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There has been some uncertainty about whether Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) will be eligible for the 65th annual Grammy Awards. The album, if eligible, would be a strong contender for nominations for both album of the year and best country album.
The album contains new recordings of the 16 songs that first appeared on the standard edition of Swift’s 2002 album Red, which was nominated in both of those categories nine years ago. The album also contains new recordings of 14 more songs that didn’t appear on the standard edition of the original album.
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The mystery deepened Thursday when the Academy posted its “rules and guidelines” handbook online. Under general eligibility guidelines for albums, it says: “Updated, revised or expanded versions of previously submitted albums will not be eligible.”
Does that mean Red (Taylor’s Version) is out?
On Friday (July 15), in answer to a question from Billboard, the Recording Academy said that Swift’s album will be eligible, “as it is a new recording.”
The Academy didn’t have to rule on whether Swift’s previous re-recorded album, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), would be eligible because Swift didn’t enter it for awards consideration. She had another album, Evermore, in contention last year. Awards-savvy artists (and Swift surely is one) know that Rule 1 of the awards game is not to compete with yourself.
As it turns out, Evermore wound up with a Grammy nomination for album of the year, but only after the Academy expanded the number of album of the year nominees from eight to 10. (The expansion brought Evermore and Kanye West’s Donda into contention, a fact that the Academy reluctantly confirmed to Billboard after The New York Times made the claim in a story about the expansion.)
If Red (Taylor’s Version) is among the 10 nominees for album of the year when the 65th annual Grammy nominations are announced on Nov. 15, it would be Swift’s fifth nomination in that category. That would put her just one album behind Barbra Streisand as the female artist with the most album of the year nominations.
Swift’s previous album of the year contenders are Fearless (which won), Red, 1989 (which won), Folklore (which won) and Evermore.
Red (Taylor’s Version) would be the first re-recording of an album by an artist to be nominated for album of the year. But other situations were similar.
Frank Sinatra won the 1966 award for album of the year for A Man and His Music, a two-disc collection of re-recordings of his classic hits, many of which he had originally recorded for his previous labels, RCA, Columbia and Capitol. Sinatra culled re-recordings of those hits from his previous albums for Reprise Records and also re-recorded three songs specifically for the project.
Nat King Cole received a 1961 nomination for album of the year for the multi-disc set The Nat King Cole Story. The reason for the re-recording in this case wasn’t label licensing issues (he was always a Capitol Records artist), but sound quality. He wanted to present his recordings, some of which dated to the 1940s, in stereo sound.
Two recordings of Jesus Christ Superstar were nominated for album of the year. The two-disc rock opera featuring Ian Gillan, Murray Head and Yvonne Elliman, which was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for three nonconsecutive weeks in 1971, was nominated for the 1971 award. The Broadway cast album, featuring Ben Vereen and Elliman was nominated for the 1972 award.
This would be the third year in a row that Swift has been an album of the year nominee. As noted above, she won the 2020 award for Folklore and was nominated for the 2021 award for Evermore. She is vying to become the first artist with three consecutive nominations in this category since Lady Gaga, who was nominated for the 2009 award for her debut album, The Fame; the 2010 award for her eight-song EP, The Fame Monster; and the 2011 award for her sophomore album, Born This Way.
Red (Taylor’s Version) may also be nominated for best country album (where there are just five nominees). It would be Swift’s fourth nomination in that category. Only three female solo artists have received four or more nods in that category – Trisha Yearwood (eight), Miranda Lambert (six, counting one with Pistol Annies) and Faith Hill (four).