Dance Music Grammy Nominees Could Make History

The Recording Academy has had an uneasy relationship with dance music. Their two dance categories fail to fully encompass its diversity.

This year at the Grammys, they created a category to recognize electronica’s crossover with pop music. This has created space for artists such as Aphex Twin and U.K. sensation Romy to make it onto the list.

Dance/Electronic Album

The Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album is one of the world’s premier music honors, first presented in 1958 to recording artists who had made significant contributions to dance music with full-length albums released throughout that year. So far, only three dance music albums have ever won GRAMMYs; these were Skrillex’s Bangarang; Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and The Chemical Brothers’ Syro. This year’s GRAMMYs will take place on Feb 4, 2024. This year’s nominees include an impressive array of electronic dance artists such as Skrillex for his song Rumble from his album Quest For Fire and Fred Gibson who previously received two GRAMMY nominations (for Strong with UK grime artist Flowdan from Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9, 2022).

This year marks a new category – Best Pop Dance Recording – designed to recognize artists whose works cross over heavily from dance music into pop music genres like pop and hip hop. Major artists like Calvin Harris and David Guetta both have songs nominated for this award.

However, this year’s nominees still lack representation from across dance music’s wider ecosystem; no female producers or artists of color were nominated despite this Academy having long done away with such artists from its dance music categories and more broadly the entire EGMA. This lack of inclusion is especially disappointing considering this Academy has historically made no effort to include these groups within its dance music categories and beyond.

The 2024 Grammy nods represent an improvement, yet the Recording Academy still lacks diversity when nominating artists for prizes. Furthermore, Beyonce’s Renaissance was almost removed from dance categories because this would have devalued it and further obscured EDM’s rich history of Black and queer production.

Dance/Electronic Song

Last year, the Recording Academy presented Kaytranada and his album Bubba with its Best Dance/Electronic Album award (or just Best Dance Album). As only the second Black artist ever to do so, two nominees could create history this year: Jess Glynne’s “Rather Be” and Max Martin and Shellback’s “Panda”. If these works win one or both awards it would mark a first ever win for female producers!

The introduction of the Pop Dance Award at the Grammys has been widely celebrated as a huge victory for electronic artists who often fall out of favour due to dominant genres like hip-hop, Latin and pop. This move aimed to better represent the global dance scene and give producers, engineers, mixers – who are at the heart of everything from mainstream pop remixes to underground drum ‘n’ bass tracks – their proper recognition.

While this was an encouraging step forward, more needs to be done when it comes to recognising diversity within dance music genre. When choosing winners for best dance music grammy awards, white males usually dominate this category and in certain years these votes become even more lopsided than usual.

Grammy members are permitted to vote in multiple categories without verification of experience or expertise in each. According to an insider speaking with Mixmag, it’s likely that there are Grammy members voting in dance music categories who don’t produce or perform dance music but still participate.

Diplo, ODESZA and beloved dance music producers Honey Dijon and Green Velvet all earned nominations this year; alongside them in the top five are Diplo and ODESZA who made waves this year, joining popular pop dance acts Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding’s Trance Redux hit Miracle as well as David Guetta’s collaborations with Anne-Marie, Coi Leray and Bebe Rexha on this year’s list of nominees.

Dance/Electronic Performance

the Grammys has traditionally taken an unappreciative stance toward dance music. Although they recognize its genre with two specific dance categories, fitting the wide array of sounds and styles into those confines has proved challenging – often leading to winners and nominees being predominantly white males obscuring its Black and queer roots. That may soon change thanks to new category called best pop dance recording which recognizes artists that combine dance beats with pop influences seamlessly.

The 2024 Grammys could mark one of the most representative years for dance/electronic music thanks to this new category’s introduction. It gave rise to artists like Aphex Twin (nominated for Blackbox Life Record 21F) and U.K. sensation Romy (nominated for Actual Life 3). Furthermore, ODESZA, Diplo, and Bonobo all created opportunities with albums that showcase its broad influence across musical forms.

However, with its inclusion of pop elements, dance-pop can make it difficult to differentiate from the wide variety of styles that have made up dance over the years. This is particularly evident in dance-pop’s focus on big melodies and high-profile vocalists as compared to trance, house or dubstep’s high impact beats and hypnotic grooves. While certainly worthy endeavors for sure.

However, this year’s nominees give us a glimpse into the future of dance music. The addition of a pop dance category gives prominent artists in this genre the chance to regain some of its lost clout and legitimacy; something all fans of dance music can applaud! Whether they enjoy radio-friendly dance-pop radio bangers or underground drum ‘n bass; this category ensures everyone in this ever-expanding scene will have an opportunity to be heard on music’s biggest stage.

Dance/Electronic Duo/Group

the Grammys remain one of the most coveted awards in popular music, and winning or being nominated can help an artist sell more albums, secure more work, and demand higher fees. Unfortunately, when it comes to dance/electronic recording categories like best dance/electronic recording at Grammys awards ceremonies, winners and nominees have typically been comprised cis white men, further privilaging them over non-white, non-male peers while concealing dance music’s Black/queer roots.

This year’s category finally marked progress with the inclusion of both a Pop Dance Recording category to recognize songs that cross over into popular genres and a diversity-focused craft committee designed to address past racial and gender biases in nomination process. Also notable in this year’s nominations is Aphex Twin and Flowdan’s inclusion – first artists of color to ever receive nominations in this category!

For this year’s category, songs must have been commercially released between Oct. 1, 2023 and Sept 30, 2024 and available to US residents via at least one online retailer or streaming service (ie: Bandcamp releases don’t qualify). Voting members and registered music companies then submit entries that will be verified against eligibility before being entered onto the ballot for consideration.

On Feb. 4, Music’s Biggest Night will announce this year’s winner of this prestigious award. Voting members of The Recording Academy are active participants in both creative and technical processes related to recording. Their voting members take part in two processes, 1) nomination process which selects five finalists per category; and 2) final vote which decides winners in each category. Voters are allowed to vote in all categories during the nominating process, even those outside their expertise or experience. According to Charlie*, an insider at the Grammys, there’s nothing preventing voters from changing their genre preferences online and voting for songs outside their preferred genre – this could potentially influence results in categories like Best Dance/Electronic Recording as well as production-focused awards.