Snubs & Surprises

10 Biggest Grammy Award Snubs and Surprises: Meghan Trainor, Miley Cyrus & More

Beyoncé and Sam Smith lead the 2015 Grammy nominations, but Meghan Trainor and Miley Cyrus are the biggest surprises. Our guide to the Grammy shockers.

Photo Illustration: Elena Scotti/The Daily Beast

In a bid to make the Grammy Awards even more annoying than they already tend to be, the organization has been announcing their nominations (PDF) all day Friday in the most insufferable of ways. Over the course of five hours, a handful of categories at a time have been revealed. And—wait!—they’re not done yet. The epic conclusion to this drawn out saga of “ugh!” is Friday night’s A Very Grammy Christmas concert on CBS, during which the final category, Album of the Year, will be announced.

As it stands, Beyoncé and Sam Smith lead the nominations with five a piece, a turn of events that was to be expected. More, Queen B officially became the most Grammy-nominated woman of all time. Bow down, bitches!

Of course, everything about the Grammys is ridiculous. Its eligibility cut off is at the end of September, the nominations are announced in December, and the ceremony doesn’t air until February, so songs and albums feel like they’ve been released forever before the Grammys show to them love. For example, even though Beyoncé was released before last year’s nominations were announced and Beyoncé and Jay Z even performed “Drunk in Love” at last year’s ceremony, the album and the song weren’t eligible until this year.

Keeping in mind the total nonsense of these rules, we surveyed the list of major contenders and came up with the biggest snubs and surprises. It’s a good day to be Miley Cyrus. And a bad one to be Lady Gaga. (See the full list of nominees here (PDF).)

Miley Cyrus—SURPRISE

The twerking tyrant is now Grammy nominated, y’all. And, let’s be real, deservedly so. While The nationwide pearl clutching over the aggressive sexualization of Cyrus’s performances last year drowned out the conversation about the actual music, which was very, very good and very, very bold pop music. The inclusion of Bangerz in Best Pop Vocal Album is a good surprise.

Meghan Trainor—SURPRISE

The Grammy Awards are ALL ABOUT THAT BASS. (Get it!?) Trainor’s vocal fried ode to the curvy frame nabbed two major nods—in Record of the Year and Song of the Year—a feat no one saw coming when making their predictions. Its inclusion in Record of the Year is on track with the recent trend of all nominees being chart-toppers. Nonetheless, it’s surprising that the frothy hit made such a Grammy splash with stodgy Grammy voters. It’s about butts.

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams—SNUB

If you wanted more reason to be infuriated by this song: It actually was submitted last year but didn’t score major nods because it hadn’t become the massive hit it grew to be yet, so Pharrell submitted a live version of the track to compete again this year. Only at the Grammys can omnipresent, overplayed songs torment our lives for unimaginable lengths of time and still be Grammy-eligible. Still “Happy,” truthfully, should have been a shoo-in for Record of the Year given its incessant popularity this past year. But maybe Grammy nominators really are like the rest of us. “If I hear that goddamned clapping one more time…”


Soulful singer-songwriter Hozier released his debut album after the end of Grammy eligibility this year, but its lead single, “Take Me to Church” was still submitted and scored a well-deserved slot in Song of the Year. The category is a nod-for-nod replica of the Record of the Year selections (which is usually the case), but with Hozier’s track subbing in for Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” Given that this is the award given to the songwriter, that’s a wise move by the nominators.

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“Let It Go” by Idina Menzel—SNUB

Given the nearly unfathomable popularity of Frozen this past year, there was buzz that “Let It Go” could actually rise out of the song-made-for-a-movie ghetto and actually score a handful of nods in the major races. But alas, the song was frozen out (heh) of the big races, including Pop Vocal Performance, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, meaning the movie missed the opportunity to make even more history—it would have been the first Oscar winner for Best Song to score a Record or Song of the Year nomination since Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in 2003.

“Chandelier” by Sia—SURPRISE

When a song like “Chandelier” comes out, which is effortlessly listenable but admittedly edgier than the mainstream typically lends an ear to, it’s a pleasant surprise when it does catch on. It’s an even bigger surprise when the typically unpredictable Grammy Awards catches on, too. Alternative but still unmistakably pop, experimental, and often just plain weird, Sia’s not the typical Grammy darling. But that’s why her inclusion in Record of the Year and Song of the Year is so great. Almost as great as her Twitter reaction to the news: “I don’t know what to say so thank you. Sia loves dogs.”

James Franco and Joan Rivers—SURPRISE

Perhaps the most delightful categories this year is Best Spoken World Album, which basically nominates celebrities for doing the audio books to things they’ve written. This year’s nominees is the most eclectic of mixed bags, with James Franco (Actors Anonymous) and Joan Rivers (Diary of a Mad Diva) both earning nominations—the latter posthumously—and facing off against the amazing random collection of Jimmy Carter, John Waters, Elizabeth Warren, and “I Will Survive Singer” Gloria Gaynor.

ARTPOP by Lady Gaga—SNUB

While Lady Gaga was nominated in Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her collection with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek (and more-than deservedly—it’s a great album), the experimental pop diva received zilch for anything off of her ballyhooed-then-bombed album ARTPOP. Was ARTPOP Gaga’s best pop album? Not by a longshot. Was it a bit pretentious? Without a doubt. But there were moments of expected genius on it worthy of Grammy consideration.

Brandy Clark—SURPRISE

Best New Artist is a notorious hotbed for “who???” nominations, artists who may be well-known in their genres but are more of a wild card to the mainstream. This year, country starlet Brandy Clark joins the ranks of Esperanza Spalding and Kacey Musgraves, parlaying her Nashville popularity into a surprise Best New Artist nomination. She’ll compete alongside more blatantly mainstream success stories Iggy Azalea, Sam Smith, Haim, and Bastille, taking slot from other more pop-y contenders like A Great Big World, Bleachers, Echosmith, and Aloe Blacc.

Taylor Swift, Pop Princess—SURPRISE

Should there be any confusion over whether there’s any lost Grammy love over Taylor Swift’s switch from Nashville sensation to bonafide pop star, the love for “Shake It Off” in Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and, more tellingly, Best Pop Solo Performance should settle it: Swift has successfully made the transition. The rest of 1989 was ineligible, as the album was released after the eligibility deadline, so expect more pop love to come for Swift at next year’s ceremony.