100% that Grammy queen: Lizzo at the Austin City Limits Festival, Austin, Texas, Oct. 4, 2019.
(Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty Images)
100% that Grammy queen: Lizzo at the Austin City Limits Festival, Austin, Texas, Oct. 4, 2019.
(Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty Images)
Feelin' Good as Hell at the Grammys, Southern Rock, Gay Rappers ,Big Thief, Rod Wave, Prince...
Matty Karas, curator November 21, 2019
quote of the day
I grew up watching the Grammys with my family. I would judge all the girls' dresses and all the dudes' suits. To think about sitting in a room with, like, every person I grew up idolizing is terrifying.
rant n' rave

Say what you will about the somewhat sexist, Latin-phobic, hip-hop-challenged, possibly ageist and occasionally bonkers GRAMMY nominations, but I'll say this: Give me a Grammy ceremony whose top nominees are LIZZO, BILLIE EILISH and LIL NAS X and I'll give you a fun, interesting show that looks more than a little like pop music itself circa 2019. And that, for the Grammys, is a lot. I ain't mad. "TRUTH HURTS," "OLD TOWN ROAD" and "BAD GUY" all up for Record of the Year? Yes. Eight Best New Artist nominees, at least seven of whom I wouldn’t mind winning? Yes. Vengeance for ARIANA GRANDE, with two nominations for "7 RINGS," the very song she wasn't allowed to perform at the 2019 ceremony? Yup. Overdue recognition for country legend TANYA TUCKER? Yep. Down-ballot recognition for critical darlings BIG THIEF, Nigerian star BURNA BOY, INTERNET wunderkind STEVE LACY, jazz trumpeter-composer CHRISTIAN SCOTT ATUNDE ADJUAH (not in a jazz category, but, y'know) and [fill-in-your-own-favorites-here]? Hallelujah. The RECORDING ACADEMY has openly struggled in recent years to create a show that simultaneously honors what it sees as serious and what it knows is popular, and that sounds current while threading that timeless needle. It isn't an easy job. Older (the surprisingly snubbed BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN) and younger (under-nominated MAREN MORRIS) artists alike slip through the cracks. Sometimes the Academy seems like it's trying to create stars out of thin air to fill its own gaps (five nominations for a second year in a row for H.E.R.??? Compared to none for, say, SOLANGE?). Lizzo and Eilish, on the other hand, are perfect Grammy artists, serious and popular, who can appeal across generations and constituencies. This is the first time two artists have each been nominated in all of the top four categories, and they're both fully deserving. The Academy's checkered record with specialty categories continues. BLACK PUMAS, a little-known Austin band whose Wikipedia page contains six sentences, at least one of which was added on Wednesday, was a shocking pick for a Best New Artist nomination; but even stranger is that it isn't nominated for anything else. Ditto for MAGGIE ROGERS, a less surprising Best New Artist nominee whose music floats between the Academy's categories and was overlooked by all of them. The rock categories (rock, metal, alternative), where the Pumas might well fit, seem to have been divvied up in a dice game. The rap categories appear to have been almost completely walled off from the big four categories (and it's not clear if women were invited). You'll have your own gripes and your own hallelujahs. These are the Grammys after all. They could have done a lot worse, and that's worth celebrating... One more Grammy note: According to ROLLING STONE, the last Song of the Year to be credited to one songwriter was AMY WINEHOUSE's "REHAB," 11 years ago. Only one of this year's eight nominees has a sole writing credit: TAYLOR SWIFT's "LOVER." (Speaking of, was Swift's bubbly "3 noms guys!!!!" reaction, after getting shut out of the Album of the Year category, the Grammy equivalent of "Bless your heart"?)... And a special congratulations to my friend JUDY CANTOR-NAVAS, one of the foremost writers on Spanish-language music, for her Grammy nomination for her liner notes for the box set THE COMPLETE CUBAN JAM SESSIONS (which she also co-produced)... JANET WEISS continues to express deep affection for her old SLEATER-KINNEY bandmates, but she left this year, she tells podcaster JOE WONG, because of changing roles in the band that ended with, "I said, 'Am I just the drummer now?' And they said yes. And I said, 'Can you tell me that I'm still a creative equal in the band?' And they said no"... Why does ASAP ROCKY's name keep coming up at the impeachment hearings?... Twenty-five years on death row on a wrongful murder conviction, and now making music again: a great ROLLING STONE feature on R&B singer JIMMY DENNIS... Thirty-six years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, and now playing amateur nights at the APOLLO THEATER: NPR on singer ARCHIE WILLIAMS and the INNOCENCE PROJECT... RIP JOHN MANN and KIM GERVAIS.

Matty Karas, curator

November 21, 2019