Take a deep breath, Grammy followers: Adele won't collect any prizes this winter. Her blockbuster album "30" — which became 2021's biggest seller in just three days over the past weekend — isn't eligible until the 2023 Grammys.
So there might be some suspense Jan. 31 when CBS televises the 64th annual Grammy Awards. While some familiar winners were among the top nominees announced Tuesday — Billie Eilish, H.E.R., Brandi Carlile, Justin Bieber and Tony Bennett with Lady Gaga — the leading nominee was versatile piano-playing singer Jon Batiste.
Best known as the bandleader on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Batiste is up for 11 trophies, including record of the year ("Freedom") and album of the year ("We Are"). His nominations encompass seven different fields, including R&B, jazz, American roots music, classical and music for visual media and film. Batiste has never collected a Grammy, but he grabbed an Oscar this year for best original score for "Soul."
Batiste's rise to the top of the nomination rankings may be due to the revamping of the Grammy nominating process. For the past 27 years, the finalists for the Big Four categories — best album, record, song and new artist — were chosen by an anonymous blue-ribbon committee; due to widespread criticism, the Recording Academy abandoned that procedure this year.
Perhaps the most vociferous complaints came from the Weeknd, who received no nods last year despite having some of the biggest records. He refused to enter his work in this year's Grammy competition. He did receive three nominations, however, for his contributions to recordings by Kanye West and Doja Cat.
This year's finalists were determined by 11,000 voting members of the Recording Academy. That meant some popular hitmakers — including Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, Ed Sheeran and Bieber — landed in top categories with such veteran names as Bennett/Gaga, Carlile, West and ABBA (which has never won a Grammy), all highly regarded for their craft.
Following Batiste, pop star Bieber, melodic rapper Doja Cat and guitar-playing R&B singer H.E.R. are tied with eight nominations each. Then come two popular young artists with seven nods — fast-rising pop singer-songwriter Rodrigo, 18, a heavy favorite for best new artist and the 13th act to land in the Big Four in the same year, and Eilish, 19, who is vying for a third consecutive record-of-the-year win (with "Happier Than Ever") as well as top album (also titled "Happier Than Ever").
Of course, Swift, 31, is in the mix once again, hoping that "Evermore" will give her an unprecedented fourth Grammy for album of the year. She took that prize in March for "Folklore," her first of two albums in 2020.
This year's eligibility period ran from Sept. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021. The Big Four categories now have 10 finalists instead of eight previously.
Despite being one of the most popular radio formats, country music showed up only once among 40 candidates in the Big Four categories — Nashville singer Jimmie Allen, for best new artist. He's competing against, among others, rapper Saweetie, TikTok-boosted rock band Glass Animals, introspective British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks, Australian singer-rapper the Kid Laroi, Rodrigo and Eilish's brother, Finneas.
Speaking of country, Morgan Wallen, whose big-selling "Dangerous: The Double Album" has been in the Top 10 on Billboard's Top 200 since its release in January, did not receive any nominations. He has been ostracized by the industry — but not by fans — for being captured on a drunken late-night February video in which he uttered the N-word.
The two biggest names in Minnesota music received nominations: Prince for best historical recording for "Sign o' the Times (Super Deluxe Edition)" and Bob Dylan in the musical theater category for "Girl from the North Country." And the latest album by Duluth veterans Low, "Hey What," was nominated for the engineering work of its producer, BJ Burton, who has a studio in northeast Minneapolis.
With two nods this year, Jay-Z is now the all-time leader in nominations with 82 — one more than Quincy Jones and Paul McCartney. He has collected 23 trophies.