By Jill Serjeant
Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Dua Lipa lead the charge at the reinvented Grammy Awards on Sunday, where the music industry hopes to put a year-long pandemic behind it.
But an unusually diverse line-up of contenders for the top prize — album of the year — mean it could be anyone’s night.
“The nominations were so surprising — The Weeknd not getting nominated — it’s a very strange year to try to predict,” said Melinda Newman, Billboard’s executive editor for the West Coast and Nashville. “I think it’s going to be a year where no-one makes a clean sweep.”
The winners are chosen by some 11,000 voting members of the Recording Academy.
Interim Recording Academy President Harvey Mason Jr said he hoped the show would be “a chance to have a little bit of normalcy, of people coming together and playing music.”
Beyonce, now the most nominated female artist in Grammy history with 79 career nods, leads all comers with nine nominations. The nods come mostly from music like single “Black Parade” that celebrated Black culture in a year of racial turmoil in the United States.
But Beyonce is not on the list of musicians booked for Sunday’s three-hour show, which will take place as a mix of live and pre-recorded performances from the likes of Swift, K-Pop band BTS, newcomer Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Latin star Bad Bunny, and Black country singer Mickey Guyton.
Swift and British pop singer Lipa got six nominations apiece, along with rapper Roddy Ricch. Lipa, and her album “Future Nostalgia,” may have the edge as the only one of the trio to get nods in all three of the big races — album, record, and song of the year.
“Dua Lipa has been everywhere this last year. It’s a really great happy dance disco revival,” said Alex Suskind, a senior editor at Entertainment Weekly.
Suskind said he felt that Swift, who got the best reviews of her career for her surprise lockdown album “Folklore,” has a better shot at winning song of the year — which is awarded for writing — with the track “Cardigan.”
Eilish, 19, who swept the 2020 Grammys with her debut album, is back again with three nods for her ballad “Everything I Wanted,” and one for her theme song for the upcoming James Bond film “No Time To Die.”
“I think the Billie Eilish train at the Grammys is going to keep rolling,” Suskind said.
South Korean boy band BTS marked a breakthrough year in the United States by securing their first major Grammy nomination for their English-language hit “Dynamite.”
They will be performing from Korea on Sunday and hoping for a win in the closely contested best pop duo or group field.
“We just keep seeing these amazing acts coming out of Korea and it doesn’t seem like it’s ending at all. It’s really great fun, pop music,” said Newman.