Jon Batiste is the Grammys’ biggest surprise. This multi-genre artist and Oscar winner left such an impression with voters, that he got 11 nominations Tuesday.
Batiste earned an album of the year nod for “We Are” along with record of the year with “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.
“Oh my goodness. I’m still in a state of astonishment and shock,” Batiste told The Associated Press moments after learning of the nominations. “I’m just really happy that we were able to make something in complete artistic integrity and have it be recognized.”
Justin Bieber (with Doja Cat) and H.E.R. Each came out with eight nominations, the Recording Academy had announced its nominees by Jan. 31, and each received the second most. Billie Eilish was nominated along with Olivia Rodrigo, who each received seven.
Along with Batiste’s surprise domination, another shock was The Weeknd nabbing three nominations after the pop star claimed he would not allow his label to submit his music. Earlier this year, he angrily slammed the Grammys, calling them “corrupt” after he received zero nominations despite 2020’s biggest single, “Blinding Lights.”
Even though The Weeknd said he would boycott future Grammys, he still became a nominee 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 continued. “With that in mind, I think they’re voting for things that they are acknowledging as excellence.”
Mason expressed satisfaction with the peer-driven vote system, after reviewing the nominations. 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. Every voter can vote in the top four categories.
The new system replaced the anonymous nominations review committee — a group that determined the contenders for key awards. Some claim that committee members promoted projects and favored certain projects on the basis of personal relationships.
Harvey understands that while the voting system may not be ideal at first, he is confident it will yield fair results over the long-term.
“I know we didn’t get every single one perfect,” Harvey 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.”
Batiste credited the changes to his nominations: “I really just want to give props to the Grammys. This year, they tried to be more inclusive of all artists and put music first. Other creators listened to the music and decided to give me these nominations and I’m so grateful for that.”
The academy increased the number of general-field nominees from 8 to 10 for the first time. This change affects categories like record, album and song of the year, as well as best new artist.
Harvey stated that the academy has increased the slots for general fields categories due to an increase in voting participation and acceptance of new invitations.
“We thought the timing was right,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to do what the academy does — which is to highlight music, highlight the industry and highlight excellence in a bigger way. With the change in our voting structure, we don’t have the nomination review committee. This gives our voters an opportunity to have their voice heard, but also gives them a chance to have a bigger pool to draw from when it comes time to that one winner that takes home the Grammy.”
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, the bandleader of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” 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. On Tuesday, Batiste had been nominated for three Grammys. He has not won any yet.
Batiste will compete for record of the year against a bevy of candidates including 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.
Jay-Z was nominated Tuesday for three Grammys. He now holds the record for most nominations with 83. Quincy Jones was nominated 80 more times than Jay-Z, the Grammy-winning rapper.