SZA leads Grammy nominations as women dominate top categories

It will be a woman’s world at this season’s Grammys, with SZA scooping the most chances for gold on music’s biggest night with nine, as pop’s superstars including Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish dominated across the categories.

Olivia Rodrigo, Phoebe Bridgers and the rock supergroup boygenius are also strong contenders at the February 4 gala, where music from the blockbuster film Barbie will almost certainly clean up, according to the nominations list released Friday.

SZA – the acerbic, R&B risk-taker whose layered tales of romance earned her acclaim with her debut Ctrl in 2017 and saw her top the charts again with 2022’s SOS – is poised to reign over the gala, with nominations spanning the categories.

And Bridgers, one-third of the supergroup boygenius with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, earned seven nominations while the collective group earned six, both in the top fields as well as in the rock categories.

Phoebe Bridgers of boygenius performs at Coachella in California in April. Photo: AP

The already decorated Eilish has six chances for a Grammy thanks to her work on Greta Gerwig’s summer smash Barbie film, whose soundtrack that also features Dua Lipa earned nominations in the major categories and the visual media fields.

In-demand producer Jack Antonoff scored six nominations for his work, notably with Swift and Lana Del Rey, the baroque pop singer whose album Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd earned her several nominations.

And if Swift’s Midnights wins Album of the Year, it would be a record-breaking fourth win of the prize for the 33-year-old, who is already on top of the music world on the heels of her huge Eras tour.

She’s currently tied as the top winner of the most prestigious Grammy with Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.

Taylor Swift performs at the Monumental stadium during her Eras Tour concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Thursday. Photo: AP

Jazz polymath Jon Batiste is the sole man up for Record and Album of the Year, two years after he beat out pop’s royalty to dominate the 2022 gala. He earned six nominations this go-around, as did Miley Cyrus and country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark.

Coveted engineer Serban Ghenea – who mixed Swift’s Midnights – meanwhile earned seven nods.

Rising R&B star Victoria Monet also finished with seven nominations, including for the prestigious Record of the Year and Best New Artist prizes.

Industry watchers predict Ice Spice will win the latter category, after a banner year that saw the bubbly Bronx rapper repeatedly go viral and collaborate with Swift.

And pop futurist Janelle Monae earned her second Album of the Year nomination for The Age of Pleasure.

New Grammy rules say only human creators can win, amid rise of AI music

The banner year for music’s women is a long time coming for many critics of the Recording Academy – the institution behind the Grammys – which for many years has faced flak that it overwhelmingly honours white, male acts.

In 2019, the former chief of the powerful institution, Neil Portnow, left his post after saying that women artists should “step up” if they want more recognition, comments he delivered at the #MeToo movement’s peak.

This week, Portnow was sued in Manhattan for allegedly drugging and raping an unnamed woman artist in 2018.

The suit also accuses the Academy of negligence, saying it protected Portnow and dismissed accounts of his abuse. Both the organisation and Portnow vehemently deny the allegations.

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