2018 Grammys: Is this the real reason Ed Sheeran isn't up for Album of the Year?

2018 Grammys: Is this the real reason Ed Sheeran isn't up for Album of the Year?
Photo credit: Getty

Ed Sheeran's omission from the major Grammy categories this year has fans wondering if the academy is trying to prevent a "race war". 

Sheeran's ÷ (Divide) is nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and his single 'Shape Of You' is up for Best Pop Solo Performance.

However, his exclusion from the Album of the Year and Song of the Year categories has shocked many.

In December, Ellen DeGeneres said she was outraged 'Shape Of You' wasn't up for Song of the Year.

"This song did not leave my head, I mean ever."

Sheeran responded nonchalantly, saying: "It's just some years you have a year and some years you don't, and maybe this year isn't my year."

However, by all accounts this should have been the British singer's year. 'Shape Of You' has had more than 3 billion plays on YouTube. It spent 12 weeks at no 1 on the Billboard chart in the US.

So why wasn't it nominated for Best Song?

In the latest episode of their podcast Still Processing, New York Times writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris put forward a theory - Grammy organisers are attempting to prevent outrage consuming media coverage of the awards.

"This is the first time in the Recording Academy's history that a white man has not been nominated for album of the year," Ms Wortham said.

Recalling the reaction after Adele's win over Beyonce at the 2017 Grammys, and Beck's win over Beyonce at the 2015 Grammys, Ms Wortham and Mr Morris ask whether the academy may be trying to prevent another year of controversy.

"We're not talking about what should be winning those Grammys, we're talking about what it would mean if it's actually true that the nomination steering committee looked at the list and said, 'Oh my God, if this gets out to the wider voting body we're going to have a problem on our hands, we don't want any more race war stuff.'"

Mr Morris said if this was the academy's rationale, it was the wrong move.  

"I don't want you telling me that by cutting Ed Sheeran out of your little Grammy game, that you've solved Grammy racism.

"Are you going to do this next year when Taylor Swift is eligible for all these Grammys? Are you going to do this again because Adele puts out another record the same year as Beyonce?

"I feel like I'm being told to keep my anger in check and being pandered to in a way that I don't like."

Ms Wortham pointed out that the issue was bigger than Sheeran.

"I don't want people like Ed Sheeran kept out to deal with the academy's image problem, I want them to deal with their systemic problem.

"I don't want them to be worried about how they look, I want them fixing the music industry so more people can make interesting music."

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards will air in New Zealand at 1:30pm on Monday.

The nominees for album of the year are Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, and Bruno Mars.