Grammys stumble with Kanye West album snub


The Grammy Awards were founded in 1958 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry -- and sell more records.

In the past decade, though, it seems to have taken on an ancillary mission: Drive Kanye West crazy.

Really, it's no wonder the rapper from Chicago suffers from Awards Show Tantrum Syndrome (ASTS). In the nominations announced Wednesday during the live CBS telecast, he leads the pack with seven. Stunningly, though, he was shut out of the grand prize of Album of the Year.

A spokesperson for NARAS should have to come forward and explain how the formulaic Lady Gaga record and the uneven Rihanna and Bruno Mars albums were more deserving than Kanye's brilliant "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," which was the overwhelming choice of critics for best album last year (see the Village Voice's Pazz and Jop Poll) and was even considered by some to be the best hip-hop record of all time.

Having been nominated and losing, undeservedly, for "The College Dropout" (to Ray Charles), "Late Registration" (to U2) and "Graduation" (to Herbie Hancock), it was Kanye's time to win the big one.

If there's a silver lining in all this, it's that Kanye won't have to watch Adele beat him in that category come February, because it's practically a foregone conclusion that the British chanteuse, nominated for six awards, is primed for a sweep. Not only is she uber-talented -- a contender for the new Queen of Soul -- she appeals to a broad range of music listeners, particularly the older ones who vote on the Grammys.

The snubs didn't end with Kanye. After being nominated for Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards and American Music Awards, Pittsburgh's own Wiz Khalifa seemed like a shoo-in for that category, especially with nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for his hometown anthem "Black and Yellow."

They must have thought he was a one-hit wonder because he got passed over for The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj and Skrillex.

Skrillex? Really?

The silver lining there is that Khalifa had little chance of winning against Nicki and Perry. Plus, the Best New Artist category is practically a Madden Curse anyway (see Starland Vocal Band, Debby Boone, Christopher Cross, Jody Watley, Milli Vanilli, Paula Cole, Evanescence and Amy Winehouse, for starters).

Last year, the Grammys won hipster points when Arcade Fire pulled an upset for Album of the Year. This year, it recognized the indie scene by lavishing four nominations on the decidedly non-mainstream, non-commercial Bon Iver, including Record and Song of the Year.

The good thing about this is that having used Bon Iver singer Justin Vernon on "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" and "Watch the Throne," you can be sure Kanye won't jump up and make a scene if he wins.

Scott Mervis: ; 412-263-2576. First Published December 1, 2011 5:00 AM


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