With genre distinctions in music more blurry than ever, it’s often difficult for artists to decide which Grammy category to submit under. While Kanye West‘s solo music is pretty clearly rap, according to TMZ, West submitted the song “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2),” from his collaborative album with Kid Cudi, for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song. Harry Styles, formerly one fifth of One Direction, reportedly submitted his album under Best Rock Album for last year’s Grammys. Styles was snubbed in 2017, but was rumored to be a contender in the rock song categories with his bombastic, old school Arctic-Monkeys-esque single “Kiwi.”
Despite their best efforts, Styles and West are absent from the rock nominations, released today. West was nominated for Producer Of The Year (Non-Classical), and since “Kiwi” was Styles’ only eligible record, the singer did not receive any nominations. You could call this genre bias — since the Recording Academy might think of West as a rapper, it might be a challenge to see his music as rock. And since Styles is a pretty boy whose face is plastered on t-shirts, despite his classic rock-influenced album, he might still be seen as a teen pop idol. But it has happened before. Beyoncé‘s killer Jack White collab, “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” was nominated for Best Rock Performance two years ago.
The rock categories have a couple worthy contenders — Arctic Monkeys’ weirdo Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino and St. Vincent’s masterful MASSEDUCTION are great picks — but these categories are also filled with some questionable choices. Bring Me The Horizon, a band I quite honestly haven’t heard about since 2007, have a nomination under Best Rock Song. Fall Out Boy are arguably more poppy than Styles these days, but their album M A N I A is nominated for Best Rock Album. Greta Van Fleet are handsome young guys with loyal teen fans, so why do they sweep the rock category when Styles sits it out again?
Pop star Post Malone released a song called “Rockstar” that was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. If that isn’t a brain-twister metaphor for these muddy rock categories, I don’t know what is.