When Adele’s 25 won Album of the Year at the 2017 Grammys, in an upset over the most nominated artist of the night, Beyoncé, many were shocked and outraged … including Adele herself. “I can’t possibly accept this award,” she said in her tearful acceptance speech. “And I’m very humbled and very grateful and gracious, but the artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album for me, the Lemonade album, was just so monumental.”
Over the last 12 months, both singers have returned with their first solo albums since that era. And as the nominations were announced for the 65th Grammy Awards, both Adele’s 30 and Beyoncé’s Renaissance were, as expected, nominated for Album of the Year. This rematch could be a repeat of 2017, with Adele winning and apologizing to her idol, or it could be Beyoncé’s moment to finally triumph. Despite being the most nominated woman in Grammy history with 88 (including three previous Album of the Year nominations), she has never won the award. This year she leads the field with nine nominations, followed by eight for Kendrick Lamar and seven each for Adele and Brandi Carlile.
The Beyoncé-Adele rematch is far from the only story from today’s nominations.
Snubs and Surprises
There were no terribly shocking Album of the Year nominees this year, like Jacob Collier, Black Pumas (nominated in 2020), or Jon Batiste, who won in April. The biggest surprise was probably Mary J. Blige, who evaded most Grammy predictions. Good Morning Gorgeous is the first Album of the Year nomination in her 30-year career. The other nominees for Album of the Year are a mix of household names and current stars: ABBA, Bad Bunny, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, and Harry Styles.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s Raise the Roof was snubbed for Album of the Year after their previous collaboration, Raising Sand, won the award in 2009. Other albums that were widely discussed but missed out on the biggest award of the night include Rosalia, Ed Sheeran, Steve Lacy, and the Encanto soundtrack. This is the second year the field has been expanded to 10 nominees; the major all-genre Grammy categories had previously expanded from five nominees to eight in 2018.
Though this year’s Grammy nominations are overwhelmingly dominated by established acts, there are still some new names and potential Recording Academy firsts in the mix. Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti could be the first Spanish-language album to win Album of the Year. Latin artists have won the award before with instrumental music (Joao Gilberto, in collaboration with Stan Getz, in 1965) and a primarily English-language album (Santana for Supernatural in 2000). Though Bad Bunny’s occasional collaborator Rosalia missed an Album of the Year nomination, she landed two nominations for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album and Best Music Film.
When Sam Smith and Kim Petras hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 last month with “Unholy,” they made history as the first openly nonbinary artist and the first openly trans artist, respectively, to top the chart. With “Unholy” nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Petras could make history as the first openly trans artist to win the award. Previously, Wendy Carlos won three Grammys in 1969 and was nominated as an openly trans woman in 1989. Jackie Shane was nominated in 2017, SOPHIE in 2018, and Teresa Geiger was nominated as a writer of a Song of the Year nominee, Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood,” in 2019.
In June, the Recording Academy announced several new categories that would be added to this year’s ceremony: Songwriter of the Year (Non-Classical), Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media, Best Spoken Word Poetry Album, Best Alternative Music Performance, and Best Americana Performance. There’s also a ‘special merit award’ for Best Song for Social Change. The-Dream is the biggest name in the first set of Songwriter of the Year nominees for his work with Beyoncé, Pusha T, and Brent Faiyaz. Other nominated songwriters include Amy Allen (Harry Styles, Lizzo, Charli XCX) and Laura Veltz (Maren Morris, Demi Lovato, Ingrid Andress).
There’s no clear favorite in the Best New Artist category, with a diverse field of nominees including Anitta, Omar Apollo, DOMi & JD Beck, Muni Long, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg (who scored five total nominations). First-time nominee Turnstile picked up three nods for Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance, and Best Metal Performance for tracks from its 2021 album, Glow On. Eighteen-year-old singer-songwriter Gayle landed a Song of the Year nod for her debut single, “abcdefu,” and Memphis rapper GloRilla and producer Hitkidd both scored their first Grammy nominations in Best Rap Performance for their hit collaboration “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” — although the pair recently feuded on Twitter over legal rights to the song.
Boycotts and Withdrawals
There are probably more major stars who purposefully did not submit music for consideration this year than at any other point in Grammy history, though their reasons for doing so are varied. The Weeknd has boycotted the Grammys since last year when his blockbuster album After Hours and its record-breaking hit “Blinding Lights” were completely shut out of the nominations (the Recording Academy eliminated the secret committees that received much of the blame for The Weeknd’s snub and changed its voting rules in response to the controversy). The Weeknd’s Kanye West collaboration, “Hurricane,” won Best Melodic Rap Performance in April, but The Weeknd continues to boycott the awards and did not submit his latest album, Dawn FM, for consideration.
In 2021, Drake was nominated for two Grammys for Certified Lover Boy and “Way 2 Sexy.” Two weeks later, he officially asked the Recording Academy to withdraw his nominations, though he did not clarify whether he was doing so in solidarity with fellow Toronto native Abel Tesfaye. The Grammys complied, and the Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance awards proceeded with only four nominees this year. In June, Drake released the album Honestly, Nevermind but did not submit music for Grammy consideration. Nevertheless, he picked up three nominations for his guest performances: Best Rap Song for his verses on Future’s “Wait For U” and Jack Harlow’s “Churchill Downs,” respectively, as well as Best Melodic Rap Performance for the former.
Silk Sonic, the throwback R&B duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, were the big Grammy winners in April — despite only having one eligible song. The group’s debut single, “Leave the Door Open,” won four awards, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year. But in October, Mars and .Paak made the unusual move of withdrawing their album, An Evening with Silk Sonic, and its other singles from Grammy consideration. “Silk Sonic would like to gracefully, humbly, and mostly importantly sexually, bow out of submitting our album this year,” Mars told Rolling Stone. Silk Sonic may not be completely shut out, as Emile II is up for Producer of the Year in part for his work with with the group, as well as production for Mary J. Blige and Jazmine Sullivan.
When Taylor Swift began re-recording her early albums, she withdrew Fearless (Taylor’s Version) from Grammy consideration, perhaps because the original Fearless already won Album of the Year in 2010. However, she submitted Red (Taylor’s Version) and two of its tracks for several categories this year. “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” is up for Song of the Year and Best Music Video, while “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)” with Chris Stapleton is up for Best Country Song.
The 65th Annual Grammys will be held at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 5. The ceremony will be broadcast live on CBS and streamed on Paramount+.