Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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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

Exploring the Record of the Year nominees at the 2024 Grammys

Here are the Grammys’ Record of the Year nominees
Courtesy of Miley Cyrus’s Instagram

Record of the Year (ROTY) is a Big Four category in the Grammys general field. The ROTY award is based on the recording quality of a song and is given to the performing artist, producer, recording engineer and mixer. There are eight nominees for this category. ROTY is reserved for the biggest hits of the year that are outstanding in their production. This year, ROTY is nearly a repeat of the AOTY nominees, except for Victoria Monét and Billie Eilish.

Victoria Monét’s “On My Mama” was a breakthrough hit that went viral over the summer. It’s a showcase of Monet’s ability to take the attributes of her songwriting and create a stand-out career as a lead artist. This is Monét’s first time being nominated for ROTY as a lead artist; she was previously nominated as a songwriter for “7 Rings” by Ariana Grande. Monét has been nominated for two other Grammys as a songwriter, including Album of the Year. Produced alongside Grammy winner D’Mile, “On My Mama” is a traditional R&B hit that brought attention back to the genre. Monét’s vocals switch in pace along with smooth beat changes. The production is a dynamic mix of consistent beats and instrumentals.

Billie Eilish is a past ROTY winner and Grammy favorite. She’s won this category twice and has been nominated four times. “Barbie” had a record-breaking year and Eilish’s song helped carry the soundtrack. A song that leaves its listeners feeling introspective, “What Was I Made For?” found itself highly played, making year-end lists as a top song of 2023. The song was a reinvigoration of the vocals we’re used to hearing from Eilish. A slow-tempoed hit, it stands apart from its competitors. This song alone was a re-visitation to Eilish’s artistry, and definitely a song that Grammy voters were excited to hear.

“Not Strong Enough” was the fourth single from boygenius’s “the record.” A thoroughly collaborative track, the bridge struck with fans instantly. The song is driven by a melodic drum beat from beginning to end. It went number one on the Billboard Alternative charts, cementing a success in non-mainstream circles. The recognition of “Not Strong Enough” in the general field showcases the song’s strengths, but it’s mainly a genre-focused success that may make it more successful in its nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance.

“Flowers” is the lead and introductory single from Miley Cyrus’s “Endless Summer Vacation.” The song defined her new era and quickly met widespread acclaim and virality by breaking streaming records. The interpolation of Bruno Mars’s “When I Was Your Man” finds a liberating pace on “Flowers.” The song has a consistent beat that rises to meet an engaging chorus and post-chorus. Though not much of a diversity in sound, the chanting and repetition along soft drum cymbals is what pulled in the public. The upbeat resilience with simplicity in production may have been what finally drew the Recording Academy’s attention.

Olivia Rodrigo’s breakout hit “drivers license” was a ROTY nominee, ultimately winning for Best Pop Solo Performance. This year, she’s nominated for a second time with “vampire.” The song has sharp transitions met with emotive vocals, and an anxious pacing just like in “drivers license.” The production is constantly trying to build up to something’ Rodrigospoke about how this sound was intentional to represent the repression of built-up emotions. “vampire” is a continuation of Rodrigo’s skills in developing a sonic landscape that emphasizes the feelings of any situation whether it be in the past, present or projecting into the future.

“Anti-Hero” is Taylor Swift’s bid for a ROTY win. She’s been nominated in the past for “You Belong with Me,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.” These are all songs that were Swift’s biggest hits, yet still left her without any wins. This year, “Anti-Hero” has been nominated for Song of the Year as well. Her last three Song of the Year wins have not been matched with a ROTY nomination. “Anti-Hero” received strong radio airplay and had a great performance on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was Swift’s return to mainstream pop after the indie-pop nature of “Folklore” and “Evermore.”

“Kill Bill” is the song that follows SZA’s cannonball warning of “SOS.” An underlying boom bap drum beat carries the production of the song. One of the producers, Carter Lang, opted for a swing style production for “Kill Bill.” A swing production can create a visceral engagement with the music, which is why you’ll unconsciously nod along to the song’s beat. The intentionality of “Kill Bill”’s production shows how SZA seeks to have an interactive world within her music. She is aiming for her first ROTY win as a lead artist. She’s been nominated twice in this category as a featured artist for “All The Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat.

Jon Batiste is a second-time nominee in the ROTY category with “Worship.” In the song’s intro, Batiste utilizes more technical production rather than traditional instrumentation. Throughout the song, there is a mix of production that causes a voice effect across pitches and a background of saxophones and drums. Batiste is a traditional jazz artist who engages in an expanded repertoire for “Worship.” The notable production shifts differ from his previous ROTY nomination for his song “Freedom.” His return to the category exemplifies an artist who has chosen to build upon his strengths to engage with a style that may not easily fit within his discography.

For the 2024 Grammys, ROTY is a stacked category. “Anti-Hero,” “Flowers,” “Kill Bill” and “What Was I Made For?” are all songs that were inescapable in 2023. Most critics believe that Swift could finally receive a ROTY win. However, the high performing “Flowers” and Grammy favorite Eilish could also easily take the award.


Suzanne Bagia can be reached at [email protected]

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