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THE GRAMMY CHEW MARCHES ON

The present social and political climate will figure prominently in the 2021 Grammys. Anyone who says otherwise is delusional.

Just as #MeToo and #EnoughIsEnough powered the most recent iteration of Music’s Biggest Night, we can fairly expect that #BlackLivesMatter and long-overdue conversations about systemic racism will influence the next round of nominations and awards.

We fully expect to see much more robust representation of black artists when noms are announced and envelopes opened. And since black music has been completely dominating the marketplace for several years, this is only fitting.

An early favorite for top-tier love is The Weeknd, whose album After Hours (XO/Republic) enjoyed both critical acclaim and massive action in the marketplace.

Also in the mix as chatter about Grammy ramps up again are Summer Walker, Jhené Aiko, Lil Baby, DaBaby, Doja Cat, Roddy Ricch, 2020 Best New Artist nominees Chloe x Halle and Teyana Taylor, among others.

Due in part to the shifting priorities of the era, pop artists who might otherwise have sailed to top-level glory, meanwhile, are more likely to be in tight contests for the Big Four if nominated there. These include Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, BNA winner Dua Lipa, Halsey and Camila Cabello. Meanwhile, where do pop juggernauts like Post Malone and BTS fit into the equation?

Among the critically acclaimed outliers, is there a spot for the hugely praised new Bob Dylan record or Fiona Apple’s adventurous comeback set? Dylan may face even more difficulty in this tumultuous year than the late John Prine encountered with his brilliant final album last year. It didn’t feel like Prine’s time in the Year of the Woman; Dylan could be similarly passed over amid the #BLM wave, but his stature as a troubadour of great social movements may help his chances.

Phoebe Bridgers could be in the BNA mix, given the enormous buzz around her, but it’s too early to know if that will be sustained. HAIM, who’ve long enjoyed support from critics and tastemakers, appear to be making noise again with their new album.

The country categories offer opportunities for a large crop of young breakouts. In addition to established young stars like Thomas Rhett, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs, Kane Brown and Maren Morris, expect to see recognition of more recent arrivals like Morgan Wallen, Gabby Barrett and Ingrid Andress.

All of the above, we should note, is based on the vibe of the moment and subject to substantial revision. Stay tuned for frequent updates.

 

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