The 2021 awards season is almost upon us, and, despite the new COVID-19 regulations, the award shows are highly anticipated. Last week, the Grammys officially released their list of nominations for this year’s award show, which will air Jan. 31 on CBS. In an interview with Variety, Interim President of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr. said, “I can’t remember a time when we’ve ever had this much range of genres and different types of musicians and music all in the [top four] categories. It’s actually amazing.” The list of nominees featured a few surprises in the country and rock genres: more women than ever were nominated in historically male-dominated categories.
For the first time in Grammy history, all five nominated artists for the Best Country Album award are female. Women also fill four of the five nominee slots for best country song and best country solo performance, making this the most equally represented award season for female country artists in the Grammys’ 63-year history.
In addition to nominating more women than ever before, the Grammy nominations this year also feature a few deeply political songs that are breaking the mold of their respective genres. For example, country artist Mickey Guyton will be the first-ever Black, female solo performer nominated in the genre and the first Black nominee in country music since the mid-70s. Her nominated song, “Black Like Me,” unabashedly discusses the hardships of growing up as a Black woman in America and was released in June amid global upheaval following the police killing of George Floyd. In speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement, Mason Jr. said, “I feel we have an obligation and platform to help drive change in whatever small way we can.”
All six nominations for best rock performance also went to women or bands with female lead singers. One of the nominated artists, Haim, the dynamic band of three sisters, commented on this historic nomination in an interview with Variety, “We’re so happy to see that everybody nominated in the rock performance category as a woman. It’s f—ing awesome.” Women also filled three out of five nominations in the best rock song and best alternative album categories, showing another historic shift in traditionally male-dominated genres. Among the nominees for the Best Rock Album Award though, Grace Potter is the only woman to be recognized, with the other slots being filled by men.
The greater award categories for record of the year, album of the year, and song of the year have maintained a balance between male and female artist nominees over the years, and have continued this equal representation with the new list of nominees. Women take the majority in the record of the year category, with artists like Dua Lipa and Beyonce filling five of the eight spots. While the Album of the Year Award nominations are split evenly this year, women lead the song of the year category, filling six of eight nominations.
Daily Show Host Trevor Noah, is set to host the awards in January, and although the Grammys have not officially spoken about how the show will be formatted, Noah hinted at the event being virtual in a recent statement. With Noah hosting and a historic number of women up for awards, this year’s Grammys will provide a refreshing start to 2021, bringing people together with music after a year of immense division and hardship.