2016 Grammys: Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, the Weeknd top nominations
In one corner, you have one of the biggest blockbuster albums in recent memory, a collection of inescapable pop singles that launched the most celebrity-stocked tour ever.
In the other, you have the year’s most critically acclaimed album by a mile, a revolutionary collection of hip-hop, R&B, jazz and spoken word that has already earned best-of-the-year kudos from Rolling Stone, Spin, the A.V. Club and many others.
Taylor Swift’s 1989. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Who will take home next year’s Grammmy for Album of the Year?
As expected, Swift and Lamar received plenty of love when the 58th Grammy Award nominations were announced Monday morning – Lamar raked in a leading 11, with Swift right behind at seven. Both are up for Album of the Year, alongside the Weekend’s Beauty Behind the Madness, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller and Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color.
Swift and Lamar will also square off in another top category, Song of the Year. Lamar’s Alright and Swift’s Blank Space are both up for top songwriting honors, along with Little Big Town’s Girl Crush, Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s See You Again.
Swift, Sheeran and the Weeknd’s hit singles were also nominated for Record of the Year, along with D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s Really Love and the category’s long-presumed frontrunner, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.
And in the fourth major race, Best New Artist, you have favorite Meghan Trainor squaring off against fellow pop singer Tori Kelly, country stud Sam Hunt, English singer-songwriter James Bay and Australian rocker Courtney Barnett.
Snubs? The biggest might be the case of Fetty Wap, the New Jersey newcomer who dominated the pop charts all year. Fetty’s Trap Queen scored nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, but nothing in the top categories.
Also left out in the cold was FourFive Seconds, the trophy-baiting collaboration between Kanye West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney (although West and McCartney’s All Day was nominated for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, either of which would surely be the weirdest trophy ever to land on McCartney’s shelf).
And while Swedish pop maestro Max Martin would share in Swift’s many nominations for 1989, he was not nominated for Producer of the Year – this, despite also producing Can’t Feel My Face, Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do, Demi Lovato’s Cool For the Summer and several other massive hits.
And don’t even go asking about Adele – her Hello and 25 weren’t eligible for this year’s Grammys.
Other fun surprises down the list: Justin Bieber, Skrillex and Diplo scored a nomination for Best Dance Recording for Bieber’s comeback single Where Are U Now. Amy Poehler was nominated for Best Spoken Word Recording for the audiobook of her memoir Yes Please. She’ll square off against former president Jimmy Carter’s A Full Life: Reflections at 90.
The Weeknd actually tied Swift for second-most nominations with seven; they'll go head to head in three categories, Album, Record and Pop Performance.
But at the end of the day, the race of the year comes down to Swift and Lamar. What will voters value more, a chart- and culture-dominating pop album by the world’s biggest pop star, or a challenging and wildly creative album by the most acclaimed rapper alive?
At least we know Swift and Lamar will probably hug it out at the end of the night. They’re actually nominated for two award together: Best Pop/Duo Group Performance and Best Music Video for their collaborative remix of Swift’s Bad Blood. See? Everyone wins in the end.
This year’s Grammys air at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 on CBS. Click here for a full list of nominations.
-- Jay Cridlin