On November 24th, 2020 the 63rd Grammy nominations were announced. Every year, critics upset by who’s missing from the nomination list take to social media to air their disapproval. The term “Scammys” is frequently used, and there is some truth to this insult.
The list of Grammys is exceedingly long and consists of many awards you may have never heard of. To keep it simple, I’m going to focus on the “Big Four” awards: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.
So, what qualifies someone for Album of the Year? The requirements to be nominated for this award are very straightforward. First, all genres are welcome. Second, the album can be an EPs (Extended Play) or an LP (Long Play). The only qualification is it must be 15 minutes long with at least 8 songs or 30 minutes long with no track number requirement.
Record of the Year is often confused with Song of the Year, as they are both awarded for individual songs. The big difference between the two is that Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters, while Record of the Year is awarded to the performing artist, producers, sound engineers, master engineers, and sound mixers. Adding to the confusion is the fact that sometimes the performing artist will give the acceptance speech for both awards, as they are often involved with both ends of the creation of the song.
The last of the “Big Four” awards is Best New Artist. Best New Artist can be confusing because an artist that has been making music for a couple of years can still be nominated. Although there are many technical qualifications: they must have at least 5 singles/tracks or one album (as of 2021 there is no longer a maximum number of tracks or albums) and cannot have been nominated more than 3 times previously. However, the biggest requirement and thus the most subjective is “must have achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period.” And with the addition of social media and streaming services, the qualifications for this award have become even more subjective. (This also led the academy to increase the number of nominees from 5 to 8).
Album of the Year
Chilimbo, Jhene Aiko
Black Pumas, Black Pumas
Everyday Life, Cold Play
Djesse Vol.3, Jacob Collier
Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone
Folklore, Taylor Swift
The clear front runners this year are Taylor Swift’s Folklore and Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, but when it comes down to it, Swift is looking at a third Album of the Year award for her discography. Although fans of Swift believe she has been snubbed in past years at the Grammys, it’s also no secret the Grammys love Taylor Swift. She has been nominated in some capacity every year she has released new music. Not only does Swift have the good track record, (pun a little bit intended), but Folklore just deserves the win. With possibly her best writing to date, Swift’s surprise 8th album is her most critically acclaimed yet and her best shot at being the second person to have three Album of the Year wins.
Record of the Year
“Black Parade” – Beyonce
“Colors” – Black Pumas
“Rockstar” – Dababy Featuring Roddy Ricch
“Say So”- Doja Cat
“Everything I Wanted” – Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now” – Dua Lipa
“Circles” – Post Malone
“Savage” – Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyonce
When determining the winner of Record of the Year, many factors should be considered. On one hand, songs like “Savage” and “Say So” were largely successful due to the social media app TikTok. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re worthy of the award. Songs like “Everything I Wanted” and “Circles” are better overall songs, both for performance and production. When it comes down to it, I believe that Billie Eilish will come out with back-to-back Record of the Year wins. Her unique vocals and the song’s incredible production, thanks to her brother Finneas, deserve to be recognized in this category yet again.
Song of the Year
“Black Parade”, Denisia Andrews, Beyoncé, Stephen Bray, Shawn Carter, Brittany Coney, Derek James Dixie, Akil King, Kim “Kaydence” Krysiuk & Rickie “Caso” Tice, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“The Box”, Larrance Dopson, Samuel Gloade, Rodrick Moore, Adarius Morag, Aqeel Qadir Tate & Khirye Anthony Tyler, songwriters (Roddy Ricch)
“Cardigan”, Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
“Circles”, Louis Bell, Adam Feeney, Kaan Gunesberk, Austin Post & Billy Walsh, songwriters (Post Malone)
“Don’t Start Now”, Caroline Ailin, Ian Kirkpatrick, Dua Lipa & Emily Warren, songwriters (Dua Lipa)
“Everything I Wanted”, Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)
“I Can’t Breathe”, Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. & Tiara Thomas, songwriters (H.E.R.)
“If the World Was Ending”, Julia Michaels & JP Saxe, songwriters (JP Saxe Featuring Julia Michaels)
Song of the Year is strictly about songwriting, and that is where artists like Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift shine. Swift, although nominated many times, has never won this particular Grammy and I’d say this is her best chance yet to secure the award. However, Eilish did just win this award last year, and her song nominated this year is arguably better than the song for which she previously won Song of the Year. Additionally, the popularity of “If the World Was Ending” was largely because of the events of 2020, but it rightfully deserves its place on this list. As well as H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe”, which lyrically is one the best songs this year, and was extremely prominent this year, much like “If the World Was Ending”. Unfortunately, I doubt the Grammy’s will recognize something considered to be controversial. When it comes down to it, it’s a very close call but Swift deserves “Cardigan” to be her first Song of the Year win.
Best New Artist
Megan Thee Stallion
TikTok has done more this year than teach us dances. It’s also given us some of this year’s biggest new artists. Both Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion rose to fame on the social media platform and took that momentum to bring them to the top. In terms of prominence, Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion have made the biggest marks on the music industry this 2020. While Doja Cat exceeds in the performance aspect of her music, Megan Thee Stallion is lyrically doing cartwheels around Doja Cat. It really is a toss-up between the two artists, but ultimately, I have to go with Megan Thee Stallion. After already having collaborated with Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion is well on her way to becoming a household name.
The 63rd Grammys, like many other events, will not be the same due to COVID-19. And whether or not my personal favorites go on to win, it can be ensured that it will be a great night of entertainment and hopefully full of fun surprises. Tune in January 31st to see who the Grammys go to.