Will Taylor Swift earn an Album of the Year nomination for “Reputation”? It seems likely given her track record. She has won the top prize twice out of three nominations, and is one of only two women to have won Album of the Year twice as a lead artist (the other was Adele). “Reputation” also received solid reviews: 71 on MetaCritic, better than the last Album of the Year winner, “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars. And it was a huge hit, selling more than 1.2 million copies in its first week alone. But Swift could potentially suffer the same fate as Ed Sheeran, who was unexpectedly shut out of the general field in 2018 for his album “Divide.” The likely culprit? The recording academy’s nomination review committees.
Members of the recording academy can vote for nominees in up to 15 genre categories, plus the four general field races of Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. But in many categories — including in the general field — the final choices are made by nomination review committees. That’s how under-the-radar acts like Sturgill Simpson can sometimes earn top nominations over higher-profile chart-toppers.
The Grammys have been criticized in recent years for favoring more musically conservative artists against rap and hip-hop contenders, as illustrated by Beyonce‘s surprising losses to Beck in 2015 and Adele in 2017. We can’t say for sure what Grammy nominators were thinking, but there’s a reasonable possibility that the committees left the normally Grammy-friendly Ed Sheeran out of the general field to give a better chance to hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar (“Damn”), Jay-Z (“4:44”) and Childish Gambino (“Awaken, My Love”). But when picking the winners the Grammys still voted for the most adult-contemporary-friendly artist available to them, Bruno Mars, prompting yet more criticism.
So what will happen in 2019? Swift is a Grammy darling, but a third Album of the Year victory for her might inspire another round of #GrammysSoWhite backlash. Might the review committees leave her out of the general field entirely, just in case? Read some of our forum posters’ comments below, and join their discussion here in our forums.
Shivan Nainwal: “Do I think ‘Reputation’s’ going to win? Maybe. Do I want it to win? NO. But, will it get nominated? 110% YES.”
JamesASTINMARTn: “I still don’t think that ‘Reputation’ will be nominated. This year is very congested when it comes to big name releases. It’s not even half of the year yet and we’ve had some pretty big releases this year.”
D.C.: “Having the most successful album of the year … hasn’t stopped big-name artists from being shut out of AOTY before. Throwing that out there. Taylor could get in, but she is not a lock.”
Colin Davis: “She obviously is a huge contender. I really don’t see her winning, but she definitely can be nominated. It’s really the [nomination review committee] standing in her way. If they don’t want to nominate her again so soon after winning her second trophy in the category for an album without as much buzz or acclaim, they will keep her out to ensure she doesn’t win her third. They likely blocked Ed Sheeran’s nomination last year.”