With the “Big Four” categories — Album, Record and Song of the Year, and Best New Artist — expanded from the usual five nominees to a more unwieldy eight this year, the 61st Annual Grammy Awards were more difficult to predict than ever. And there were certainly a few shockers at Sunday’s ceremony. But surely most viewers did not expect that Kendrick Lamar, 2019’s most-nominated artist, would be almost completely shut out.
SNUB: Kendrick Lamar
Lamar went into Sunday’s ceremony with eight nods, but he only picked up one award, for Best Rap Performance award — and in a rare tie, he actually had to share that honor with co-winner Anderson. Paak. Lamar was the frontrunner to win Album of the Year for his curated Black Panther soundtrack, but he lost that award for a fourth time — after being nominated in 2014 for Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, in 2016 for To Pimp a Butterfly, and just last year for DAMN., which actually won a Pulitzer. Instead, Kacey Musgraves’s Golden Hour clinched the top award. Lamar probably doesn’t regret sitting out this year’s Grammy ceremony.
It wasn’t so much a shock that Drake won Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” even if he said, “I definitely did not think I was winning anything.” It was more surprising that he actually turned up to accept his award, since he has accused the Grammys of being racist in the past, and in 2017, he even refused to submit his music for consideration at all. This year he, like Lamar, reportedly turned down an invitation to perform on the show. Drake seemed somewhat nonplussed by his win Sunday, putting things into perspective for other artists out there by saying, “You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word. If you are a hero in your hometown, if there is people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don't need this [Grammy trophy] right here, I promise you, you already won.”
SNUB: Lady Gaga
The A Star Is Born theme “Shallow” seemed like the frontrunner to win Record and Song of the Year, but it lost in both categories to “This Is America” by Childish Gambino — who wasn’t even there to accept his awards in person.
SNUB: Linda Perry
Only seven women have ever been nominated for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical — and no female producer has ever won. Perry, the first female nominee since 2004, seemed set to change all that, especially on a night that very overtly celebrated women. She even directed the Grammys' Dolly Parton tribute. But Perry ultimately lost to Pharrell Williams.