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Taylor Swift eyes record at Grammys as women take center stage

By Maggy Donaldson / AFP Published Feb 02, 2024 2:51 pm

All eyes are on—who else?—Taylor Swift ahead of the 2024 Grammys, when the megastar could break the record for most Album of the Year wins at a gala where women finally are taking center stage.

SZA will arrive at the star-studded event in Los Angeles as the evening's top nominee with nine, while Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and Miley Cyrus are also in the running for the show's top prizes.

With her sophomore album SOS, SZA explored an eclectic blend of styles and genre including pop, rock, and jazz, with dreamy electro inflections that scored her the most nominations of any artist.

And supergroup boygenius—Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus—are up for six Grammys.

The trio met as up-and-comers in the indie music scene and, tired of constant comparisons to each other as "women in rock," decided to collaborate while also continuing to produce solo work.

Bridgers has a seventh nomination for her collaboration with SZA.

Janelle Monae and Lana Del Rey are in the mix for Album of the Year, while Victoria Monet is a contender for Record of the Year.

So it's highly likely a female act will win the top awards—unless Grammys darling Jon Batiste does.

The piano virtuoso is the sole man up for the two major prizes, two years after he bested pop's royalty to dominate the proceedings.

It will be a particularly poignant evening for Batiste, whose triumph in 2022 was paired with immense personal struggle behind the scenes as his wife, the writer Suleika Jaouad, was receiving treatment for a recurrence of leukemia.

This time around, she will be able to join the party as her partner contends for some of music's most prestigious honors.

Among his accolades, Batiste is up for the top songwriting prize for Butterfly, written for Jaouad while she was in hospital.

"For us to be able to celebrate the album and that song, and to also be at the Grammys again, with her this time? That's what my favorite part of this is," Batiste told AFP in an interview late last year. 

"It's full circle."

Another day, another Swift record

If Swift's Midnights wins Album of the Year, it would be a record-breaking fourth win of the prize for the 34-year-old, who's already the toast of the music world, making headlines with every breath.

She is currently tied in elite company with Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder at three top album honors.

Swift's in-demand producer Jack Antonoff scored six nominations for his work, notably with her and Del Rey, the baroque pop singer whose album Did You Know There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd? earned her five nominations.

And the soundtrack of the blockbuster film Barbie could also clean up: Music from the effervescent summer smash earned 11 nods, thanks to performances including from Eilish as well as Dua Lipa, rapper Nicki Minaj, and Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling.

Bubbly Bronx rapper Ice Spice is also up for an award for her work on Barbie as well as the prize for Best New Artist, which industry watchers predict she could take home after a banner year that saw her go totally viral.

Joni, Billy, U2 set to perform

The vast majority of the more than 90 competitive trophies are doled out prior to the Grammys gala broadcast, which is heavy on spectacle: Many of the top nominees, including SZA, Eilish, and Rodrigo are on deck to perform.

Nigerian sensation Burna Boy, country singer Luke Combs, and rapper Travis Scott will also deliver sets.

And the legendary Joni Mitchell will take the stage in her first ever performance at the Grammy Awards.

The 80-year-old—who has nine competitive Grammys and a Lifetime Achievement Award—is in the running for best folk album for her live record entitled Joni Mitchell at Newport.

She won her first Grammy for Clouds more than half a century ago.

"Piano Man" Billy Joel also will perform on the heels of releasing his new single Turn The Lights Back On—his first original music in 17 years.

And U2 will make a special remote appearance from Las Vegas, where the rockers have a residency at the new Sphere arena.

The main Grammys gala will take place on Monday, Feb. 5 at 9:00 a.m. (Philippine time).

Comedian Trevor Noah, who's up for best comedy album, will host for the fourth consecutive year. (AFP)