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Hear that sound? It’s the wailing of millions of tween and teenage girls, howling in righteous indignation that One Direction did not get a nod for best new artist tonight when the Grammy nominations were handed out.
To be sure, the Recording Academy’s relationship with boy bands has, to quote Katy Perry, run “hot and then cold.” Some years, they’ve favored acts like Backstreet Boys, who were nominated for best new artist in 1999 or Boys II Men in 1992, but they ignored N’Sync and New Kids On The Block in the same category.
One Direction seemed like a sure bet... and a deserving one at that. Not only had their first album, “Up All Night” come in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making the group the first British band to ever bow at No. 1 with its debut album, the group played before tens of thousands of screaming girls every night. And they actually sound good. Though relatively sterile, their songs on catchy and well made. Not only were they locked out of best new artist, they were locked out of every pop category.
In a year when the best new artist nominees included Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers, it’s clear that the voters were looking for a grass-roots authenticity that One Direction does not have. It could also have hurt them that they were put together by Simon Cowell after the members individually auditioned on “The X Factor” in the U.K.
However, how do you explain Hunter Hayes’ nomination? Easy: He counts for the teen vote, and the country contingent coalesced behind him to push him. Plus, his win as best new artist at the Country Music Awards last month gave him a certain credibility among voters.
My vote would have gone to One Direction over Hayes, despite my fondness for his hit, “Wanted.” Is nominating them any different than nominating Justin Bieber last year?
Though it’s very small consolation (and just more salt on the wound) to One Direction fans, had their beloved British boys gotten a nomination, there was no way they would have won. Despite nominations for the above mentioned—plus Hanson and Jonas Bros. in years past—for the last 20 years, the Grammys have largely awarded best new artist to an act that has a much wider and more respected (sorry) base than teen girls, instead handing the award to artists with a little more perceived gravitas, such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, Zac Brown Band, Esperanza Spalding and Bon Iver. In fact, the Beatles were the closest thing to a boy band to win a best new artist Grammy. And that was in 1965. Whether the Grammys are still trying to make sure the Milli Vanilli fiasco never happens again or they just feel that boy bands aren't worthy, the result is the same.
So wipe your eyes, my One Direction fans. While we’re sure you’re wearing out your thumbs tweeting about the horrible miscarriage of justice done to 1D, just know they are in very good company and they will need your love all the more to see them through the dark days ahead.