Last minute Kanye West and Taylor Swift named among top Grammy nominees

The organization behind the Grammy Awards decided in a meeting on Monday – just 24 hours before this year’s nominees were announced – that the top categories should drop from eight to 10, a last-minute decision that has added stars like Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Abba and Lil Nas X to the existing list of potential winners.

When the nominations were revealed in a live webcast the next morning, Harvey Mason Jr., the Executive Director of the Recording Academy, hailed the surprise change as a way “to make room for more music, more. artists and more genres, and embrace the spirit of inclusion.

But among the names added were some of the biggest pop stars and people who were already on the ballot elsewhere.

For Album of the Year, the two candidates added to the ballot were “Evermore” from Swift and “Donda” from West, joining tracks from Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Doja Cat, HER, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Jon Batiste.

The nod for “Evermore” was Swift’s only nomination for her own music on Tuesday. (She is also nominated as a songwriter on Rodrigo’s “Sour.”) West’s nomination for “Donda” brought her career total to 75.

It was possible to find out which artists benefited from the extension because their names were missing from an early version of the “final nominations list” which had been created several days before the announcement and included only eight names in these. categories. This version had started circulating outside the Recording Academy before the nominations were announced on Tuesday, and a copy was obtained by The New York Times.

The expansion into the top categories comes after the academy heralded a new era of openness and transparency in its award process. The 64th annual Grammys will be the first in more than 30 years without the use of anonymous nominating review boards, which were tasked with narrowing voters’ choices to create the final ballot – a step that was intended to protect the price integrity, but was accused of allowing behind-the-scenes manipulation.

Mason defended the decision to add more nominees as a sign of a newly nimble and responsive Recording Academy, and said the added names bring new sounds, styles and faces to higher categories. “For us, this is all a positive move,” he said. “We are the ones who honor more great artists, more great music, by giving artists the opportunity to shine and shine. “

Mason said the artists added to the list were simply the ninth and tenth most voted by academy members, and were determined by Deloitte, the academy’s longtime partner in collecting and compiling votes.

In the Record of the Year category, “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” by Lil Nas X and “I Still Have Faith in You” by Abba joined tracks by Rodrigo, Bieber, Bennett and Gaga, Batiste, Doja Cat, Eilish, Silk Sonic and Brandi Carlile. This was Abba’s first-ever Grammy nomination.

For Song of the Year, which rewards songwriters, the change brought “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat, which features SZA, and “Right on Time” by Carlile, who was already on the list for another. song, “A Beautiful Noise,” with Alicia Keys. Best New Artist added rapper Baby Keem and Pakistani American songwriter and singer Arooj Aftab.

Representatives for each of the added artists declined to comment.

As recently as the 2018 Grammys, there were only five spots in the top peloton. In an interview on Wednesday, Mason said the expansion had been in the pipeline for years, but this year’s change was inspired by his visit last week to the Latin Grammys, in which up to 12 artists competed in some premier categories. plan. He said he and his team moved quickly to propose and implement the change.

“It fits perfectly with everything we have tried to do over the last year in six months,” said Mason, “which is to honor excellence in music, to serve our music community and to do it. thoughtfully but proactively. “

Academy Co-President Valeisha Butterfield Jones added: “While it may seem rushed, it was really a thoughtful and well-intentioned process that was also data driven,” highlighting internal numbers which showed an increase the vote of its members.

The revelation that the nominating lists were extended on the eve of their publication – unbeknownst to voters until the full ballot was announced – is the latest twist in the recent tumultuous history of the Grammys, the last leader of the the academy having been sacked after accusing the management of the institution of endemic conflicts. interest and cover up charges of sexual harassment and rape.

The decision to end the nominations review boards for the 2022 Grammys came after years of complaints from artists, especially black rap and R&B musicians, who said they had been relegated to the categories of genre but were ultimately not recognized in the four prizes in the general domain.

Ahead of the last Grammys, pop star The Weeknd – who received no nominations for his best-selling album, “After Hours” – said he would boycott the awards in the future, calling the Grammys ” corrupt ”.

The academy said that without the committees this year, the artists who appeared on the final ballot were those who received the most votes from their music industry peers, and that the extension to 10 nominees from eight in the first four categories was done without knowing which artists would benefit.

The winners will be determined by the votes of the 11,000 members of the Recording Academy, who must qualify as active musicians. The ceremony will take place on January 31 in Los Angeles.

Mason also said that the addition of Swift and West – full-fledged superstars whose rivalry is an eternal media spectacle – was only a matter of votes they received and were not selected for. their appeal on the Grammys TV show.

“A thousand percent no,” Mason said. “It wasn’t a consideration.”

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