grammy award nominations for 2020 illustration by Ashawna Linyard for Caleb Dukes' article
2019 saw an amazing year of talented musicians and artists, and this list of the 2020 Grammy nominees tells who made it and who didn't. (Illustration by Ashawna Linyard, Georgia State University)

After a leak involving the number of accolades each artist received was accidentally released to the public a day early, this year’s Grammy nominations finally came out Nov. 20 and there were plenty of big names, big surprises and big celebrations. A few months ago I wrote about the likely list and while I was correct for many, I definitely missed the mark on a few others. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’ll let you decide. Below is a list and analysis of the big four categories.

Album of the Year

  • “I,I,” Bon Iver
  • “Norman F*****g Rockwell,” Lana Del Rey
  • “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” Billie Eilish
  • “thank u, next,” Ariana Grande
  • “I Used to Know Her,” H.E.R.
  • “7,” Lil Nas X
  • “Cuz I Love You (Deluxe),” Lizzo
  • “Father of the Bride,” Vampire Weekend

I was way off in predicting this category. However, this is probably due to the Recording Academy’s very strange voting process. All academy members are allowed to vote in the general field, but the actual nominations are hand-picked by a select few Academy executives out of the top 20 choices. Generally, this is to uphold some semblance of the Grammy’s “exclusive” and “prestigious” reputation (because it isn’t just a popular vote) and to make sure the categories include a diverse range of genres. This year, that choice seems to have hurt the Grammys a little bit. The inclusion of albums that were not generally well-received, like “Father of the Bride” and “7” (which is actually just an EP), left many fans and critics quite confused. But on the up side, artists like Lana Del Rey and (likely winner) Ariana Grande, who were more than overdue for a general field nomination, finally saw some justice this year for their outstanding work. The biggest snub was probably Solange’s “When I Get Home.” The sonic masterpiece, which many considered to be a sure lock, was shockingly shut out of nominations entirely.

Record of the Year

  • “Hey, Ma,” Bon Iver
  • “bad guy,” Billie Eilish
  • “7 rings,” Ariana Grande
  • “Hard Place,” H.E.R.
  • “Talk,” Khalid
  • “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
  • “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo
  • “Sunflower,” Post Malone and Swae Lee

I got half of the Grammy nominees for this category and one of my guesses for song of the year got both record and song, so I was a little bit closer. Back when I was forming my predictions, I thought “7 rings” was a surefire winner, but as time has gone on, popularity has shifted. Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” (as well as her debut album) has spiked in expert predictions. And after “Old Town Road” had a record-breaking 17-week streak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, I definitely can’t rule it out anymore. However, what I really did not anticipate when making my predictions was Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.” The song was released over two years ago, which would usually disqualify it. But never underestimate the power of Lizzo, who received eight nominations, more than any other artist this year. The Recording Academy literally decided to bend the rules for her, now stating that the song need not have been written in the eligibility window, but only have risen to prominence. Now that it’s in the race, I’d basically bet on “Truth Hurts” all the way.

Song of the Year

  • “Always Remember Us This Way,” Artist: Lady Gaga
  • “bad guy,” Artist: Billie Eilish
  • “Bring My Flowers Now,” Artist: Tanya Tucker
  • “Hard Place,” Artist: H.E.R.
  • “Lover,” Artist: Taylor Swift
  • “Norman f*****g Rockwell,” Artist: Lana Del Rey
  • “Someone You Loved,” Artist: Lewis Capaldi
  • “Truth Hurts,” Artist: Lizzo

Hang on to your hats, folks, because this Grammy category really went wild. I only got one single song right and I don’t know how to feel about it. While there were some names I was not surprised to see (Eilish simply submitted a different song than I thought she would and, again, Lizzo used her magic to bend the Grammy rules), there were certainly some jaw-droppers, both good and bad. First, I was perplexed by Lady Gaga’s nomination for a relatively unknown “A Star Is Born” song and the inclusion of Tanya Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now.” Though that one was co-written by Grammy favorite Brandi Carlile. On the other hand, it was an absolute dream to see the titular track off Del Rey’s new album score some love when it wasn’t even a single. If I had to make a guess at who will win, though, it’s gotta be either “Truth Hurts” or “Lover,” one of the most beautiful and underrated songs Taylor Swift has ever written.

Best New Artist

  • Black Pumas
  • Billie Eilish
  • Lil Nas X
  • Lizzo
  • Maggie Rogers
  • Rosalía
  • Tank and the Bangas
  • Yola

I said it before and I’ll say it again: This is going to go to Billie Eilish. With the year she has had and the solid chance she already has to sweep album, record and song of the year, there’s no way it could go to anyone else. But if some strange glitch in the system happens and it does somehow go to someone else, it would be Lizzo. Remember when I said the Recording Academy bent its rules for her in the song and record categories? Well they did it here too, stating that her first few albums that would have made her ineligible to be considered “new” did not count because they were not released under big-name record labels with enough funding to give her a fair chance at finding fame before this new album. But Eilish and Lizzo aside, there are some other very strong names here, such as Lil Nas X, Maggie Rogers and the Latin pop giant Rosalía, whom I completely forgot about when forming my predictions. Needless to say, it’s going to be quite an exciting and interesting awards season.

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