The Weeknd is the leading nominee for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, with his 16 nods putting him ahead of DaBaby, with 11, the late Pop Smoke, with 10, and country singer Gabby Barrett, who’s up for nine.
Meghan Thee Stallion was the second most named female artist in Thursday morning’s announcement, coming in with seven nominations. Bad Bunny, Drake, the late Juice WRLD and Chris Brown also have seven chances this year. Lil Baby and Morgan Wallen have six nominations apiece, followed by Justin Bieber and Doja Cat with five.
Dick Clark Productions addressed Wallen’s six nods, saying he would not be invited to participate in the show despite his nominations because his recent actions did not meet with the show’s “core values.”
The Billboard Awards are not voted upon, per se, but reflect data collected by the music trade publication for its charts from streaming, sales, airplay and social engagement. The nominations for this set of awards are based on a chart period starting March 21, 2020 and ending a few weeks ago on April 3.
Last year, the telecast was delayed from its usual May spot until October as a result of the pandemic. For 2021, things are back to a normal schedule, with the show scheduled to be broadcast on May 23, airing live on both coasts at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC.
The contenders for the crowning category, Top Artist, are Taylor Swift (who has four nominations), the Weeknd Drake, Juice WRLD and Pop Smoke.
Top New Artist is a contest between Barrett, Doja Cat, Pop Smoke, Jack Harlow and Rod Wave.
The Weeknd’s overwhelming 16 nominations include bids for Top Artist,Top Male Artist, Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Streaming Songs Artist, Top Song Sales Artist, Top Radio Songs Artist, Top R&B Artist, Top R&B Male Artist, Top Billboard 200 Album, Top R&B Album, Top Hot 100 Song, Top Streaming Song, Top Selling Song, Top Radio Song, Top R&B Song and Top Latin Song.
Producers point out that Drake is poised to break his own record for the most wins of all time, if any of his six nominations results in a win. His current record stands at 27 Billboard Awards trophies, 12 of which came in the year 2019 alone. But should he not win any of his categories and Swift win all of her four nominations, those two artists would be tied at 27. Swift currently is in second place with 23 career awards, followed by Bieber with 20 and Garth Brooks with 19.
Either the Weeknd or Bieber could supplant Swift in the second-place spot if they win in all their possible categories.
Barrett’s tally is impressive, not just because she’s the leading female contender with nine nods, but because she’s never been nominated at all previously.
BTS looks likely to hold onto a streak in the Top Social Artist category; the K-group has had a lock on that division for the previous four years and may well make it five.
Wallen’s six nominations come even though he was recently barred from competing in another awards show produced by Dick Clark Productions, the Academy of Country Music Awards, because of the controversy over the country singer having been filmed using the N-word. Wallen remains on what he says is a voluntary time-out from publicly pursuing his career. Dick Clark Productions addressed Wallen’s inclusion in a statement, saying it could not exclude him in an awards process driven purely by data, but emphasizing that he would not be invited to participate in the show. His “Dangerous: The Double Album” remains the most consumed album of 2021 so far.
The full statement: “Unique among awards shows, Billboard Music Awards (BBMA) finalists are determined by performance on the Billboard charts, and are not chosen by a voting committee or membership organization. BBMA finalists and winners are based on key fan interactions with music (including album and digital song sales, streaming, radio airplay, social engagement), tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including MRC Data.”
It continued, “With our content reaching millions of viewers, dcp and MRC have the privilege and responsibility to effect change by creating a more inclusive dialogue in our productions and across the industry.
“Morgan Wallen is a finalist this year based on charting. As his recent conduct does not align with our core values, we will not be including him on the show in any capacity (performing, presenting, accepting).
“It is heartening and encouraging to hear that Morgan is taking steps in his anti-racist journey and starting to do some meaningful work. We plan to evaluate his progress and will consider his participation in future shows.”