With a few notable exceptions, the 2024 GRAMMY nominations offer an impressive talent spread in a handful of major categories. SZA lands seven nods (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year), and Phoebe Bridgers, Victoria Monet, and audio engineer Serban Ghenea each nab six (including song and Album of the Year). Jon Batiste, Boy Genius, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and Taylor Swift rounded out the top-six category with six nods.
This year’s significant change is the addition of three new GRAMMY categories that will debut at the 2024 ceremony: Best African Music Performance, Best Alternative Jazz Album, and Best Pop Dance Recording. These history-making category additions reflect the growing importance of a global music economy and the continued diversity of the recording industry’s artists, fans, and businesses.
In a time when the Grammys are often accused of being out of touch, these new categories are meant to align the ceremony with current industry trends better and celebrate the vast array of genres and musical styles that have been at the heart of the GRAMMY Awards for more than 70 years.
The African Music Performance category honors recordings that use “unique local expressions across the African continent, including but not limited to Afrobeats, Afro-fusion, Ethio jazz, Kizomba, High Life, Fuji, Ndombolo and Mapouka.” This is the first time a non-mainstream music style has been included in a Grammy Awards category, which may mark a critical moment for the awards show.
While the Recording Academy is working to make the GRAMMY Awards process “more fair, transparent and accurate,” adding these new categories could signal a shift in how the show recognizes dance music. The previous rule for the category required that all nominees be in the traditional pop or electronic music genres, which has tended to shut out popular dance songs by pop and R&B artists. Skrillex, Diplo, and The Chemical Brothers have won the award in its 10-year history.
Another potentially significant new addition to the Grammys is the inclusion of the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category, which could finally give recognition to a group like Greta Gerwig’s soundtrack for her movie of the same name or a popular singer-songwriter like SZA. The sexy SZA, who landed several nominations this year for her album, including in the coveted song and Record of the Year races, is nominated with the Phoebe Bridgers-assisted single “Low.”
Other potential winners include veteran chart-topper Cyrus, who is up for a career-best two awards this year thanks to her ‘Endless Summer Vacation’ and ‘Flowers’ releases; the late Brandy Clark, who has had a decade-long rise to acclaim with her latest release (and four previous Grammy nominations); and country star Jason Isbell, whose acclaimed 400 Unit collaborations with his wife Brandi have earned him five nods, including in the most critical categories. This is the third consecutive year Isbell has earned a nod for his work in the Americana genre.