The Recording Academy’s new president, Deborah Dugan, introduced this year’s nominees by promising that the Grammy Award telecast will be the most diverse, inclusive, and authentic that it has ever been. Making that happen starts by diversifying the nominees, and on that count, she wasn’t joking around. The nominations are loaded with fresh new faces this year, with Lizzo sweeping up eight nominations, including nods in all of the four major categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. That’s a trick that’s normally hard to pull off, but Billie Eilish shares the honor, getting six nominations. They’re joined by Lil Nas X (also with six nominations, making those three the most nominated artists), Rosalía, H.E.R., Maggie Rogers, Khalid, and several more — all of whom are proving that the Academy is ready to anoint some new favorite artists.
For older artists, however, that means a few snubs. One of the bigger slights this year goes to the Jonas Brothers, whose return album netted them no nominations in the major categories. They’re not totally out in the cold, with a Best Pop Duo/Group Performance nomination but...one is a shockingly low number for an album longtime fans went gaga over and performed well commercially.
Ed Sheeran faces a second round of snubs for his No. 6 Collaborations Project, following the near-shutout of his 2017 album, +. While his duet with Justin Bieber on “I Don’t Care” was the soundtrack to many a summer’s day this year, the project walks away with a single Best Pop Album nom. Seems Sheeran has fallen from his Grammy voter favorite status.
Taylor Swift faces a smaller degree of snubbing this year, but she’s gaining ground back from the complete shutout of reputation. Swift landed noms for Record and Song of the Year, but finds herself shut out of the AOTY category. It’s a shame because Lover is, if nothing else, a comprehensive album that does deserve some recognition. While she did score a Best Pop Vocal Album nom (and three noms overall), it feels like the Academy voters aren’t ready to reward her more mature and abstract songwriting and prefer instead to focus on the hits.
Maren Morris faces a frankly, puzzling Grammy snub. Her album, Girl, just won big at the Country Music Association Awards. She also had a huge year on country radio, which is a very big deal in a genre that doesn’t recognize women nearly as often as it should. The Grammys and the country establishment are frequently out of step, with the Grammys preferring to recognize more left-of-center artists — just look back on how many gold trophies Kacey Musgraves got for Golden Hour last year, not even restricted to country categories. Morris has previously been an Academy fave, garnering 10 nominations before this year. And somehow she only has one, alongside Brandi Carlile, for their duet on “Common,” down in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category. This truly makes no sense.
Let’s bring this home by getting back to women: While they’re big winners in terms of the Big Four and pop categories, and they’re holding their own in country, they do not dominate any other categories. They’re practically nonexistent among rap nominees, and underrepresented in rock and alternative categories across the board. There are no women up for Producer of the Year — Nonclassical, once again. One woman composer found her way into the Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, which is unusually high. Women are making breakthroughs at the top of the Grammy nominations scorecard, but in the places where they’ve historically been shut out, they continue to be marginalized.