Doja Cat, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, and Olivia Rodrigo, to name a few – yes, without a doubt.
H.E.R., Brandi Carlile, Tony Bennett, and Lady Gaga — OK, alright, that makes a little bit of sense now. After all, these are the Grammy Awards.
But what about Jon Batiste, the musician who has received the most nominations overall? And what about… Abba? Who would have thought it.
On Tuesday, the nominees for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be held in January, were released. The New York Times music team, comprised of writer Joe Coscarelli, chief pop music critic Jon Pareles, and pop music critic Jon Caramanica, is on hand to dissect the albums in question.
Yes, Batiste is a multihyphenate who works as the bandleader and musical director for CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” He has performed in a variety of genres. With a Golden Globe and an Academy Award already under his belt for Pixar’s “Soul,” in which he shared the award with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for outstanding original soundtrack, he’s likely to crop up anyplace music is performed — even promoting Madonna’s “Madame X” concert movie in Harlem with Madonna.
Although he didn’t win any awards, seeing him nominated in categories such as R&B, jazz, classical, and American roots, as well as in the general field (record and album of the year) alongside artists I expected to win (Rodrigo, Eilish, Taylor Swift, Doja Cat) was the kind of pleasant surprise that only the Grammys can provide on a consistent basis.
So, was this a genuine plot shift, or was this the most Grammys-worthy event that could have possible taken place. I’m conflicted because, on the one hand, it seemed as if we were moving away from this. Jacob Collier, on the other hand, was previously nominated for album of the year.
When we discussed the widespread popularity of the retro rock-soul band Black Pumas last year, we brought attention to a now-familiar Grammy sleight of hand: rather than nominating older musicians who’ve already long even though managed to pass the peak of their popularity, the show nominates younger musicians who make music in the old-fashioned way instead. That might refer to Black Pumas, or it could refer to Billie Eilish.
To the that close, Jon Batiste, who is 35 years old but who pointedly keeps going the long tradition of New Orleans music, and who has in recent years evolved into an institutionalist, a slightly less progressive version of his bandleader competitor, Questlove of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” is the bandleader for this year.
It goes without saying that the Grammys are the ultimate institution, and I wouldn’t be astonished if, in a decade or two, Batiste takes over as the show’s musical director for the first time. The fact that he is also the bandleader on the most popular late-night show on CBS, which broadcasts the Grammys, is not evidence of a fix, but it serves as a reminder that the presumed and actual audiences for the awards show and the network are both older — and that, at least in this echo chamber, and perhaps only in this echo chamber, Batiste qualifies as a pop superstar.
In addition to those musicians, the song and record of the year lists include Brandi Carlile, Ed Sheeran, Silk Sonic, and Abba’s “I Still Have Faith in You,” which was reportedly a record that impacted people. As a result, Halsey, Ariana Grande, BTS, Megan Thee Stallion, Chris Stapleton, and Tyler, the Creator will not be nominated in the big categories, which will be disappointing to many.
Kacey Musgraves, the winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for best album, was also eligible for the award this year for her newest album, “Star-Crossed,” which was not recognised as part of a body of work. Instead, she received just two nominations in total: for best country song and best country solo performance for “Camera Roll,” despite the fact that the album was apparently withdrawn from the country categories by the Recording Academy’s category police due to its content.