Women dominate music's Grammy nominations, SZA tops with nine

This combination of file pictures created on November 10, 2023 shows, US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift (L) during her Eras Tour at Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California, 7 August, 2023; and US R&B singer Solána Imani Rowe, known professionally as SZA, at the Global Citizen Festival in Accra, on 24 September, 2022.

It will be a woman's world at the upcoming Grammys, with SZA scooping the most chances for gold ahead of the star-studded music gala with nine, as pop's superstars including Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish dominated across the categories.

Olivia Rodrigo, Phoebe Bridgers and the indie rock supergroup boygenius also will strong contenders at the 4 February event in Los Angeles, 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 rule the night, 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.

The already decorated Eilish has six chances for a Grammy thanks to her work on Greta Gerwig's summer smash ‘Barbie’ film.

The soundtrack, which also features Dua Lipa, earned a total of 11 nominations in the major categories and the visual media fields.

Rodrigo, who already has three Grammy wins under her belt including Best New Artist, earned six nods this time around and will vie for the night's top awards.

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 five nominations.

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's already the toast of the music world as she continues her monumental Eras tour.

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

Women on top

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 go viral on loop and collaborate with Swift.

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

Rihanna picked up a nomination for the song she worked on for the ‘Black Panther’ sequel, but the best visual media category will likely go to one of four songs from the ‘Barbie’ movie.

That award is for songwriters, and includes tracks performed by Eilish, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, Dua Lipa and Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken in the film.

Bernie Sanders -- yes, that Bernie Sanders -- has a second chance to win a Grammy in the audiobook and narration category.

The leftist senator's reading of ‘It's Ok to Be Angry About Capitalism’ is up against efforts by Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, William Shatner and Rick Rubin in one of the night's quirkier categories.

The Rolling Stones earned a nomination for Best Rock Song for ‘Angry’, while Grammy catnip Foo Fighters is poised to take home prizes in the rock fields, where boygenius could also be a factor.

'Dang good 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 honors white, male acts.

"Women had dang good music -- some of the biggest records of the year and the biggest songs," Recording Academy chief executive Harvey Mason Jr told The Los Angeles Times. "And our voters were obviously moved by a lot of it."

The sea change comes as scandal continues to brew within the ranks of the Academy.

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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