Some of the omissions are in the Rock and Country categories.
EVANESCENCE- how can the Academy commit the grave mistake of ignoring Amy Lee’s soaring, timeless vocals and by extension the collective punch of her ensemble for EVANESCENCE, a band that chose to prefer quality than sheer volume and came up with two knockouts in WASTED ON YOU and USE MY VOICE?
Both ideally deserve a Best Rock Performance/ Rock Song but since they are veterans in the field now by the Academy’s twisted logic, they were shown the door. Both songs stay true to the alchemy of composition and vocals central to Evanescence’s classic sound and the urgency and empowerment of a post Trump world rampant on USE MY VOICE needed to be recognized.
THE WHO – the timeless band’s eponymous album can remind avid fans of their greatest hits with songs like DETOUR, BALL AND CHAIN, BREAK THE NEWS, ROCKING IN RAGE and STREET SONG. Which is why a Best Rock Album nomination was to be on the horizon.
BLIND LEADING THE BLIND by MUMFORD AND SONS- Another energetic ROCK PERFORMANCE contender that was not considered in the final list.
LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN by ROLLING STONES- I mean this was vintage Stones to a t and fit perfectly with our current circumstances lyrically so a ROCK PERFORMANCE/ ROCK SONG nod would have been nice and fair.
RETROGRADE by PEARL JAM- this was melodically superior and with its emphasis on a better world order and tribute to Greta Thunberg, it was ripe for a ROCK PERFORMANCE/ROCK SONG approval. The lyrics were absorbingly effective.
WHEN LIFE IS GOOD AGAIN by DOLLY PARTON – why was this not considered? It’s perfectly suited as a clarion call for hope and even tempers in such a trying year. It’s Ms. Parton to our rescue with her optimism but nothing sways an obstinate Academy.
SAM HUNT’S HARD TO FORGET or YOUNG ONCE – if these two could not make it, nothing good can for a Best Country Solo Performance/ Country Song berths. They were the best bets for a fair field.
NEXT TO YOU, FOREVER AND A NIGHT or PROBLEM CHILD by LITTLE BIG TOWN- this beloved band has scored a deserving COUNTRY ALBUM nod and Country Song nomination for the excellent SUGAR COAT but a more nuanced choice would have come from the above three, with their detailed, effortless harmonies and lyrics making them frontrunners.
NOBODY BUT YOU by BLAKE SHELTON and GWEN STEFANI- one of the best love- drenched collaborations of the year didn’t make it to the Country Group/ Duo Performance although I think it had a fair shot for the Best Pop Collaboration too.
HER WORLD OR MINE by MICHAEL RAY- this should ideally win the Country Song or Country Solo category and a lack of nomination for this beautifully sung, sublime meditation on taking difficult choices in the course of personal disintegration, extending to a couple’s kindred too as per its moving lyrics, was totally illogical.
RESENTMENT by KESHA and STURGILL SIMPSON or even COWBOY BLUES- it would have been genuinely thrilling to have both of these compete for the COUNTRY DUO/ GROUP COLLABORATION and COUNTRY SOLO berths respectively, to show Kesha’s resurgence as a versatile, vocally astute artist. But nothing satisfies the Academy after all.
In other categories, we have omissions beginning with TONI BRAXTON getting the exit point for R&B even with the uplifting DANCE or the soulful GOTTA MOVE ON feat. HER from her latest album SPELL MY NAME. The latter boasts especially of a swooning guitar solo by H.E.R. and opening minutes punctuated by strings, not to mention sensuous vocals befitting Braxton’s iconic oeuvre.
They could have easily made it to an R&B PERFORMANCE nod.
THANKS FOR THE DANCE by LEONARD COHEN made the cut for only a BEST FOLK ALBUM nod? Surely the Bard’s spoken word gravitas and the instrumental transcendence of most of the songs on this album deserved to have it contend in an ALBUM OF THE YEAR berth, in an ideal world. Even a Vocal Album nod would have sufficiently sufficed. Just listen to the title track, IT’S TORN, HAPPENS TO THE HEART, THE GOAL, LISTEN TO THE HUMMINGBIRD or THE HILLS and you’ll know why.
MURDER MOST FOUL by BOB DYLAN- This epic narrative of a nation’s eventful panorama clashing with definitive milestones pitched the good with the bad, to paint a portrait of humanity and for the Nobel laureate should have ensured a Song of the Year nod. It was simply poetic and profound.
THE HIGHWOMEN for ALBUM OF THE YEAR or COUNTRY ALBUM, COUNTRY SONG ( for IF SHE EVER LEAVES ME though they have scored a nod for CROWDED TABLE which is good enough) ; I feel the album deserved a more holistic reception in major categories.
HIGHER LOVE by KYGO/ WHITNEY HOUSTON- this had to score a definitive Dance Recording nod, it was a perfect way to salute a Whitney classic of yore and Kygo brought it to the current era without tinkering with its beats or innate sound.
FALL ON ME by A GREAT BIG WORLD and CHRISTINA AGUILERA – this was obvious for a Pop Group/ Duo Performance and is as beautifully effective as their previous chart smashing, Grammy winning SAY SOMETHING(2013)
MAGDALENE by FKA TWIGS- this album pushed sonic boundaries and showcased FKA TWIGS as a powerhouse who could juggle diverse vocal turns swiftly and make every song transformative, like on MIRRORED HEART, THOUSAND EYES, MARY MAGDALENE, SAD DAY, HOME WITH YOU and the biggest standout in CELLOPHANE. A Vocal Album nod was in her stride. Even an Alternative Album consideration went past her unjustly. Cellophane, above all, definitely merited a Solo Performance backing from voters. It was such a beauteous turn and structured in line with the lyrical intensity she detailed throughout.
AND OF COURSE, THE WEEKND- I never thought that it was possible to deliver this verdict on AFTER HOURS, an album cut out for wins galore whether it was for RECORD, SONG, POP VOCAL ALBUM, ALBUM, POP SOLO PERFORMANCE( for any song among BLINDING LIGHTS, IN YOUR EYES or SCARED TO LIVE), R&B PERFORMANCE, R&B SONG and PROGRESSIVE R&B ALBUM. It happened and it’s stupefying to believe in such a gross omission for one of the biggest hits of recent years, leave alone 2020. Be it his perfect live performances or his embodiment of the blood soaked, red coat clad, sunglass wearing protagonist from the album, he is an artist and a showman who has reached his peak and the Recording Academy chose to give him nothing. The joke’s on us.