Grammy Awards: Olivia Rodrigo dominates nominations for 2022

By Mark Savage
BBC Music Correspondent

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Olivia Rodrigo is the biggest breakthrough artist of 2021

Olivia Rodrigo has emerged as the front-runner for next year's Grammy Awards, with nominations in all four of the main categories.

The 18-year-old is up for best album, best new artist, record of the year and song of the year, for Drivers License.

She faces competition from Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X in all of those categories, except best new artist.

Abba also received their first ever Grammy nomination in the record of the year category.

The Swedish band are recognised for their bittersweet comeback single, I Still Have Faith In You, which was released in September.

Taylor Swift also picks up her second consecutive album of the year nomination, for Evermore. She won the award earlier this year for its companion album, Folklore.

British musicians are relatively thin on the ground, but Ed Sheeran's Bad Habits is up for song of the year; while Arlo Parks and Glass Animals make the shortlist for best new artist.

Coldplay also receive their 36th Grammy nod, for the single Higher Power (best pop group performance) and Paul McCartney is recognised for his lockdown album McCartney III (best rock album) and the track Find My Way (best rock song).

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Jon Batiste, best known as the keyboard player on Stephen Colbert's US chat show, received the most nominations overall

Although relatively unknown in the UK, the jazz keyboardist Jon Batiste leads the nominations, with 11 in total - recognising both his eclectic solo album We Are and the soundtrack to the Pixar film, Soul.

A member of a New Orleans musical dynasty, the musician says it is "hard to put into words" how he feels following the news. "It's astonishment, shock, awe, gratefulness."

Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and H.E.R. follow Batiste with eight nominations apiece. Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo are close behind with seven.

"Many dreams have come true for me this year but this one is probably the most meaningful," said Rodrigo on learning of her nomination.

"This is unreal!" added Billie Eilish, who could set a record by winning her third consecutive record of the year award for Happier Than Ever.

"Such amazing news to wake up to. I could scream."

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Eilish already has seven Grammy awards

Meanwhile, Korean pop sensation BTS miss out on the main categories, receiving a single nomination for pop duo/group performance.

The group's monster hit Butter, which spent 10 weeks at number one in the US, is nominated alongside Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's I Get A Kick Out Of You, Justin Bieber's Lonely, Coldplay's Higher Power and Doja Cat's Kiss Me More.

This year's ballot also makes Jay-Z the most-nominated artist in Grammy history.

He had been tied with legendary record producer Quincy Jones on 80, but surges ahead with three new nominations, including two in the best rap song category, for collaborations with DMX and Kanye West.

The nominees were announced at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, with help from Billie Eilish, H.E.R., Eurovision winners Måneskin and BTS themselves.

With almost 22,000 songs and albums submitted for consideration, the shortlists in the main categories were expanded from eight to 10 nominees for the first time.

"We're living in a time of extraordinary growth in music," explained Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. "Over 60,000 songs a day are being released. With so much more music available. There's a lot more excellence to recognise and celebrate."

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BTS made history as the first K-Pop act to earn a Grammy nomination last year

The Grammys also made sweeping changes to their rules for 2022, after The Weeknd was controversially shut out of this year's awards.

Organisers subsequently scrapped dozens of anonymous committees that had the ability to overrule votes in 72 of the 86 categories, allowing rank-and-file voters to choose the shortlists instead.

Veiled in secrecy, the committees had been accused of vote-rigging, favouritism and racism. Several high profile artists including Drake, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd himself, boycotted recent ceremonies in protest.

The change seems to have boosted the chances of artists with broad appeal, such as Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, whose duets album Love For Sale generated six nominations.

Who is Olivia Rodrigo?

Image source, Stefan Kohli
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The star is an only child, who started singing when she was in kindergarten in Temecula, California

This time last year, Olivia Rodrigo was best known as the star of the Disney series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

Then, in January, a few weeks before her 18th birthday, she released the lovelorn piano ballad Drivers License - which became an instant, but organic, global hit.

The teenager followed it up with Sour, a debut album inspired by the same heartbreak (allegedly her Disney co-star Joshua Bassett).

Showcasing her piercing, precise lyrics and precociously accomplished songwriting, it saw her hailed as "pop's newest icon" and hit number one on both sides of the Atlantic.

In its incessantly hooky choruses, Sour embraced Rodrigo's musical inspirations, from Taylor Swift to Paramore. Both artists later received writing credits for their influence, and therefore share her album of the year nomination.

If Rodrigo sweeps all of the "big four" categories next January, she'll be only the third person in history to do so, after Christopher Cross and Billie Eilish.

But she faces stiff competition from Bruno Mars' impeccably-crafted soul band Silk Sonic and, of course, from Swift herself.

Who else is up for the biggest prizes?

The so-called "big four" are the Grammys' most prestigious prizes. This year's field looks like this.

Album of the year

  • We Are - Jon Batiste
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga - Love For Sale
  • Justin Bieber - Justice
  • Doja Cat - Planet Her
  • Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever
  • H.E.R. - Back Of My Mind
  • Lil Nas X - Montero
  • Olivia Rodrigo - Sour
  • Taylor Swift - Evermore
  • Donda - Kanye West

Song of the year (recognising the songwriters)

  • Bad Habits - Ed Sheeran
  • A Beautiful Noise - Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile
  • Drivers License - Olivia Rodrigo
  • Fight For You - H.E.R.
  • Happier Than Ever - Billie Eilish
  • Kiss Me More - Doja Cat ft Sza
  • Montero (Call Me By Your Name) - Lil Nas X
  • Peaches - Justin Bieber ft Daniel Caesar & Giveon
  • Leave The Door Open - Silk Sonic
  • Right On Time - Brandi Carlile
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Image caption,
Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars have received multiple nominations for their joint project, Silk Sonic

Record of the year (recognising the whole recording)

  • I Still Have Faith In You - Abba
  • Freedom - Jon Batiste
  • I Get A Kick Out Of You - Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
  • Peaches - Justin Bieber ft Daniel Caesar & Giveon
  • Right On Time - Brandi Carlile
  • Kiss Me More - Doja Cat ft Sza
  • Happier Than Ever - Billie Eilish
  • Montero (Call Me By Your Name) - Lil Nas X
  • Drivers License - Olivia Rodrigo
  • Leave The Door Open - Silk Sonic

Best new artist

  • Arooj Aftab
  • Jimmie Allen
  • Baby Keem
  • Finneas
  • Glass Animals
  • Japanese Breakfast
  • The Kid Laroi
  • Arlo Parks
  • Olivia Rodrigo
  • Saweetie

Who didn't get a nomination?

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Dua Lipa declined to submit her hit single Levitating for an award

This year, the Grammys are actually recognising a 13-month time period, from 1 September, 2020, to 30 September, 2021.

Even so, that rules out some of pop's biggest new albums, including Adele's 30, Ed Sheeran's = and Abba's Voyage.

Also absent is The Weeknd, who is refusing to participate in the Grammys after being snubbed last year. Ariana Grande and Doja Cat also declined to submit their duets with the star for awards, in an apparent show of solidarity. But Kanye West didn't get the memo: His single Hurricane, which features The Weeknd and Lil Baby, made it onto the best melodic rap song shortlist.

Taylor Swift also withheld her re-recorded version of Fearless from consideration. The original, released in 2008, is itself an album of the year winner.

And Dua Lipa failed to submit her 4x-platinum chart hit Levitating, apparently to avoid recognising featured rapper DaBaby after he made homophobic comments earlier this year.

Country star Morgan Wallen also failed to receive a nomination after being filmed using a racial slur earlier this year.

The singer, whose album Dangerous is the biggest-selling country record of 2021, was ruled ineligible at the Academy of Country Music Awards, but had been allowed to enter the Grammys, only for voters to pass him over in favour of acts like Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson.

How has the voting changed this year?

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Kacey Musgraves has protested at being moved from the country category to the (more competitive) pop field

The Grammys are ostensibly decided by the 12,000 voting members of the Recording Academy.

But for decades they were overseen by a shadowy group of "secret committees", who narrowed down the top 20 finalists in each category to the final shortlist of between five and eight nominees.

Those committees were accused of corruption and insider dealing, most notably by ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan, who said votes had been overruled and artists promoted onto shortlists without merit (the Academy called her allegations "categorically false").

It came to a head this time last year, when R&B singer The Weeknd was overlooked in the nominations list, despite his single Blinding Lights having become one of the best-selling songs of the century.

"The Grammys remain corrupt," he tweeted in response. "You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency."

In April, the Grammys announced the committees would be scrapped; with regular voters getting to decide the shortlists in every category - including the "big four": Song of the year, record of the year, best new artist and best album.

Even so, the awards have managed to stir up controversy, thanks to a separate group of committees: The steering committees, who decide which prizes artists are eligible for.

The Nashville screening committee decided that Star-Crossed, the latest record by country superstar (and 2018 album of the year winner) Kacey Musgraves was actually a pop album, not country.

Musgraves responded on Instagram with her middle fingers raised. "You can take the girl out of the country (genre), but you can't take the country out of the girl," she wrote.

In the end, the album failed to receive a single nomination in the more competitive pop field. The single Camera Roll, however, sneaked into the best country song shortlist.

What happened at the 2021 Grammys?

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