Album of the Year
Winner: We Are – Jon Batiste
Heading into the night with an astounding 11 nominations, the most of any artist at this year’s awards, Jon Batiste also took home the most trophies (five), including a surprise win for Album of the Year. Peaking at No. 86 on the Billboard 200 and receiving just a handful of mainstream ratings, We Are seemed an unlikely winner among a pool of nominees that included smash hit tracks from Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, and Taylor Swift, yet its ultimate victory proved that an album does not need widespread critical or commercial success to prevail. Batiste first unveiled the album’s title track in May 2020 to voice support for the Black Lives Matter movement, incorporating the sounds he had captured from the demonstrations into the piece. “We Are” eventually became a thirteen-song set that, while nodding to the musician’s jazz roots, integrates elements of rock ‘n’ roll, New Orleans-based gospel, and soul to tell stories of Black pride, family, and justice. The expansive album traverses numerous styles and genres, from a hip-hop- and punk-inspired 16-bit video game sample (“Whatchutalkinbout”) to an impassioned piano instrumental (“Movement 11′”), transcending genre boundaries and challenging the notion that music must fit into a neat genre package.
“[A] lot of the music that we make fits into genres, and I wanted to make music that was not going based on that system,” Batiste explained to Atwood Magazine. “This music is a representation of genreless music that’s just about the story.”
Record of the Year and Song of the Year
Winner: “Leave the Door Open” – Silk Sonic
As part of their clean sweep at the 2022 Grammys, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, collectively known as Silk Sonic, took home the honors for both Record and Song of the Year. The pair released “Leave the Door Open,” their first collaborative single, on March 5, 2021 and performed it nine days later at the 2021 Grammys, where they made their official debut as a duo. The song, which weaves together elements of R&B, pop, and Philadelphia soul, is the lead single from Silk Sonic’s first LP An Evening with Silk Sonic. It has garnered critical and commercial success, topping music charts in the United States, New Zealand, Israel, and Malaysia as critics applauded Mars and .Paak’s vocals along with the track’s composition. “Leave the Door Open” has been characterized as a “detailed erotic invitation”, as the two men sing about coaxing a fine woman into joining them for an intimate evening against a backdrop of sparkling instrumentation and spacious harmonies. This, in the words of Consequence magazine staff and Mary Siroky, makes the song “nothing if not luxurious, velvety goodness.”
Best New Artist
Winner: Olivia Rodrigo
“This is my biggest dream come true,” Rodrigo said as she accepted the Grammy for Best New Artist while trying to hold back happy tears. Going into the evening with seven nominations, including nods for each of the Big Four categories, the Disney veteran and breakout pop phenom also won Best Pop Vocal Album for her chart-topping debut LP Sour and Best Pop Solo Performance for her megahit heartbreak song “Drivers License”. Rodrigo first gained recognition through her starring roles in Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, composing and performing the Billboard Hot 100 charting track “All I Want” for the latter. Her work on the song led to a deal with Geffen Records, and she released her debut single “Drivers License” in January 2021. The blockbuster ballad dominated the Billboard Hot 100, standing atop the chart for eight weeks, making the then 17-year-old Rodrigo the youngest artist to achieve this feat. Following “Drivers License,” the rising star modified her initial plan to produce an EP and decided to release a full-length album, unveiling her next smash hit singles “Deja Vu” and “good 4 u” in April and May 2021, respectively. On May 21, 2021, Rodrigo released Sour, her critically acclaimed 11-track set detailing the ups and downs of growing up and heartbreak, dispelling any worries that she would be a one-hit-wonder.
For a full list of nominees and winners, click here.