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Music is easily one of the most subjective topics to debate – which places the Grammy Awards’ Academy members in a constant crossfire.
Major award shows are bound to make mistakes. It’s unavoidable. Our challenge, then, is to sort through the uproar and find nominations that future generations will look back on with either rage or confusion.
Here are seven artists whose nominations seem at least somewhat undeserving, in no particular order.
Cardi B had a monumental year, but “Invasion of Privacy” isn’t “Album of the Year” material.
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It’s certainly encouraging to see the Grammys hand five nominations to Cardi B, an unapologetic, unconventional firecracker – whose success reflects the significant shift towards rap and hip hop for modern music fans.
But that doesn’t mean her debut studio album, “Invasion of Privacy,” necessarily deserves the high praise.
While the project hits some very high points – “I Like It,” for example, is perfectly at home in the “Record of the Year” category – it was inconsistent as a whole. “Invasion of Privacy” shows great promise for the young, chart-topping rapper, and proves she’s here to stay. But popularity and easy listening doesn’t always equate to “Album of the Year” potential.
“The Middle” is more annoying than award-winning.
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“The Middle” – the earworm collaboration between DJ Zedd and singer Maren Morris, which you’ve probably heard in a Target commercial – secured three nominations for the 2019 Grammys.
While the song’s commercial success somewhat excuses this lapse in judgment, it would have made more sense to stop at the nod for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” – without letting it slither into two of the most prestigious categories: “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year.”
Post Malone didn’t need an “Album of the Year” nomination.
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To be sure, Post Malone has a talent for hit-making. Giving “Rockstar” a “Record of the Year” nomination makes perfect sense; it’s a perfect song.
But Post Malone doesn’t offer the kind of nuanced, relevant, boundary-pushing music that we’ve come to expect from rappers at the top of their game – and he doesn’t want to. He has explicitly warned his fans not to expect “real s—” from him.
“If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to hip-hop,” he said last year, which is something a person would only say if they’re benefiting from a layered, historically significant genre that they fundamentally don’t understand, a person who’s ignorant about black music and culture.
“Beerbongs & Bentleys” reflects this attitude. It’s an album comprised of mediocre songwriting with catchy hooks and some well-placed, high-profile features. It’s certainly not the “Album of the Year.”
Having secured four Grammy nominations, Greta Van Fleet is officially overhyped.
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The band Greta Van Fleet, three brothers from Michigan, has managed to sell out shows all over the world – but has rarely managed to win over most critics. Pitchfork described them as a group of boys who “sound like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves.”
Given the band’s popularity, “Best New Artist” makes a decent amount of sense; it’s a category that seems to care largely about an artist’s potential for commercial success. But three more nods – including and especially “Best Rock Album” – is deeply confusing, to say the least.
Bebe Rexha is out of place in the “Best New Artist” category.
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Bebe Rexha has quietly been building her name recognition for years now, lending her voice to hit singles like “Me, Myself & I” with G-Eazy and “In the Name of Love” with Martin Garrix.
Given that she’s been releasing recognizable, radio-friendly music since 2014, calling her a “new artist” feels generous. Given how trendy yet forgettable each of her hits have been, suggesting that she’s one of the “best” new artists is even more so – especially when compared to raw, massive talent like Dua Lipa, Chloe x Halle, H.E.R., and Jorja Smith.
“Shallow” was the perfect song for “A Star Is Born” — but its high praise from Grammy voters feels misplaced.
- Warner Bros.
“Shallow” (co-written by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt) is one of the biggest and most popular songs for a movie soundtrack in recent memory – and for good reason.
It matches the mood of “A Star Is Born” to a T; it’s seamlessly woven into the ebbs and flows of Ally and Jack’s relationship. Thusly, “Shallow” has already nabbed a well-deserved Golden Globes nomination for best original song.
But, in this way, “Shallow” is best heard and experienced within the context of the film.
Unlike the standouts from Kendrick Lamar’s “Black Panther” soundtrack, without the conjoint viewing experience, “Shallow” loses its poignancy and power. Raising it to the level of both “Song of the Year” and “Record of the Year” – pitting it against fellow double-nominees like Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” and Drake’s “God’s Plan” – feels like unnecessarily high praise.
Beck’s newest music has been mostly just fine.
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Without a doubt, Beck is a formidable and admirable musical force. His ability to wear many hats has been proven, and his 2018 album “Colors” is his most overt attempt at creating bouncy, enduring pop music.
Of course, Beck succeeds here in many respects, but nominating the single “Colors” for “Best Pop Solo Performance” seems like a stretch.
The Grammys seem intent upon rewarding the embattled musical veteran – whose best music came in the ’90s, in the form of oddball rock with a twisty take on hip-hop trends – for music that’s thoroughly pleasant, but rarely much more.
If the Grammys wanted a rock-infused performance to vote for in this category, they had plenty of singles from The 1975 to pick from.
You can see a full list of the nominees here. The 61st Annual Grammy Awards will air live from LA’s Staples Center Sunday, February 10, 2019, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.
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