The Grammys are about to be a female affair.
The music world was dominated by women in 2023, with the 66th annual Grammy Awards likely to reward them for their achievements on Sunday when the ceremony is broadcast live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Leading the pack this year is SZA, who has nine nominations, followed by Victoria Monét and Phoebe Bridgers with seven apiece. Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Brandy Clark, Jon Batiste, Jack Antonoff and the indie outfit Boygenius (of which Bridgers is a member) are close behind with six nominations each.
You can’t talk about the Grammys without mentioning Barbie, which scored eight Oscar nominations on Jan. 23. The billion-dollar cultural phenomenon has a chance to conquer the music world too, with 11 Grammy nominations for songs from the original soundtrack — four of which will compete against one another in the Best Song Written for Visual Media category.
“I have to say that this representation for female artists is not only exciting but also [impressive] because so many different genres are being represented across our ballot,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told Variety after Grammy nominations were announced in November.
Who runs the Grammys? Girls.
Grammy nominations in the top categories largely reflected the success female artists had in 2023, led by Taylor Swift's and Beyoncé’s massive year through their blockbuster world tours and record-breaking concert movies.
In fact, nearly all of the nominees in the Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year categories — the Grammys’ three most prestigious honors — are women. Jon Batiste, winner of the Album of the Year Grammy in 2022, is the lone solo male artist nominated in the top three categories.
“Watching women rule the music industry makes me proud,” Miley Cyrus, whose Grammy-nominated hit, “Flowers,” was the No. 2 song of 2023, wrote on Instagram after nominations were unveiled.
The percentage of female artists on the popular music charts reached an all-time high of 35% in 2023, signaling two years of “consistent progress,” according to a January study published by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Overall, the number of female Grammy nominees grew from 15.5% in 2023 to 24% in 2024, the report said, which marked a “significant increase” and “reflected much-needed progress for women after two years of decline.”
Room for improvement
Despite women dominating in the major awards categories, no woman was nominated for Producer of the Year, Non-Clasical in 2024, a category that is often dominated by men. The last time a woman received a nomination was Linda Perry in 2019. At the time, she was the first woman to be nominated in that category in 15 years.
“It’s not, ‘Why aren’t there any women producers or engineers?'” she told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s, ‘Why aren’t they being presented?'”
Only one woman, Jessie Jo Dillon — a songwriter for country stars Jelly Roll, Brandy Clark and Dan + Shay — was nominated for Songwriter of the Year, down from three female songwriter nominees in 2023.
It’s still a significant change from 2018. Six years ago, then-Recording Academy president Neil Portnow ignited controversy when he asked to explain why only one female artist, singer-songwriter Alessia Cara, was awarded a solo Grammy award for Best New Artist during the primetime telecast.
“It has to begin with … women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers and want to be part of the industry on the executive level,” Portnow said in 2018. “[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face, but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.”
His comments sparked outrage from artists like Pink, Katy Perry and Vanessa Carlton. The lack of female representation during the Grammy telecast that year also prompted the social media hashtag #GrammysSoMale.
Portnow stepped down as Recording Academy president in 2019. His resignation came amid claims that he misused funds intended for the MusiCares Foundation to cover losses for the 2018 Grammys telecast, and for alleged workplace abuse and harassment. He was back in the headlines in November when a musician sued him for allegations of sexual battery in 2018.
History in the making
With a strong field of female nominees and a Grammy voting body that has been adding more women and becoming more diverse, the potential is high for Grammy history to be made.
Taylor Swift could become the first artist in Grammy history to win a fourth Album of the Year award for Midnights, which would break her current three-way tie with Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder. The 34-year-old singer previously won Album of the Year for Fearless, 1989 and Folklore.
Though she has been nominated several times over for Song of the Year and Record of the Year, Swift could win her first in both categories for her Midnights single “Anti-Hero.” Swift has also never won for Pop Solo Performance and could break the curse this year after five tries.
If SZA were to win Album of the Year for SOS, she would become the first Black woman to win in the category in 25 years since Lauryn Hill last did it in 1999 for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Billie Eilish could win her third Record of the Year award for “What Was I Made For?,” her Oscar-nominated original song from the Barbie soundtrack, making her the only female artist to accomplish that feat. If she did, Eilish would be tied with Paul Simon and Bruno Mars, who each have three Record of the Year wins.
Victoria Monét’s nominations this year are her first as a recording artist. If she were to win any, notably Best New Artist, she’d be one of only a handful recognized by the Grammys for her work as a songwriter and as a solo artist — and it’d be her first win.
Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey could take home their first Grammys.
The Grammys air live on CBS, available to stream on Paramount+ on Sunday, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. ET.