This year’s nominees in Grammy’s visual media categories may look surprisingly different from those of previous years, with a greater emphasis on television scores, reflecting the impact of the pandemic and a huge spike in TV watching.
Of the three categories (compilation soundtrack, score soundtrack, song), that shift will most likely be seen in the score category, where such popular series as “Bridgerton,” “Loki,” “WandaVision” and “The Undergound Railroad” are entered – not to mention recent Emmy winners for their music (including “The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Mandalorian” and “The Flight Attendant”), giving them more than usual prominence.
Only six of Grammy’s 105 score-soundtrack nominees over the past 20 years have been for TV shows, and only one has won (HBO’s “Chernobyl,” by “Joker” composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, in 2020).
However, because the Grammy eligibility period is odd (September 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021), four of last year’s five best-score Oscar nominees are also entered, including the winner, “Soul” (the others being “Mank,” “Minari” and “News of the World”). Certainly “Soul” will be nominated and could win that Grammy for composers Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste.
But few 2021 film releases are included in the 309 score entries. The more high-profile titles are “Dune,” “Black Widow,” “Cruella,” “Luca” and “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.” Voters may also give the “Star Wars: Squadrons” video game soundtrack a look, as many voters may have been playing a lot of games over the past year (only one game score has ever been nominated: “Journey” in 2013).
Curiously, the James Bond film “No Time to Die” missed the eligibility period by one day (the soundtrack was released Oct. 1) and did not make the list. That’s another curiosity for Grammy history in that Billie Eilish’s title song – which was declared eligible last year, even though the movie wasn’t released until Oct. 8 of this year – has already won.
The statistics are similar in the song category. Only seven of the 105 nominees over the last 20 years were from TV, and only one has won: a song from “Malcolm in the Middle” in 2002.
And while four of this year’s 168 song entries were Oscar nominees (and one of them, H.E.R.’s “Fight for You,” won the Academy Award), the hugely popular Emmy winner, “Agatha All Along” from “WandaVision,” is competing, along with the “Ted Lasso” theme.
New songs from this year’s theatrical releases include tunes from “Cruella,” “In the Heights,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect.”
The list for the compilation-soundtrack category is the shortest, with just 71 entries, and the lines are blurred. Theatrical releases including “Cruella,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “F9: The Fast Saga,” “In the Heights,” “The Prom” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” are competing against TV projects including “Bridgerton” and music-driven films that either debuted on streaming services or migrated there quickly, including “Annette,” “Cinderella” and “Respect.”