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At this year’s Grammy Awards, Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo, two of music’s newest stars, will take on Abba and Tony Bennett, some of the wisest.
This is the unpredictable state of play in the first category of the awards ceremony – record of the year – where 10 artists of all genres, aged 19 to 95, will compete for the prize at the 64th annual ceremony on Sunday.
Growing from five to eight nominees in 2019, then to 10 in a last-minute change to this year’s list, Record of the Year honors a single track, based on the artist’s performance and the studio contributions of the producers, sound engineers and mixers.
The award can be seen as an attempt to sum up the previous year of popular music in one hard-hitting song: Recent Best Record trophies have gone to Billie Eilish – twice in a row, for “Bad Guy” and “Everything I Wanted” – along with Childish Gambino (“This Is America”), Bruno Mars (“24K Magic”) and Adele (“Hello”).
Eilish is nominated once again this year, for the dynamic “Happier Than Ever,” joining Lil Nas X’s eclectic “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” Rodrigo’s power ballad “Drivers License,” the Bennett and Lady Gaga’s rendition of “I Get a Kick Out of You”, and Abba’s comeback single “I Still Have Faith in You”.
To complete the category, “Peaches” by Justin Bieber, with Daniel Caesar and Giveon; “Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic, the R&B duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak; Just on Time by Brandi Carlile; “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat, featuring SZA; and “Freedom” by jazz pianist and late-night TV bandleader Jon Batiste.
To help make sense of this diverse musical buffet, The New York Times making-of series “Diary of a Song” brought together three critics and the pop music editor for a free conversation about the nominees, how these artists reflect on the Grammys and who – or should – win the trophy this weekend.
Jon Caramanica, New York Times pop music critic
Joe Coscarelli, New York Times pop music reporter and host of “Diary of a Song”
Caryn Ganz, New York Times pop music editor
Wesley Morris, spokesperson for the New York Times
Jon Pareles, New York Times Chief Pop Music Critic
“Diary of a Song” offers a behind-the-scenes look at how pop music is made today, using archival material – voice memos, demo versions, text messages, emails, interviews and more – to tell the story behind the track. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.