Grammy mystery: Who will be nominated in inaugural Best Pop Dance Recording race?

One of my most anticipated races this Grammy season is for the newly added Best Pop Dance Recording award. The category is meant to honor pop songs with strong dance and electronic elements, and was likely established to avoid the Best Dance/Electronic Recording category becoming a pure popularity contest. When big stars like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, or Justin Timberlake were nominated there against true electronic musicians, it often favored the pop acts. So with this new category, the Recording Academy can give a fair shake to both and nominate even more great material. But who exactly will be the contenders?

Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night” could arise as the potential front-runner. She’s a previous winner with both dance/electronic voters (“Electricity,” Best Dance/Electronic Recording in 2019) and pop voters (“Future Nostalgia,” Best Pop Vocal Album in 2021), and the song will likely be the biggest hit eligible in the category. Of course, sales alone can’t win you a Grammy, but the song’s visibility due to both radio airplay and the success of the “Barbie” movie could make it an easy pick for voters, especially since they have shown they love Dua Lipa’s retro sound. Still, the song might, ironically, not be considered dance enough for the screening panel and get slotted in Best Pop Solo Performance instead.

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Speaking of “Barbie” songs, there’s another that could be submitted in the category: Charli XCX‘s “Speed Drive.” In the event that Dua Lipa competes in Best Pop Solo Performance, perhaps Charli could win here instead. Not only does the song have visibility due to the “Barbie” movie, it’s also been a big success for Charli, becoming her first Hot 100 entry in almost a decade and a fan-favorite from the soundtrack. Plus, Charli has been a big name in the dance pop community for a while now with some of the most acclaimed electronic-inspired pop records of the 2010s and 2020s. As such, this might be the perfect opportunity to honor her with a Grammy.

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Charli XCX could be joined in the category by frequent collaborator Troye Sivan, who has one of the biggest dance pop hits of the year with “Rush.” The song became Sivan’s biggest solo hit in the US since his breakout single “Youth” and has been acclaimed by critics for its infectious composition. Like Charli, Sivan is a prominent dance pop artist who has been overlooked by the Grammys, so this year might be a good time to give him his first nomination.

Kylie Minogue’s “Padam Padam” has been one of the summer anthems of 2023 and could earn the pop icon her sixth Grammy nomination and first in over a decade. The song topped the Dance/Mix Show Airplay charts, and has so far amassed over 50 million Spotify streams. On top of that, dance voters have been fond of Minogue before, with all five of her previous nominations coming in that field, including a win in 2004 for “Come Into My World.”

Another past winner is Kaytranada, who won Best Dance/Electronic Recording in 2021 for his Kali-Uchis-assisted “10%.” This time around he joined forces with rapper Aminé and music legend Pharrell Williams for “4EVA” off Kaytranada and Aminé’s joint album, “Kaytraminé.” Voters have shown that they love Pharrell and Kaytranada; both have multiple Grammys. And Aminé is also a past Dance/Electronic Recording nominee. So it is likely that the combination of the three results in at least a nomination.

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Miley Cyrus’s “River” could be entered in the category, and given the year that Cyrus is having so far with her blockbuster single “Flowers,” perhaps she could net a nomination here as well. After all, the Grammys love to go all-in on their favorites each year, and now that pop and dance voters have been combined into the same field, there might be even more of a chance for that to happen. The song also peaked at number-two on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, so it’s one of the most successful contenders.

Another possibility is David Guetta, Anne-Marie and Coi Leray’s “Baby Don’t Hurt Me.” Guetta is a dance field favorite with six previous nominations in dance categories alone. This track peaked in the middle of the Hot 100 (at number-48) and has been a big radio player, peaking at number-12 on the pop chart.

Last but definitely not least, Bizarrap and Shakira’s “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” was one of the biggest moments in 2023 music, peaking atop the Global Spotify charts and inside the Hot 100’s top 10. The song might end up in Best Pop Duo/Group Performance instead, but if it gets slotted in Pop Dance, it will likely be among the nominees, especially with the year both Shakira and Bizarrap are having. It would be the latter’s first nomination, while it’d be Shakira’s sixth.

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