The story of the 2021 Grammy nominations isn’t the one we expected. Mediocrity actually got promoted to the forefront in major categories while some of the most obvious choices were erased out of the competitive slate.
However, I, like many of you, am happy that some deserving spots went to the right choices therefore imbuing the nomination process with a semblance of credibility. In fact, it’s our love for these following artists and their songs that makes us happy for them. So while there’s only one name that gets called out for the winners’ batch, let’s wish some of our favourites all the very best.
First and foremost, there’s the incredible Brittany Howard and her alchemy on her debut solo album of repute titled JAIME. I give out that information to all the uninitiated listeners and music lovers because inspite of being the frontwoman of another eclectic unit in the form of ALABAMA SHAKES, Brittany continues to be underrated.
By gifting her with six nominations, better minds at the Recording Academy have prevailed indeed. It’s perfect for this set of nomination roll as she holds fort across six different genres. So STAY HIGH makes it to ROCK PERFORMANCE and ROCK SONG list of honours, GOAT HEAD finds space on R&B PERFORMANCE, SHORT AND SWEET( the one that miraculously seems to be a reincarnated Nina Simone solo performance) grabs a spot in the American Roots Performance while the album itself is up for BEST ALTERNATIVE ALBUM as well as a well deserved BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM( NON-CLASSICAL) berth for its production. Multiple writers and music lovers called JAIME ‘diverse’ and inter-generic and this whole, collective set of nominations do them justice. The album is all that and more, pure and untethered, raw in its musicality. Without the support of that loyal fan base, musicians just cannot evolve and I’m glad some of the voters chose to be rational and exercise their right with due discretion and fairness.
Though I still believe JAIME deserved to be up for contention in the major categories, I am not ultimately complaining. This slew of recognition will only boost this multifaceted, personal album’s imprint. More power to Ms. Howard and her trailblazing career ahead.
TAYLOR SWIFT’S FOLKLORE is the album that was tailor-made for universal acclaim. Her forays into the more accessible, often dumbed down pop realms of years past and album cycles of 1989, REPUTATION and LOVER were not ripe for the kind of attention that awards constantly showered them with, Grammys included. In the midst of that whole era of reinvention, I never doubted her songwriting or the focal finesse of her best years on FEARLESS, SPEAK NOW and RED. Those are veritable classics. She built her mystique and brilliance, took a shot at diversifying her own possibilities and we understand that.
But the true artist in her burst out of the cocoon after a momentous decade in which she conquered all fronts to become a global totem. That’s the FOLKLORE story for us all and getting released out of the blue, in a year where everything turned to dust, helped us as listeners grasp the silent strength of its pure soundscape, mostly acoustic, and intimate production, like an echo reverberating through our current moment in time.
CARDIGAN, EXILE( with BON IVER), BETTY, THIS IS ME TRYING, ILLICIT AFFAIRS, THE LAKES are all stories that were told with finesse and complexity. So whether it’s SONG, ALBUM, POP VOCAL ALBUM, RECORD, POP COLLABORATION or POP SOLO PERFORMANCE, Taylor has earned her stripes on each category, showing us that this is the mark of her popularity adjunct with her ear for melodies and unmistakable lyrical prowess. Kudos to her. She won us over, again in 2020, more than ever before.
DUA LIPA’S FUTURE NOSTALGIA shines bright as a best album contender and reference point in any given year. In 2020, she cut short the myth of a sophomore slump and took us boogieing back to the basics, on such retro and yet contemporaneous sonic textures of DON’T START NOW, PHYSICAL, BREAK MY HEART, LEVITATING, HALLUCINATE et al.
Being up on the nomination pedestal for SONG, ALBUM, POP VOCAL ALBUM, POP SOLO PERFORMANCE, RECORD OF THE YEAR is richly deserved for her because she spelt out hope and joy like none other of her ilk. Also, can we acknowledge the durability of the bass on each of her classic tracks from the album? They gave us life and a spring in our feet( and overall spirit)
An ALBUM OF THE YEAR nod for the ever dependable COLDPLAY vis a vis EVERYDAY LIFE is welcome. It’s kind of underrated. But afficianados will uphold the bounty of Chris Martin’s humane vocals which are supple and emotionally resonant than ever, the global nature of the unit’s productivity to go with the lyrical simplicity and depth of standout tracks like the title one and especially DADDY, which I see as an excellent ode and simultaneous elegy to every migrant child separated from her/his roots. On the other hand, ORPHANS and CHAMPION OF THE WORLD pay heed to the classic Coldplay sound and hold reserves of pure innocence and celebration of the human spirit.
Some may see it as unnecessary in terms of nominations but EVERYDAY LIFE is more potent and unifying as an album than one thinks so my congratulations for this recognition from the Academy are due.
My heartiest congratulations also are reserved for the beloved LADY A( formerly Lady Antebellum) scoring a Country Song nomination for OCEAN, a proper and heartwarming piano ballad, one of my favourites, with beautiful lyrics that simply flow with the emotions. Also MAREN MORRIS scoring a Country Song berth for THE BONES and the luminaries LITTLE BIG TOWN having their best album NIGHTFALL validated with a Country Album nod as well as a Country Song nomination for the excellent SUGAR COAT. Last but not the least, I am happy that the rising crest of H.E.R. reached new heights, with I CAN’T BREATHE getting a SONG OF THE YEAR nod. In the year of George Floyd, that song is apt and timely.
So congratulations to all these nominees and may the best one win.