Lizzo is in first place, scoring eight bids Wednesday for her fun, positive rap-pop style that has made her not only the year’s top new act, but arguably the year’s most successful musician.
She and Eilish — who created her best-selling debut album with her brother Finneas at their home studio — each earned nominations in the top four categories: album, song and record of the year, along with best new artist. Lil Nas X, who burst onto music charts with the country-trap anthem “Old Town Road,” earned nominations for album, record and song of the year.
Yola, the British country-soul singer who scored four nominations, said she feels honored to be nominated for best new artist alongside Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Eilish.
“You just couldn’t ignore the contribution that Lizzo’s brought, or Lil Nas, and the conversation he and I have been opening up about country music,” said Yola. “And obviously Billie, she’s killing it.
“I find it really hard to believe that I was awake — that it was a real thing. It’s such a hard category to get into,” she added.
Rounding out the nominees for best new artist are pop singer Maggie Rogers, Spanish artist Rosalía, New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas and Austin-based duo Black Pumas.
H.E.R., who scored five nominations at last year’s Grammys, including a bid for best new artist, returns this year with five more nominations. She won two awards in the R&B categories earlier this year and said she’s not sure what advice to offer the new acts who are dominating in Grammy nominations.
“I don’t even know if I can give advice because everything felt so surreal to me. I was just thankful, and I know the nominations itself is just a stamp on all the hard work,” she said. “It solidifies that, like, ‘Wow, I really made it to even be named among these artists. It’s just a good feeling.”
Yola, who spoke from Germany where she was performing Wednesday, said she couldn’t stop crying after getting the good news. Her other nominations include best American Roots performance and best American Roots song for “Faraway Look,” as well as best Americana album for “Walk Through Fire,” which was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
“I’m an album-maker more than a person that focuses on singles, so that’s just really meaningful,” she said.
Creating an album instead of focusing on singles is also important to H.E.R., who is returning to the 2020 Grammys with her second nomination for album of the year.
“I can’t believe it honestly. It’s a big category. It’s like the biggest category,” H.E.R. said in a phone interview from London. “It feels like the first time again.”
She’s got some stiff competition for the show’s big award: Along with Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You,” Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and Lil Nas X’s “7,” H.E.R.’s “I Used to Know Her” will compete with Vampire Weekend’s “Father of the Bride,” Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” Bon Iver’s “I, I” and Lana Del Rey’s “Norman (Expletive) Rockwell!”
The R&B singer-songwriter-guitarist is also up for record and song of the year with “Hard Place.” In song of the year, women dominate with seven of the eight nominations, including Lady Gaga, Eilish, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Lana Del Rey and Tanya Tucker.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” she said of the women taking over. “Absolutely.”
H.E.R. said the key to her success has been staying true to herself and following whatever sound and style she wants to explore. Her goal, she said, is to be a genre-less artist.
“The fact of the matter is — I’m not just one thing. And I love all styles of music,” she said. “I listen to Led Zeppelin and I listen to Jimi Hendrix. And I also listen to a lot of Drake, and I also listen to a lot of hip-hop from today. The range, as far as what I love, is so wide that it’s only right for me to explore the things that I love.”