Entertainment

Beyoncé leads 2021 Grammy nominations, The Weeknd is shut out

The first batch of nominees for the 2021 Grammy Awards was revealed during a livestream held Tuesday by the Recording Academy's interim president and CEO, Harvey Mason Jr.

Beyoncé becomes second-most nominated act in the history of the awards show

Beyoncé, centre, is shown in a scene from her visual album Black is King. The pop star scored multiple Grammy nominations on Tuesday, making her the leading contender with nine. (Travis Matthews/Disney+ via The Associated Press)

Pop star Beyoncé's anthem about Black pride scored multiple Grammy nominations on Tuesday, making her the leading contender with nine.

Beyoncé picked up song and record of the year bids for Black Parade, which she released on Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. The song, which reached the Top 40 on the pop charts, is also nominated for best R&B song and best R&B performance.

Beyoncé's Black Is King film that highlighted Black art, music, history and fashion is up for best music film while Brown Skin Girl, a song dedicated to dark- and brown-skinned women, is nominated for best music video. The singer also earned three nominations for her slick guest appearance on Megan Thee Stallion's No. 1 hit Savage, including record of the year, best rap performance and best rap song.

A winner of 24 Grammys, Beyoncé becomes the second-most nominated act in the history of the awards show with 79 nominations. She is tied with Paul McCartney, who earned a nomination this year for best boxed or special limited edition package.

Beyoncé is only behind her husband, Jay-Z, and Quincy Jones, who have both earned 80 nominations each. Jay-Z picked up three nominations this year for his contributions to Beyoncé's songs: He co-wrote Black Parade and Savage, thus earning nominations for song of the year, best R&B song and best rap song. Jay-Z has won 22 Grammys throughout his career.

Beyoncé's domination this year came as a surprise since the singer did not release a new album. Other surprises include Canadian pop star The Weeknd being completely shut out of the nominations, despite having a No. 1 album and multiple hit singles and winning the coveted Super Bowl halftime performance slot. Luke Combs, who dominated the country charts and set records on streaming services this year, was also surprisingly shut out of nominations.

The Weeknd accepts the award for favourite male soul/R&B artist at the American Music Awards on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Despite winning big at the AMAs, the Canadian pop star received no nominations for the 2021 Grammys. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/The Associated Press)

When Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy's interim president and CEO, was asked if he was surprised The Weeknd didn't earn a single nomination, he told The Associated Press: "You know, there's so many nominations and there's only so many slots, it's really tough to predict what the voters are going to vote for in any given year. I try not to be too surprised."

Instead, multiple nominations went to Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Ricch, who each earned six nominations and followed Beyoncé as the second-most nominated acts.

Lipa, who won two Grammys last year, earned bids for album of the year with Future Nostalgia, as well as song and record of the year for her hit Don't Start Now. Swift, whose last two albums didn't garner nominations for album of the year, is competing for the top prize with her surprise album folklore. If she wins, she would become the first artist to win album of the year three times.

Justin Bieber, meanwhile, came out on top as the leading Canadian nominee. The Stratford, Ont.-raised pop superstar picked up four nominations this year, including best pop vocal album for Changes, pop solo performance for Yummy and pop duo for Intentions, a song he sings with rapper Quavo.

He also shared a nomination for best country duo or group performance with Nashville act Dan + Shay for their hit single 10,000 Hours.

Bieber was followed closely behind by Kaytranada, the Montreal producer who picked up three nods, including one in the banner category best new artist.

Toronto rapper Drake scored three nominations, including two for Laugh Now, Cry Later for best rap song and best melodic rap performance.

Justin Bieber performs at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. Bieber was the most-nominated Canadian for the 2021 Grammys, picking up four in total. (ABC/The Associated Press)

Tracks competing with Beyoncé's Black Parade and Savage for record of the year include DaBaby and Ricch's Rockstar, Post Malone's Circles, Lipa's Don't Start Now, Billie Eilish's Everything I Wanted, Black Pumas's Colours and Doja Cat's Say So. The latter track was produced by controversial music figure Dr. Luke, and he earns his first Grammy nominations since 2014, the year his former collaborator Kesha accused him of sexual assault. Dr. Luke, who used the moniker Tyson Trax on the credits for Doja Cat's song, has vigorously denied the allegations.

Black Parade, Don't Start Now, Everything I Wanted and Circles are also nominated for song of the year — a songwriter's award — along with Swift's cardigan, Ricch's The Box, JP Saxe and Julia Michaels's If the World Was Ending and H.E.R.'s I Can't Breathe, her protest anthem addressing police brutality.

Protest music sees recognition

Several songs that emerged following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were nominated for Grammys, including Lil Baby's The Bigger Picture (best rap song, best rap performance), Anderson .Paak's Lockdown (best melodic rap performance, best music video), Mickey Guyton's Black Like Me (best country solo performance), as well as Beyoncé's Black Parade.

"I think it's meaningful. I think it's reflective of what's gone on in our world," Mason Jr. said of multiple protest songs earning nominations this year.

"Musicians and artists and writers and producers, they write about what's going on in their lives. We tend to be fairly emotional people. When there's things happening, it's going to come out in our music and our art. It only makes sense that those types of songs would be nominated and celebrated by our voters. It really resonated with people. You listen to some of those songs and can't help but be moved."

Megan Thee Stallion, who released her highly anticipated debut album last week after finding success with hit singles and mixtapes since 2018, scored four nominations, including best new artist. She will compete with rapper-singer Doja Cat, pop singer Noah Cyrus, country singer Ingrid Andress, multi-genre DJ-producer Kaytranada, rappers Chika and D Smoke, and indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers, who earned four nominations and helped female acts dominate in the rock categories.

WATCH | Grammy nominations for best rock performance:

Nominees for best rock performance and best rock song include Bridgers, Fiona Apple, HAIM, Grace Potter, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Big Thief, led by Adrianne Lenker. Female performers also dominated in the best country album category, including Andress, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark and Ashley McBryde. The foursome Little Big Town, which features two female vocalists, rounds out the five nominees.

K-pop kings BTS earned their first-ever Grammy nomination after years of having success on the pop charts. They will compete for best pop duo/group performance with their No. 1 hit, Dynamite.

Several acts earned posthumous nominations, including John Prine (best American Roots performance, best American Roots song), Nipsey Hussle (best rap performance), Leonard Cohen (best folk album), Pop Smoke (best rap performance) and songwriter LaShawn Daniels (best gospel performance/song).

And A-list entertainers hoping to reach EGOT status are getting a chance to earn their Grammy Award, including Renee Zellweger, who is nominated for best traditional pop vocal album for Judy — a performance that won her a second Academy Award — while Meryl Streep is nominated for best spoken world album for Charlotte's Web

Streep's competition includes MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, journalist Ronan Farrow and Jeopardy! record-holder Ken Jennings, who is nominated for reading Alex Trebek — The Answer Is ... . Tiffany Haddish, Jerry Seinfeld, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan and Bill Burr are nominated for best comedy album.

Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, scored only a single nomination this year — for contemporary Christian music album for Jesus Is King. Others who were snubbed include country performers the Chicks and Morgan Wallen, R&B singers Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor, Chris Brown and Brandy, and late rapper Juice WRLD.

Songs and albums released between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020 were eligible for nominations this year. Winners will be announced at the live show on Jan. 31.

With files from The Canadian Press

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