Surprisingly, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s smash single “WAP” was not submitted for 2021 Grammy Awards consideration, a source close to the situation has confirmed to Variety. Instead, the song will be submitted for the 2022 Grammys as part of the campaign for Cardi’s long-awaited sophomore major-label album, the source confirmed; the news was first reported by Pitchfork.
The move is doubly surprising because “WAP” is one of the biggest singles of the year, and broke the record for most-streamed song in its first week of release with a whopping 93 million.
While some outlets immediately assumed the move was a colossal blunder, there’s a strategy at work. Like most good things in life, Grammy nominations don’t just happen: recordings must be officially submitted (usually by the label), and strong words and hurt feelings can ensue when a recording is mistakenly not submitted.
However, the source tells Variety that was not the case here, and Cardi’s management team and her label, Atlantic Records, made the decision to wait until next year as part of a major push around the album, which apparently will include “WAP” and will thus remain eligible. The eligibility window for the 2021 Grammy Awards runs from Sept. 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020; “WAP” was released on Aug. 7.
In recent years major artists have been more likely to make the obverse move by, for example, releasing a single in August to qualify for one year’s Grammys and the album in November to qualify for the next, thus doubling their Grammy exposure for consecutive years; intentionally or not, Taylor Swift has made that move a couple of times.
However, other artists hold off, presumably on the assumption that they’d have a better chance in a year when there’s more momentum behind them. For example, Billie Eilish would have been eligible for the 2018 Best New Artist Grammy behind the release of her debut EP “Don’t Smile at Me,” but elected to hold off until the release of “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” her multiplatinum debut album. Consequently, she swept the “Big Four” Grammys — Album, Song and Record of the Year along with Best New Artist — at the awards earlier this year.
While Variety’s source did not comment on the decision, it seems likely that even with one of the biggest hits of this troubled year, Cardi’s team elected to wait for the full album campaign.