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The Grammy Nominations 2021

Who should win, who will actually win, and who was snubbed? Nouse Editors break down some of the most highly anticipated Grammy awards categories and give you their takes on this year’s nominations.

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Image Credit: The Grammy Awards

Record of the Year- Kristina Wemyss, Music Editor

The record I want to win: ‘Don’t Start Now’- Dua Lipa

I won’t lie, the nominations for this category are quite a disappointing selection, but I suppose that it is to be expected when less music is being released during a global pandemic. Of all of these nominations, I hope that ‘Don’t Start Now’ by Dua Lipa wins. It’s a feisty and unapologetic pop record, something which is of familiar territory to Dua Lipa considering her past breakup hits like ‘New Rules’. However, it’s refreshingly different to her past songs too. Gone are the cringy statements and ridiculous dance routines - they have since been replaced with the skills of a more assured and mature artist. Ultimately, while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, disco and dance influences come together here to produce a banger of a tune that has managed to keep everyone dancing, even during lockdown.

The record I think will win: ‘Savage’- Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyonce

Against my optimism, I sense that ‘Savage’ could be very much in the running to win this award. In my eyes, this record is nothing special; with incredibly cringy lyrics and repetitive backing music that not even Beyonce’s feature managed to salvage this track. Producers did do a good job of making it fantastically catchy and a commercial triumph, though. It’s no wonder that ‘Savage’ quickly soared to fame, propelled by teen dance routines and memes on TikTok.

A record that should have been nominated: ‘Midnight Sky’- Miley Cyrus

Cyrus has returned to the music scene with a bold reinvention of herself which is embodied in this track. It channels one of her idols, Stevie Nicks, and harks back to the 70s and 80s. As Rolling Stone described it, ‘Midnight Sky’ simultaneously uses “raw arena vocals” and “pristinely glossy production” to create a dazzling pop song with bite. Cyrus really seems to have grown into her new style; the thumping disco bassline, rock-tinged vocals and assertive lyrics all come together to create the perfect feminist breakup bop.

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Album of the Year- Michael Athey, Deputy Music Editor

The album I want to win: Black Pumas - Black Pumas

I was torn between picking HAIM and Black Pumas for my choice to win but I ultimately settled upon Black Pumas and their self-titled debut to be worthy winners from, let’s face it, the pretty underwhelming list of nominees presented. The psychedelic soul of Black Pumas is instantly enjoyable. Combining Burton’s insanely rich voice with Quesada’s varied instrumental abilities the album achieves what I love about soul music: being just as relaxing as it is entertaining. ‘Colours’ is just a delightful listen and would be my choice for Record Of The Year too. It is instantly iconic and stands toe to toe alongside their covers of other iconic songs such as ‘Fast Car’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ that make up the end of this deluxe version. With only two nominations for BAME artists in this category, it would be rewarding to see Black Pumas get their hands on the award.

The album I think will win: folklore- Taylor Swift

In all honesty I think it is folklore’s to lose. Announced with no prior warning and then released only sixteen hours later there was a shock factor to this record that many still haven’t recovered from. Not just because of its instantaneous release but also the change in sound direction. The slightly moodier transition into indie-folk isn’t necessarily unique in of itself but for Swift it certainly is. Showcasing her artistic ability to take on another genre (she has already conquered country and pop) as well as highlighting a maturity that makes folklore a universally appealing listen. folklore’s popularity and success will also hold huge sway over whether it wins the category, and due to instantly becoming the number one selling album of 2020, it is safe to say it has this in abundance. Therefore, although an album release from Taylor Swift was far from expected this year, a win for best album at the Grammys should be anything but surprising.

An album that should have been nominated: Fetch The Bolt Cutters- Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple did get a nomination for Best Alternative Album so maybe to say snubbed is a bit harsh on my part. However, the rest of the Album Of The Year nominees all seem rather meek in comparison to the triumph that is Fetch The Bolt Cutters. Perhaps she wasn’t nominated in fear that the music industry couldn’t face the heat of another cutting speech like that of hers at 1997’s MTV awards – which is worth a watch if you have the time. Their fear might have been justified to be fair because Fetch The Bolt Cutters presents Apple more willing than ever to speak candidly. Shouting lines like “kick me under the table all you want, I won’t shut up”, there is an addictive ferocity to her unfiltered lyrics which makes it one of the most powerful albums of female free speech and self-empowerment I have heard. A truly formidable feminist album. Plus, I simply adore how drums and percussion are the main instruments on stage here, as it adds extra weight and intensity to every syllable of Apple’s scathing lyrics. If this category truly wished to reflect Album Of The Year, Fetch The Bolt Cutters should have been first on the list.

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Song of the Year- Emily Harvie, Deputy Muse Editor

The song I want to win:  ‘Everything I Wanted’- Billie Eilish

The song I want to win is Billie Eilish’s ‘Everything I Wanted’. The song highlights Eilish’s infamous haunting sound and this is reflected poignantly through the eerie nature of the lyrics. Eilish discusses her relationship with fame and with her brother and exhibits her immense talent despite her age. She swept the floor with her competition last year, and I predict this year she will pick up a few more trophies to add to the collection. Maybe with a second Song of the Year win?

The song I think will win:  ‘I Can’t Breathe’- H.E.R.

My prediction for the actual winner this year is H.E.R.’s ‘I Can’t Breathe’. The most powerful song on the list of nominations, this track emerged from the horrors of the summer and was influenced heavily by the death of George Floyd. The song deserves to be H.E.R.’s first win in this category and her previous track record of numerous nominations and two wins gives a good chance for her to win. However, I do hope The Grammys understand the worth of this song and haven’t just nominated it for the powerful message it delivers. This does not deserve to be a token nomination, but if The Weeknd’s snub is anything to go by, this could be an interesting category to watch on the big night.

A song which should have been nominated:  ‘Blinding Lights’- The Weeknd

It’s no secret that some people are ever so slightly unhappy with the Grammys this year for their snub of The Weekend and his snub in the Song of the Year category is another area where his talents have been looked over. In response to his snub, he has called The Grammys ‘corrupt’ and the popularity of this song alone may be enough to clarify his statement. With a total of three wins and ten nominations in previous years, it’s quite a surprise, and an injustice, that he has not been nominated this year.

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Best New Artist- Alex Thompson, Former Muse Editor and Social Media Secretary

The artist I want to win:  Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher was one of my favourite albums of 2020, a unique and understated alt-rock album that combined beautifully melancholic vocals with some incredible instrumental and production. It’s one of the more low-key nominations, but it’s hard to deny the impact this artist has had on the music community this year.

The artist I think will win:  Megan Thee Stallion

It's undeniable that 2020 has been Megan Thee Stallion’s year. While I loved her 2018 and 2019 albums, this has really been her breakthrough year. Going from an under-the-radar name in rap to one of the biggest artists on the planet, Megan's rise to fame has been astronomical. Although she might not be my personal pick, it would be dumb to not give this one to Thee Stallion herself.

An artist who should have been nominated: Pop Smoke

Although receiving nominations in the hip hop categories, Pop Smoke’s absence in some of the other categories is notable. His death earlier this year shook the music community, as he was one of the most promising and unique young talents in the Brooklyn drill scene and seemed to just be finding his stride. A true talent who will be missed, and who’s impact on 2020 has been undeniable. It would have been good to see Smoke get a nomination outside of the hip hop categories but I think that says more about the Grammy selection process than anything else.

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