It’s not a reach to say that Olivia Rodrigo is this year’s biggest artist. The 18 year-old Disney alum has had a meteoric rise, starting with the instant success of her debut single, “Drivers License.” The song not only debuted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, an unprecedented achievement for a debut single, it also held on at the top for eight weeks, becoming one of the longest-running number-one hits by a female artist in the past five years.
Rodrigo’s success continued with her follow-up single, “Deja Vu,” which debuted in the top 10 of the Hot 100 and has so far peaked at number-three on the chart. Her superstar status was cemented with the release of her most recent single, “Good 4 U,” which, like “Drivers License,” had a chart-topping launch on the Hot 100. Her debut album, “Sour,” then broke the record for biggest Spotify debut week by a female artist and started at the top spot on the Billboard 200 with almost 300k units in the first week. With all this in mind, how are Rodrigo’s Grammy prospects?
First, the Grammys love young, female pop artists; Best New Artist winners Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Alessia Cara, and Meghan Trainor are proof of this. The Grammys also admire artists who write their own songs like Rodrigo does (she’s a writer on all the songs on “Sour,” even being the sole credited writer on a couple). “Drivers License” is a great, Grammy-bait ballad, while “Good 4 U” is more upbeat, which could be an advantage in the pop field — we see you, Harry Styles (“Watermelon Sugar”) and Lizzo (“Truth Hurts”).
She’s also likely to be the only artist this year to get noms in all four general field categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. If so, she would join only 12 other artists who have achieved this, including Eilish, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Mariah Carey, and Cyndi Lauper.
What about wins though? Let’s be real, Rodrigo is pretty much locked to win Best New Artist at this rate, especially with her competition not being nearly as prominent as she is on the charts or in the media, with the exception of maybe Gabby Barrett and Morgan Wallen, both of whom have the disadvantage of being country (that genre has only won New Artist three times in Grammy history). Wallen also has the disadvantage of … being Morgan Wallen in 2021.
Beyond the top four categories, she could very well win both Pop Solo Performance and Pop Vocal Album. Her strongest competition in the latter might be Eilish, who is a Grammy darling with seven wins in just the last two years, but she has lost multiple pop nominations before. We’ll also have to wait and see if Eilish has a sophomore slump with her second album “Happier Than Ever” compared to her debut record, since expectations are sky-high.
As for Pop Solo Performance, Olivia may face Eilish and Ariana Grande (depending on which songs they submit for consideration). Neither of them has won the category before despite multiple nominations, so Rodrigo could easily get ahead of them, especially with both of her two chart-toppers being bigger hits than what Grande and Eilish have released so far. There’s also Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” but that might prove a little too controversial for the Grammys.
The bigger question might be whether Rodrigo will have a full Eilish-style sweep; Eilish won five of her six nominations in 2020, becoming only the second artist in history to win Album, Record, Song, and New Artist all in one night. Rodrigo will have to overcome strong competition, including Eilish herself as mentioned above, as well as Grammy favorites Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, who teamed up as the supergroup Silk Sonic. And Dua Lipa could strike back with “Levitating” featuring DaBaby.
So while we can’t count out a massive sweep from Rodrigo, she’ll need to get past a number of industry favorites to achieve that, which could be hard to do. Regardless, Rodrigo’s success has put her in the history books. We’ll likely see her collecting trophies left and right this year, so the Grammys might just be the cherry on top for a budding career.
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