Canadian musical talent was in the spotlight today at the nominations announcement for the 64th Grammy Awards, as some of the country’s biggest hitmakers — like Justin Bieber and Drake — were named, as well as virtuosos in the classical world and behind-the-scenes stars.
But American musician Jon Batiste, the bandleader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, emerged as the biggest surprise at this year’s Grammys: The multi-genre performer and recent Oscar winner scored the most nominations — with 11 on Tuesday.
Batiste earned a nod for album of the year nod for We Are and one for record of the year for Freedom — a feel-good ode to the city of New Orleans. His nominations span several genres including R&B, jazz, American roots music, classical and music video.
Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and H.E.R. each came away with the second-most nominations with eight apiece by the time the Recording Academy was done announcing its nominees for the Jan. 31 show.
Several of Bieber’s nominations were for his single Peaches, which features Toronto-raised R&B singer Daniel Caesar. It’s nominated for record of the year, song of the year, best R&B performance and best music video.
Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo have seven nods each.
The Weeknd nominated despite boycott
The Weeknd’s three nominations were a surprise to many after the pop star said he wouldn’t allow his label to submit his music. Earlier this year, he called the Grammys “corrupt” after he received zero nominations for the last Grammys despite having 2020’s biggest single, Blinding Lights.
The Toronto artist was nominated for his work on album-of-the-year projects, including Doja Cat’s deluxe edition Planet Her and Kanye West’s Donda. His third nomination was for his appearance on West’s single, Hurricane, which also features Lil Baby.
“What I like is the fact that no one is thinking about what happened before, what was the controversy, what was the noise, or where was this artist making music last year,” said Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s CEO.
He said voters focused on the “excellence of music” while considering nominees like Batiste and Kacey Musgraves, whose work also crosses over into different categories.
“The voters are truly evaluating music and not getting caught up in the reputations of any other outside noise or any history of artists,” he said. “With that in mind, I think they’re voting for things that they are acknowledging as excellence.”
Canadians in the running
But Bieber, who is originally from Stratford, Ont., and The Weeknd are in good company when it comes to Canadians with Grammy nods this year.
Toronto rapper Drake has two nominations. He’s up for best rap album and best rap performance, alongside Future for the track Way 2 Sexy.
Cuban-Canadian Alex Cuba is named twice for songs from his latest album Mendo: best Latin pop album and best musica urbana album.
Dan Snaith of Dundas, Ont., better known as Caribou, is named in the best dance/electronic recording category for his single You Can Do It.
Canadian-born Joni Mitchell landed her 16th career nomination for Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years in best historical album.
Montreal singer-songwriter Allison Russell, with two nods — one for best American roots song for Nightflyer and a second for best Americana album, for her debut solo release Outside Child.
WATCH | Allison Russell on the life of a middle-class musician:
While Edmonton’s k.d. lang didn’t earn direct recognition from the Grammys, a dance mix of Constant Craving by Tracy Young grabbed a nod in best remixed recording.
Toronto director Petra Collins is nominated for helming Olivia Rodrigo’s Good 4 U in the best music video category.
The Yukon’s Kevin Howes got a nod for writing the album notes for Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology in the best album notes category.
Montreal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin received three nominations in the best orchestral performance, best opera recording — along with Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka — and best classical solo vocal album categories, and his as well as Pieczonka’s work on the opera Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmélites helped generate a nomination for its producer David Frost.
Israel-born cellist Matt Haimovitz, who is based in Canada and the U.S., is nominated for his contribution to Unexpected Shadows in the best classical solo vocal album category, as well as he performed on Glass: Akhnaten and Primavera I – The Wind, projects in the producer of the year category by Frost.
Notable mentions go to Calgary songwriter Jenna Andrews, who co-wrote the hit song Butter for K-pop supergroup BTS, nominated in the best pop group performance category.
Alessia Cara of Brampton, Ont., is featured on the song Hell and High Water on Major Lazer’s Music is the Weapon, up for best electronic album.
Changing voting process, categories
Recording Academy CEO Mason Jr. said he was pleased with the new peer-driven voting system. He instituted the 10-3 initiative — which allows the academy’s more than 11,000 members to vote for up to 10 categories in three genres. All voters can vote for the top four awards.
The new system replaced the anonymous nominations review committee that determined contenders for key awards. Some claimed committee members favoured projects based on personal relationships and promoted projects they favoured and worked on.
“I know we didn’t get every single one perfect,” he said. “I know there will be some people that feel left out or that we missed a nomination here or there. That makes me sad because I don’t want anybody to have that feeling. But I do feel like we’re heading in the right direction. I’m pleased with the way our voters did the work.”
For the first time, the academy expanded the number of nominees in the general field categories from eight to 10. The change impacts categories such as record, album, song of the year and best new artist.
Vying for the top awards
Other album of the year nominees include: Bieber’s Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe), Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, West’s Donda, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga’s Love for Sale, Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour, Taylor Swift’s evermore and Lil Nas X’s MONTERO.
Batiste picked up a bid in the best score soundtrack for visual media category for his work on Pixar’s Soul, which won him an Oscar for best score earlier this year. Coming into Tuesday, he had three Grammy nominations but no wins yet.
Batiste will compete for record of the year against Bennett & Gaga’s I Get a Kick Out of You, ABBA’s I Still Have Faith in You, Bieber’s Peaches featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon, Brandi Carlile’s Right on Time, Doja Cat’s Kiss Me More with SZA, Lil Nas X’s MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name), Rodrigo’s drivers license, Eilish’s Happier Than Ever and Leave The Door Open by Silk Sonic — the super duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak.
Rapper Jay-Z, who was nominated for three Grammys on Tuesday, now has the most nominations of all time with 83, moved past Quincy Jones, who has been nominated 80 times.