The biggest names in music will flock to LA’s Staples Center on January 26, 2020 to see if they get to walk home with a tiny golden gramophone under their arm. There’s little controversy amongst the freshly announced nominations, but still some big talking points. We delve into them below.
Billie Eilish looks set to dominate the ceremony
Billie Eilish has completely owned 2019. She released one of the best albums of the year in ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’. She broke Lil Nas X’s record-breaking run at the top of the US charts with ‘Bad Guy’, making her the only new artist with the power to stop ‘Old Town Road’’s never-ending reign. She’s also gone from headlining venues like Shepherd’s Bush Empire, like she did in March, to announcing four nights at The O2 and has drawn the biggest crowds at the biggest festivals all over the world.
This is all to say if Eilish wasn’t nominated for a massive bunch of awards at the Grammys, something would have gone very wrong indeed. She’s up for six awards at the 2020 ceremony, including the big four – Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Album Of The Year and Best New Artist. Don’t be surprised to see her clear up on the night. Our money is also on her being asked to play and raising the bar for all awards show performances in the process.
It’s a fairly safe – but certainly not boring – list
If you look at who’s been dominating the pop world over the last year, you won’t be too shocked when you see the nominations for the Grammys 2020. Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Lil Nas X are the acts with the most nods, while the likes of Lana Del Rey, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, and Lewis Capaldi are also up for the major awards. There are inclusions for certified cool artists like Rosalía, Bon Iver, and Grammys fave H.E.R., but no big leftfield surprises.
But the biggest snub highlights one problem still remaining in the Grammys’ diversity drive
All week ARMY – the name for BTS’ huge fanbase – have been getting excited about the possibility of the Korean band getting their first major Grammys noms. In 2019, they were up for Best Record Packaging for ‘Love Yourself: Tear’ but, after the year they’ve had, surely a primetime nod was on the horizon?
Yet BTS are nowhere to be seen in the nominations (a crime when you consider ‘Boy With Luv’ is absolutely one of the songs of the year, in this writer’s opinion) and there are only a handful of Asian musicians or songwriters in the list of 84 awards. The last couple of years have seen the Grammys make a real diversity push after being called out for being too white and too male-heavy. Looking at the nominations, neither of those past problems should rear their heads again in 2020 (unless things really go west in the final voting stages), but what about Asian artists?
If the Grammys are committed to pushing forward diversity and representation, they might want to consider that – according to the 2017 Census – there are around 18.2 million Asian Americans in the US.
There’s a big surprise for a smaller artist…
You might expect a category like Best Rock Performance to be dominated by heavyweights of the genre, and it is for the most part. You probably wouldn’t expect to see Camden duo Bones UK on the Grammys list. Yet there they are! They’re in the running alongside Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Karen O & Danger Mouse, and Austin legend Gary Clark Jr. It’s all made even better when you realise singer and guitarist Rosie Bones is the daughter of BBC birdwatcher Bill Oddie.
Finally, check this strange nomination for a very established star
Despite having put out three albums since 2013, Lizzo is up for the Best New Artist award, among certified newcomers Maggie Rogers, Rosalía, and Lil Nas X. The Grammys have often been criticised about how behind this category is; Alessia Cara won in 2018 despite her debut album coming out in 2015 and Dua Lipa won this year at the very end of her first album campaign, but this is the biggest stretch yet.
However, Lizzo is eligible because the category’s rules are loose at best. To be nominated an artist must have released at least five tracks on one album but no more than 30 singles or three albums. They cannot have put themselves forward for the category more than three times and they must have achieved a “public breakthrough” during the period related to the ceremony at which they’re nominated. It seems unlikely that she’ll win when she’s up against Billie Eilish but, if she does, prepare to see all sorts of complaining about the move.