By Julia Miller
At the 2018 Grammy’s, Alessia Cara was the only female to win a major award, taking home the prize for Best New Artist. The hashtag #GrammysSoMale trended on social media with users calling out the male-dominated show. When Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow, was questioned about the lack of female representation, he stated that women need “to step up”. Portnow’s patronising comment was slammed, and subsequently he stepped down from the role. The Recording Academy has announced the Grammy nominees for the 2024 show.
Across the major categories, Album, Record, and Song of the Year, female musicians occupy seven of the eight nomination spots. Jon Batiste occupies the final spot as a rarity among the female nominees. Whilst other categories and genres represent the male talent in the industry, women dominate the pop categories and will be competing for the top awards.
American R&B singer-songwriter, SZA, is the top nominated artist with 9 nominations, including Album of the Year, for her second album SOS, and Record and Song of the Year for her No. 1 single and TikTok favourite Kill Bill. SZA’s success is closely followed by boygenius (an all-female indie band) and singer-songwriter Victoria Monét, who are all tied on seven nominations each.
Other young women with several nominations include Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo, and Taylor Swift. Swift is the first-ever artist to be recognised seven times in the Song of the Year category, overtaking Sir Paul McCartney. Her record-breaking ventures are likely to continue. If Midnights wins, Swift will be the only artist to win Album of the Year four times, surpassing Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Sinatra.
Songs from Greta Gerwig’s Barbie received 11 nods in 7 categories. The soundtrack to the feminist satire has been nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media and is filled with female talent. 7-time Grammy winner, Billie Eilish, looks set to expand her trophy collection as her chart-topping track What Was I Made For is nominated in 5 categories. Dua Lipa’s 70s inspired disco hit Dance The Night is also nominated for Song of the Year and Best Song Written for Visual Media.
The rise in female nominations is unprecedented and surprising given the historic sexism and misogyny in the music industry. Women are usually snubbed in major categories or only valued as performers, rather than talented artists and songwriters.
In September, BBC Radio 1 DJ, Annie Macmanus, spoke out against the male-dominated industry at the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee. She described the business as “rigged against women” and “a boys’ club”.
Co-founder of Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner, recently published a collection of interviews with some of the greatest icons of all time. The all-male line up included Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Bruce Springsteen. Wenner commented that the selection “was not a deliberate selection…insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level”. Consequently, Wenner has lost his place on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board. He has since apologised for his sexist comment, noting that he understands the consequences of his badly chosen words.
The Grammy’s will take place on February 4th in Los Angeles. Nominees Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, and Olivia Rodrigo have been announced as the headline performers, with more to be announced in due course. The fact that women dominate this year’s nominations is a triumph for all female artists in the industry. Women step up every year and their celebration at this year’s awards is a step in the right direction to break up the “boys’ club”.
Illustrations: Carly Tait