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The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

ARTS COMMENTARY: Impressive nominee lineup sets up for successful Grammy Awards

The nominations for this upcoming Grammy Awards are packed with hit albums.
Photos obtained from Apple Music
The nominations for this upcoming Grammy Awards are packed with hit albums.

This past year was filled with standout music and performers. Between songs like “Flowers,” “Kill Bill” and “Anti-Hero,” 2023 was a memorable year for the music industry. The 66th annual Grammy awards, set to be held on Feb. 4, will honor the best songs, albums and artists. 

The “Big Four” categories—Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist—are the most prestigious awards for a music artist to win. Since the announcement of the 2024 nominations on Nov. 10, there has been much speculation about  who will sweep in multiple categories and who will fall flat. 

Arguably the biggest Grammy category, Album of the Year is awarded to the full length album that is the best overall. A few standout songs or great lyrics with only decent production will not cut it for this section; Album of the Year only goes to the best of the best. 

After almost two years of waiting, Olivia Rodrigo fans everywhere fell in love with her highly anticipated sophomore album, “Guts.” The collection is stronger than her first, with hit after hit. Her intricate words and powerful yet delicate vocals pair well with Dan Nigro’s production. Standout songs “vampire,” “get him back!,” “making the bed,” and “bad idea right?” make the album what it is, but there is not a bad song on the album. It will likely secure yet another Grammy for Rodrigo. Another album slated to win is SZA’s “SOS.” Although her first album was released in 2017, this collection skyrocketed SZA to stardom, with  highlights like “Kill Bill,” “F2F,” “Nobody Gets Me” and “Special.” These songs, and many others, discuss insecurities in relationships and within oneself, a relatable theme for many listeners. SZA’s satisfying vocals and the echoing sounds created in production make this album what it is, an exploration of oneself. SZA only has one Grammy thus far, but her acclaimed sophomore album is sure to earn her many more. 

Record of the Year is a category dedicated to the vocal performance, production and engineering of a song. The production is put on display over compelling and creative lyrics. 

SZA’s “Kill Bill,” hit single from “SOS,” is likely to win this category. Not only did the song dominate the charts and social media for weeks, but the instrumentals were also unlike anything ever heard before. The catchy beat pulls listeners in and accompanied by a memorable hook, “Kill Bill” is a standout to win Record of the Year. SZA leads the nominations this year, with 9 total for “SOS.” Another strong nomination belongs to Boygenius, an indie-folk band with members Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. Boygenius took a hiatus after releasing their self-titled 2018 EP, then released their first full length album, “The Record,” on March 31. Songs like “Cool About It” and “Not Strong Enough” soared onto the charts almost immediately. Nominated for Record of the Year, “Not Strong Enough” perfectly bends the vocals of the three with calming yet powerful instrumentals. The catchy repeating of the lyric “Always an angel, never a God” pulled audiences in and surely helped the song to secure a spot in the nominations list for Record of the Year. 

While appearing similar, the coveted Song of the Year category differs greatly from the previous category. The award honors a song for the lyrics and message rather than vocal performance and production value. 

With its instant stardom from the pivotal scene in “Barbie,” Billie Eilish will likely take home her 8th Grammy win for “What Was I Made For.” The song, played behind a heartwarming montage showcasing girlhood, speaks to many. The record contains metaphorical lyrics but has a straightforward message of questioning one’s place in the world. Eilish’s airy and elegant vocals pair well with the delicate lyricism encompassed. Another song slated to win this category is Taylor Swift’s hit single off of “Midnights,” “Anti-Hero.” Swift, 12-time Grammy Award winner, is known for her creative and unique lyrics but has never taken home this award. “Anti-Hero” has strong themes of insecurity and self-doubt prevailing throughout the song. Intricate lyrics are paired with a simple chorus to portray the message to listeners. With this being her seventh nomination in the category, it’s time that Swift is finally recognized for her timeless lyricism. 

The fourth category in the “Big Four” is Best New Artist, awarded to a performer who recently broke through into the industry, leaving a large and lasting impression. 

Rap star Ice Spice came into the popular music scene this year with a bang with her debut EP “Like..?.” and songs “Munch (Feelin’ U),” “In Ha Mood,” and “Barbie World,” featured in the “Barbie” soundtrack, all dominated the radio and the popular pop-culture sphere. Social media caused her rise to stardom. Ice Spice is a name that all of America’s youth recognizes, taking over the charts and forever impacting rap music. Ice Spice is certainly a lock for Best New Artist winner. Noah Kahan has also made a large imprint on the folk-country side of the music industry this year with his third studio album, “Stick Season.” With collaborations from Post Malone, Zach Bryan, Hozier and many others, Noah Kahan erupted in various genres and commanded the attention of many. His popularity began with his hit song “Stick Season,” but others like “You’re Gonna Go Far” and “Dial Drunk” are also topping the charts. Noah Kahan’s relatable lyrics and raspy tone secure him a top spot in the running for Grammy’s Best New Artist. 

Grammy’s Recording Academy does not judge solely based upon popularity, but on the talent of the artist and intricacies behind the songs and albums. Many of this years’ releases have both: a top spot on the music charts and high quality lyrics, production and performance quality. With various hit nominations in the running, the 66th Grammy awards are sure to be memorable.

Behind the Byline
Molly Wolf, Managing Editor
Molly Wolf is a 2023-2024 Managing Editor for the Wessex Wire. When she is not spending time with her friends and family, she is usually scrolling through TikTok or listening to music. Her favorite singer is Taylor Swift and her favorite TV show is "Gilmore Girls." 
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