New Acts Rule Grammys As Lizzo, Lil Nas, And Billie Eilish Lead In Nominations

November 20, 2019, 2:46 PM UTC
Lizzo performs during a concert at the Columbiahalle on November 14, 2019 in Berlin. Frank Hoensch/Redferns/Getty Images
Frank Hoensch/Redferns/Getty Images

The Grammys are screaming “Cuz I Love You” to Lizzo: The breakthrough singer-rapper scored a whopping eight nominations, including bids for the top four awards, making her the show’s top-nominated act.

Lizzo picked up nominations for album of the year with her major-label debut, “Cuz I Love You”; song and record of the year with her anthemic No. 1 hit, “Truth Hurts”; and best new artist.

Like Lizzo, other new artists dominated with Grammy nominations on Wednesday: Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X earned six nominations apiece.

Eilish also scored nominations in the top four categories, making the 17-year-old the youngest artist in the history of the Grammys to achieve the feat. Lil Nas X, 20, is up for three of the top four awards, including album and record of the year for “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You,” Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and Lil Nas X’s “7” — an 8-song EP — will compete for album of the year along with Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” Bon Iver’s “I,I,” Vampire Weekend’s “Father of the Bride,” H.E.R.’s “I Used to Know Her” and Lana Del Rey’s “Norman (Expletive) Rockwell!”

Nominees for record of the year include songs that hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year, including “Old Town Road,” “Truth Hurts,” Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” Grande’s “7 Rings” and Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower.” H.E.R.’s “Hard Place,” Bon Iver’s “Hey, Ma” and Khalid’s “Talk,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100, round out the eight nominees.

While Taylor Swift was shut out of album of the year with “Lover,” the album’s title track earned a nomination for song of the year, a songwriter’s award. It will compete with “Truth Hurts,” “Bad Guy,” “Hard Place,” Lady Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way” from “A Star Is Born,” Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved,” Lana Del Rey’s “Norman (Expletive) Rockwell” and Tanya Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now,” co-written by Brandi Carlile.

Swift earned three nominations, while Beyoncé — who was shut out of the top three categories — scored four. While her groundbreaking “Homecoming” documentary earned a nomination for best music film, its album version didn’t pick up any nominations. Instead her “The Lion King: The Gift” project — which features songs inspired by “The Lion King,” for which she voiced the character Nala — is up for best pop vocal album, competing with projects from Ed Sheeran, Swift, Eilish and Grande. Beyoncé’s “Spirit,” from “The Lion King” which is being pushed for Oscar consideration, is up for best pop solo performance along with Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down,” “Truth Hurts,” “Bad Guy” and “7 Rings.”

Overall, female acts out-performed their male counterparts in the top four categories: Five of the eight album-of-the-year contenders are women, while seven of the eight song-of-the-year nominees are by women. Female musicians also rule in the best new artist category, though record of the year is evenly split.

Grande, who won her first Grammy earlier this year, scored five nominations, as did H.E.R. and Finneas, Eilish’s older brother who co-wrote, co-produced and engineered her debut album. Finneas’ nominations include producer of the year (non-classical) and best engineered album (non-classical).

Several acts picked up four nominations, including J. Cole, Gary Clark Jr., Lucky Daye, Thom Yorke, Bob Ludwig and Tanya Tucker, who in August released her first album of new songs in 17 years.

British country-soul performer Yola also scored four bids, including best new artist, pitting her against Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Eilish, pop singer Maggie Rogers, New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas, the Austin-based duo Black Pumas and Spanish singer Rosalía, who won album of the year at last week’s Latin Grammys.

Lizzo’s road to the Grammys has been a long one: The 31-year-old, who performed with Prince on his “Plectrumelectrum” album, grinded as an independent and touring artist for years before signing a major-label deal, releasing her first album in 2013. But this year marked her major breakthrough: Her song “Truth Hurts” topped the charts for seven weeks; she’s wowed audiences with her live performances — including her twerking while playing the flute. She’s also graced several magazine covers, earning praise for promoting body positivity and denouncing fat shaming.

But Lizzo has also had her fair share of critics: Some felt she shouldn’t qualify for best new artist at the Grammys since she’s been on the music scene for years. Others thought since “Truth Hurts” was originally released in 2017, it shouldn’t qualify for the 2020 Grammys. The Recording Academy said “Truth Hurts” qualified because the song was never submitted for contention in the Grammys process and it appears on an album released during the eligibility period for the upcoming show.

“Truth Hurts” was co-written by Tele, Jesse Saint John and Ricky Reed, who is nominated for producer of the year (non-classical). Mina Lioness, the British singer who Lizzo gave writing credit to after using some of her viral tweet in the hit song, didn’t appear on the list of writers nominated for song of the year for “Truth Hurts.” Lizzo’s label, Atlantic Records, told The Associated Press last week it was in the process of adding Lioness to the song’s credits.

Lizzo’s other nominations include best urban contemporary album, best pop solo performance for “Truth Hurts,” best traditional R&B performance for “Jerome” and best R&B performance for “Exactly How I Am,” which features Gucci Mane and marks the rapper’s first Grammy nomination.

Another first-time nominee: former first lady Michelle Obama, who is nominated for best spoken word album for “Becoming” (Barack Obama has won two Grammys in the same category).

Nipsey Hussle, who died in March and was nominated for best rap album earlier this year, scored three nominations: His song “Racks In the Middle” is up for best rap performance and best rap song, while “Higher” — a collaboration with DJ Khaled and John Legend that was one of the last songs Hussle recorded — is nominated for best rap/sung performance.

The Cranberries picked up a nomination for best rock album for their eighth and final album, “In the End,” which the surviving members of the Irish band created using unfinished vocals from singer Dolores O’Riordan, who died last year.

The 2020 Grammys will hand out awards in its 84 categories live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 26. Nominees were selected from more than 20,000 submissions, and the final round of voting runs from Dec. 9 until Jan. 3.

List of nominees in top categories

Album of the year
“I,I,” Bon Iver
“Norman (Expletive) Rockwell!,” Lana Del Rey
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” Billie Eilish
“Thank U, Next,” Ariana Grande
“I Used to Know Her,” H.E.R.
“7,” Lil Nas X
“Cuz I Love You (Deluxe),” Lizzo
“Father of the Bride,” Vampire Weekend

Record of the year
“Hey, Ma,” Bon Iver
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish
“7 Rings,” Ariana Grande
“Hard Place,” H.E.R.
“Talk,” Khalid
“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo
“Sunflower,” Post Malone and Swae Lee

Song of the year (songwriter’s award)
“Always Remember Us This Way,” Lady Gaga, Natalie Hemby, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
“Bring My Flowers Now,” Tanya Tucker, Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth
“Hard Place,” H.E.R., Rodney Jerkins, Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth and D. Arcelious Harris
“Lover,” Taylor Swift
“Norman (Expletive) Rockwell,” Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff
“Someone You Loved,” Lewis Capaldi, Tom Barnes, Pere Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn and Sam Roman
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo, Ricky Reed, Tele and Jesse Saint John

Best new artist
Black Pumas
Billie Eilish
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
Maggie Rogers
Rosalía
Tank and the Bangas
Yola

Best pop solo performance
“Spirit,” Beyoncé
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish
“7 Rings,” Ariana Grande
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo
“You Need to Calm Down,” Taylor Swift

Best pop duo/group performance
“Boyfriend,” Ariana Grande and Social House
“Sucker,” Jonas Brothers
“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
“Sunflower,” Post Malone and Swae Lee
“Senorita,” Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

Best pop vocal album
“The Lion King: The Gift,” Beyoncé
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” Billie Eilish
“Thank U, Next,” Ariana Grande
“No. 6 Collaborations Project,” Ed Sheeran
“Lover,” Taylor Swift

Best traditional pop vocal album
“Si,” Andrea Bocelli;
“Love (Deluxe Edition),” Michael Bublé
“Look Now,” Elvis Costello & The Imposters
“A Legendary Christmas,” John Legend
“Walls,” Barbra Streisand

Best dance/electronic album
“LP5,” Apparat
“No Geography,” The Chemical Brothers
“Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape),” Flume
“Solace,” Rüfüs Du Sol
“Weather,” Tycho

Best rock album
“Amo,” Bring Me the Horizon
“Social Cues,” Cage the Elephant
“In the End,” The Cranberries
“Trauma,” I Prevail
“Feral Roots,” Rival Sons

Best alternative music album
“U.F.O.F.,” Big Thief
“Assume Form,” James Blake
“I,I,” Bon Iver
“Father of the Bride,” Vampire Weekend
“Anima,” Thom York

Best urban contemporary album
“Apollo XXI,” Steve Lacy
“Cuz I Love You (Deluxe Edition),” Lizzo
“Overload,” Georgia Anne Muldrow
“Saturn,” NAO
“Being Human In Public,” Jessie Reyez

Best R&B album
“1123,” BJ the Chicago Kid
“Painted,” Lucky Daye
“Ella Mai,” Ella Mai
“Paul,” PJ Morton
“Ventura,” Anderson .Paak

Best rap album
“Revenge of the Dreamers III,” Various artists
“Championships,” Meek Mill
“I Am I Was,” 21 Savage
“Igor,” Tyler, The Creator
“The Lost Boy,” YBN Cordae

Best country album
“Desperate Man,” Eric Church
“Stronger Than the Truth,” Reba McEntire
“Interstate Gospel,” Pistol Annies
“Center Point Road,” Thomas Rhett
“While I’m Livin’,” Tanya Tucker

Best jazz vocal album
“Thirsty Ghost,” Sara Gazarek
“Love & Liberation,” Jazzmeia Horn
“Alone Together,” Catherine Russell
“12 Little Spells,” Esperanza Spalding
“Screenplay,” The Tierney Sutton Band.

Best jazz instrumental album
“In the Key of the Universe,” Joey DeFrancesco
“The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul,” Branford Marsalis Quartet
“Christian McBride’s New Jawn,” Christian McBride
“Finding Gabriel,” Brad Mehldau
“Come What May,” Joshua Redman Quartet

Best gospel album
“Long Live Love,” Kirk Franklin
“Goshen,” Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers
“Tunnel Vision,” Gene Moore
“Settle Here,” William Murphy
“Something’s Happening! A Christmas Album,” CeCe Winans

Best Latin pop album
“Vida,” Luis Fonsi
“11:11,” Maluma
“Montaner,” Ricardo Montaner
“#Eldisco,” Alejandro Sanz
“Fantasia,” Sebastian Yatra

Best Latin rock, urban or alternative album
“X 100PRE,” Bad Bunny
“Oasis,” J Balvin and Bad Bunny
“Indestructible,” Flor De Toloache
“Almadura,” iLe
“El Mal Querer,” Rosalía

Best comedy album
“Quality Time,” Jim Gaffigan
“Relatable,” Ellen DeGeneres
“Right Now,” Aziz Ansari
“Son of Patricia,” Trevor Noah
“Sticks & Stones,” Dave Chappelle

Best compilation soundtrack for visual media
“The Lion King: The Songs”
“Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Rocketman”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
“A Star Is Born”

Producer of the year, non-classical
Jack Antonoff
Dan Auerbach
John Hill
Finneas
Ricky Reed

Best music video
“We’ve Got to Try,” The Chemical Brothers
“This Land,” Gary Clark Jr.
“Cellophane,” FKA twigs
“Old Town Road (Official Movie),” Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
“Glad He’s Gone,” Tove Lo

Best music film
“Homecoming,” Beyoncé
“Remember My Name,” David Crosby
“Birth of the Cool,” Miles Davis
“Shangri-La,” Various artists
“Anima,” Thom Yorke