The interesting thing about the 58th Grammy Nominee list is the lack of mega celebrities.
Sure Taylor Swift is nominated seven times this year for 1989, but rapper Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" garnered 11 nominations, decidedly edging out the media darling Swift. A rapper nominated more than the only mega-marketed album for the 58th Grammy's should come as a big surprise to casual on-lookers of the music industry. But a closer look reveals this should be no surprise at all.
The album experience is an industry construct. The profit margins on the creation of a full album are greater than the margins when producing an EP or a single (Knopper 2009). Listening to full albums has become a thing of the past in our on-demand, connected world. In struggling to remain profitable, record labels turned to focused production of only a few mega stars. Big Label realized they can make the most money by promoting only one or two celebrities, instead of developing a roster of artists with moderate national popularity. By targeting all demographics at once and blending genres into a homogeneous sound, the major record labels have, in a sense, put all their eggs in one basket, and we are now seeing some of the results.
There wasn't a Beyonce' record for this round, Adele's album just came out and won't be in the award show until the 59th Grammy's are held in 2017 and the same with Justin Bieber's new album and he only made headlines riding the shirt tails of Skrillex & Diplo and they aren't household names (go ask your parents). Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" was probably the song of 2015, but with regards to pop and mainstream America, his celebrity staying power is not on the level of 2012 Lady Gaga and would we be talking about the song if Bruno Mars wasn't involved.
This year (full list), we have Kendrick Lamar, Drake, The Weeknd, and Florence & The Machine with the most nominations (besides Swift). Alabama Shakes received as many nominations at Kanye West, arguably the most famous husband in America, and Ed Sheeran, who's 1989 covers album put him in the news repeatedly. In award shows past, there's been a strong correlation between album sales and Grammy nominations, but the 58th annual award show is like The San Antonio Spurs playing the Golden State Warriors in the finals instead of it being The Lakers vs The Celtics again, for the umpteenth time.
But don't expect to see Bjork or Flying Lotus on television. I promise TV will find a way to put Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5 and the all other typical celebrities in a cross promotional smorgasbord of mash ups and contrasting "duets". What's the over under on Timberlake doing a country song with Aaron Lewis?