Around 2009, the year Taylor Swift was nominated for a whopping eight Grammy Awards for her sophomore album Fearless, the country singer-turned-pop star’s shocked expression whenever she won an award became so familiar to the public that it turned into a meme. The following January, Swift went on to win in four of those categories, including Album of the Year, making the then-21-year-old musician the youngest recipient of the award to this day.
For most other artists, it would be inaccurate to call three Grammy nominations in a single year a snub. But this is Swift we’re talking about, who, as of today, has managed to rack up 35 nominations before the age of 30. This year, Swift earned a Song of the Year nod for “Lover,” the title track to her latest album, but the LP itself was left out of the Album of the Year category. That’s despite it being yet another chart-topping album for the artist, generating three Top 10 singles and earning a warmer reception from critics than her previous album, 2017’s Reputation.
This actually tracks well with how the Recording Academy has approached Swift’s albums in the past: Aside from Fearless, Swift has been nominated for Album of the Year twice, for Red in 2014 and 1989 in 2016, which won that year. More often, though, her albums have ended up getting shuffled into the genre categories: Best Country Album for Fearless, Speak Now, and Red, and Best Pop Vocal Album for everything following.
Lover did get a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album this year, alongside records from Swift’s buddy Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, and Ariana Grande, the latter two of which were also nominated for Album of the Year. A Swift album has never won in its genre category unless being nominated for — and winning — Album of the Year, and Lover is up against some steep competition this year from Eilish and Grande. Still, it’s not an unfathomable win, and the same Academy coalition that pushed for 1989’s victory in 2016 could be won over by Lover’s heartfelt synth-pop sound.
Another Swift track, “You Need to Calm Down,” is nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance, and facing off against much of the same competition as in the pop album category: Beyoncé, Eilish, Grande — and Lizzo, for “Truth Hurts,” which is also up for Record and Song of the Year. Again, it’ll be a tough category to win for Swift, and historically the Academy has awarded her more for her songwriting than for performance. But “You Need to Calm Down” is already an odd choice for this nomination to begin with (why didn’t “Lover” scoop up a second nomination instead?), so, as with most things, no one really knows what’s on the Academy’s mind.