2013 Grammy Nominees Announced

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At a concert in Nashville last night hosted by Taylor Swift and LL Cool J, which included this ridiculously awkward moment, the nominees for the 2013 Grammy Awards were announced. As is always the case with reporting on these award shows, the details everyone is fixated on are who got the most nominations and who is thought to have been “snubbed” in some way by not getting a nomination at all. I’ve always found the Grammys to be the most refreshingly honest of the major awards shows in that, unlike the Oscars, Emmys etc. which attempt an awkward balancing act between that which was actually popular and that which is thought to actually be “good,” the Grammys almost always just blatantly nominate whatever the most popular hits of the year were, regardless of “quality.”

So, it’s a little surprising that Justin Bieber was shut out entirely. His most recent album, Believe, was another huge commercial success, even if it didn’t produce an inescapable pop single. And it’s a little surprising that that the Recording Academy would want to risk angering Justin’s army of “Beliebers” this way. But as Vulture points out, the more surprising snub is the lack of any recognition for One Direction, who charted not one but two number one albums during the period eligible for nomination and whose “Directioners” are threatening to make the Beliebers look more like a rag tag militia.

As for numbers, the big one is six, i.e. the number of nominations received by Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Mumford & Suns, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, and fun. (The Black Keys received five nominations as a group and Auerbach was also nominated for “Producer of the Year, Non-Classical” for his work on the Black Keys album El Camino as well as albums by Dr. John and Hacienda.)

Frank Ocean looks poised to be the big story coming out of the Grammys. His album Channel Orange has the advantage of actually being great and is nominated for both “Album of the Year” and the horribly named “Best Urban Contemporary Album” category. This is in addition to his brilliant single “Thinkin Bout You” being nominated for “Record of the Year.” The Record of the Year category is meant to recognize the performance of a song, i.e. the recording, while “Song of the Year” is an award for songwriting.

Ocean is also nominated in the “Best New Artist” category, a category which always causes consternation as the definition of what constitutes “new” seems to be almost entirely arbitrary and nonsensical. This year, unusually, there’s no huge offender in terms of an act with lots of previous material being presented as “new” other than fun. whose debut album was in 2009. However, this is a category which will have a lot of teen pop fans crying “snub” since it seems it would’ve been a natural place to recognize both potential industry savior One Direction and Canadian teen pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen.

Jepsen’s instant “one hit wonder” fodder “Call me Maybe” was however nominated for both “Song of the Year” and “Best Pop Solo Performance” (whatever that means). However, other than “Call me Maybe” most of the rest of the instantly dated pop ephemera that will just scream 2012 to future generations wasn’t recognized. For instance, Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” despite being the most watched video in YouTube history and being the only pop hit of the year that also had a dance to go with it’ was snubbed. Rolling Stone writer Steve Knopper claims that this is “understandable” because “it’ll seem like “Macarena” by the time the February 10th telecast rolls around.” But this has never stopped the Grammies before! Remember Milli Vanilli winning “Best New Artist”? And I’d also like to point out that LMFAO is nominated for something (“Best Pop Duo/Group Performance”) and amazingly, it’s for “Sexy and I Know it” and not “Party Rock Anthem.”

The year’s most inescapable single, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” was nominated for “Record of the Year,” though not “Song of the Year.”

As for predictions and thoughts on the big categories, one remarkable but perhaps unsurprising thing given the “old skewing” nature of Grammy voters is that for the Album of the Year category all but Ocean’s Channel Orange are in some way “guitar based rock.” This in a year which seemed to be perhaps the final tipping point when rock becomes a ghettoized  specialty genre a la blues, jazz, or folk. Also, in all likelihood votes for the Black Keys, Mumford and Sons, fun. and Jack White’s solo album Blunderbuss will cancel each other out, making it more likely that Channel Orange will win.

Strangely, Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, unlike these rock albums, was ghettoized to all the “rock” categories  and shut out of the general ones. Swapping it out for Jack White’s Blunderbuss would seem to be a no-brainer given Bruce’s broader fan base and greater cultural impact. And surely “We Take Care of our own” should’ve gotten some kind of recognition as record/song of the year if only for being the official theme song of a winning presidential campaign.

A full list of all of the nominees can be found on the official Grammys website here. A long list of major category nominees is below. Only music released between October of 2011 and September 30 of this year was eligible, adding to the confusion.

Album of the Year
The Black Keys — El Camino
fun. — Some Nights
Mumford & Sons — Babel
Frank Ocean — Channel ORANGE
Jack White — Blunderbuss

Best New Artist
Alabama Shakes
Hunter Hayes
The Lumineers
Frank Ocean

Record of the Year
The Black Keys — “Lonely Boy”
Kelly Clarkson — “Stronger”
fun. — “We Are Young” feat. Janelle Monae
Gotye — “Somebody That I Used to Know”
Frank Ocean — “Thinkin Bout You”
Taylor Swift — “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Song of the Year
Ed Sheeran — “The A Team”
Miguel — “Adorn”
Carly Rae Jepsen — “Call Me Maybe”
Kelly Clarkson — “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
fun. — “We Are Young”

Best Pop Vocal Album
Kelly Clarkson — Stronger
Florence + The Machine — Ceremonials
fun. — Some Nights
Maroon 5 — Overexposed
Pink — The Truth About Love

Best Pop Solo Performance
Adele — “Set Fire to the Rain” [Live]
Kelly Clarkson — “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
Carly Rae Jepsen — “Call Me Maybe”
Katy Perry — “Wide Awake”
Rihanna — “Where Have You Been”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Florence + the Machine — “Shake It Out”
fun. — “We Are Young” feat. Janelle Monae
Gotye — “Somebody That I Used to Know” feat. Kimbra
LMFAO — “Sexy and I Know It”
Maroon 5 — “Payphone” feat. Wiz Khalifa

Best Alternative Music Album
Fiona Apple — The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Björk — Biophilia
Gotye — Making Mirrors
M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Tom Waits — Bad As Me

Best Rap Album
Drake — Take Care
Lupe Fiasco — Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1
Nas — Life Is Good
The Roots — Undun
Rick Ross — God Forgives, I Don’t
2 Chainz — Based on a T.R.U. Story

Best Rap Song
Nas — “Daughters”
Wale feat. Miguel — “Lotus Flower Bomb”
Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz — “Mercy”
Drake feat. Lil Wayne — “The Motto”
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “Niggas in Paris”
Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa feat. Bruno Mars — “Young, Wild & Free”

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Flo Rida feat. Sia — “Wild Ones”
Jay-Z and Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean and The-Dream — “No Church in the Wild”
John Legend feat. Ludacris — “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)”
Nas feat. Amy Winehouse — “Cherry Wine”
Rihanna feat. Jay-Z — “Talk That Talk”

Best Rap Performance
Drake feat. Lil Wayne — “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)”
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “Niggas In Paris”
Nas — “Daughters”
Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz — “Mercy”
Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z and André 3000 — “I Do”

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Chris Brown — Fortune
Miguel — Kaleidoscope Dream
Frank Ocean — Channel ORANGE

Best Traditional R&B Performance
Anita Baker — “Lately”
Beyoncé — “Love on Top”
Melanie Fiona — “Wrong Side of a Love Song”
Gregory Porter — “Real Good Hands”
SWV — “If Only You Knew”

Best R&B Song
Miguel — “Adorn”
Tamia — “Beautiful Surprise”
Trey Songz — “Heart Attack”
Anthony Hamilton — “Pray for Me”
Elle Varner — “Refill”

Best R&B Album
Robert Glasper Experiment — Black Radio
Anthony Hamilton — Back to Love
R. Kelly — Write Me Back
Tamia — Beautiful Surprise
Tyrese — Open Invitation

Best Rock Album
The Black Keys — El Camino
Coldplay — Mylo Xyloto
Muse — The 2nd Law
Bruce Springsteen — Wrecking Ball
Jack White — Blunderbuss

Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes — “Hold On”
The Black Keys — “Lonely Boy”
Coldplay — “Charlie Brown”
Mumford & Sons — “I Will Wait”
Bruce Springsteen — “We Take Care of Our Own”

Best Dance Recording
Avicii — “Levels”
Calvin Harris — “Let’s Go” feat. Ne-Yo
Skrillex — “Bangarang” feat. Sirah
Swedish House Mafia — “Don’t You Worry Child” feat. John Martin
Al Walser — “I Can’t Live Without You”

Best Dance/Electronica Album
Steve Aoki — Wonderland
The Chemical Brothers — Don’t Think
Deadmau5 — > Album Title Goes Here <
Kaskade — Fire & Ice
Skrillex — Bangarang

Best Country Solo Performance
Dierks Bentley — “Home”
Eric Church — “Springsteen”
Ronnie Dunn — “Cost of Livin'”
Hunter Hayes — “Wanted”
Blake Shelton— “Over”
Carrie Underwood — “Blown Away”

Best Country Album
Zac Brown Band — Uncaged
Hunter Hayes — Hunter Hayes
Jamey Johnson — Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
Miranda Lambert — Four the Record
The Time Jumpers — The Time Jumpers

Best Spoken Word Album:
Scott Cresswell and Dan Zitt — American Grown (Michelle Obama)
Bill Clinton — Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy
Rachel Maddow — Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power
Ellen DeGeneres — Seriously … I’m Kidding
Janis Ian — Society’s Child: My Autobiography

Best Comedy Album
Jimmy Fallon — Blow Your Pants Off
Margaret Cho — Cho Dependent (Live in Concert)
Lewis Black — In God We Rust
Kathy Griffin — Kathy Griffin: Seaman 1st Class
Jim Gaffigan — Mr. Universe
Tenacious D — Rize of the Fenix

And the 2013 Grammy Nominees Are . . . [Vulture]


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