The 64th Grammys nominations are in...FLICKR/ THOMAS HAWK

The Grammys have always been a major talking point in the music industry, and even though their influence has waned in recent years (characterised by last year’s record low viewing numbers), they remain as divisive as ever, and this year’s nominations do nothing at all to convince us otherwise.

In all fairness to the Recording Academy, they have mostly succeeded this year in rewarding popular names who have made waves in the mainstream this year – Doja Cat’s entertaining Planet Her era with its fantastic pop music has rightfully gained her 8 nominations (though her affiliation with shamed record producer Dr Luke may harm her chances of wins in the major categories). Olivia Rodrigo’s breakout year that saw her storm chart and streaming records resulted in 7 nominations, and Lil Nas X’s genuine attempt at executing a rigorous and well-constructed era, which is notoriously rare for men in pop music nowadays, understandably bagged him several nominations.

Oliva Rodrigo has been nominated for 7 Grammy AwardsYOUTUBE/ OLIVIA RODRIGO

Billie Eilish, a known favourite of the Academy (already a 17-time nominee, despite only being 19) was also rewarded with 7 nominations for her mature and introspective sophomore album that definitely topped her record-breaking debut, despite not reaching the same commercial heights. Last year’s big winner Taylor Swift has a single nomination this year in the Album of the Year category for her 9th and, in my opinion, best studio album evermore. To see the excellent follow up to the successful folklore be acknowledged was one of a few good moves made by the Academy this year.

That aside, there still remained uninspiring choices in the general fields. Justin Bieber somehow managed to be among the most nominated artists for the second year running, with eight nominations. However, what is far more perplexing than Justice managing to appear in the Album of the Year nominees, despite receiving lukewarm reviews and middling commercial success, is the presence of its most successful single “Peaches” in the R&B categories. It may feature two R&B artists, Giveon and Daniel Caesar, but it is a pop song, and should truly be among the nominated songs for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Other rogue choices include Kanye West’s underwhelming Donda in the Album of the Year category, and the presence of H.E.R.’s bloated debut album in that category should also raise a few eyebrows, especially once we consider the far more interesting and impactful R&B releases that dropped this year. In my opinion, Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales and its major single “Pick Up Your Feelings” being completely absent from the General Field was one of the many inexplicable mistakes made by the Academy this year.


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Other blunders from The Academy include nominating abusers and recently disgraced individuals. Marilyn Manson, with his numerous sexual assault lawsuits, and Dababy, (whose homophobic comments at the Rolling Loud festival over the summer explains the absence of his and Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” from the nominations), find themselves nominated in the Album of the Year category as featured artists, alongside Dr Luke for his work on Planet Her. The Grammys’ attempts to display their growth, whether it be through the abolition of secret committees – a change triggered by The Weeknd declaring he would no longer submit his music for Grammy consideration, after blockbuster album After Hours was completely shut out of last year’s nominations – are thwarted by their continued passivity when it comes to shutting out figures not worthy of recognition.

Elsewhere, it is nice to see some British talent in Arlo Parks, who is up for Best New Artist (though Olivia Rodrigo does seem to have the win for that category locked in) and her excellent Mercury Prize-winning debut Collapsed in Sunbeams also managed a nomination for Best Alternative Album.

As for the major rap categories, we again see a mixed bag as neither West’s Donda nor Drake’s Certified Lover Boy set the world alight for longer than a few weeks, nor were either good enough to garner a nomination in Best Rap Album. But it is good to see J. Cole and Tyler, the Creator rewarded for their fantastic projects this year either way.

“The Academy does well to shine a light on artists not necessarily in the mainstream”

One of the good things to come out of this year’s nominations is that The Academy does well to shine a light on artists not necessarily in the mainstream, in particular Jon Batiste, the most nominated artist this year with 11 nods. It is refreshing to see a less well-known name present among some of the most popular and established names the industry has to offer.

All in all, the same story we know all too well with the Grammys remains – far too hit and miss, and ultimately the nominations are hardly representative of the promising music that 2021 has brought us. We can at least hope for an exciting ceremony come 31 January.