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As award season motors on, ‘The Grammys’ stand out at the premier event for the music industry. Every year on a Sunday evening, people from every corner of the profession come together to celebrate the most influential artists and performers of the year. Each year, a significant number of nominees are offered a spot in the room with the incredible potential to accept an award for their work in front of all of their peers and influences — however, the most anticipated category is Album of the Year. 

Through the years, we have seen so many incredible artists grow from their first ever Grammys appearance. Young artists like Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo have proven how much artistic development can be presented, despite winning their own respective Grammy awards for their debut albums while also pushing for the industry toward a standard of incredible equality.

Going into the Grammys Awards in 2024, the nominees and stakes are incredibly high. Last year’s Album of the Year winner, ‘Harry’s House’ by Harry Styles was a controversial one. Many found it to be a wonderful celebration of the success Styles achieved, and others questioned the legitimacy and worthiness of its award. This year’s Album of the Year nominees raise the stakes even higher. 

To begin, GUTS by Olivia Rodrido is nominated. This pop-rock heartbreak album composes and stirs mixtures of emotions. From the beauty of feminine rage to the controversial topic of being abused for your fame, Olivia’s sophomore album presented a story that, while similar to her debut, differs in maturity and exploration. One would claim that Olivia’s efforts are incredibly high and successful which leads her to a high potential to win this award, especially if you consider that her debut album SOUR wasn’t the winner only a few years back. Olivia’s growth as an artist hasn’t changed significantly yet, but the album GUTS put her back on the frontlines, even if it means competing with her own inspirations. 

Boygenius’ debut album ‘the record’ is an interesting nomination. This “indie” album is composed of a folk-rock mixture with undertones of pain, sorrow and harmony. The band comprises the artists Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. It takes the tonality of these artists’ sound signature and mixes them together in a euphoric collaborative effort. This album has gained massive media attention both from critics and social media fanbases. The overwhelming support for this emotionally traumatized trio is incredibly intense, but it may take more foundation and refinement before they are presented an award like Album of the Year.

‘SOS’ by SZA brings its Princess Diana inspired cover to The Grammys. While SZA isn’t new to the industry, her record breaking collaborations with other artists as well as her 2017 debut album ‘Ctrl’ provided SZA a beautiful space in the music industries R&B, hip-hop and pop space. SZA has strategically built her foundation over almost a decade, and this album is proof of her refined nature. With songs like ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Snooze’ taking over radio stations, charts and being listed as some of the best songs from last year, SZA is a wonderful contender for this award. 

Jon Batiste’s ‘World Music Radio’ is another surprising nomination. Since he won Album of the Year two years ago for his album ‘We Are’, it would be shocking to see him take home the award for this album. Although his album features many collaborations, smart productions and a beautiful representation of Jon’s vocal style with polish, ‘World Music Radio’ just isn’t an album that fits alongside the competition, especially considering the impact of the other albums nominated. 

The same could be said for Janelle Monáe’s ‘The Age of Pleasure’. Incredibly talented and inspired by the sounds of freedom and independence, this album is a fun joyride that offers sounds that just make you feel motivated and aligned. However, despite these positives, Janelle is up against some of the albums that include records that have taken over everybody’s music library. Her album is absolutely great, and it just might be even greater if it was to be considered and enjoyed on its own instead of being listed amongst the albums it currently is. 

Miley Cyrus came in hot in the start of 2023 by announcing her return to music via a marketing strategy nobody could possibly escape — and still can’t, due to the overwhelming success of her song ‘Flowers’. The album, titled ‘Endless Summer Vacation’ puts Miley in a wonderful new state of experimentation toward her own sound and also explores the mindsets, trauma and experiences she has recently encountered. This album presents an overwhelming amount of attention that could be garnered from a successful marketing campaign and also shows that Miley still has a seat in the music industry that she dominates and draws attention towards. 

Penultimately, ‘Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd’ is Lana Del Rey’s latest Album of the Year nomination and potentially her first Grammy she could take home. This album is a collection and presentation of how much Lana has developed since the start of her career in the early 2010s. Combining significant songwriting, her irreplaceable and heavenly voice and productions by Jack Antonoff that are sweeping soundscapes of environments, walls of instruments and minute details, Lana’s latest album, alongside her song ‘A&W’ presents an opportunity for the overdue and well-deserved win from The Grammys.

Lastly, Taylor Swift is nominated for her tenth studio album ‘Midnights’. Her previous Album of the Year win was only three years ago when she released her surprise album ‘folklore’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. This time around, Taylor used significant marketing strategies for Midnights and built up an anticipation we have never seen before. As a result of Midnights, Taylor became the first artist to take over all top ten spots of the Billboard Top 100. This album, also featuring productions by Jack Antonoff, has Taylor visit vocal ranges we haven’t heard her in before. It showcases the instrumental beauty that comes with experimentation between two artistic friends, how heartbreak and past experiences will continue to haunt you and also how you can still protect yourself in the process. This “lo-fi” album by Taylor Swift has potential to win big at the GRAMMY Awards, and has a massive potential to win Album of the Year. Many will argue that it is one of Taylor’s weakest pop albums, while others will praise it. Considering the controversial response, it could definitely be argued that Midnights may not be her second pop Album of the Year award.

The Grammys have a history of being unpredictable, but this year, with the stakes being so high, no winner would be a disappointment. My prediction however is Taylor Swift’s Midnights. due to her continued success, overwhelming impact on the music industry and her relatability to people who are voters and even those related to them. Her force is unstoppable if she wins or doesn’t, and in second place, I would pick Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS due to her continued momentum and impact following her debut into the music art scene. 

Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or its staff. Gabriel Kanae is a student at the University of Nevada studying journalism. They can be reached at gkanae@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.

Gabe Kanae

Gabriel “Gabe” Kanae (he/they) is a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno. He started by creating YouTube videos at 13 and now runs a podcast, takes analog photography and writes opinion articles, novels, poetry and makes films.

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