Now that Taylor Swift's Lover has had a successful launch, the question is how it will fare in the upcoming Grammy competition. (The album was released on Aug. 23, a mere eight days before the close of eligibility for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. That's definitely not just a coincidence.)
Swift's previous album, reputation, was passed over for an album of the year nom, though it was nominated for best pop vocal album—a nom that probably felt like little more than a consolation prize to Swift, a two-time album of the year winner.
Moreover, that was the only nom for reputation, making it Swift's least nominated album since her debut, which also netted just one nomination, best new artist. (She lost to Amy Winehouse.)
Swift would no doubt love to get back in the album of the year finals. She has never had two studio albums in a row that failed to be nominated in that marquee category.
Swift's 2008 sophomore album Fearless won both album of the year and best country album. And every studio album of hers since then has at least been nominated for its genre album award. Speak Now (2010) was nominated for best country album. Red (2012) was nominated for both album of the year and best country album. 1989 (2014) won both album of the year and best pop vocal album. As noted above, reputation (2017) was nominated for best pop vocal album.
The double win for "You Need to Calm Down" (video of the year, best video for good) at the VMAs on Monday night is a reminder of Swift's remarkable power at award shows. She's a two-time VMA winner for video of the year, a two-time CMA winner for entertainer of the year, a two-time ACM winner for entertainer of the year and a two-time Grammy winner for album of the year. (Swift never needs to buy bookends!)
Lover seems likely to at least land a nom for best pop vocal album. It would be her sixth album in a row to be nominated for its genre album award.
The best case scenario for Swift would be if she won album of the year for the third time. She would be the first female artist to win three times in that category, just as she was the first to win twice (as a lead artist).
Or would that be the best case scenario for Swift?
A third win might trigger a backlash that wouldn't be in Swift's best interests. Only three artists in Grammy history—Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon—have won album of the year three times. (Simon's tally counts one award with Simon & Garfunkel.) It's easy to foresee stories saying that Swift doesn't belong in that august company. (And, no doubt, counter stories saying that we're long overdue to have a female artist join their ranks.)
If Swift were to win album of the year again in January, she would be, at 30, the second-youngest three-time winner in the history of that category. Wonder was 26 when he won for the third time with Songs in the Key of Life. Simon was 45 when he won for the third time with Graceland. Sinatra was 51 when he won for the third time with A Man and His Music.
Taking everything into account, the best outcome for Swift might be to be nominated for album of the year, but not win again. That could easily happen. The front-runner at this point appears to be Billie Eilish's When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? If Eilish wins the award, she'll set a new record as the youngest artist ever to win album of the year. She'll be 18 when the awards are presented on Jan. 26 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The current record-holder? Swift, who was 20 in January 2010 when Fearless took the award.
In addition to the Eilish and Swift albums, other likely album of the year nominees include Ariana Grande's thank u, next, Lizzo's Cuz I Love You, Khalid's Free Spirit, Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars, Beyoncé's Homecoming: The Live Album and Maren Morris' Girl.
This will be the second year that the field of nominees in each of the Big Four categories is expanded from five to eight.
Other potent albums that could easily be nominated include Gary Clark Jr.'s This Land, Maggie Rogers' Heard It in a Past Life, Ed Sheeran's No. 6 Collaborations Project, Jonas Brothers' Happiness Begins, Solange's When I Get Home, Eric Church's Desperate Man, Tyler, the Creator's Igor, Tool's Fear Inoculum, Jenny Lewis' On the Line, Anderson .Paak's Ventura, Eric Church's Desperate Man, Megan Thee Stallion's Fever and Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born soundtrack.
The latter album logged four weeks at No. 1, longer than any other album in the eligibility period. But two factors may work against it. Few soundtracks have been nominated in this category in recent decades. Also, the Nominations Review Committee—which determines the final noms in the Big Four categories—may decide that the film was so heavily recognized on multiple award shows a year ago that a nom here would seem anticlimactic.
This would be Swift's fourth album of the year nom, a tally topped by just one woman in Grammy history—Barbra Streisand, who has had six album of the year noms. As noted above, Beyoncé also has a good chance of landing her fourth album of the year nom. She has two albums in play, Homecoming: The Live Album and The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack. And Gaga could land her fourth album of the year nom for A Star Is Born, though it seems unlikely.
One other female artist could land her fourth album of the year nom this year, but it's a real long-shot. Mariah Carey is in play with Caution, but the album, though well-reviewed, didn't have a lasting impact.