Harry Styles’ camp entered the romantic “Adore You” for record and song of the year in the 63rd annual Grammy Awards process, rather than his subsequent (and even bigger) hit “Watermelon Sugar.” But Styles’ camp flipped the script and entered “Watermelon Sugar” (and not “Adore You”) for best pop solo vocal performance.
That’s an unusual, but not unprecedented, Grammy strategy. Usually, an artist’s camp (their management and record company) picks what they perceive to be an artist’s strongest contender and enters it in both record and song of the year and the appropriate performance category. Last year, for example, Billie Eilish’s camp entered “Bad Guy” for record and song of the year (it won both awards) as well as best pop solo performance (it lost to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”).
Styles’ strategy echoes the one followed by Adele when she swept the 2011 Grammy Awards. Her camp entered her monster hit “Rolling in the Deep” in record and song of the year and another of her big hits, “Someone Like You,” in best pop solo performance. She won in all three categories. (A slight difference between these two scenarios: Adele’s camp entered her biggest hit in record and song of the year and her second biggest hit in best pop solo performance. Styles’ camp went the other way around, perhaps thinking that “Adore You” is a more traditional Grammy-sounding record than the frisky “Watermelon Sugar.”)
Monday (Oct. 12) is the final day of first-round voting for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards. The nominations will be announced right around Nov. 20 (that’s the date that last year’s nominations were unveiled). Final-round voting will run from Dec. 7 to Jan. 4.
It’s routine for artists to enter only one recording in a major category. Otherwise, they could easily split their votes. Looking at artists who had multiple top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the eligibility period, here are the singles that will represent those artists in the record of the year category: Post Malone’s “Circles,” Travis Scott’s “Highest in the Room,” Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted,” The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan,” BTS’ “Dynamite,” Megan Thee Stallion (featuring Beyoncé)’s “Savage,” Lady Gaga (featuring Ariana Grande)’s “Rain on Me” and Juice WRLD (and Marshmello)’s “Come and Go.”
DaBaby, who had two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 during the eligibility year, entered only Kirk for both album of the year and best rap album.
Malone and Justin Bieber could be headed for nominations in different fields. Post is entered in the pop field with “Circles” and “Goodbyes” (featuring Young Thug) and in the rock field with “Take What You Want,” his collab with Ozzy Osbourne and Scott. Bieber is entered in the country field with “10,000 Hours,” his collab with Dan + Shay, and in the pop field with “Yummy,” “Stuck With U” (with Grande) and “Intentions” (with Quavo). The latter two hits are going head-to-head for best pop performance by a duo or group.
Two hits — Doja Cat’s “Say So” and Jack Harlow’s “Whats Poppin” — are entered for record of the year for solo versions rather than for versions with featured artists. Nicki Minaj was featured on “Say So”; DaBaby, Torey Lanez and Lil Wayne were featured on “Whats Poppin.”
The Weeknd’s After Hours album is entered for best pop vocal album. This marks a shift for the singer, whose last two albums, Beauty Behind the Madness and Starboy, both won for best urban contemporary album. The Weeknd’s megahit “Blinding Lights” is entered, as expected, for best pop solo performance.
Whiskey Myers’ eponymous fifth album, which reached No. 1 on Top Country Albums, is entered for best rock album.
Here’s where five other borderline albums — albums that could reasonably have competed in more than one category — are competing this year.
Mac Miller, Circles—best alternative music album. Miller’s 2018 album Swimming was nominated for best rap album.
The Lumineers, III—best folk album. The group’s 2012 album The Lumineers was nominated for best Americana album.
Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways—best Americana album. Dylan’s 2016 album Together Through Life was nominated in this category, but then he took a detour with three albums of standards that were nominated for best traditional pop vocal album.
Kanye West, Jesus Is King—best contemporary Christian musical album. West has been nominated for best rap album seven times, winning four times. The track “Follow God” is entered for best rap performance.
Coldplay, Everyday Life—best rock album. The band’s Ghost Stories (2014) and the Kaleidoscope EP (2017) were nominated for best pop vocal album. Before that, the band was nominated for best rock album three times, winning once. Before that, the band was nominated for best alternative music album twice, winning both times.
In a final note of interest, Renée Zellweger is entered for best traditional pop vocal album for the soundtrack to Judy, for which she won an Academy Award. If she is nominated for a Grammy for this work, she would become the first Oscar winner to receive a Grammy nomination for a soundtrack to that film since Jennifer Hudson, who won the 2006 supporting actress Oscar for Dreamgirls and was nominated for best compilation soundtrack album for motion picture, television or other visual media for the soundtrack the following year.