The 2021 Grammy Awards eligibility period started earlier than ever before, September 1, 2019. So who will be nominated for top prizes, and who will win when trophies are handed out? Scroll down for our list of artists and albums to watch for, updating throughout the season as new albums drop.
The eligibility period for the Grammys used to be October 1 through September 30, but they changed things for the 2020 awards. The Oscars decided to move up their calendar so that their awards ceremony landed on the first week of February, which is usually the Grammys’ turf. So the Grammys decided to move up their telecast into January, and they moved back their eligibility cutoff by one month.
Now the eligibility period is September 1 through August 31, so before the 2020 Grammys even aired we already had potential 2021 contenders all over the charts, like Post Malone‘s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” Camila Cabello‘s “Romance” and Harry Styles‘s “Fine Line,” all of which were released in the fall of 2019. Alabama Shakes front woman Brittany Howard even earned a couple of 2020 Grammy nominations for her single “History Repeats,” while the rest of her album “Jaime” (released September 20) is eligible to compete in the current kudos cycle.
The nominees in the top four general field categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist — are not decided strictly by a popular vote of recording academy members. Final decisions are made by nomination review committees, which were called into question after former academy president Deborah Dugan was put on leave and accused the organization of rigging the competition. So there’s potential drama behind the scenes as well as on the Grammy stage. Who do you think will make the cut?
Her third studio album is her highest charting yet, debuting at number-two on the Billboard 200 albums chart. And it features guest appearances by Grammy champs John Legend, Miguel and H.E.R., among others.
Album: “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”
She has only won one Grammy (Best Female Rock Performaance for her breakthrough hit single “Criminal”), but she has been nominated at least once for every album she has released. This is her first since “The Idler Wheel” eight years ago, and it comes right after the Grammys embraced another alternative female artist who broke through as a teen, Billie Eilish.
Critics were ambivalent (57 on MetaCritic), but his last album, “Purpose,” was nominated for Album of the Year. Grammy voters are clearly Beliebers.
Album: “Map of the Soul: 7”
They’ve led the charge for the K-pop revolution around the world, and their latest album was both a chart-topper and a critical darling with a score of 82 on MetaCritic. Could be time to bring the Korean revolution to the Grammys.
She’s already a three-time Grammy nominee: Best Pop Album for her solo debut “Camila,” Best Pop Solo Performance for her chart-topping “Havana” and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for her hit duet “Senorita” with Shawn Mendes. So she’s already caught voters’ eyes.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
The Aussie veteran has only ever been nominated for one Grammy before, but this late 2019 release was by far the highest rated album of the year on MetaCritic with a score of 96, and it was partly inspired by the death of Cave’s son, which gives it greater emotional resonance. Grammy voters could honor them in 2021 to celebrate their whole body of work.
Album: “Here and Now”
The veteran country singer has cleaned up at the ACM Awards and CMA Awards, but would you believe he’s never won a Grammy? He has been nominated six times in his career, most recently Best Country Album for “Cosmic Hallelujah” (2018). His latest became his ninth number-one album on the Billboard 200. Will it be his first to be rewarded by the recording academy?
They’re back with their first album since “Taking the Long Way,” which won Album of the Year in 2007. Will absence will make Grammy voters’ hearts grow fonder?
He earned an Album of the Year nomination for his last studio album, “Awaken, My Love.” And then he made history for hip-hop by winning Record and Song of the Year for “This is America” when he was between albums. Now that he’s back with a new album, watch out.
Album: “Everyday Life”
The seven-time Grammy winners haven’t prevailed since “Viva La Vida” in 2009, but “Everyday Life” got them some of their best reviews in a decade (73 on MetaCritic). Could they make a comeback?
Album: “What You See is What You Get”
His star has been rising fast in the country music industry from his 2019 Grammy nom for Best New Artist to his 2020 ACM Award nomination for Entertainer of the Year. His second studio album may continue his ascent.
Albums: “Kirk” and “Blame it On Baby”
Coming off his two 2020 Grammy nominations for his breakthrough song “Suge” (Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song), the rapper released two albums this eligibility period, “Kirk” in the fall of 2019 and “Blame it On Baby” in spring 2020. Could one of those be his ticket to his first win?
Album: “Hot Pink”
Her second album kept rising up the charts thanks in large part to her breakthrough hit “Say So,” which became her first number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. So an awards breakthrough might be in store for her.
Album: “Dark Lane Demo Tapes”
He and the Grammys don’t always see eye-to-eye: he declined to submit his album “More Life” for consideration, and he thought his song “Hotline Bling” was miscategorized even though it won twice. But he’s nevertheless a four-time Grammy winner out of 44 nominations including Album of the Year bids for “Views” and “Scorpion.” You can never count him out completely.
Album: “Rough and Rowdy Ways”
The legendary singer-songwriter has racked up 38 Grammy nominations and 10 wins spanning 55 years in the business. He’s a previous Album of the Year winner for “Time Out of Mind” (1998) and his last three albums of covers earned him consecutive Best Traditional Pop Album nominations in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Oh, and did we mention that Nobel Prize in 2016? “Rough and Rowdy” is his first album of new material in eight years. Never count him out of the awards race.
Album: “Music to Be Murdered By”
He has 15 Grammys out of 44 nominations, so even with somewhat mixed reviews (64 on MetaCritic), he’s always a force to be reckoned with.
It’s her first full-length album since 2014. Critics adored it (88 on MetaCritic). And she just earned her first Grammy nom in 2020 for her “Cellophane” music video, so she could build off that initial success.
No Grammy nominations yet, but strong reviews (76 on MetaCritic) and personal subject matter could make voters see her in a mature new light.
Album: “Father of All Motherf*ckers”
They went from punk upstarts in the 1990s to rock royalty in the 2000s. They haven’t been nominated at the Grammys since 2014 and they haven’t won since 2010, but voters might welcome them back for their latest collection.
She was surprisingly snubbed for her number-one single “Without Me” in 2020, but she has two past Grammy nominations and the support of critics (80 on MetaCritic), so the recording academy may want to make it up to her.
Album: “The Highwomen”
The country supergroup includes Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby — all of them Grammy winners on their own. They could be even more formidable after joining forces, especially given how popular Morris and Carlile have been with voters in recent years.
Album: “Heartbreak Weather”
The One Direction alum released his second solo album and debuted in the top five on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Will he be the first to break the British band’s Grammy curse?
Critics adored this first solo album from the artist who already has four Grammys as lead singer of Alabama Shakes. And the lead single from “Jaime,” “History Repeats,” earned her two nominations in 2020.
It took Hunt six years to follow up his debut album “Montevallo,” which earned him Grammy nominations for Best Country Album and Best New Artist. Then he had the biggest hit of his career with 2017’s crossover smash “Body Like a Back Road,” which earned him a couple more Grammy noms for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song. Is it finally time for him to take home the gold?
It’s her first studio album in four years, and in addition to already being a 15-time Grammy winner, she has hosted the telecast for the last two years. Voters may want to say thank you.
Coming off her Oscar and Grammy winning work on “A Star is Born,” she’s back with her first non-soundtrack album since 2016’s “Joanne.” Will it continue her winning streak?
She has never been nominated for Album of the Year, but she’s a two-time winner in country categories, and the lead single from “Wildcard,” titled “It All Comes Out in the Wash,” earned her a nomination in 2020. Consistently a critics’ darling, she’s always one to watch come awards time.
Album: “Bigger Love”
You should always pencil him is as a strong contender at any awards show. He’s one of only 15 EGOT recipients who has won competitive Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. At the Grammys, he has won 11 times out of 31 nominations, most recently in 2020 for Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Higher” with DJ Khaled and the late Nipsey Hussle.
Lil Uzi Vert
Album: “Eternal Atake”
The second full studio album from the 2018 Best New Artist nominee received an 88 score on MetaCritic, topped the Billboard 200 albums chart, and put three songs in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at the same time.
Album: “Future Nostalgia”
She’s no one-hit wonder. She had a huge hit with “New Rules” and won both of her 2019 Grammy nominations including Best New Artist. She follows that up with her second album, which features the highest-charting song of her career yet, “Don’t Start Now.”
She’s a previous nominee for Album of the Year (“Teenage Dream”), Record of the Year (“Firework”) and Song of the Year (“Roar”), but she has yet to win a Grammy despite 13 nominations to date. Will she finally get an overdue first trophy with her latest, released on August 28 right at the tail end end of the eligibility period?
Album: “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon”
He was only 20 years old when he was tragically murdered in February 2020, but his posthumous debut studio album was released in July and topped the Billboard 200 singles chart. Will Grammy voters honor him after his death the way they did Nipsey Hussle?
Album: “Hollywood’s Bleeding”
His last album, “Beerbongs and Bentleys,” was nominated for Album of the Year, and “Hollywood” got much better reviews (79 on MetaCritic). In 2020 he was also nominated for Record of the Year (“Sunflower”), so he’s becoming a perennial academy favorite.
Album: “Never Will”
She’s a critics’ darling whose first album “Girl Going Nowhere” earned her three Grammy bids over two years, including Best Country Album. Now she’s back with her acclaimed sophomore album, so she may appeal to the same kinds of modern country fans who awarded Kacey Musgraves Album of the Year in 2019.
The rapper tragically died in 2018 at age 26, but he was Grammy-nominated posthumously in 2020 for his album “Swimming,” and his final album “Circles” was released in 2020. Voters have celebrated artists we’ve lost in recent years, with posthumous honors going to David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Chris Cornell and Nipsey Hussle.
Album: “Silver Landings”
The former teen music star released her first album in over a decade, and she’s all grown up with strong reviews for this collection (75 on MetaCritic) and industry esteem that includes an Emmy nomination for “This is Us.” Grammy voters might finally take notice.
Album: “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial”
He performed at the 2020 Grammys and won Best Rap Performance for “Racks in the Middle” with the late Nipsey Hussle, but he could make an even bigger splash in 2021. His album topped the Billboard charts, and his single “The Box” dominated the Hot 100 in the winter and spring.
Run the Jewels
The hip-hop duo of El-P and Killer Mike released their fourth album on June 3, 2020, a couple of days ahead of schedule. It debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and its politically charged rhymes have made it one of the year’s best reviewed albums of any genre.
Album: “Sound and Fury”
The country rocker was a surprise Album of the Year nominee in 2017 for “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” which won Best Country Album. His followup was well-received by critics (79 on MetaCritic), so will lightning strike twice?
Their debut album “In the Lonely Hour” won them four Grammys and was nominated for Album of the Year. But their followup, “The Thrill of It All,” was snubbed. Could they make a comeback with their third studio release?
Album: “The New Abnormal”
The Julian Casablancas-fronted rock band is back with their first album in seven years. They’ve been critical darlings, especially when they broke through in the early 2000s, but they’ve surprisingly never been nominated for a Grammy. Might that change now that they’re seasoned veterans?
Album: “Fine Line”
He wasn’t nominated for his self-titled first solo album, but the strong reviews for his sophomore effort (76 on MetaCritic) and platinum success, he might be poised for a Justin Timberlake-style breakthrough from his boy band roots.
She has won 10 Grammys, including two for Album of the Year, which made her the first female artist to win that award twice as a lead artist. She released this understated album with only a few hours notice, and it’s the best reviewed of her career. Could she win a historic third Album of the Year title?
Album: “The Slow Rush”
The rock band’s critically acclaimed fourth album (80 on MetaCritic) was their highest charting on the Billboard 200 albums chart (debuting at number-three). They have two previous Grammy noms for Best Alternative Album.
Album: “The Album”
She achieved her first ever top-10 album with this well-received release, which is her third studio album. Can she make the cut at these awards after working with Grammy favorites like Usher, Kanye West, Meek Mill and more
Album: “Over It”
When it was released in October 2019 it achieved the biggest streming week for an R&B album by a female artist. It also got rave reviews (86 on MetaCritic), so she could potentially have a Grammy breakthrough like H.E.R. had over the last two years.
Album: “After Hours”
He has three Grammys, including Best Urban Contemporary Album for both “Beauty Behind the Madness” and “Starboy.” And “Beauty” was nominated for Album of the Year. So he’s definitely a threat to be reckoned with.
Album: “Jesus is King”
Despite being one of the most awarded artists in history with 21 Grammys, he has fallen out of the academy’s favor in recent years and hasn’t won since 2013. And this album received mixed reviews (53 on MetaCritic), but with such a strong track record, he always needs to be factored into the discussion.