Label volunteer, Leah Langley, gives us a summary of the 2021 Grammy nominations, alongside an overview on some of the controversy coming with these nominations.
The 2021 Grammy Awards will be the 63rd annual ceremony to be held. It will take place on January 31st, 2021 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The award nominees were announced on November 24th, 2020, via a virtual livestream, by the Chair and Interim Recording Academy President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr, with help from the likes of Dua Lipa and Sharon Osbourne. The world of music is one that is often facing some storm in one way or another, and this time is no different. The award nominations have been met with much controversy and backlash.
Beyoncé received nine nominations which included four for her protest anthem; ‘Black Parade.’ The track was released at the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests which overtook the world this summer. The nominations increase Beyoncé’s historic lead as the most-nominated female artist at the Grammys in its history. Her total is now 79 nominations which ties her with Sir Paul McCartney for the second-most nominations of all time. Taylor Swift followed closely behind, with six nominations, and if she grasps the win for Album of the Year, for her album ‘Folklore,’ it will be a record-breaking moment as she will be the first artist to win the award three times. British artist Dua Lipa also received six nominations for her ‘Future Nostalgia’ album. Many of the artists picking up nominations were from unusual household names with the likes of British multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier being listed in the main categories. Many of the songs that seemed to have gained attention had been notably inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement with H.E.R.’s ‘I Can’t Breathe’, perhaps the most notable of all, being up for song of the year.
The biggest shock came when The Weeknd was completely vacant from any of the categories, despite the fact that he has the biggest-selling US album of 2020, with ‘After Hours.’ It was assumed that his name would be one of the first to be announced as he had received many accolades at the MTV VMAs and the American Music Awards earlier on in the year. The oversight led to The Weeknd calling the Grammys “corrupt” on Twitter. Many artists were quick to share their dismay with Drake going as far as to call for the Grammys to be replaced as there were “too many missing names to even name” (written on his Instagram).
The Recording Academy has been working hard to address diversity and inclusion, founding the Black Music Collective (BMC) in September. This is an advisory group made up of “prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and the wider music community” (as quoted on the Recording Academy’s website). Despite the oversights that some were quick to remark about, the 2021 nominations, as quoted in a letter from the BMC, were said to be “historic” as they saw ten Black women nominated across the top four categories and over 20 Black nominees represented elsewhere. They also mention that, for the first time in the awards history, all six nominees in the Best Rap Album category were Black independent artists.
Whilst it seems that some progress is being made to appreciate the artistry created by Black artists, it’s clear that there is more work to do. This is the start of a very long journey to inclusion, and whilst some steps have been made in the right direction, it cannot be ignored that some huge oversights have still taken place.
It’s clear to see why there is some outrage at the nominations list as I myself was quite shocked to see some big names missing from the main categories. Whether this was done on purpose, or whether it was a simple oversight, I’m still unsure, but it’s definitely fair to say that some ripples will be felt on awards night when some of the most successful artists this year are not taking to the stage to pick up an award.
Header designed by Christos Leo Alamaniotis
Article Edited by Music Editor Matthew Rousou