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David Bowie, Tanya Tucker, Milli Vanilli and More Grammy Contenders for Best Music Film

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Milli Vanilli made Grammy history in 1990 – in the worst possible way – when they became the first and only act to have their Grammy revoked. They had won best new artist at the February 1990 ceremony, but lost it nine months later after it was revealed that they didn’t sing a note on their smash album Girl You Know It’s True. (They did provide the look and the stage moves, which were probably just as important in their case.) The disgraced duo may find Grammy redemption this year: A music doc about them, Milli Vanilli, is among 94 films vying for a nomination for best music film.

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As always, it’s a very competitive category. Two films that were on the Oscars’ shortlist of 15 films eligible for best documentary feature (though neither wound up with a nomination) are being considered here — David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen: A Journey, A Song.

At least 20 acts who have albums contending for album of the year nominations are also vying for best music film nods, including several for films that are direct tie-ins to their album counterparts. BoygeniusThe Film is linked to the trio’s The Record. Other films with closely linked eligible albums include Miley CyrusEndless Summer Vacation (Backyard Sessions) and Kelsea Ballerini’s Rolling Up the Welcome Mat (A Short Film),

Three past winners in this category are on the entry list again this year. Duran Duran, whose Duran Duran won in 1984, is a contender with A Hollywood High. U2, the 1995 winners for Zoo TV: Live From Sydney, are entered with Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman; Foo Fighters, the 2012 winners for Back & Forth, are entered with Preparing Music for Concerts.

The last two winners in this category were Various Artists films – Summer of Soul and Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story. Fifteen Various Artists albums are on the entry list this year, including several that document various music scenes: San Francisco Sounds: A Place in Time, Meet Me in the Bathroom (a journey through the New York music scene of the early 2000s), If These Walls Could Sing (the story of Abbey Road studios in London), and two that center on hip-hop: Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop and Mixtape.

More than a dozen of the films were recorded live. Longtime pals and tour-mates Elton John and Billy Joel are represented with films shot at stadium shows on opposite sides of the country – Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium and Joel’s Live at Yankee Stadium, a remixed and reedited version of a film documenting The Piano Man’s 1990 show at the legendary venue. Joel’s original film, produced and directed by Jon Small, received at 1992 nomination in this category. Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium is nominated for a Primetime Emmy for outstanding variety special (live).

Other live films in the mix include A$AP Rocky’s Amazon Music Live With A$AP Rocky, Ellie Goulding’s Monumental: Ellie Goulding at Kew Gardens, Guns N’ Roses’ Live in New York, Imagine Dragons’ Live in Vegas, Carole King’s Home Again – Live From Central Park, New York City, May 26, 1973, Kendrick Lamar’s Live From Paris: The Big Steppers Tour, PJ Morton’s Watch the Sun Live: The Mansion Sessions, The 1975’s At Their Very Best: Live From Madison Square Garden, Sam Smith’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall, Stormzy’s Live in London: This Is What We Mean, The Weeknd’s Live at SoFi Stadium and the multi-artist Encanto Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

A sobering number of the contenders are by artists who, like Bowie and Cohen, are deceased. These include Louis Armstrong’s Louis Armstrong’s Black and Blues, Whitney Houston’s I Go to the Rock: The Gospel Music of Whitney Houston, Little Richard’s I Am Everything, Tupac Shakur’s Dear Mama and Donna Summer’s Love to Love You, Donna Summer.

Milli Vanilli isn’t the only Billboard 200-topping group with one deceased member on the entry list – Wham! (Wham!) and TLC (TLC Forever) are also in the running.

EDM is well-represented, with Diplo’s Apple Music Sessions: Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley, Zedd’s Clarity Orchestral Concert Documentary and Illenium’s Starfall.

Jelly Roll, a likely best new artist nominee (and in several other categories) is on the entry list with Save Me.

Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile’s The Return of Tanya Tucker, is also entered. The two stars shared two Grammys four years ago – best country album for Tucker’s While I’m Livin’ (which Carlile co-produced) and best country song for “Bring My Flowers Now,” which they co-wrote with Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth.

Selena Gomez is a contender with Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me. “Calm Down,” Gomez’s collaboration with Rema, would have been a sure-fire record of the year contender — but it’s not eligible because it came out before the start of the eligibility period.

Dionne Warwick, whose 1964 classic “Walk on By” is prominently sampled in Doja Cat’s Hot 100-topping “Paint the Town Red,” is a contender with Don’t Make Me Over, which draws its title from her 1962 breakthrough hit.

What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears looks at the band that had one of the biggest albums of 1969 (their self-titled set topped the Billboard 200 for seven weeks and won the Grammy for album of the year), but quickly faded.

More films by or about artists that are in contention this year include Travis Scott’s Circus Maximus, Jason Isbell’s Running With Our Eyes Closed (Music Box), Lizzo’s Love, Lizzo, Ed Sheeran’s The Sum of It All, Kenny Wayne Shepard’s Trouble Is…25: The Film, Andrea Bocelli, Matteo Bocelli and Virginia Bocelli’s A Bocelli Family Christmas, Wynonna Judd’s Between Hell & Hallelujah, Keke Palmer’s Big Boss and Chris Stapleton’s Kentucky Rising.

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