It seems like decades ago that the 2021 Grammy Awards nominations were announced. Part of that has to do with Pandemic Time and part of it has to do with pandemic realities pushing the ceremony back from January 31 to this coming Sunday. But now that “music’s biggest night” is finally upon us (unless you’re The Weeknd, then it’s just Sunday) we here at The A.V. Club are hoping we do well in our Grammys pool.
In case you are having trouble deciding between DaBaby and Lil Baby for Best Rap Performance, then our latest episode of The A.V. Club’s podcast Push The Envelope is just for you, Dear Reader. In addition to an interview with Da 5 Bloods star Delroy Lindo, this week’s episode features assistant editor Alex McLevy and editor-in-chief Patrick Gomez discussing the 2021 Grammy nominees and sharing thoughts on who is likely to take home the trophy in the big categories.
Listen to the episode above or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also read a few highlights from the discussion below.
“Deep Reverence,” Big Sean Featuring Nipsey Hussle
“What’s Poppin,” Jack Harlow
“The Bigger Picture,” Lil Baby
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé
“Dior,” Pop Smoke
PATRICK GOMEZ: Can anyone really compete with Beyoncé when it comes to name recognition? Does that give her an edge here?
ALEX MCLEVY: I mean, it’s one of those things where, it’s not even just Beyoncé, but last year was, in some part at least ,the year of Megan Thee Stallion, as well. “Savage” was inescapable for a while, last year. I would be shocked if that ended up not winning. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pop. I loved “Dior.” I’d be thrilled to see Pop Smoke win, but it’s really Megan Thee Stallion’s to lose.
PG: Something we discussed when the nominations were first announced is that “WAP” is not represented here. [It is not nominated in any categories, which means it was snubbed and/or Cardi B is waiting to submit it next year as part of her album, which will be eligible for 2022 Grammys.] So I can see Megan getting recognition here, just because of that residual appreciation.
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers, Morgan Nadler, Marshall Vore, songwriters (Phoebe Bridgers)
“Lost In Yesterday,” Kevin Parker, Songwriter (Tame Impala)
“Not,” Adrianne Lenker, Songwriter (Big Thief)
“Shameika,” Fiona Apple, Songwriter (Fiona Apple)
“Stay High,” Brittany Howard, Songwriter (Brittany Howard)
AM: You know, my prejudice here, which is that I think Big Thief’s “Not” is not just one of the best songs of last year, but one of the best songs of the past few years. It’s a fantastic piece of art. I think it’s surprising and great that it got nominated and 100 percent deserves to win. But that being said, Fiona Apple, you know, being nominated in the top categories also goes a long way towards increasing your chances.... So Fiona Apple has a really good chance here, as does Haim.
“Black Parade,” Beyoncé
“Colors,” Black Pumas
“Rockstar,” DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
“Say So,” Doja Cat
“Everything I Wanted,” Billie Eilish
“Don’t Start Now,” Dua Lipa
“Circles,” Post Malone
“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion
AM: Conventional wisdom tends to dictate that whatever Beyoncé wants, Beyoncé gets. But I don’t think it’s quite as cut and dried as it might be during a normal year—especially because you’ve got Billie Eilish in there, who sort of became the newly minted favorite of the Grammys when she absolutely swept them [in 2020.] So they’re clearly the two top contenders. But very big records from last year included Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone. I mean, these are all huge, hugely popular artists that I wouldn’t be surprised if any one of them ended up winning.
Chilombo, Jhené Aiko
Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition), Black Pumas
Everyday Life, Coldplay
Djesse Vol. 3, Jacob Collier
Women in Music Pt. III, Haim
Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone
Folklore, Taylor Swift
PG: The main takeaway I have is that you see some artists that are not represented on Song or Record of the Year, which could be for many reasons—there are people that aren’t represented in those other big categories that are here. But then you get others that are represented in all three [of the top categories,] like Dua Lipa and Post Malone. To what we were discussing earlier, will that help them or hurt them, that people may feel like they’ve already voted enough for them?
AM: Yeah. I’m really fascinated to see how this one plays out for the reason that—especially with the uniqueness of this past year—there were certain records, I think, that became very big and significant for people. Not because, they had any singles or breakout songs on them, but simply because the records themselves became sort of massively influential and meaningful—in the way that I think a lot of music did for folks this past year as we were all stuck inside our homes, looking wistfully out at the places we used to hang out. And that’s that’s where you really see, I think, something like Chilombo or the Black Pumas album or these other records that didn’t have any breakout songs but nonetheless became very big records over the past year. That being said—and as much as I love, for example, the Dua Lipa album and the Jhené Aiko album—I think this is 100 percent Taylor Swift’s award this year. Not just because she’s a Grammy darling, not just because folklore is a tremendous artistic achievement, but because there was something to its artistic creation during quarantine and its release—and the fact that it became so known, and such a part of the narrative around that record—that I think it really it ended up affecting people’s reception of the music. It was a good album but...it achieved something more, sort of, culturally significant. I’ll be astounded if Taylor Swift doesn’t win this.
To hear McLevy and Gomez discuss Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rock Performance, and Song of the Year, check out the full episode of Push The Envelope. And if you’re a fan, remember to comment, like, and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday. Thus ends our shameless plug.