Even before first-round voting for the 64th annual Grammy Awards opened on Friday (Oct. 22), we knew that some albums wouldn’t be in the expected genre categories. Kacey Musgraves’ star-crossed was moved from best country album to best pop vocal album, while Bo Burnham’s Inside (The Songs) was slotted in best compilation soundtrack for visual media, not best comedy album, as had been expected.
These were hardly the only albums that wound up on the Grammy ballot in places you might not expect. That’s bound to happen as artists increasingly cross genres. Albums often wind up right on the border between two or more genres. In those cases, the Recording Academy’s screening committee endeavors to put it in the most suitable category.
Here are some of this year’s borderline albums, and where Grammy voters can find them on the online ballot. (Voters have until Nov. 5 to make their choices.) Nominations will be announced Nov. 23. The winners will be revealed Jan. 31, 2022.
Kylie Minogue’s Disco is competing for best pop vocal album rather than best dance/electronic album. The dance icon was nominated in the latter category with X in 2008.
Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is vying for best alternative music album. The album’s co-producer, Trent Reznor, has been nominated three times in that category, for Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral (1993), The Fragile (1999) and Hesitation Marks (2013).
Several albums somewhere on the line between pop and rock wound up in different categories. Imagine Dragons’ Mercury Act 1 and Twenty One Pilots’ Scaled and Icy are both competing for best pop vocal album, while Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets to My Downfall, Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts, John Mayer’s Sob Rock and Paul McCartney’s McCartney III are vying for best rock album.
Imagine Dragons’ Evolve was nominated for best pop vocal album four years ago. Cyrus’ Bangerz was nominated in that same category seven years ago. Mayer has been nominated in the pop vocal album category twice — for Continuum (2006), which won, and Battle Studies (2010) — and in best rock album once, for Try! (also 2006). McCartney has yet to receive a nomination for best rock album, but he has been nominated for best pop vocal album twice — for Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005) and Memory Almost Full (2007) — and best alternative music album once, for Liverpool Sound Collage (2000).
The Black Keys’ Delta Kream is vying for best contemporary blues album. Should the album win, this would be the third album genre in which they have prevailed. Brothers won the 2010 award for best alternative music album. El Camino took best rock album two years later.
Carrie Underwood had two No. 1s on Top Country Albums during the eligibility period (Sept. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) but neither is competing for best country album. Underwood’s Christmas album My Gift is vying for a nod as best traditional pop vocal album. Her sacred album My Savior is vying for a nod as best roots gospel album, rather than best contemporary Christian music album or best gospel album. (Surprising fact: Underwood is a seven-time Grammy winner, but she has yet to be nominated for best country album.)
Bad Bunny’s El Ultimo Tour del Mundo and Anuel AA & Ozuna’s Los Dioses are among the albums vying in the new best musical urbana album category. Bad Bunny won last year for best Latin pop or urban album. He had two nominations two years ago for best Latin, rock or alternative album.
Ani DiFranco’s Revolutionary Love is vying for a nod as best R&B album. The veteran artist has received three nominations for best female rock vocal performance and two for best contemporary folk album.
Wizkid’s Made in Lagos is vying for a nod in the recently renamed best global music album category.