PEOPLE Music Critic Chuck Arnold also explains Kanye's seven, Beyoncé's two(!) and more

By Chuck Arnold
December 01, 2011 08:45 AM
Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage, Amanda Schwab/Startraks, Rob Kim/FilmMagic

You might be excused for doing a double take when seeing that Adele does not lead the nominations for the 54th annual Grammy Awards, announced Wednesday night.

How the heck could that be after the phenomenal year that she’s had with 21 – easily the biggest-selling album of 2011 as well as one of the most critically acclaimed?

Well, truth is, Adele is nominated in pretty much every single category she was eligible for. (Next time do a song with Jay-Z and you can be nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration!)

That leaves her with six nominations, including album, record and song of the year (the latter two for “Rolling in the Deep”). But that’s four less than Beyoncé Knowles scored two years ago.

This year, though, the Grammy categories have been streamlined, which partly explains why now Knowles, a perennial Grammy darling, only has two nominations in lesser categories, making for one of the bigger snubs.

It’s also a little misleading that Kanye West leads the nominations with seven nods, because all but one of them (song of the year for “All of the Lights”) is relegated to the rap field. Strangely, however, West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – the only album I would have pulled for to beat Adele – is not nominated for album of the year.

Instead, Rihanna surprisingly scores her first album of the year nomination for Loud, hardly her best effort, and Bruno Mars is up for Doo-Wops & Hooligans, which, barely missing the cutoff for last year’s Grammys, feels past its expiration date.

Mars is also vying for record and song of the year for “Grenade,” which will compete with two alternative contenders: “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons and “Holocene” by Bon Iver. The latter is a real shocker, but the indie breakout, whose four nominations also include best new artist, is worthy of recognition.

Most head-scratching, though, is the best new artist nomination for electronic deejay/producer Skrillex, who is also up for four other awards. But something tells me that, when the winners are announced Feb. 12, the night won’t belong to Skrillex but Adele.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards will air live on Feb. 12 on CBS from L.A.’s Staples Center. For a full list of nominees, visit