The 63rd Grammy Awards nominations: surprises, snubs and a jam-packed year


@theestallion on Instagram

Britni Dunn

On Nov. 24, The Recording Academy announced the nominations for the 63rd Grammy Awards via a livestream with a line-up of guests including Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion and Pepe Aguilar. 

These nominations notoriously bring about controversy and disappointment due to the show’s long history of snubbing artists of color, women and anyone outside of the top charts, as well as having incredibly arbitrary categories that are often inaccurate. 

Viewers were especially anxious in anticipation for this year’s Grammy Awards because of the immense amount of innovative and revolutionary music that was released throughout the year as a result of quarantine. 

The 2021 nominations were filled with surprises, both welcomed and not. The Pace Press is looking at some of the most unpredictable outcomes for the Grammy Awards that will air on Jan. 31, 2021.

The artists with the most nominations this year include Beyoncé with nine, followed by Taylor Swift, Roddy Ricch and Dua Lipa, each with six nominations.

Brittany Howard follows with five nominations and Megan Thee Stallion, David Frost, DaBaby, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers and John Beasley are all tied with four nods.

One of the most shocking snubs this year was that of The Weeknd’s “After Hours,” an extremely successful album that was one of the first to come out during quarantine on Mar. 20. 

Despite the odds being against the album, it was one of the most commercially successful records of the entire year and received praise from critics across the board.

“After Hours” debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 with the biggest first streaming week for an R&B album ever and the hit single “Blinding Lights,” spent four weeks at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Blinding Lights” was the largest chart success of the year, and it was incredibly shocking for many to see a song, one that was basically the backdrop for this year of music, be completely ignored.

The Weeknd is also headlining the Super Bowl LV halftime show in February 2021 on CBS, the same network that the Grammys airs on.

After the nominations were announced, The Weeknd, or Abel Tesfaye, who was nominated for absolutely nothing, tweeted: “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”

Many other musicians and artists agreed with Tesfaye and came to his defense including Drake, who has often been shut out at the Grammys.

Drake took to Instagram to say that the Grammys corruption is no longer shocking and that, “The other day I said The Weeknd was a lock for either album or song of the year along with countless other reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way. This is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come.”

The chief of the Recording Academy commented on The Weeknd’s tweets, stating: “We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”

The chief continued, “Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists.  But as the only peer-voted music award, we will continue to recognize and celebrate excellence in music while shining a light on the many amazing artists that make up our global community.”

University senior Meghan Newcombe said, I can’t stop thinking about The Weeknd and the fact that he has had the top album this entire year.  Blinding Lights has been in the Top 100 chart every week, yet received zero nominations.

She added, Not to mention, let’s also talk about the fact that Black artists are reduced to “urban categories,” and that the Grammys are a racist institution that prevents BIPOC, Latinx and Asian artists from getting the recognition they deserve.​

Another shocking outcome of this year’s Grammy nominations was Beyoncé’s nomination lead although she did not release an album this year.

Beyoncé instead released the visual experience “Black is King” this year and led to her deserved nomination for the breathtaking music video for the 2019 hit, “Brown Skin Girl.”

She also released the single “Black Parade,” on Juneteenth of this year. The entire song is an ode to Black empowerment and feels like a sweeping look into Black culture as well as racism in America, historically and in present day.

The stunning anthem was nominated for Song of the Year, but many spectators don’t expect the track to beat the other songs in the category that seem to be the favorites to win, like “Cardigan,” by Taylor Swift, “Don’t Start Now,” by Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted.”

Beyoncé is also nominated for her feature on Megan Thee Stallion’s smash-hit “Savage.” Despite being the most nominated woman in the show’s history with 79 total nominations, Beyoncé has not won one of the top three awards since winning Song of the Year in 2010 for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” 

Beyoncé takes home the genre awards when she has been nominated in the past, but has not been one of the artists that The Recording Academy favors to win Album of the Year, Record of the Year or Song of the Year.

The star of this year’s Grammys (and honestly, this year in general) is Megan Thee Stallion, who was nominated for four awards including Best New Artist.

Megan has absolutely dominated the music industry and the hit “Savage Remix” with Beyoncé was nominated for Record of the Year, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

Many fans were shocked that the artist’s world-wide phenomenon collaboration with Cardi B, “WAP,” was not nominated, but it actually was not submitted by Cardi B’s team for eligibility this year.

The hit will instead be considered for the 64th Grammy Awards because Cardi B is also set to release a new album in 2021 for consideration.

Megan Thee Stallion’s incredibly recent “Good News” also missed the deadline for this year’s awards and is expected to get nods in next year’s nominations. 

Along with Megan Thee Stallion, the Best New Artist category was one of the most surprising lists of nominations due to the array of artists recognized this year.

23-year-old Nigerian-American rapper from Alabama, Chika, was included in this category and has been steadily growing in popularity since releasing her first album, “Industry Games,” in 2019 that included the hit track “No Squares.”

The artist got a tattoo of the date of the Grammy nominations and the words “I already won,” because, as the artist said on Instagram stories, she gets to take her father to the Grammy’s which was on her bucket list.

Another nominee for Best New Artist is the long-time Haitian-Canadian producer, Kaytranada, who is also nominated for Best Electronic/ Dance Album for his second album “Bubba.”

In 2016, Kaytranada took home Canada’s coveted Polaris Music Prize for his debut album “99.9%,”  which is why many people are shocked that the artist is considered “new.”

The openly queer artist has been producing fantastic experimental dance music for many years and has steadily grown a fan base. Despite their surprise at the New Artist nomination, fans are still glad that Kaytranada is getting recognition on such a grand scale.

Kaytranada has worked with a plethora of artists including Anderson Paak, Alicia Keys, and was nominated for Best Dance Recording for his song “10%” with Kali Uchis.

Another artist recognized in the category is indie-alternative artist Phoebe Bridgers. Bridgers made huge waves within the indie rock scene after the release of her first studio album “Stranger in the Alps,” in 2017 and continued to grow within the trio Boygenius created in 2018 with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker.

Bridgers is known for a particular subsect of music that speaks to the soul with honest, and overly detailed lyrics about everyday occurrences, becoming the voice of sad 20-somethings around the world with her innovative lyricism.

Bridgers was nominated for three other awards due to her critically acclaimed 2020 album, “Punisher.”

The stunningly candid album is nominated for Best Alternative Album and the single “Kyoto” for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.


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The other nominees for Best New Artist include country-pop singer Ingrid Andress, Noah Cyrus who released her second EP, “The End Of Everything,” rapper D Smoke who released his second studio album and Doja Cat, who dominated the charts and Tik Tok with her “Say So” remix featuring Nicki Minaj. 

Along with Phoebe Bridgers, the Best Rock Performance category, which is usually dominated by male-led acts, is dominated by women artists for the first time. 

The nominees include Fiona Apple’s “Shameika,” Grace Potter’s “Daylight,” “The Steps” by Haim, “Stay High” by Brittany Howard and “Not” by Big Thief.

Fiona Apple is also nominated for Best Rock Song for “Shameika” and Best Alternative Album for her reflective and revolutionary “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.”

The unequivocal album was praised for Apple’s heavy-hitting, uncompromising lyrics and avant-garde musical conventions. “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is one of the most significant and praised albums released this year, so many fans were shocked that it was not included in the nominees for Album of the Year.

Another category, Best Country Album, was also composed of only women nominees (well, one of the nominees is a co-ed band led by women, but still).

This was a historical set of nominations because it was the only time the Best Country Album category was filled with only women: “Your Life is a Record” by Brandy Clark, “Wildcard” by Miranda Lambert, “Nightfall” by Little Big Town, “Lady Like” by Ingrid Andress and Ashley Mcbryde’s “Never Will.”

Some more of the most talked-about snubs this year include “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon” by Pop Smoke, “Legends Never Die” by Juice WRLD and “Circles” by Mac Miller which were not put in the Best Rap Album category or even nodded to.

All three of the posthumous releases dominated the streaming charts and many fans are upset with the Recording Academy’s choice not to honor the work of the three artists, despite both Juice WRLD and Pop Smoke’s albums debuting at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 and both albums being some of the best-selling of 2020.

Another shocking snub was that of Harry Styles. Styles received his first Grammy nominations this year including Pop Solo Performance for “Watermelon Sugar,” Music Video for “Adore You,” and a nomination for Pop Vocal Album for his second studio album “Fine Line.”

Fans were deeply surprised that Styles was not nominated in the three major categories with the untouchable quality the star has in the industry, selling out tours in seconds and releasing music that is loved by critics and fans alike. 

Along with Styles, the celebrated duo ChloexHalle were also skipped out on for the top three awards. The pair’s incredibly successful R&B album, “Ungodly Hour,” along with not being nominated for the top awards, was also not nominated for Best R&B Album, blowing fan’s predictions out of the water.

ChloexHalle did score three nominations, though, for Best R&B Song, Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best Progressive R&B album.


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A post shared by chloe x halle (@chloexhalle)

In one of the most disappointing decisions of the night, Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica,” was also passed over for the top three categories, including Album of the Year.

The juggernaut’s sixth no. 1 album was somehow ignored for all of the top awards, but was nominated for Pop Duo/ Group Performance for “Rain on Me,” with Ariana Grande and for Pop Vocal Album. 

Another snub includes country singer song-writer Luke Combs, whose sophomore album “What You See is What You Get,” did not get nominated for Best Country Album even though it is the first country album to top the Billboard charts in five years.

The Recording Academy is also under fire for the complete disregard of the double-platinum album “My Turn” by Lil Baby, gaining the support of Nicki Minaj who called out the Grammys for failing to nominate the two double-platinum albums and also disregarding her music multiple times.

Minaj tweeted, “Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade– went on to inspire a generation,” Minaj hit hard at the end of the tweet, “they gave it to white man Bon Iver.

These are only a few examples of the shocking snubs this year. Some more artists that did not get a single nomination despite releasing some of the most streamed and well-received albums critically include Teyana Taylor, Charli XCX, Kehlani, BTS and more. 

In a display of a complete lack of self-awareness, Justin Bieber took to Instagram following the livestream to protest his nomination in the Pop Vocal Album category, saying that his album “Changes,” was “and is an R&B album.”

He continued, “It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me… For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style all the way down to the hip hop drums that were chosen, it is undeniably, unmistakable and R&B album!”

Bieber’s “Changes” has not received great reviews from critics and the only song that has gone on the charts is the single “Yummy,” which is nominated for Pop Solo Performance.

“Changes” has a 4.5/10 on Pitchfork, while Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” for example, is one of the only perfect 10s on the site. “Changes” also has a MetaCritic score of 57, while The Weeknd’s snubbed “After Hours,” scored a 90. 

This year’s nominees for Album of the Year, the night’s most coveted award are surprising and include an array of artists.

Jhené Aiko was nominated for her Hawaiian-inspired third studio album “CHILOMBO.” Aiko has 2 other nominations as well, bringing a lot of joy to the fans of Aiko and the strong piece of work that was one of the top-selling and streamed R&B albums of 2020.

The most surprising nomination in the Album of the Year category went to the psychedelic rock duo, Black Pumas for their album “Black Pumas.”

The pair was nominated last year for Best New Artist, but even then the duo is relatively lesser-known, showing that the Grammys are in fact making room for artists that are less of a streaming and commercial success, and judging by the quality of the music and other factors.

Another seemingly out-of-left-field addition to this category is Coldplay’s eighth studio album, 2019’s  “Everyday Life.” It was a different sort of album for the band, with many critics, including Rolling Stone, claiming it was the group’s best album.

Young UK singer who described his music to as “a mixture,” Jacob Collier,  was nominated for his fourth studio album, “Djesse Vol. 3.” The artist already has four Grammy’s and is also featured in Coldplay’s album nominated in this category.

Indie rock trio Haim was nominated for Album of the Year for their emotional and impactful third studio album “Women in Music Pt. III.” The sisters’ from LA have found their place in music and found themselves unafraid to release their most honest and musically entrancing work yet. The trio was also nominated for Best Rock Performance.

Post Malone’s commercially and radio station-loved third studio album, “Hollywood is Bleeding,” was put into the category as well. The rapper was nominated for the other two big awards as well for his radio hit, “Circles.”

Former Best New Artist winner, Dua Lipa, was also nominated for her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia.” The fresh, glittering pop album that is quickly on its way to being a classic is definitely a fan favorite to win the category. Dua Lipa was also nominated for Song and Record of the Year. 

Taylor Swift made a comeback into the top categories of the Grammys this year after her last two studio albums “Lover” and “Reputation,” were passed over.

Swift’s eight studio album written with The National’s Aaron Dessner and Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff, “Folklore,” is a piano and guitar-led renaissance for the artist.

The album was dropped as a surprise in July of this year, and with no commercial planning or singles, it was still one of the most successful albums of the singer’s long and tumultuous career.

The album’s hit track “Cardigan” is up for album of the year, and Swift, nominated for a total of six awards, is favored to dominate this year’s Grammy wins.

University sophomore Leigh Bauer said, “As a longtime Taylor Swift fan, I was so excited to see ‘Folklore’ get nominated for Album of the Year after ‘Reputation’ and ‘Lover,’ two high-selling and critically acclaimed albums, were both snubbed. Despite that, many respectable, commercially-successful artists such as The Weeknd and BTS faced that same issue this year and were left with few to no nominations.”

She continued, “Meanwhile, Justin Bieber, who complained about being nominated in the wrong category and, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve those nominations, was nominated. It just goes to show that the Recording Academy has a long way to go when recognizing the outstanding music of diverse artists who don’t get their nominations bought for them by their managers and have to work even harder to put out quality music that will garner the Academy’s attention.”

The Grammys clearly have a long way to go when it comes to making the show accessible, fair and fitting, but this year’s nominations show a gravitation towards new musicians and more musical diversity. You can find the full list of nominees on The Grammys website