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The 2020 Grammy Nominations Are Really Trying to Be Relevant

This year’s list has a lot of Lizzo, welcome nods for Big Thief and Lucky Daye, and some really bizarre rock albums.

by Josh Terry
Nov 20 2019, 4:57pm

The nominees for the 62nd Grammy Awards, which will take place in 2020 on Sunday, January 26 were announced Wednesday. As with any big awards ceremony, there are a lot of surprises both welcome and unwelcome. But this year, the field of artists highlighted actually feels like an attempt at diversity and relevancy—at least compared to previous nominations. For instance, leading everyone in sheer number of nominations is "100% that bitch" and renowned flautist Lizzo, who received eight nods in total, including all of the major categories. Right behind her are 17-year-old Billie Eilish (the youngest artist ever nominated in all four of the award show's biggest categories) and 20-year-old "Old Town Road" star Lil Nas X, each with six nominations respectively. While the Recording Academy has historically favored veteran superstars and legacy artists (Bruce Springsteen surprisingly didn't get a single nod), this seems like an effort to include a much younger and more exciting crop of talent.

But that's not to say that the Grammys nominations are universally good or even totally make sense in 2020, because a lot of them still don't. In some categories we see a changing of the guard, while others remain squarely WTF (see: YouTube metalcore band I Prevail getting a Best Rock Album nod). Here are some of the biggest surprises from this year's lineup, from a surprise snub of Taylor Swift in most of the top categories to Big Thief receiving props. Read on for our notes, and see below that for a list of the nominees.

Taylor Swift Is No Longer the Grammy Favorite

Taylor Swift has won 10 Grammys, most notably Album of the Year wins for 2012's Red and 2015's 1989, but lately, she has not been as favored by the Recording Academy for her more recent material. At the 61st Grammys earlier this year, her LP Reputation only received a nod for Best Pop Vocal Album. This year, her track record is slightly better, with three nominations: Her new album Lover is once again up for Best Pop Vocal Album, “You Need to Calm Down” got a nod for Best Pop Solo Performance, and the title track earned her a nom for her only major category this year, Song of the Year.

What's Going On with Lil Nas X?

Considering the worldwide breakout of "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X's six welcome nominations aren't entirely surprising. But with the single's success being partly attributed to its infamous removal from Billboard's Country charts, his exclusion from every country category is notable and a little tone-deaf. Also bizarre is how his 7 EP, which is an EP and not an album, got a nod for Album of the Year.

Kudos to Big Thief

Best Alternative Album's nominees lean "big indie" this year, with heavyweights Bon Iver, Thom Yorke, James Blake, and Vampire Weekend all included. The fact that all of those artists are actually pretty good make this set of nominations either the most shocking or least shocking, depending on how you look at it. But, the fact that Big Thief also got a look for their stunning LP U.F.O.F. is both notable and very welcome. While the band released a second excellent album this year, Two Hands, that full-length missed the Grammys' August 31 cutoff. Maybe next year!

Album of the Year Could Go to a Band That Plays Guitars This Year

With the exception of Alabama Shakes and surprise 2015 winner Beck, rock music has been excluded from the Grammys' marquee category since 2014. But this year, both Vampire Weekend and Bon Iver received nods. Looks like the voting members have been reading Pitchfork!

Speaking of Rock, Can Someone Explain To Us the Best Rock Album Field?

Here's the list: Bring Me The Horizon, Amo; Cage The Elephant, Social Cues; The Cranberries, In The End; I Prevail, Trauma; Rival Sons, Feral Roots. Bring Me the Horizon's album sounds like a cross between Orgy, Skrillex, and Fall Out Boy; I Prevail, according to Wikipedia, is best known for recording a metalcore cover of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space." It remains the weirdest assortment of artists year after year.

Nipsey Hussle Got Three Posthumous Nominations

The late rapper scored looks for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song for “Racks in the Middle” as well as, Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Higher,” his collaboration with John Legend and DJ Khaled.

The Best New Artist Field Is Now a Lot Bigger

After the Grammys received a torrent of criticism in 2018 for underrepresenting women, they upped the number of nominees in the top categories from five to eight. Because of this, alongside the expected choices in this year's crop of Best New Artist nominees—like Billie Eilis, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, and Maggie Rogers—there are lesser-known acts like Austin rockers Black Pumas, New Orleans funk-soul group Tank and the Bangas, and Bristol singer Yola.

Good For Lucky Daye

The R&B singer is a longtime Noisey favorite and got four nominations, including Best R&B album for Painted.

Click here for the full list of nominees and see below for the major categories.

Record of the Year
“Hey, Ma” — Bon Iver
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish
“7 Rings” — Ariana Grande
“Hard Place” — H.E.R.
“Talk” — Khalid
“Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
“Truth Hurts” — Lizzo
“Sunflower” — Post Malone & Swae Lee

Album of the Year
“I, I” — Bon Iver
“Norman F—ing Rockwell!” — Lana Del Rey
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” — Billie Eilish
“Thank U, Next” — Ariana Grande
“I Used To Know Her” — H.E.R.
“7” — Lil Nas X
“Cuz I Love You” (Deluxe) — Lizzo
“Father of the Bride” — Vampire Weekend

Song of the Year
“Always Remember Us This Way” — Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Lori McKenna, songwriters (Lady Gaga)
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)
“Bring My Flowers Now” — Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Tanya Tucker, songwriters (Tanya Tucker)
“Hard Place” — Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris. H.E.R. & Rodney Jerkins, songwriters (H.E.R.)
“Lover” — Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)
“Norman F—ing Rockwell” — Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)
“Someone You Loved” — Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pere Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn & Sam Roman, songwriters (Lewis Capaldi)
“Truth Hurts” — Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson & Jesse Saint John, songwriters (Lizzo)

Best New Artist
Black Pumas
Billie Eilish
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
Maggie Rogers
Rosalía
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

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