Thoughts on the 2021 Grammy Nominations

What a strange year it’s been. The Grammy nominations usually bring joy and frustration in equal measure and this year even more so when the music industry (and world) has become so discombobulated.

The awards have recently changed their voting procedures, which I think has actually resulted in one of the weakest general category fields in years. For ‘Album of the Year’ we have predictable nominations for pop offerings from Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift. Haim also get a nomination alongside the underrated Jhene Aiko, although I can’t see either winning the big prize.

The issue with this category is the ridiculous nomination for Coldplay who probably don’t even rate their own album as very good and Post Malone who is an embarrassment to music. Now those choices might be bad but then we have the frankly bewildering nomination for Jacob Collier with an ‘album’ of five songs and then Black Pumas for an album released in June 2019 that failed to have any kind of impact at the time or since.

Reading that list (and the all genre song categories) you would think it’s been a poor year for music when actually there are so many brilliant critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums from the alternative, folk, americana and country categories which have been totally overlooked for the main prize. I imagine Taylor will win the top prizes again this year which is disappointing considering how derivative that album is in comparison to others nominated in the wider field.

Best New Artist recognises Phoebe Bridgers which is fantastic, alongside Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion who have broken through in their genres this year. It is nice to see women dominating this category overall, but I have to say most on the list would not be my preferred choices.

Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple and Brittany Howard will compete in ‘Best Alternative Album’ which is an insanely strong category – these three albums should have all been up for the main prize.

Similarly stacked is the all women Best Country Album category – with brilliant offerings from Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark, Ashley McBryde and Little Big Town. The only disappointment is that the nice but bland Ingrid Andress is nominated instead of the Highwomen or The Chicks (who have been totally shut out). In the Country song category Bluebird gets a deserved nomination alongside Maren’s excellent single ‘The Bones’ and the Highwomen’s ‘Crowded Table’. Country Solo Performance has more deserved nominations for Brandy and Miranda, as well as surprise nod for Mickey Guyton. Looking at these nominations I think Miranda could clean up the three country categories which would make up for the Grammys ignoring ‘The Weight of These Wings’. But since Miranda has won before my heart is leaning towards Brandy for album and performance, with Miranda for song and Little Big Town for the group award.

Into the roots song and performance categories there are nods for the wonderful Bonny Light Horseman, Sierra Hull, The Secret Sisters and Brittany Howard again (who seems to cross many category boundaries) but you have to hope John Prine will deservedly win both.

Best Folk Album is probably my favourite category in the whole list with incredible offerings from Laura Marling, Bonny Light Horseman and The Secret Sisters. Song for Our Daughter is the stand out for me so fingers crossed Laura can win this one.

I’m delighted to see Courtney Marie Andrews get her first nomination for Best Americana album and I’m rooting for her to win despite tough competition from Lucinda Williams and others.

In the wider categories it is great to see nominations also for Bettye LaVette, Natalia Lafourcade, and Anoushka Shankar all three of whom I have reviewed and loved this year. The Linda Ronstadt documentary receives a nomination for Best Music Film.

It is hard not to be disappointed for the likes of The Chicks, Margo Price, Jaime Wyatt,  and  Waxahatchee missing out but that’s natural when you have so many favourites, I guess.

Some may scoff at the need for award shows but in a time like this it’s just nice to have something positive to celebrate. Congratulations and good luck to all nominated artists!

Full list of nominations: https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/2021-grammys-complete-nominees-list

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