When the Grammys and the Critics Might Have Agreed

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 1 2011 9:35 AM

Grammys Pour Cold Water on Kanye’s Fantasy


Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Kanye West may have received the most Grammy nominations, announced in a televised ceremony Wednesday night, but he was snubbed where it hurts. After his fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, became both a commercial smash, selling over a million copies, and an undisputed critical champ, it had seemed like the critics and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences might soon reach a rare consensus. But when it came to Album of the Year, Kanye—who takes awards shows very seriously—didn’t even receive a nomination.

Forrest Wickman Forrest Wickman

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

Kanye received seven nominations in all. Four of those are for his collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, which was also left out of the Album of the Year category.


Adele, who won Best New Artist in 2009, made a triumphant return with six nominations, and she and Bruno Mars were nominated in all the major categories: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. Adele’s 21 is by far the best-selling album of the year, with more than 4.5 million copies sold, but neither 21 nor any other album this year has received as much acclaim as West’s Fantasy.

Over in the indie world, headlines touted not West or Adele but the four nominations for Bon Iver, who will compete against the likes of Katy Perry (for Record of the Year and Song of the Year), Nicki Minaj (for Best New Artist), and Radiohead (for Best Alternative Music Album). Radiohead received five nominations, providing further ammo for those who would argue that artists like Radiohead and Bon Iver represent “our adult contemporary.”

In one final surprise—there’s no shortage when you have 78 categories (down from 109 last year!)—Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was nominated for two awards, including Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. If the Grammys are to be trusted—and there are plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t be—MacFarlane’s voice might be good for more than portraying Stewie.

You can check out the complete list of nominees on the Grammys’ website.

Coverage of this year’s nominees in Slate:

Mike Spies on Adele’s 21.
Taylor Clark on Best New Artist nominee Skrillex.
Jonah Weiner on Best New Artist nominee Nicki Minaj.
Jonah Weiner reviews Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Seth Colter Walls on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne.
Jody Rosen on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.
Jonah Weiner on “the improbable, unstoppable success of Rihanna.


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