The Recording Academy’s surprise decision to expand the number of nominees in four major Grammy categories was made just a day before nominations were announced this week, paving the way for key showings from Taylor Swift, Kanye West and more, according to a report.
A New York Times report published Wednesday (Nov. 24) said West and Swift, already nominated in other categories, were late additions to the album of the year lineup, with the rapper’s Donda album and the singer’s Evermore joining a list containing albums from Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Doja Cat, H.E.R., Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Jon Batiste.
The Times also reported that the late expansion of the record of the year category saw Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” and ABBA’s “I Still Have Faith in You” added to the list that already included songs by Rodrigo, Bieber, Bennett and Lady Gaga, Batiste, Doja Cat, Eilish, Silk Sonic and Brandi Carlile.
For the songwriters’ song of the year category, the last-minute additions brought in Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More,” and “Right on Time” by Carlile. The late expansion of the best new artist added Baby Keem and Arooj Aftab, according to the report.
The Times reports that it was possible to see which artists were added last minute as those names were absent from the “final nominations list” of eight names in those categories, a list the newspaper says was created several days before and which it had obtained.
While revealing the nominations for the 2022 Grammys Tuesday, the Recording Academy also announced that it was expanding the list of nominees in four general field categories, billing the move as a way “to make room for more music, more artists and more genres, and to embrace the spirit of inclusion.”
A letter to members was also made public the same day.
On Thursday (Nov. 25), Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, issued the following statement.
“Realizing that today is a time to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, we reluctantly felt compelled to respond to the suggestive and sometimes erroneous reports we have seen in the media regarding the Academy’s decision to expand our general fields from eight to 10 nominees. But first, we must pause and give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us over the last year.
“Our music industry has so much to be thankful for. The love and passion for what our community has produced has also led to one of the most robust nominating processes in the history of our Academy. I applaud our Board of Trustees, for having the agility and foresight to approve this expansion as a way to honor more music, more artists and more genres. And yes, they did it quickly and decisively, and they did it without knowing who the additional nominees would be.
“For those who would suggest any counter-narratives to stir drama and drive clicks, I would ask that you please take a fresh look at the new Recording Academy.
“Happy Thanksgiving to all of this year’s nominees and music fans everywhere.”
The Times report comes at a time the Recording Academy, already reeling from a series of controversies at the executive management level, is trying to inject transparency into its process after repeated criticism from prominent artists.
Last year, Canadian singer The Weeknd said he would boycott the awards after his album After Hours incredibly failed to gain a single nomination, despite huge commercial, critical and chart success. After the shocking snub, The Weeknd, a hugely influential artist, declared the Grammys to be “corrupt.”
In an interview with the Times, Mason Jr. addressed the last-minute expansion and said they had been in the works for years, with the introduction happening this year after witnessing the Latin Grammys pushing their nominee’s list to 12.
Mason Jr. also denied that the addition of Swift and West was for commercial reasons or shore up flagging television ratings.
The 2022 Grammy Awards take place on Jan. 31.