Friday’s announcement of the 2019 Grammy nominations means the era of Reputationis nearly over. Yes, Taylor Swift fans who thoroughly enjoyed her sixth studio album can continue to play it until the end of time, relive concert footage from her tour, and flash Reputation merch to haters. But with just one Grammy nomination (Best Pop Vocal Album, aka not a major category), this also means that those who were uncertain about Taylor’s swerve with Reputation can now look forward to whatever she does next.
To set the scene, the Grammys also weren’t very kind to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s collab, Everything Is Love, which was shut out of major categories. (And this follows last year’s complete snub of 4:44, which went home empty-handed despite nine nominations, and Lemonade, which won two Grammys but famously lost Album of the Year to Adele’s 25.) Ariana Grande is up for two Grammys with Sweetener, but she, too, was left out of major nominations. (You can, however, celebrate Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, which earned five nods, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for “I Like It.”)
What does it mean when someone as big as Taylor Swift makes arguably the riskiest album of her career (so far) and receives the equivalent to a pat on the back from the Grammys while Bradley Cooper is thismuch closer to achieving E.G.O.T. status (with four nominations for “Shallow” from A Star Is Born)?
Taylor has historically been beloved by the Grammys, who made her the youngest artist (20) to win Album of the Year for Fearless. With 1989, she made history again when she took home the same trophy and became the first woman to win the award twice.
But in 2018, that love has dissipated. Earlier this year, the Recording Academy vowed to make the Grammys more diverse, first creating a Task Force on Diversity & Inclusion before adding 900 new voting members from the music industry. The number of nominees in its four biggest categories (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist) was also increased from five to eight.
The expansion didn’t help Taylor’s cause, even though Reputation was the third biggest album of 2017. If the Grammys are committed to making sweeping changes by putting its snub of Taylor (and other big artists) at the forefront, perhaps the 2019 ceremony is not a reflection of Taylor’s musical evolution, but an industry trying to improve with a poorly-written manual.
All this to say, Taylor is not over. The Grammys just might not be part of her narrative moving forward. And that’s fine.