You hear it all the time: "I'm just thankful to be nominated." It's the gracious and polite thing to say, and artists who lose out on major awards always feel compelled to offer it up.
But what if you never even get nominated?
Every year, there are head-slapping omissions from the roster of nominees at the big awards-fests (Christopher Nolan at the Oscars, anyone?), and this year's 53rd annual Grammy Awards (which take place February 13) are no exception.
In the night's biggest category, Album of the Year, there was plenty of griping from critics about the inclusion of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream, which many considered too lightweight for the night's top prize. But there was also a bit of talk about Justin Bieber's smash My World 2.0 not making it into the mix in the major categories, even if Bieber can lick his wounds with his Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album love.
Though the rules about the Best New Artist category have since been changed to avoid such a problem in the future, Lady Gaga has been the victim of Grammy snubs before. She earned six nominations this year, including coveted Album of the Year for The Fame Monster, but it was mystifying that her huge hit, "Bad Romance," didn't get any Record or Song of the Year nominations.
"They want her for ratings, but I think the Grammys are still a bit freaked out by Gaga," said Entertainment Weekly music writer Leah Greenblatt. "There were so many shenanigans about her not being nominated for Best New Artist that I think the Grammys got shamed over that. It's possible they would try to make it up to her by showering her with nominations and I could see her win in major categories [in the future], but I think they're not quite ready for her." That could, of course, change next year when Gaga's Born This Way is in the running.
Another diva used to serious Grammy love, Alicia Keys, was totally shut out for her The Element of Freedom album. "It's interesting that Alicia Keys got nothing," she said. "Her and John Mayer are practically on the ballots every year whether they qualify for eligibility or not. And I think 'Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart' was one of the year's best singles." And reclusive Grammy bait Sade got a pair of notices for her singles "Soldier of Love" and "Babyfather" in the R&B categories but no chance at any of the big prizes. Greenblatt said she was surprised by both snubs, especially since Sade's Soldier of Love album was one of the top sellers of 2010 and because the enigmatic singer had been away for nearly a decade and came back in fine, mature form, the kind of story the Grammys love to honor.
There were some eyebrows raised over the single nomination for "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert, who had a solid and creatively rich hit album with his debut, For Your Entertainment, but just a single nod for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Whataya Want From Me."
With Perry strutting into a number of top categories thanks to her light-as-air pop confections, it was a wonder that another pop tart with huge digital sales and big chart hits (things the Recording Academy likes to see), Ke$ha, was completely shut out of the game. Greenblatt thought the Lambert dis might fall into the same Gaga territory, with the Academy being a bit freaked out by the singer's out-and-proud persona and over-the-top antics, but when it comes to Ke$ha, she said it's probably a different story. "She had a huge impact, but I think the Grammys think she might go away, and they've chosen not to legitimize her," she speculated.
Speaking of big sales, quite a few people commented on the fact that Train's smash "Hey, Soul Sister," the best-selling single of 2010, got just one notice for a little-heard live version in the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group category.
A couple of well-respected hip-hop acts were also conspicuously absent from the nominations list, including Outkast's Big Boi, whose acclaimed Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty was left out of the Best Rap Album category, along with Rick Ross, whose Teflon Don got no love. "Rick Ross is the kind of artist made to be ignored by the Grammys," Greenblatt said. "He has a sensibility the Grammys will almost never come around to, no matter how beloved he is by rap fans."
But given that she thought Chico Dusty was one of the best albums of 2010, Greenblatt was stunned by the freeze-out of Big Boi, who has been showered with Grammy love in the past. "It's such an achievement, a fully realized album that feels like a real tapestry, a headphones album from someone whose skills are so singular ... [from] one of the most iconic and Grammy-approved hip-hop acts of all time."
Rihanna's Rated R was also eligible but got stiffed in the major categories, landing just a Best Dance Recording nod for "Only Girl (In the World)" for her single from last year's Loud and a number of notices for her work on Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie." And if you thought Kanye West got ripped off when My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy got blanked, don't worry: It wasn't eligible this year but is in the hunt for next year.
The one omission that seemed to make sense was the two small nominations for the kids from "Glee," who are up for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for their cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " and for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Glee: Vol. 1. Though they set cash registers ringing like crazy, it's no wonder that actors singing covers didn't garner attention at a show that ostensibly awards creativity. And no one seemed too shocked that Christina Aguilera's poorly received Bionic was ignored.