Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Breaking down the Album of the Year nominees at the 2024 Grammys

Who will win Album of the Year at the 66th Annual Grammys?
Courtesy of the Recording Academy’s Instagram

Album of the Year (AOTY) is one of the most contested categories at the Grammys. It is a category that spurs controversy and deep analysis with the announcement of nominees and winners. The Recording Academy’s choices regarding AOTY have added to accusations of racism and limited gender and racial diversity among the Recording Academy. The backlash to Beyonce’s AOTY loss for “RENAISSANCE” last year still looms over the category, and only heightens attention on the Academy’s decision at the upcoming awards ceremony.

This year, the slots for AOTY nominees are down from 10 to eight. Such a shift, though limiting the number of nominees, lessens the impact of vote splitting and eases the amount of voting work for Grammy voters. The makeup of the category, excluding Jon Batiste, are all albums made by women. It reflects 2023’s year in music, which saw women leading in the industry.

There are many dynamics at play for who wins this year. AOTY is never straightforward; it’s a play of music industry politics and the decisions regarding the winner are self-defined to the Recording Academy — essentially blurring the lines of who will win.

SZA’s “SOS” has already been dubbed the album that should win, though critics are unsure if it will. The album was met with critical, commercial and industry success, becoming the frontrunner for an AOTY win. It is one of the few albums in this category to achieve these three points of acclaim. If SZA does win, she could make history: it has been 25 years since a Black woman has won a Grammy for AOTY (Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was the last win). Her long-awaited sophomore album mobilized social conversations about Black womanhood and the methods of exploring emotions in expansive lyrical storytelling. “SOS” was the molding of SZA into an artist, and she undauntingly utilized a range of genres to build her storytelling.

“Midnights” could mark Taylor Swift’s fourth AOTY win. “Midnights,” though not Swift’s most critically acclaimed album, was steady in the Billboard 200’s top 10. In comparison to her other AOTY wins, “Midnights” is not as strong, yet Swift’s blockbuster year could potentially be what pushes her to a win. 2023 alone has been Swift’s Grammy campaign and her name stands as the loudest among her fellow nominees. A win for her could function as an achievement award — something that the Recording Academy is not above doing.

Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS” was another highly anticipated sophomore album nominated in this category. This is Rodrigo’s second AOTY nomination. From the moment “SOUR” dropped, fans were already asking the pop-punk star for a second album. The release of “GUTS” spread across social media, furthering the widespread awareness of Rodrigo’s progression as an artist. “GUTS” was widely received by music critics and performed well on the Billboard 200. Rodrigo utilized this album to build off her songwriting techniques from “SOUR.” As a Grammy Best New Artist winner, the Recording Academy is expecting an artist who has displayed growth with their new music.

Boygenius are first-time AOTY nominees with “the record.” The debut album follow-up to their well-received “boygenius” EP rapidly gained acclaim among music listeners and critics. Their breakout album combined alternative and rock with intermittent moments of folk. They are the only group to be nominated in this category. Critics have notedboygenius’s ability to cultivate their own musical space for both themselves and fans have aided in their rise. Their uniqueness defining music culture for themselves developed the lyricism of “the record.”

“The Age of Pleasure” marked a new era in Janelle Monáe’s artistry. This will be a second AOTY nomination for Monáe. They experiment with sexuality and diverging sounds that lean into Afro-futurism. “The Age of Pleasure” indulges in a time and space that eases the tensions and constrictions of modern life. The album is a sonic evolution of an artist, and its sound differentiates it from the other nominees’. If they win, they will become the first Black nonbinary artist to win AOTY.

Jon Batiste is aiming for a second AOTY win. It has been two years since his win for “We Are.” “World Music Radio” was an unexpected nomination in comparison to the other nominees. Batiste’s album flew under the radar, but his work is highly regarded by the Recording Academy for his skill set and his background as a musician.

“Endless Summer Vacation” truly was Miley Cyrus’s comeback album. After being snubbed by the Grammys for years, “Endless Summer Vacation” became Cyrus’s entry point to Grammy recognition. The record narrates an artist making sense of a new point of her life. Cyrus has been known to excel with a rock sound, but on this album chose to lean more into pop with elements of rock.

The acclaimed Lana Del Rey finds minimal recognition with the Recording Academy as she’s been nominated twice for AOTY, but has never secured a win. “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” was a mainstream return to the austerity of Del Rey’s artistry. Her ninth studio album uses a diversity of vocal tones and production techniques to give a range of performances throughout the album. Del Rey appears re-focused on the elements of her songwriting that propelled her to initial acclaim. With a couple parts of the album being ad-libbed, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” is Del Rey reaching into the peaks of who she can be as an artist.

When it comes to the Grammys, you must think like a Grammy voter to understand Grammy politics. With major players like SZA, Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo vying for important career wins, a vote split may ultimately determine the outcome. Come Sunday, the reveal of the Academy’s votes may lead to an underdog win or a win for clear critic favorite, “SOS.”


Suzanne Bagia can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *