The Recording Academy decided to expand the number of Grammy nominees just 24 hours before the list was announced on Tuesday. According to a report in the New York Times, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, ABBA and Lil Nas X were the additions made to the list.
Lil Nas X’s 'Montero (Call Me by Your Name)' and ABBA’s 'I Still Have Faith in You' were added to record of the year; Swift’s Evermore and West’s Donda were the additional candidates for album of the year; Doja Cat’s 'Kiss Me More' and Brandi Carlile’s 'Right on Time' were put it at the last minute for song of the year (Carlile’s second nomination in the category); and Baby Keem and Arooj Aftab were added to the best new artist field, according to the report.
The move, which saw the list of nominees in the top four general categories grow from eight nominees to 10, was positioned as a natural progression by CEO Harvey Mason Jr. when asked about it by Variety on Monday. “We saw it as an incredible opportunity for us to honor more artists and shine a light on more great music, and potentially offer a greater opportunity for more genres of music to be honored,” he said. Mason told the Times that the artists added to the list were simply the ninth and tenth most voted by the Academy’s members, and were determined by Deloitte, its partner in collecting and tabulating votes. As whether ratings for the multimillion dollar Grammy telecast were a consideration for the Swift-West addition, he responded, “A thousand percent no. That was not a consideration.”
Advance lists of the nominees, which are traditionally serviced to the media 24 hours before the announcement, arrived much later than usual on November 22. Variety reported that the expansion of the top lists was the cause of the delay.
The New York Times was able to ascertain which artists benefitted from the shift from eight to 10 by comparing the final list with a list created prior to the Monday decision — a version that “had begun circulating outside the Recording Academy before the nominations were announced on Tuesday.” The Times said it had obtained a copy of the earlier list.
Academy co-president Valeisha Butterfield Jones added, “While it may seem rushed, it really was a thoughtful, well intentioned process that was also data-driven.”
The Times’ news about details of the last-minute expansion of top nominations sets an awkward tone for the next Grammy Awards, an institution that has been marred by an ongoing series of unsavory controversies over the past five years. Last year, The Weeknd was shockingly excluded from all nominations despite having one of the most successful albums and singles of the year with After Hours and 'Blinding Lights'. Mason’s predecessor Deborah Dugan was dismissed as she alleged conflicts of interest and covering up allegations of sexual misconduct and even a rape allegation. Earlier this year, the Academy eliminated its “secret” nomination review committees that had curated final nominee lists for most categories, but that was only after years of complaints about insider dealing that culminated with the Weeknd snub.
The 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on January 31, 2022.
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