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Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift began her career as a country musician in the mid-’00s. But after releasing multiple country albums, she moved into the pop music space. With Folklore, Swift again dabbled in country. Why didn’t she get a nomination in the genre at the 2021 Grammys, when her former friend, Justin Bieber, did?

Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have a complicated past

Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift attend the 2011 Teen Choice Awards at on August 7, 2011 in Universal City, California.
Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift attend the 2011 Teen Choice Awards at on August 7, 2011 in Universal City, California. | Kevin Mazur/TCA 2011 / Contributor

Swift and Bieber met as his career was taking off. He opened for her in the U.K. during her 2009 Fearless World Tour. Over the next few years, they interacted at award shows, including the Teen Choice Awards in 2011 (above). At the time, Bieber dated Swift’s best friend, Selena Gomez.

As Gomez and Bieber broke up (and got back together, and broke up again). And Swift didn’t appear to maintain a positive relationship with the “Holy” singer. This was exacerbated when he shared a screenshot mocking her, which featured his manager, Scooter Braun, and rapper Kanye West. Swift didn’t respond to Bieber’s 2019 apology for this.

Swift entered her ‘Folklore’ songs in country and pop categories

Swift hasn’t had a country song (that she performed) nominated at the Grammys since 2014. Her album Red and songs “Begin Again” and “Highway Don’t Care” (a group number with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban) were up for awards. After three pop album cycles, that could have changed this year.

Folklore, her 2020 surprise album, is nominated in the pop categories. However, one track, “Betty,” was eligible for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance, and many believe she submitted it in those categories. But Swift did not receive any nominations for “Betty.”

Bieber earned his first Grammy nod for a country song

Unlike Swift, Bieber has been considered a pop artist since the beginning of his career. His debut album, My World 2.0, scored a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys. However, he’s always worked with country artists: One song from that album, “That Should Be Me,” received a country remix featuring Rascal Flatts.

Now, Bieber is up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “10,000 Hours.” He wrote and performed the song with country duo Dan + Shay. It debuted in October 2019 and marked Bieber’s last collaboration before returning with his fifth studio album, Changes (his first album since 2015). 

Who got more 2021 Grammy nominations, Swift or Bieber?

Though she didn’t earn nominations across genres, Swift received six total nods. She’s nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for Folklore, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Cardigan,” Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Exile,” and Best Song Written for Visual Media for “Beautiful Ghosts” (from Cats).

Meanwhile, Bieber has the chance to take home four awards (including Best Country Pop/Duo Performance). He’s competing against Swift for Best Pop Vocal Album for Changes, Best Pop Solo Performance for “Yummy,” and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Intentions” (which features Quavo).