As usual, the Grammy Awards nominations — announced Friday in a complicated succession of tweets, radio bits and morning-TV appearances — reflect an array of mystifying decisions by the Recording Academy's 13,000 voting members. Here are some notable snubs and surprises.
The biggest-selling album of 2014 by some distance, the soundtrack to Disney's blockbuster “Frozen,” evidently left Grammy voters cold. The album, which has moved more than 3 million copies (according to Nielsen SoundScan), was overlooked in the flagship album of the year category, and “Let It Go” failed to score a nod as either record or song of the year. The disc's only nominations came in the film-related categories.
Also left out — well, relatively speaking — was Beyoncé. Sure, the superstar singer's self-titled set is up for album of the year. But many expected the album's hit single “Drunk in Love” to make the cut for record of the year. Didn't happen.
Pharrell Williams' ubiquitous “Happy” was similarly — and just as weirdly — ignored for record of the year. But the singer-producer can hardly complain: His “Girl” turned up in the prestigious album category, a hefty acknowledgment for a rather lightweight collection.
Beck is back
Another album not widely forecast to compete for the Grammys' biggest prize is the latest from Beck, the L.A.-based singer-songwriter whose commercial heyday is well behind him. Yet with its hand-played arrangements and moody introspection, “Morning Phase” satisfies the rootsy hankering that's led the Recording Academy to honor the likes of Adele and Mumford & Sons in recent years.
Big year for Brandy
Credit the same mind-set for Brandy Clark's impressive showing. The country singer's “12 Stories” — full of intimate, small-scale tunes about everyday people — was nominated for country album alongside splashier efforts from Miranda Lambert and Eric Church. Even more surprising was Clark's nomination for best new artist, a category in which her competitors include the much higher-profile Sam Smith and Iggy Azalea.
One more instance of that appetite for the rustic: Hozier's nod for song of the year with “Take Me to Church,” the rough-hewn folk-rock track that captured listeners' attention but made nowhere near the mainstream impact of “Happy,” “Let It Go” or “Drunk in Love.”
From rock to pop
No one thinks of Coldplay as a particularly hard-rocking band. But in the eyes of Grammy voters, it may not be a rock band at all: “Ghost Stories,” the gentle English group's latest, is up against records by Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus for the pop vocal album prize.
Speaking of Perry, her album “Prism” was largely shut out of the Grammys' major categories, something of a surprise given that her previous disc, 2010's “Teenage Dream,” was nominated for album of the year. What's more, “Prism” reflects Perry's struggle though a recent divorce — exactly the kind of heavy-duty subject matter that typically attracts academy members.
In tune for once
Often a source of (presumably unintended) hilarity, the rock categories are fairly respectable this year, with Paramore, the Black Keys and Jack White among those in the running for rock song. The winner of that prize at the last Grammys? A throwaway soundtrack cut by Paul McCartney with the surviving members of Nirvana.
Usher's 2014 hasn't gone as expected. Last month, for instance, the R&B star played Staples Center in ostensible support of a record that hasn't actually come out. Yet “Good Kisser,” the finest in a string of singles from the oft-delayed album, picked up two nominations, one for R&B performance and one for R&B song.
The Recording Academy is clearly anticipating the return of Kendrick Lamar, who last year was nominated in the album of the year category for his celebrated debut, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.” The Compton rapper hasn't released his follow-up yet, but “I” — an infectious slice of uplifting hip-hop released just days before the end of the
eligibility period — is up for rap song and rap performance.
All out of tricks
After a long summer in which we could scarcely avoid its No. 1 hit “Rude,” the Canadian band Magic! might've seemed a lock for a nomination or two. Instead, the goofy reggae-pop troupe got none. Grammy voters — why they gotta be so rude?