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2023 Grammy nominations: All the snubs and surprises

Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige received six Grammy nominations, including album and record of the year.
(Bethany Mollenkof / For The Times)

At April’s Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, the big winner was Jon Batiste, a jazz-funk bandleader with a plum TV gig and critical acclaim but almost zero chart presence prior to the ceremony.

On Feb. 5, 2023, it will be music’s reigning A-listers vying for the top trophies.

Superstars Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Harry Styles, Adele and Lizzo were all nominated for album, song and record of the year for the 65th Grammy Awards, as announced today by the Recording Academy. Longstanding Grammy favorites Mary J. Blige (a nine-time winner and 37-time nominee) and Brandi Carlile (six wins, 24 nominations) were both nominated for record and album of the year, and 2022’s top-selling artist, Bad Bunny, received an album of the year nomination. Even Taylor Swift, whose “Midnights” isn’t eligible until next cycle, grabbed a song of the year nomination for her 10-minute re-recording of “All Too Well.” Ratings for televised awards shows may be at an all-time low, but with a night filled by performances from some of pop music’s biggest draws, executives at the Recording Academy and its network TV partner CBS have reason for optimism.

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While Beyoncé and Adele were expected to lead the pack, there are a handful of notable surprises and a few pointed snubs. Here are some that caught our eye:

The 2023 Grammy nominations were revealed today, in 91 categories. Beyoncé leads the field with 9 nominations.

1. No more drama; many more nominations.
R&B great Mary J. Blige has enjoyed a long and storied career, and the Grammys have rewarded her with nine trophies, from her first in 1996 to her most recent in 2009. But her six nominations this year will likely catch even hardcore Mary fans off-guard. Album of the year nominee “Good Morning Gorgeous” was an exemplary addition to her discography, but it peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard 200. The title track, up for record of the year, topped out at No. 83 on the Hot 100. But they clearly struck a nerve with Grammy voters, who perhaps rekindled their affection for the queen of hip-hop soul after her performance alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar at the Super Bowl halftime show in February. Blige is also nominated in four R&B categories.

Blige’s new “Good Morning Gorgeous” follows a protracted and painful divorce. “I had to do it,” she says of making the album, “to live another day.”

2. The “Only Thing That’s Gone” is Morgan Wallen’s shot at a Grammy.
After a year in which more than one superstar torched their reputation with conspiracy theories and racist remarks, the Recording Academy is probably grateful they don’t have a Morgan Wallen problem to deal with. The country star’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” spent 10 weeks atop the Billboard 200, but Wallen was shut out this year at the Grammys, a likely by-product of the viral video that caught Wallen using the N-word. He’s back to selling out arenas on tour, but Grammy voters weren’t as ready to welcome him back to the fold.

3. Bluegrass, jazz, Brazilian pop and a 35-year-old rap newbie.
In recent years, the new artist category heralded the arrival of a new superstar: Olivia Rodrigo, Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa were past winners. This year, however, the category is all over the map and full of still-emerging acts. Bluegrass singer-songwriter Molly Tuttle, hipster jazz duo Domi and JD Beck and old-school jazz vocalist Samara Joy all revel in pyrotechnic musicality. The field is as eclectic as it is wide-open: There’s Brazilian música urbana (Anitta); winsome Latin indie (Omar Apollo); Italian glam rock (Måneskin); droll U.K. indie-rock (Wet Leg); sassy Atlanta rap (Latto); and arresting R&B (Muni Long). Meanwhile, 35-year-old Houston rapper and actor Tobe Nwigwe has already released 11 (!) albums prior to his new artist nod. No one stands out as the obvious frontrunner, which should make for a lively competition.

Beyoncé leads with 9 nominations, followed by Lamar with 8, Adele and Brandi Carlile with 7, and Harry Styles, Mary J. Blige, DJ Khaled and Future with 6.

4. Cry havoc and let slip the Barbz of war.
Nicki Minaj raps from start to finish on her No. 1 hit “Super Freaky Girl,” but the Recording Academy decided its sample of Rick James’ “Super Freak” made it bubbly enough to compete in the pop category instead. The news didn’t sit well with Minaj, but she tweeted she would accept it on one condition: If Latto’s smash single “Big Energy” was moved into pop as well. Minaj struck out on both fronts: She failed to garner a single nomination, and “Big Energy” received a nomination for melodic rap performance.

The duo has come from nowhere — or, more precisely, the Isle of Wight — to delight U.S. rock fans with its offhand combo of pinpoint hooks and deadpan wit.

5. It’s her, hi, she’s the country nominee.
In the 15 years that followed her country music debut, Swift has fully metamorphosed from Nashville darling into indubitable Queen of Pop. Although Swift never quite formalized a departure from country music, the electro-pop edges of her 2012 masterpiece, “Red,” foreshadowed her eventual mainstream foray; and the singer-songwriter’s 2021 re-recording of this critical chapter planted her firmly back into the country soil that raised her. As a prelude to next year’s expected dominance of the top categories, Swift received three nominations on Tuesday: Her 10-minute redo of 2012’s “All Too Well” is up for song of the year; “Carolina,” her rootsy number for the film “Where the Crawdads Sing” is nominated for song written for visual media; and her duet with Chris Stapleton, the once-vaulted ballad “I Bet You Think About Me,” is in the running for country song.

6. The first Grammy circle pit?
It’s not every year a hardcore band gets a shot at a Grammy, but thanks to the eccentric dazzle of their 2021 LP, “Glow On,” Baltimore’s Turnstile get three: They are nominated for rock song, rock performance and metal performance. The five-piece will have to contend against industry vets like Ozzy Osbourne, the Black Keys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers — as well as some eyebrow-raising wild cards, like the Grammy-winning Americana star Brandi Carlile and Canadian power balladeer Bryan Adams.

7. “Encanto” shut out in top categories.
Disney’s Oscar-winning animated feature, “Encanto,” yielded more than just a soundtrack full of kid-friendly sing-alongs. Including eight zippy Latin showtunes written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and composed by Germaine Franco, the “Encanto” soundtrack sparked a takeover of the Billboard charts, led by the cha-cha-chá number, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” — which held No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart for five consecutive weeks. Yet at this year’s Grammys, the “Encanto” soundtrack and its biggest single will be shut out of the general field entirely, instead to be siloed away into genre categories: song writen for visual media, score soundtrack and compilation soundtrack for visual media.


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