After Arcade Fire nabbed the Grammy for Album of the Year for The Suburbs way back in February, anything and everything seems possible for indie rock: The kids won! Rock ’n’ roll is alive! Or something like that. Maybe the voters were taking a stand for good, underrepresented artists and for the critical relevance of the Grammy (see also: jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding’s stunning win over Justin Bieber for Best New Artst). And from looking at the field of Grammy nominations that came last night, it looks like they’re still trying to help new, slightly more experimental music find a place in the mainstream. Then again, other categories are still filled the same old chart-toppers. Here’s five of the more interesting aspects of this new crop of Grammy noms.
1. Guys With Beards Rule All
The biggest surprise of the nomination list came from Bon Iver, helmed by the bearded Justin Vernon. Bon Iver’s up for four awards, including Best Alternative Album, Best New Artist and Song of the Year, for “Holocene.” But he’s just one of many guys with beards enjoying nominations: Wilco’s The Whole Love (Best Rock Album), Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light (Best Rock Album, Album of the Year), Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues (Best Folk Album), Radiohead’s King of Limbs, (Alternative Album of the Year, Best Rock Performance). Surprisingly, Mumford & Sons, who received nominations last year as well, were nominated again but don’t sport beards (extended 5 o’clock shadows don’t count).
2. Kanye Snubbing
Sure, he racked up a total of seven nominations, including “Best Rap Album,” but the hip-hop star got snubbed for the biggie: Album of the Year. Instead, for some reason, the brilliant My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was passed up in favor for Bruno Mars. This time, we feel ya ’Ye.
3. Dubstep is Legit
Further solidifying dubstep’s ascension to the mainstream, Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites nomination for Best Dance/Electronica album is either a sign of the power and popularity of the genre, or the end of it.
4. Radiohead Can Never Make Anything Bad, Ever
Although they made what critics and fans alike agree is their most boring album, The Kings of Limbs still received nominations. Maybe the committee’s still feeling guilty for ignoring The Bends …
5. That Arcade Fire Thing Might’ve Been a Fluke
Aside from the Foo Fighters mediocre monster-rock record Wasting Light, the Album of the Year field is covered with pop records: Adele, Bruno, Gaga, and Rihanna round out the category. The Grammy win meme potential is, sadly, exponentially lower next year.