On top and then snubbed, Taylor Swift and the Grammys have a complicated history
‘Tis the damn season for the Grammy Awards and you know what that means: Country-pop hitmaker Taylor Swift has once again racked up a host of nominations — this time for her surprise quarantine album “Folklore.”
But before Swift was churning out record after bestselling record in pandemic lockdown, the Nashville-bred musician rose through the ranks as a masterful young songwriter with a knack for spinning teen romance and heartbreak into Grammy gold.
With a whopping 10 wins and 41 nominations, Swift and the Recording Academy have a long, complicated history leading up to the 63rd Grammy Awards, which air Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific on CBS.
From best new artist nominee to historic winner for album of the year, we broke down all of Swift’s Grammy moments — big and small — ahead of this weekend’s show.
2008: Swift nominated for best new artist
The Recording Academy was enchanted to meet Swift back in 2008, bestowing upon her a coveted nomination for best new artist. Among the rising country star’s competition were singers Feist and Ledisi, as well as the Hayley Williams-fronted rock band Paramore.
They all lost to the late Amy Winehouse, who also scored a nomination for album of the year with “Back to Black.”
Two years prior, Swift released her self-titled debut studio album, which featured popular tracks such as “Tim McGraw,” “Picture to Burn,” “Our Song” and “Teardrops on My Guitar.”
“I’m not going to prom this year,” an 18-year-old Swift said on the 2008 Grammys red carpet. “I decided to go to the Grammys instead.”
2010: ‘Fearless’ hits the jackpot
It wasn’t until two years later that Swift clinched her first four Grammys for female country vocal performance (“White Horse”), country song (“White Horse”), country album (“Fearless”) and album of the year (“Fearless”) — edging out the Dave Matthews Band, the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé for the top prize.
She also received a nomination that year for pop collaboration (“Breathe”) as well as female pop vocal performance, song of the year and record of the year for the hit single “You Belong With Me.” Other standouts from Swift’s second studio album included “Fifteen” and “Love Story.”
“I just hope that you know how much this means to me,” Swift said upon winning the biggest award of the night. “This is the story we’re going to be telling over and over again — in 2010, how we got to win album of the year at the Grammys. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
2012: ‘Speak Now’ excluded from major categories
We’d like to think Swift was addressing the Recording Academy directly when she sang, “Someday I’ll be living in a big, old city / And all you’re ever gonna be is mean,” onstage at the 2012 Grammy Awards.
Though she nabbed a couple of wins — country song and solo performance for “Mean” — and a nomination for country album, her third straight studio smash, “Speak Now,” was completely shut out of the major categories, despite its chart-topping success and glowing reviews.
Among the fan-favorite “Speak Now” earworms that received no love from Grammy voters were “Mine,” “Sparks Fly,” “Enchanted” and “Back to December.”
2013: Swift gets a boost from ‘The Hunger Games’
The odds were ever in Swift’s favor at the 2013 ceremony after she cowrote a song with the Civil Wars for the “Hunger Games” soundtrack.
The haunting collaboration, “Safe & Sound,” collected a nomination for country duo/group performance as well as a win for song written for visual media. Swift also scored a 2013 nomination for record of the year with the snarky empowerment anthem “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (like, ever).
2014: ‘Red’ falls short of Grammy gold
Swift was blue when “Red” lost the album of the year Grammy in 2014, admitting she skipped parties, went home and “cried a little bit” after the show. Swift was nominated for the top prize alongside Sara Bareilles, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Daft Punk.
“Everybody comes up to you, and they’re like, ‘Oh, you got this. You’re gonna win.’ ... and I wish they wouldn’t do that because you don’t know if you’re gonna win. And someone else could very well win. And someone else very well did,” she told Grammy Pro in 2015.
“When they announced the album of the year winner, it was like, ‘And the album of the year goes to... “Rrrrrandom Access Memories,” Daft Punk.’ And they really dragged out the ‘Rrrrra,’ and ... for a second there, I thought we had it. And we didn’t.”
The songwriting machine’s country-pop crossover album scored a handful of nominations, including country song (“Begin Again”) and country album, but came up short of any wins. Standout “Red” tracks included “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “22" and “All Too Well,” which she performed a passionate piano rendition of during the Grammys ceremony.
2015: ‘Shake It Off’ makes a splash
After coming away from the 2014 Grammy Awards empty-handed, Swift managed to shake it off with her poppiest lead single yet, which scored nods for both record and song of the year.
A marked departure from Swift’s country roots, “Shake It Off” also landed a nomination for pop solo performance, solidifying the artist’s transition to the genre. But the three nominations ended up being exactly that.
2016: Swift makes history with ‘1989'
Any bad blood between Swift and the Recording Academy had apparently dissipated by 2016 when she secured her second Grammy for album of the year — along with a slew of additional wins and nominations. Swift and Adele are the only female artists to win album of the year twice for their solo work.
“As the first woman to win album of the year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” Swift said during her acceptance speech, a sharp rebuke of a notorious Kanye West lyric about her.
“But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
Taylor Swift shamed Kanye West without even uttering his name during her acceptance speech for Album of the Year at the 58th Grammy Awards on Monday night.
Swift took home the top prize that year for her first fully pop record, “1989,” beating out the Weeknd, Chris Stapleton, Alabama Shakes and Lamar (whose third studio album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” was considered snubbed by many).
She also landed the Grammys for pop vocal album (“1989") and music video (“Bad Blood,” featuring Lamar), as well as nominations for pop duo/group performance (“Bad Blood”), pop solo performance, record of the year and song of the year (“Blank Space”).
2018: Swift, Zayn and ‘Fifty Shades’
After a two-year hiatus, Swift returned to the Grammys via the soundtrack for another blockbuster movie franchise, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Her “Fifty Shades Darker” duet with ex-One Direction vocalist Zayn Malik, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” scored a nomination that year for song written for visual media, but ended up losing to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s “Moana.”
Swift also received a country song nomination for “Better Man,” which she penned for the band Little Big Town.
2019: ‘Reputation’ fizzles
Call it what you want — a slight, an oversight, a snub. The Recording Academy was not impressed with Swift’s angsty sixth studio album. Despite some commercial and critical acclaim, “Reputation” scored only one Grammy nomination for pop vocal album.
2020: Slightly more love for ‘Lover’
Though it didn’t land the album of the year nomination many felt it deserved, Swift’s romantic seventh studio album fared slightly better than “Reputation” at the 2020 Grammys with nods for pop solo performance (“You Need to Calm Down”), pop vocal album (“Lover”) and song of the year (“Lover”).
Still, Swift emerged with zero trophies and far less glory than expected, prompting some to speculate as to whether her public feud with music mogul Scooter Braun had an impact on the nominations.
The 2021 Grammy nominations, in 83 categories
2021: Swift poised to make history (again) with ‘Folklore’
Petition to add a cottagecore category to the Grammys just so Swift’s rapid-fire 2020 records can compete against each other?
Just kidding. Swift’s latest studio effort, “Evermore,” is not eligible for the 63rd Grammy Awards despite debuting the same year as its sister release, “Folklore.” But “Folklore” is up for album of the year, which means Swift is poised for a historic hat trick.
Our experts forecast wins for Beyoncé's ‘Black Parade’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore,’ and that the odds may be stacked against Megan Thee Stallion.
The seasoned singer-songwriter has six nominations going into Sunday’s ceremony, also including song of the year (“Cardigan”), pop solo performance (“Cardigan”), pop duo/group performance (“Exile”) and pop vocal album (“Folklore”).
She even managed to land a Grammy nomination for Tom Hooper’s widely panned film adaptation of “Cats” with “Beautiful Ghosts,” which she co-wrote with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“The Grammys love a comeback narrative,” writer Charles Holmes said in a recent discussion with The Times’ Suzy Exposito and Mikael Wood about this year’s Grammy contenders. “They slept on ‘Reputation’ and ‘Lover’ and now they get the chance to say, ‘Taylor, welcome back — you’re a true artist again.’”
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