The Recording Academy decided to expand the number of Grammy nominees just 24 hours before the list was announced on Monday — to the benefit of artists including Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Abba and Lil Nas X — according to a report in the New York Times.
The move, which saw the list grow from eight nominees to 10, was positioned as a natural progression by CEO Harvey Mason jr. when asked about it by Leak Herald on Monday. “We saw it as an incredible opportunity for us to honor more artists and shine a light on more great music, and potentially offer a greater opportunity for more genres of music to be honored,” he said.
As for the abruptness of the move, “It’s something that we’ve talked about for quite some time but it ended up happening fairly recently,” he said. “We looked at the voting and the amount of submissions [for the 2022 Grammys] and saw it as a great opportunity.”
Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” and Abba’s “I Still Have Faith in You” were added to Record of the Year; Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” and Brandi Carlile’s “Right on Time” for Song of the Year (Carlile’s second nomination in the category); and Baby Keem and Arooj Aftab to Best New Artist, according to the report.
The news sets an awkward tone for the next Grammy Awards, which have been marred by an ongoing series of controversies over the past five years.
Last year, the Weeknd was excluded from all nominations despite having one of the most successful albums and singles of the year with “After Hours” and “Blinding Lights.” Mason’s predecessor was dismissed as she alleged conflicts of interest and covering up allegations of sexual misconduct and even a rape allegation. Earlier this year, the Academy eliminated its “secret” nomination review committees that had curated final nominee lists for most categories, but that was only after years of complaints about insider dealing that culminated with the Weeknd snub. The list goes on.
Mason has pledged a new era of transparency, yet the controversies have continued.