Jon Batiste is the popular boy
Batiste did not “sweep” like Silk Sonic. Even so, winning less than half of the categories he competed in, he was still the night’s biggest winner, coming in with a staggering 11 nominations and prevailing on five of them. This included the Album of the Year award as well as some sub-categories, such as two wins for American Roots, which saw him win over some artists far more connected to the genre.
“The creative arts are subjective,” he said in his acceptance speech for Album of the Year. And the academy subjectively gave him a big, wet kiss. However, it was always possible that Batiste would do this well. In his night job as bandleader for Stephen Colbert, he has worked directly with a large number of Academy voters and their teams, with positive interactions. He’s a symbol of genre-agnosticism, despite his jazz skills. “We Are” is nothing but the feel-good album of the year, even for many jazz haters who simply dig its R&B pop chops. And like Brandi Carlile said diversity on a red carpet this week (after working with him to direct MusicCares’ Joni Mitchell Tribute): “I loved working with Jon – he’s a true abstract, a true avant-garde and an absolute genius. He’s the Herbie Hancock of our generation.”
SNUB: Olivia Rodrigo isn’t this year’s Billie Eilish after all
As a teenager, Rodrigo should be, and probably is, thrilled with her three Grammys when she first performs. She was destined to be the best new artist; nobody lost their Grammy lottery because they were wrong. That’s phenomenal, isn’t it? So calling this a “snub” might be a misnomer…aside from inflating expectations of how much the commercial and critical phenomenon of their success could translate into a clean win in the top four categories, as Eilish did two years ago. But in the end, “Drivers License” didn’t catch on either on the record or the song, as was widely predicted. Again, who would have thought that an electoral bloc still largely made up of thousands of middle-aged men would do this not clutch a song about passing driver’s license to their collective chest? \
SURPRISE: Voters didn’t turn Louis CK off and, surprisingly, aren’t afraid to admit it
After four years of battling sexual misconduct allegations that would have killed many other careers, Louis CK appears content with the Academy and has won the award for Best Comedy Recording. Many will see this as voters turning a blind eye to one of the most glaring examples of #MeToo the industry has seen… and giving the Academy a black eye in return.
SNUB: BTS and Justin Bieber are pop bridesmaids again
If they gave out an award for “Most Phenomenal Performance at the Grammys,” the K-pop group would be up for it in 2023. But instead, the seven members probably don’t care if they lose a single nomination anew almost as much as his massive fan base known as ARMY. Rolling over a mass TV audience like they did on Sunday night is its own reward.
But maybe Bieber isn’t so confident about going home empty-handed, given that he and his team are known for taking the Grammys seriously in the past. The institution certainly takes him far more seriously than it used to; He was up for seven awards this year (and tied with Doja Cat and HER) and was only honored by Batiste 11. To be honest, Bieber wasn’t predicted to win in any of the main categories; “Justice” was an album as strong as ever, but its main rivals just had more interesting things stories get into the voting. Still, it has to sting.
SNUB: No consecutive Oscar/Grammy combo for Billie
We’re going to bust ourselves here and surmise that even if Billie Eilish goes 0-7, it doesn’t really matter that she was disqualified from the 2022 Grammys after dominating the 2020 awards after breaking the record von in 2021 and having just received an Oscar last week. Not to underestimate anyone’s capacity for disappointment, but Eilish seems so grounded and has been so rewarded that she probably won’t be too sad this week.
SURPRISE: A bigger look at country music on the show than in the nominations
Country music received a lot of snubs when the nominations were released in November: Of a possible 40 nominations the genre could win in the first four general categories, country won just one — a Best New Artist nomination for Jimmie Allen, which was destined for it losing to Rodrigo. But watching the show, it was odd that the highlights were reserved for Carrie Underwood (who was releasing a new single) and eventually Brothers Osborne. Perhaps the network was a reminder that it’s only eight days away from hosting the CMT Music Awards.
Regardless, it was one hell of a good night for Brothers Osborne, and not just because of that last slot. Singer TJ Osborne, who won for a country group/duo performance during the pre-show, gave an emotional speech about how their winning song “Younger Me” grew out of his experience of coming out as gay in 2021. At the recent ACM Awards (also in Las Vegas), the brothers spoke backstage about how their country radio airplay was on the downturn, without blaming anyone. But her optics were in winning form at the Grammys.
SURPRISE: Wrong gender during pre-broadcast
There were a few awkward slips when it came to gender during the lengthy pre-air premiere presentation of the Premiere Awards. Presenter LeVar Burton introduced presenter Arlo Parks, a New Artist and Alternative Album nominee, as “a Gen Z artist from London who is blurring the lines of music with a bold new artist and lyrics that tie into her own personal experience”. Not much later, Parks accepted an award on behalf of male bluegrass veteran Bela Fleck as “on her behalf.” (Later asked about the gender mix-up, Parks recounted diversity: “It is what it is.”)
SNUB: Tony Bennett isn’t quite as rewarded as expected
Many predicted that Bennett’s swan song pairing with Lady Gaga would win Album of the Year as a sentimental favorite in honor of the 95-year-old’s entire career. In the end, voters might have decided that his mid-’90s accolade for “MTV Unplugged” was enough to earn him a late-career spot on top Grammy reels.
Anyway, Gaga’s salute to Alzheimer’s-stricken Bennett (who briefly introduced her via video) was better than any award could have been. If you hadn’t been touched by her final gesture of putting her own hand on her shoulder where his was in the picture above, you might never have had the heart to leave San Francisco anyway.
—With reports by Shirley Halperin and Ellise Shafer
https://variety.com/2022/music/news/grammy-snubs-surprises-lil-nas-x-justin-bieber-eilish-arlo-parks-1235222650/ Grammy Snubs & Surprises: Silk Sonic, Jon Batiste, Justin Bieber, BTS