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Pop on top as Beyonce, Swift, Dua Lipa lead Grammy nods

            Pop queen Beyonce on Tuesday led the Grammys pack with nine nominations, as music prepares to celebrate its hitmakers in a year that saw the coronavirus crisis deal devastating blows to the industry.

            Coming in second with six nods were Dua Lipa – who dropped a danceable album of club hits just as venues began closing in March – and pop shapeshifter Taylor Swift, whose folk-tinged surprise pandemic album appeared to bring her back into the Recording Academy’s good graces.

            Rapper Roddy Ricch – who won a trophy last year for his collaboration with the late artist Nipsey Hussle – also received six chances at Grammy gold, including for Song of the Year, which honors songwriting, for his hit “The Box”.

            Beyonce’s sweeping “Black Parade” — released in June amid explosive nationwide anti-racism protests after another spate of police killings of Black Americans — will vie for Record and Song of the Year honors on January 31.

            “Put your fists up in the air, show Black love,” sings Beyonce — the Grammy’s most nominated female artist ever with 79 — on the track.

            The 39-year-old megastar boasts 24 Grammy wins to her name – but notoriously lost Album of the Year in 2017 to British balladeer Adele, a controversial snub often cited as an example of the Academy’s diversity issues.

            Swift, a former Grammy darling whose work the Academy pushed aside in recent years, bagged a coveted Album of the Year nomination for “Folklore”. Its single “Cardigan” is up for Song of the Year.

            In addition to Beyonce and Ricch, rivals in that category include last year’s big winner Billie Eilish and warbling rapper Post Malone.

            Bluesy rock singer and songwriter Brittany Howard – known for her leading vocals with the band Alabama Shakes – jumped into the spotlight on her own with five nominations after releasing her first solo album “Jaime”.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

            Justin Bieber snagged four nominations, including his first country nod for his work on the song “10,000 Hours” by Dan and Shay.

            After sweeping the general categories at last year’s gala Eilish also picked up another four nominations, as did rapper DaBaby.

            Following a banner year, Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion received her first Grammy nominations, posting four.

            The remix of her wildly popular song “Savage” featuring Beyonce is up for several awards including Record of the Year – a collaboration that helped Queen Bey snag the lead spot.

            The Black Lives Matter movement appeared to catch the Academy’s notice: in addition to Beyonce’s Black power anthem, Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” – released during the summer’s protests – is twice-nominated.

            And H.E.R. – the soulful 23-year-old R&B performer with two Grammy wins under her belt – picked up a Song of the Year nod for her BLM-themed song “I Can’t Breathe”.

            Women-led acts posted a strong showing in the top categories, and also swept key nominations by genre, including for Best Country Album and Best Rock Performance.

            Californian indie musician Phoebe Bridgers is up for four awards including Best New Artist, and the reclusive Fiona Apple is up for three awards in the rock and alternative categories.

            The artist famously disdainful of the industry was shut out of the general field, however, despite releasing the critically acclaimed album “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” – the first record in nearly a decade to receive a perfect-10 rating from authoritative music publication Pitchfork.

            While the 2021 slate appeared another step forward in the Grammys bid to improve diversity within its ranks and better reflect the charts, a number of notable snubs had social media chirping that much was still to be done.

            Though widely tipped as a potential leader at this year’s awards, Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd did not receive a single nomination.

            Harry Styles, formerly of One Direction, appeared poised to enter the top fields traditionally disdainful of boy bands – but was instead relegated to the pop categories.

            Lady Gaga suffered the same fate, with “Chromatica”, her album released during the pandemic, bagging only two nominations.

            And the K-pop phenomenon BTS received just one nomination, for best performance by a pop duo or group.

            The nominations were rolled out by stars across the globe speaking via video chat. Trevor Noah is set to host the 63rd annual Grammys, the format of which remains unclear.

            Other awards shows have been forced to go partially or fully virtual in light of pandemic restrictions on large gatherings.

            The Academy’s interim president Harvey Mason Jr. dedicated this year’s ceremony to the resiliency of the music industry as well as frontline workers combating the infection’s spread.*AFP

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