With the Grammys getting rid of their secret nomination review committees altogether after backlash over alleged vote-rigging and a lack of transparency, a lot of questions have arisen as to what the award show will look like now. While controversial, the committees have shaped what the competition looks like. Now that they’re gone, what can we expect from the nominations from now on? Here are four trends to watch out for.
Fewer WTF picks
Perhaps the biggest change will come in the likely absence of those head-scratcher, how-did-they-get-in picks that had become a staple of the Grammys these past few years. While we can never count out surprises at these awards, expect fewer albums like Jacob Collier’s “Djesse Vol. 3” to make the cut over widely predicted, buzzy projects from big name stars. Songs like Black Pumas’ “Colors” or Bon Iver’s “Hey, Ma” might also get sacrificed with no panel to give them a push over higher-profile hits.
But this won’t just be a general field thing. Since there will be no committees in most categories, we might see more conventional lineups among the genre nominees, so you might want to say goodbye to nominations like Georgia Anne Muldrow‘s 2020 bid in Best Urban Contemporary Album over Khalid.
No blocks, no set-ups
Panels were known for their seemingly arbitrary snubs. Ed Sheeran’s complete general field shut out in 2018 when he dominated pop music with his album “Divide” and single “Shape of You” was weird, but even weirder was seeing Maren Morris and Luke Combs get Country Album snubs for their big hits “Girl” and “What You See is What You Get,” respectively.
Other strange omissions have included Taylor Swift’s “Lover,” Tyler the Creator’s “IGOR,” and Ariana Grande’s “Sweetener” for Album of the Year; David Bowie’s “Blackstar” and The Weeknd’s “After Hours” getting shut out of the general field entirely; and genre snubs for big artists like The Killers in rock, Summer Walker in R&B, and Cardi B’s “I Like It” in rap, among many others in recent years.
This also means we’re less likely to see set-ups. Sometimes, the way a category shakes out, it seems as though voters have kept some people out in order to help someone else win, which is likely can’t happen without those small committees pulling the strings, at least not consciously.
In the general field, we can expect genre crossovers to prevail over artists who are more limited to their niche. So someone like Billie Eilish, who appeals to alternative as well as pop audiences, or pop-R&B crossovers like Justin Bieber could have an advantage since they may appeal to a wider range of voters.
In recent years we’ve seen how acts can win in the general field but lose in their genre, perhaps due to crossover voters given them a bump in the top categories; some examples include both of Eilish’s Best Pop Solo Performance losses (for “Bad Guy” and “Everything I Wanted,” both of which won Record of the Year) and Swift winning Album of the Year for “Folklore” despite losing Pop Vocal Album.
Perhaps the biggest question this year is how diverse the lineups will be in the hands of the general voting membership. You would expect pop music to dominate, given that it tends to be the most accessible among genres. But we could see a lot of voters surprisingly go for hip-hop, which has notoriously struggled to win in the general field at the Grammys but has become more and more dominant on the charts.
We’ve yet to see how the genre distribution will play out in the current music landscape with no interference from a committee, but hopefully we’ll get a diverse list of contenders and not a homogeneous lineup.
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