It's that time of year again. The Grammy nominations are out and there is a lot to dig into.
From historic firsts to surprising snubs, this year's list is already delivering its fair share of celebrations and controversy... as it tends to always do. Since the Billie Eilish tribute show they aired earlier this year, the Recording Academy has made a fair amount of changes to awards including renaming the Best World Music Album category to Best Global Music Album, removing "Urban" from multiple categories and adding 2,300 new members to its ranks.
Beyoncé, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift lead the pack this year, netting the most nominations across the board. Not only is HAIM'sWomen In Music Pt. III up for album of the year but female artists in general are dominating the awards with an especially strong showing in the rock categories. BTS, Arca and Poppy all got their first Grammy nominations, and Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Kaytranada, Noah Cyrus, Chika and Phoebe Bridgers are all up for Best New Artist.
It's a long list with a lot going on, so here are seven major takeaways from the 2021 Grammy nominees to keep in mind.
BTS and Megan Thee Stallion Join the First Timers Club
Photography: Hong Jang Hyun for PAPER
BTS and Megan Thee Stallion were notably among many artists who got their first ever Grammy nominations today. The global K-pop sensation got its first ever nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with "Dynamite" and Meg made a strong debut showing with multiple nominations for the Beyoncé-assisted remix of "Savage," as well as a Best New Artist nod.
Related | Break the Internet: BTS
Arca Gets Nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Album
Photography: Carlota Guerrero, Carlos Sáez and Arca for PAPER
Arca's mutant pop masterpiece, KiCk i, was nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Album alongside albums by Baauer, Madeon, Kaytranada and Disclosure. It marks the first time Arca's been nominated as an artist and may quite possibly be the first time an openly non-binary person has received a Grammy nod. Hopefully they don't do her dirty like they did SOPHIE.
Related | Arca: Embracing the Flux
Women Sweep the Best Rock Performance Category
Photography: Dana Trippe for PAPER
In a historic first, all the nominees in the Best Rock Performance category are women. Fiona Apple, HAIM, Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief, Brittany Howard and Grace Potter all got nods from the recording academy with many going on to dominate in the other rock and alternative categories.
Related | Woman From a Magazine Chats With HAIM
Poppy Gets Nominated for Best Metal Performance
Photography: Charlotte Rutherford for PAPER
Poppy's pivot to full on metal in her most recent album, I Disagree, turns out to have paid off with its lead single, "BLOODMONEY," netting the artist a nomination for Best Metal Performance. It also earns Poppy the distinction of being the first solo female artist ever to be nominated for that category.
Related | Poppy Wants to Burn Everything Down
Beyoncé, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift Lead in Nominations
Apparently Grammy voters had Black Is King, folklore and Future Nostalgia on repeat this year because Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa currently lead the pack with the most nominations. Swift could tie the record for most Album of the Year awards won putting her up there with Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon. One also has to wonder if the Recording Academy might try to atone for their past sins after overlooking Lemonade in 2017.
Snubs, Snubs, Snubs
And just like it is every year, the Grammy nominees list was riddled with controversial snubs. Most surprising is the fact that The Weeknd'sAfter Hours was absolutely nowhere to be found despite having one of the most commercially dominant albums of 2020. Other artists that had a good chance at getting a nod but didn't include country superstar Luke Combs, pop maverick Charli XCX, Summer Walker, BLACKPINK, Selena Gomez and Pop Smoke. Lady Gaga'sChromatica and Harry Styles' Fine Line both managed to pick up a few nominations, but were surprisingly shut out of the major categories much to their respective fanbases' chagrin.
Shortly after the nominations were announced, Justin Bieber took to Instagram to thank the Grammys for his nods but also took issue with his album's categorization. Describing his approach to music as "meticulous and intentional," Bieber explained that Changes was always intended to be received as an R&B album rather than a pop record. He points to the vocal style and choice of drums as evidence, but was happy for the recognition regardless.
Photography: Hong Jang Hyun for PAPER