Awards

Morgan Wallen & DaBaby Had Strong Grammy Chances. Then They Opened Their Mouths

Morgan Wallen
John Shearer

Morgan Wallen

"Dangerous: The Double Album" or Dua Lipa's "Levitating" remix still could be nominated, but, at a minimum, Wallen & DaBaby have made it harder for these projects to win.

Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album had a good shot at winning the Grammy for best country album. And the remix of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” (featuring DaBaby) had an excellent chance of winning for best remixed recording. And then, as we all know, Wallen and DaBaby said things that are, quite simply, not acceptable in American society.

Either or both of these records could still win a Grammy. The nominations won’t be announced until later this year; the awards will be presented at the 64th annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 31. These controversies could have largely died down by then -- or be supplanted by even more shocking events. Also, some may argue that voters should be judging the art, not the artist’s public pronouncements. But at minimum, Wallen and DaBaby have made it harder for these projects to win. So will the highly publicized and much criticized language used by Wallen and DaBaby sink their 2022 Grammy chances?

The backlash against Wallen -- which hasn’t significantly impacted his album sales but has affected his standing in the industry and at awards shows -- stems from a Jan. 31 incident in which he used the N-word. TMZ posted a video of the incident on Feb. 2.

The backlash against DaBaby stems from his July 25 set at Rolling Loud Miami, where he told the crowd, "If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up. Ladies, if your p---y smell like water, put your cellphone lighter up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking di-- in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up."

Both Wallen and DaBaby have apologized for their outbursts, though DaBaby took a full week to issue an apology in which he seemed to understand the pain he has caused -- for himself and others. This era of holding celebrities accountable for racist or homophobic comments is a relatively new one, so no one really knows what comes next, or whether the artists will be sidelined for good or welcomed to make an eventual comeback.

Dangerous: The Double Album has logged 26 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart as of the newly posted tally, dated Aug. 7. Albums don’t have to spend six months at No. 1 to win in this category, but it never hurt. Five past winners in the category have done just that: Dixie Chicks’ Fly (36 weeks on top), Taylor Swift’s Fearless (35 weeks), Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now (31 weeks), Shania Twain's The Woman in Me (29 weeks) and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller (29 weeks).

Of the 27 albums that have won best country album since the award was reinstated in 1994 following a decades-long absence, 19 hit No. 1 on Top Country Albums. Five more made the top 10 but didn’t go all the way. Only three albums have won best country album without making the top 10 on Top Country Albums.

The “Levitating” remix has also been a giant hit. The song has climbed as high as No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has hovered just outside the top spot for months. It’s listed at No. 5 on the chart dated Aug. 7.

The song logs a sixth week at No. 1 on Radio Songs (80.4 million audience impressions, down 1%). In his new column, Billboard’s Gary Trust reports that radio airplay for the DaBaby remix has declined following his controversial comments. On July 25, the day of his comments, 71% of the song's plays were for the remix; on July 29, the last day of the tracking week, the remix’s share dropped to 59%.

SAINt JHN’s “Roses (Imanbek Remix),” the reigning Grammy champ for best remixed recording, also became a smash only after the remix was released. The remix reached No. 4 on the Hot 100. The award in this category goes to the remixer, not to the original artist(s).

Best remixed recording is the only category in which “Levitating” would be eligible. Because Lipa’s Future Nostalgia won a Grammy in March for best pop vocal album, no tracks from the album are eligible in such categories as record of the year, song of the year or best pop duo/group performance -- all categories in which it would have been a potent contender.

Here is the relevant Grammy rule, taken from the rules and guidelines book for the 64th annual Grammy Awards: “A track or single from a previous year’s album is eligible in the general [aka Big Four], pop, dance/electronic, gospel/contemporary Christian music, rock, R&B, rap, country and American roots music fields, provided the recording was not entered as a track or single the previous year and provided the album did not win a Grammy in a performance category.”

Best pop vocal album is considered a performance category. (Best new artist is not -- reading the Grammy rulebook is only slightly less confounding than reading the unabridged IRS tax code.)

DaBaby was nominated for four Grammys last November, including record of the year for “Rockstar” (featuring Roddy Ricch). He was nominated for two awards the year before that. He has yet to win a Grammy.

Wallen has yet to be nominated for a Grammy.