Lizzo slyly boasted about fighting, running and crying “like a girl” on her 2019 album. Now she can brag about bringing positive change to the music industry, like all the young women who lead the list of Grammy Award nominations announced Wednesday morning.
The former Minneapolis resident will compete against — or more like: celebrate with — the likes of Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, H.E.R. and Lana Del Rey at the Grammy ceremony Jan. 26 in Los Angeles.
A Detroit-born rapper and singer who went from opening slots in the tiny 7th St. Entry to selling out First Avenue over a six-year run in Minnesota before shoving off for Los Angeles in 2017, Lizzo earned nominations in all four of the biggest categories: album of the year, song of the year, record of the year and best new artist.
The song and record votes came for her DNA-tested, Minnesota Vikings name-dropping single “Truth Hurts,” which actually was first released two years ago but became eligible when it was added to her 2019 album “Cuz I Love You.” It proceeded to spend two months atop the Billboard singles chart to become one of this year’s biggest pop hits.
A sign that she’s much more than a one-hit wonder — and a reminder how confusing some of the deeper Grammy categories can be — Lizzo’s other nods include best R&B performance for the song “Exactly How I Feel,” best traditional R&B performance for “Jerome” and best urban contemporary album.
She was shut out of the male-dominated hip-hop and rap categories, though. Her main collaborator, Ricky Reed, earned a producer of the year nomination.
Lizzo is up against her former Upper Midwest music cohort Bon Iver for album of the year and record of the year. The main vehicle of Eau Claire, Wis.-based singer/songwriter Justin Vernon earned those nods for “i, i” and “Hey, Ma,” respectively.
Another transplant to the Twin Cities, Kenyan native J.S. Ondara, earned a nomination for best Americana album with his appropriately titled “Tales of America.” The 27-year-old singer/songwriter did not even know how to play guitar when he moved to Minnesota in 2013 out of his love for Bob Dylan.
Meanwhile, Twin Cities-based folk duo the Okee Dokee Brothers, who won a Grammy for best children’s album in 2012, landed a fourth nod in that category with the very Minnesota-flavored “Winterland.”
While Lizzo has left the state, a singer who grew up in Minnesota and recently moved back to Minneapolis, Adrianne Lenker, earned a nomination for best alternative music album opposite Vampire Weekend and Bon Iver with her band Big Thief and their first of two well-received 2019 releases, “U.F.O.F.”
In the best new artist category — which Bon Iver won in 2012 — Lizzo joined a diverse group that includes “Old Town Road” hitmaker Lil Nas X, Rosalia, Tank & the Bangas, Yola, the Black Pumas and Eilish.
A 17-year-old Los Angeles electro-pop singer who shot to fame via songs she made in her bedroom with her brother Finneas, Eilish also earned nods for album of the year (“When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”) and record of the year (“Bad Guy”); the former category is a songwriter award, while the latter is for recording production.
Eilish is the youngest artist ever to show up in all four top categories.
A decade and a half removed from her own wunderkind star status — which, unlike Eilish, saw her mostly written off by the Grammys then — Swift not surprisingly showed up in many categories with her latest mega-catchy album “Lover,” the song of the same name and the single “You Need to Calm Down.”
After riding out a bout of tragedy that included the 2017 suicide bombing that killed 22 fans at her concert in Manchester, England, Florida-reared pop singer Grande also joined the album of the year list and several other categories with her album, “Thank U, Next.”
Other nominations for album of the year include Del Rey’s “Norman F*ing Rockwell,” Vampire Weekend’s “Father of the Bride,” Lil Nas X’s “7” and H.E.R.’s “I Used to Know Her.”
With his quirky Billy Ray Cyrus country-rap collaboration “Old Town Road” breaking records this year as one of the most successful singles of all time, 20-year-old Georgia rapper Lil Nas X could be a hard act to beat. But he, too, represents a fresh look for the Grammys since he, Eilish and Lizzo are all first-time nominees who all showed up in the major categories.
After earning criticism in recent years for a lack of diversity among its nominees and a comment by a former board chair that women “need to step it up,” the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences enlisted a new president this year, Deborah Dugan, along with 900 new voters.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658