Rap music dominated the nominations for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, announced Friday night live in Los Angeles and telecast on CBS. Only six categories were announced during the hour-long nominations special, but overall, Jay Z tops this year’s nominations with nine. Rappers Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have seven each. Justin Timberlake also scored seven nominations each, as did Pharrell Williams, who was featured on two of the year’s biggest hits: Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Rapper Drake scored five nods.
More importantly, instead of being relegated to its own category, rap music showed up in two of the so-called Big Four categories, which include Album, Song and Record of the Year, as well as Best New Artist. Kendrick Lamar’s album good kid, m.A.A.d city is up for Album of the Year, while he himself scored a nod for Best New Artist.
There were a few big shockers in the announcements during the telecast: one was the fact that Sara Bareilles’ latest album The Blessed Unrest scored an Album of the Year nod. While the disc was well-received, and produced the hit single “Brave,” nobody predicted it would appear in this category. Even more surprising was the fact that Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, the best-selling album of 2013, didn’t receive an Album of the Year nod.
Another shocker was Lorde’s absence from the Best New Artist category: she had been considered a shoo-in, and her hit “Royals” was nominated for Record and Song of the Year. Instead, British musician James Blake, who isn’t well known in the U.S, was nominated. Another Brit, Ed Sheeran, who received his first Grammy nod last year for Song of the Year, also got a Best New Artist nod.
Speaking of Brits, Grammy darling Adele, who’s been out of the spotlight for a while, managed to snag one nomination: for “Skyfall,” her James Bond theme. It was in the category of Best Song Written for Visual Media. Coldplay was also nominated in that category for “Atlas,” their song from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and so were Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw for their duet, “We Both Know,” from the movie Safe Haven.
The Grammy Nominations Live! CBS telecast began with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis walking into L.A.’s Staples Center and up onto the stage, along with their buddy Wanz, to perform their hit “Thrift Shop.” The stage was decorated with racks of thrift shop clothing, as dancers gyrated wildly, and Macklemore threw items of clothing into the audience.
Taylor Swift was shown singing “I Knew You Were Trouble” from Australia, and before she went on, she turned to the camera and said, “Thank you for the nominations.” However, at that point, she hadn’t received any, though later on in the show, her album Red received nods for Album of the Year and Best Country Album. Did she have advance knowledge, or did she just assume? We may never know. She tweeted later, “LOVE YOU GUYS WE GOT AN ALBUM OF THE YEAR NOMINATION AND I AM TOO EXCITED TO USE PUNCTUATION.”
Viewers also saw R&B star Miguel duetting with Keith Urban on Bill Withers’ classic “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Katy Perry performing an acoustic version of “Roar” from a club in Toronto, and Lorde singing “Royals.” Robin Thicke closed the show by performing his nominated single “Blurred Lines” with rapper T.I. and members of Earth, Wind & Fire. Presenters for the night included Ed Sheeran, Kelly Rowland, Melissa Etheridge, Enrique Iglesias and Arsenio Hall. LL Cool J was the evening’s host, and when a major screw-up occurred — Etheridge and actress Pauley Perrette were introduced at the wrong time — he managed to cover quite smoothly.
The Grammy Awards air January 26, 2014, live on CBS