Does the name Al Walser ring a bell?
Well, we've only just been introduced to the relative unknown, who shocked the EDM community Wednesday when he was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Dance Music Recording category for his single "I Can't Live Without You." The very low-profile independent act shares the honor with EDM giants Skrillex, Avicii, Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia, while better-known artists like David Guetta and Afrojack sit on the sidelines.
The headlines that followed made no attempt to mask the confusion or contempt surrounding his nomination. "The Grammys Nominated the Dance Music Version of Rebecca Black and Nobody Knows Why," wrote Gawker. "Who the Hell Is Al Walser and How Did He Get an EDM Grammy Nomination?" Spin chimed in.
In an exclusive chat with MTV News on Thursday night, Walser credited his nomination to "nourishing" his fellow Grammy voters. Indeed, he worked diligently over the years to make sure all the right people knew who he was. The flipside to Walser's good fortune, however, is that all eyes are now on him — and the new attention isn't all good.
Andrew Spada, VP of development for Dancing Astronaut, told MTV News that Walser's nomination caught him off guard. "When I saw Al Walser's name on the list, I was understandably confused," Spada said via email. "I had never heard of him or 'I Can't Live Without You,' so I immediately went to YouTube to hear the unknown track that was being mentioned alongside a production as massive as [Avicii's] 'Levels.' "
Spada wasn't impressed with what he heard but suspects that doesn't much matter to Walser, now that "the entire industry is buzzing about his name. He's getting exactly what he wanted: notoriety and his 15 minutes of fame."
EDMSauce.com founder Stevo, meanwhile, thinks the Grammys could have relied more on EDM fans in choosing nominees. "In essence, they really should have looked into the electronic dance music communities and see what the most popular songs are among the listeners," he suggested via email. "A lot of people are just befuddled at understanding who this guy really is and how he was chosen. Everyone is just a bit confused at the moment."
While Zev Norotsky, executive publisher of Elektro magazine, acknowledged that he, too, was confused by Walser's nomination ("I would say it definitely stood out"), he applauded the Grammys' inclusion and acceptance of EDM artists.
"They deserve a lot of credit for adapting and embracing us as a genre and including our artists," Norotsky said via email. "No need to point fingers, bash them and turn such an overwhelmingly positive step in the right direction into any kind of scandal."
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization of music-industry professionals behind the Grammys, could not be reached for comment by press time.