On Nov. 23, the Recording Academy announced the nominees for its upcoming 64th annual Grammy Awards, to be held this upcoming January. In recent years, the Recording Academy and Grammy Awards have undergone many changes to adopt new policies centering on diversity, equity and inclusion as well as leadership adjustments. In the “Big Four” categories (Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist), nominees increased from five to eight in 2018, and this year, have been expanded to 10 per category. With that, here are the nominees for each of the aforementioned awards, as well as who, in this author’s opinion, deserves and is likely to win each award.
Best New Artist
Of the 10 nominated artists for the Best New Artist award this Grammys season (Arooj Aftab, Jimmie Allen, Baby Keem, FINNEAS, Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast, The Kid LAROI, Arlo Parks, Olivia Rodrigo and Saweetie), one stands out amongst the rest: Rodrigo. With an incredible first year, sporting two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Drivers License” and “Good 4 U”) and a No. 1 debut album (“Sour”), Rodrigo asserts her place in the industry at just 18 years old. She will undoubtedly take home this award, and for good reason. Of the 10 nominees, Rodrigo‘s craftsmanship in her songwriting is evident and compelling. She should, and likely will, win Best New Artist at the 64th annual Grammy Awards.
Song of the Year
For clarity, Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters of each nominated entry as opposed to the artist who may not have penned any lyrics. This year’s nominees include the following songs: “Bad Habits,” “A Beautiful Noise,” “Drivers License,” “Fight For You,” “Happier Than Ever,” “Kiss Me More,” “Leave The Door Open,” “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” “Peaches” and “Right On Time.” Once again, Olivia Rodrigo puts up a strong contender in this category with her hit “Drivers License,” but she faces challenge from both Billie Eilish’s mature and elevated track “Happier Than Ever” and Silk Sonic’s beloved debut single “Leave The Door Open.” This race is close, but the growth Eilish displayed from her debut album to her sophomore album of the same name as the nominated track, “Happier Than Ever,” merits winning the Grammy Award for Song of the Year, which would be her second win in the category after “Bad Guy” in 2020. However, it is more likely that “Drivers License” will take home the award.
Record of the Year
In comparison to Song of the Year, the recipient of Record of the Year goes “to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) and mastering engineer(s), if other than the artist” according to the Recording Academy. The nominees include: “I Still Have Faith In You,” “Freedom,” “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” “Peaches,” “Right On Time,” “Kiss Me More,” “Happier Than Ever,” “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” “Drivers License” and “Leave The Door Open.” Similar to the previous category, Rodrigo once again holds strong with “Drivers License” while her greatest competition comes from Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” Doja Cat and SZA’s “Kiss Me More,” Silk Sonic’s “Leave The Door Open” and Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever.” Here, the standouts would be “Kiss Me More” and “Happier Than Ever” with the former becoming one of the top songs of the summer for 2021 and the latter pushing rock elements impressively mature for a 19-year-old artist. This author believes that “Kiss Me More” should take home the award but predicts that “Drivers License” will be the track to inevitably bag this win.
Album of the Year
Won last year by Taylor Swift’s illustrious “Folklore” (2020), the Album of the Year nominees this year feature an amazing crop of works including another by Swift: “Evermore,” “We Are,” “Love For Sale,” “Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe),” “Planet Her (Deluxe),” “Happier Than Ever,” “Back Of My Mind,” “Montero,” “Sour” and “Donda.” In my mind, there is a tie between which album should win this award, with those two being “Planet Her (Deluxe)” by Doja Cat and “Montero” by Lil Nas X. Both artists have grown tremendously since their first viral hits, and now with these works under their belts, the two have established themselves as acclaimed and mature artists. However, this award will more likely end up in the hands of either Billie Eilish for “Happier Than Ever” or Olivia Rodrigo for “Sour,” based on their huge popularity.
The Grammys are shaping up to be a headline-churning ceremony this winter, and with the quantity of nominees per category increased, the voting may be more difficult for Recording Academy members. However, true art will hopefully shine through, and some of the newer and less-awarded artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, SZA and more will get their breakthrough at the Grammys.