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Musician Jon Batiste leads Grammy Award nominations with 11

Jon Batiste performs during the Global Citizen Festival

Jon Batiste performs during the Global Citizen Festival on Sept. 25 in Central Park. Credit: AP/Stefan Jeremiah

Jon Batiste might be the Grammys biggest surprise. The multigenre performer and recent Oscar winner made such an impression on voters that he scored the most nominations — 11 — on Tuesday.

Batiste earned an album of the year nod for "We Are" along with record of the year with "Freedom," a feel-good ode to the city of New Orleans. His nominations span several genres including R&B, jazz, American roots music, classical and music video.

Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and H.E.R. each came away with the second-most nominations with eight by the time the Recording Academy was done announcing its nominees for its Jan. 31 show. Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo both had seven nods.

Along with Batiste’s surprise domination, another shock was The Weeknd nabbing three nominations after the pop star claimed he would not allow his label to submit his music. Earlier this year, he angrily slammed the Grammys, calling them "corrupt" after he received zero nominations despite 2020’s biggest single, "Blinding Lights."

Even though The Weeknd said he would boycott future Grammys, he still became a nominee for his work on album of the year projects, including Doja Cat’s deluxe edition "Planet Her" and Kanye West’s "Donda." His third nomination was for his appearance on West’s single "Hurricane," which also features Lil Baby.

"What I like is the fact that no one is thinking about what happened before, what was the controversy, what was the noise, or where was this artist making music last year," said Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s CEO. He said voters focused on the "excellence of music" while considering nominees like Batiste and Kacey Musgraves, whose work also crosses over into different categories.

Mason said he was pleased with the new peer-driven voting system after seeing the list of nominees. He instituted the 10-3 initiative — which allows the academy’s more than 11,000 members to vote for up to 10 categories in three genres. All voters can vote for the top four awards.

The new system replaced the anonymous nominations review committee — a group that determined the contenders for key awards. Some claimed committee members favored projects based on personal relationships and promoted projects they favored and worked on.

Other album of the year nominees include: Bieber’s "Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe)," Eilish’s "Happier Than Ever," West’s "Donda," Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga’s "Love for Sale," Olivia Rodrigo’s "Sour," Taylor Swift’s "evermore" and Lil Nas X’s "MONTERO."

Batiste will compete for record of the year against a bevy of candidates including Bennett & Gaga’s "I Get a Kick Out of You," ABBA’s "I Still Have Faith in You," Bieber’s "Peaches" featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon, Brandi Carlile’s "Right on Time," Doja Cat’s "Kiss Me More" with SZA, Lil Nas X’s "MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)," Rodrigo’s "drivers license," Eilish’s "Happier Than Ever" and "Leave The Door Open" by Silk Sonic — the super duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak.

Jay-Z, who was nominated for three Grammys on Tuesday, now has the most nominations of all time with 83. The 23-time Grammy-winning rapper moved past Quincy Jones, who has been nominated 80 times.

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