Beyoncé tops 2021 Grammy nominations in strong field for women

Ben Beaumont-Thomas
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Beyoncé has topped the nominees for the 2021 Grammy awards, heading up a year that celebrated female artistry right across pop genres – but there were stark snubs of the Weeknd and Bob Dylan.

Beyoncé earned two nominations in the record of the year category, for her solo track Black Parade and her remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s Savage, and received seven more across a further seven categories, demonstrating her versatility across R&B, rap and film-making. She now has 79 in total, extending her record as the most-nominated female artist of all time.

Taylor Swift received six nominations, mostly for her album Folklore, including song and album of the year. She was also nominated for Beautiful Ghosts, her contribution to the movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats – reviled on release but becoming a camp cult classic.

British successes include pop star Dua Lipa, who earned nominations in the three top categories of album, record and song of the year. Coldplay were nominated for album of the year, for Everyday Life, as was esoteric British pop producer-instrumentalist Jacob Collier, who scored three nominations overall. Harry Styles also received three nominations, though not in top categories, while UK dance duo Disclosure earned two.

Rapper Post Malone appeared in the three top categories, while soul band Black Pumas, who appeared in the best new artist field last year, step up further with nominations for record and album of the year.

Another rapper, Roddy Ricch, received six nominations across various categories for two songs: the atmospheric solo hit The Box, and Rockstar, his collaboration with lead artist DaBaby, who received four nominations of his own. Brittany Howard received five nominations for her captivating solo album Jaime that meanders between blues, gospel and more, following a successful number of years with her band Alabama Shakes – she adds to the four wins from 11 nominations she has had previously, both solo and with her band.

Billie Eilish, who dominated the 2020 awards with material from her debut album, received another four nominations this year, for her spellbinding ballad Everything I Wanted and her James Bond theme No Time To Die. Justin Bieber also earned four, across pop and country categories.

Billie Eilish at the 2020 Grammy awards.
Billie Eilish at the 2020 Grammy awards. Photograph: David Swanson/EPA

For the first time since its inception in 2012, the nominees for best rock performance were all female or female-fronted: Fiona Apple, Big Thief, Phoebe Bridgers, Haim, Brittany Howard and Grace Potter. Bridgers received four nominations, including in the best new artist category, while Apple and Big Thief received three each. Potter earned two, as did Haim, though the latter are in the top category of album of the year.

Women also dominated the best country album category. It is the first time it has had five albums helmed in whole or in part by women: Little Big Town, Ingrid Andress, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert and Ashley McBryde. Six out of eight of the best new artist nominees are also women, including the charismatic yet divisive pop singer Doja Cat, who picked up three nominations overall. R&B singer Jhené Aiko also scored three nominations, including for album of the year.

Snubbed artists include the Weeknd, who dominated charts on both sides of the Atlantic all year with his hit Blinding Lights and album After Hours, but who received no nominations at all. Neither did Bob Dylan, whose return to original songwriting after eight years away, with the album Rough and Rowdy Ways, was hugely acclaimed this year. K-pop band BTS, the world’s biggest pop group, only received one nomination, for Dynamite, their first fully English-language single.

Acclaimed work by American artists including Teyana Taylor, Run the Jewels, Halsey, Summer Walker, Pearl Jam and more was overlooked – with the caveat that not all artists are necessarily submitted for Grammy consideration – as were artists from South America and Africa, who failed to break into the top categories despite strong releases from artists including Bad Bunny and Burna Boy.

Posthumous nominees include John Prine, the folk and country artist who died of Covid-19 in April, and Riley Gale of thrash metal band Power Trip, who died aged 34 in August, though there were no nominations for late rappers Mac Miller and Juice Wrld. Pop Smoke, the New York rapper who was killed in a home invasion in February but who has had huge posthumous success, only received one nomination.

Grammy 2020 nominations: the biggest categories

Record of the year

Beyoncé – Black Parade
Black Pumas – Colors
DaBaby – Rockstar (feat Roddy Ricch)
Doja Cat – Say So
Billie Eilish – Everything I Wanted
Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now
Post Malone – Circles
Megan Thee Stallion – Savage (remix feat Beyoncé)

Album of the year

Jhené Aiko – Chilombo
Black Pumas – Black Pumas (deluxe edition)
Coldplay – Everyday Life
Jacob Collier – Djesse Vol 3
Haim – Women in Music Pt III
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding
Taylor Swift – Folklore

Song of the year

Beyonce – Black Parade
Roddy Ricch – The Box
Taylor Swift – Cardigan
Post Malone – Circles
Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now
Billie Eilish – Everything I Wanted
HER – I Can’t Breathe
JP Saxe – If the World Was Ending (feat Julia Michaels)

Best new artist

Ingrid Andress
Phoebe Bridgers
Chika
Noah Cyrus
D Smoke
Doja Cat
Kaytranada
Megan Thee Stallion

Best pop solo performance

Justin Bieber – Yummy
Doja Cat – Say So
Billie Eilish – Everything I Wanted
Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now
Harry Styles – Watermelon Sugar
Taylor Swift – Cardigan

Best Pop duo/group performance

J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny and Tainy – Un Dia (One Day)
Justin Bieber – Intentions (feat Quavo)
BTS – Dynamite
Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande – Rain on Me
Taylor Swift – Exile (feat Bon Iver)

Best pop vocal album

Justin Bieber – Changes
Lady Gaga – Chromatica
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Harry Styles – Fine Line
Taylor Swift – Folklore

Best rock performance

Fiona Apple – Shameika
Big Thief – Not
Phoebe Bridgers – Kyoto
Haim – The Steps
Brittany Howard – Stay High
Grace Potter – Daylight

Best rock album

Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death
Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
Grace Potter – Daylight
Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
The Strokes – The New Abnormal

Best alternative music album

Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Beck – Hyperspace
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Brittany Howard – Jaime
Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Best R&B performance

Jhené Aiko – Lightning and Thunder (feat John Legend)
Beyoncé – Black Parade
Jacob Collier – All I Need (feat Mahalia & Ty Dolla Sign)
Brittany Howard – Goat Head
Emily King – See Me

Best rap performance

Big Sean – Deep Reverence (feat Nipsey Hussle)
DaBaby – Bop
Jack Harlow – What’s Poppin
Lil Baby – The Bigger Picture
Megan Thee Stallion – Savage (remix feat Beyoncé)
Pop Smoke – Dior

Best rap album

D Smoke – Black Habits
Freddie Gibbs & the Alchemist – Alfredo
Jay Electronica – A Written Testimony
Nas – King’s Disease
Royce Da 5’9” – The Allegory

Best country solo performance

Eric Church – Stick That in Your Country Song
Brandy Clark – Who You Thought I Was
Vince Gill – When My Amy Prays
Mickey Guyton – Black Like Me
Miranda Lambert – Bluebird

Best country album

Ingrid Andress – Lady Like
Brandy Clark – Your Life is a Record
Miranda Lambert – Wildcard
Little Big Town – Nightfall
Ashley McBryde – Never Will

Best Latin pop or urban album

Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG
Camilo – Por Primera Vez
Kany García – Mesa Para Dos
Ricky Martin – Pausa
Debi Nova – 3:33

Best global music album

Antibalas – Fu Chronicles
Burna Boy – Twice as Tall
Bebel Gilberto – Agora
Anoushka Shankar – Love Letters
Tinariwen – Amadjar

Producer of the year, non-classical

Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
Dave Cobb
Flying Lotus
Andrew Watt