Nominations for the 56th
Stay tuned to this post, and we'll try to keep the typos and the indignation to a minimum.
A number of major artists, many of whom are no doubt in line for some top nominations, are set to perform, including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis,
Pop & Hiss has a number of burning Grammy-related questions that will be answered shortly.
Among them: Can Swift's "Red" give the young artist her second album of the year nomination? Will voters again go young and reward newcomers such as Lorde and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in the album of the year field? Will there be any love whatsoever for "Yeezus" (probably not much)? Will Grammy voters embrace electronic artists such as
Whew. We're just getting started. Without an
Stay tuned. Updates will be time-stamped and posted below.
The one-hour CBS special "The Grammy Nominations Concert Live -- Countdown to Music's Biggest Night," is to be hosted again by rapper-actor LL Cool J, who will announce the nominations in five or six categories. The Grammys will be presented Jan. 26 at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
For those on the West Coast who want to watch the nomination concert, the show will air tape-delayed at 10 p.m. PST.
7:05 p.m.: And we're live! The Recording Academy has chosen Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to kick off Grammy season with "Thrift Shop," their sax-draped hands-in-the-air shouter that makes being broke sound like a party. The presentation here is what we've come to expected from Macklemore, which means lots of fake fur and lots of pandering to the crowd.
7:12 p.m.: The song of the year nominees are announced! They are:
“Just Give Me a Reason,”
“Locked Out of Heaven,”
“Roar,” Katy Perry
“Same Love,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Quick analysis: Pink’s album “
7:16 p.m.: The Grammy nomination concert went all EDM, except the artist it chose to showcase dance music was Taylor Swift, who performed her "I Knew You Were Trouble" live from Australia. She slammed her hair, punched the air and officially kicked her country trappings to the grave.
7:23 p.m. Best pop/duo group performance is announced:
“Get Lucky,” Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
“Just Give Me a Reason,” Pink featuring Nate Ruess
“Stay,” Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko
“Suit & Tie,” Justin Timberlake & Jay Z
Quick analysis: Many are accepting this to be a big night for Justin Timberlake and consider this category a two-way race between "Suit & Tie" and "Get Lucky." Timberlake premiered the former at the Grammys in February and it's one of the stronger tunes on his "The 20/20 Experience." It's a throwback, old-school refined, like a soul song rescued from the mid-'70s, and shows Timberlake's strength as an R&B singer. It's a dance song, but it celebrates tradition. So does "Get Lucky," but it brings in some vintage house and a slight robotic feel. Consider it tradition tweaked. "Blurred Lines" is quickly losing pop-culture steam as Robin Thicke's album has few hooks of this caliber, and increasingly his good-guy shtick is proving to be little more than that.
7:27 p.m.: The album of the year nominees are announced! They are:
“The Blessed Unrest,”
“Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk
“Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,”
“The Heist,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“Red,” Taylor Swift
The big shock is what's not here: Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience." Timberlake essentially premiered the album at this February's Grammys, and if anything seems preordained for a multitude of Grammy nominations it's a new album from the likes of a U2 or a Timberlake, especially since this is Timberlake's first since his 2006 effort "FutureSex/LoveSounds."
His absence is more pronounced because this category has some, well, questionable offerings. First, the good: Lamar's nomination once gain puts hip-hop in the top album field, where it has more or less been absent the last two years. Though it was released in late 2012, Lamar's "Good Kid" has aged well. Each song is its own tale for an aspect of Lamar's sometimes crazed personalties, where stories of urban desperation are livened up with more familial concerns.
Also welcome here is Daft Punk, whose "Random Access Memories" had an inescapable hit in "Get Lucky" and was one of the more ambitious dance efforts of the year. The band looked back, finding soul in the once-uncool sounds of the '70s and '80s.
Taylor Swift, whose "Red" sheds almost any aspect of her country roots, was the pop album too big to ignore, but voters shouldn't have been swayed by the gooey, upbeat hits of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The act has a knack for feel-good arena hip-hop with a positive message, but it's designed primarily to put arms in the air.
More shocking is the presence of Lilith Fair veteran Sara Bareilles. No disrespect to her piano-based tunes – many of them perfect for that Hallmark card you've been meaning to send to that sorta-close acquaintance – but Bareilles is out of her element here. Some clap-along, squeaky-clean rom-com-worthy pop songs does not an album of the year contender make.
So who was overlooked? If Recording Academy voters wanted to go young, they could have done worse than Lorde. Her "Pure Heroine" has its detractors, but Lorde also presents a pop vision that at least refers to our current hard times. Then there was a thoughtful record from a legend in David Bowie, and a rather openhearted hard rock album from Queens of the Stone Age.
7:36 p.m.: Host LL Cool J gave a very brief tribute to Nelson Mandela. "May this brave man rest in peace," said LL after quoting Mandela. Then he cut to Katy Perry in Canada, who instead paid tribute to her own songwriting prowess in "Roar."
"Roar," said Perry, passed her very own "goosebump test," indicating that it would become a hit. It's less a song than it is a self-esteem booster, and Perry gave it a long intro as if it were the Clash's "White Man in Hammersmith Palais."
Perry said she hopes the song gives you the "self-strength you need" for the days when life "gets a little bit hard." She added: "And I hope you guys found your roar through this."
Then Perry, in glitter, of course, roared. The song doesn’t do much else, as it’s all chorus, little verse, but it did come off better here than it did at the
7:44 p.m.:. The just-turned 17 year-old Lorde performed her sarcastic takedown of popular culture in "Royals," a live performance that was even more stripped down than the song is on record. Much of the first 30-or-so seconds were little more than A cappella. For a would be pop star, performing a song that was little more than spacious beats and dead-angry vocals could be considered a brave move. The fact that it mocks much of what the Grammy nominated pop songs celebrate – excess drink, fancy cars, lots of money – made it feel something even better, important.
8:04 p.m.: The nominees for new artist are announced! They are:
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Quick analysis. This category, as usual, is a disaster. Lamar, talked about above in the album of the year field, is the should-be winner, but Ed Sheeran doesn't belong here. He was, you may remember, nominated for song of the year at this February's awards, which should knock him out of the running as a "new" artist. The rules, obviously, allow it, but if he was up for one of the top categories at the Grammys in the past, it's hard to argue this is his breakout year. Also, his puppy-dog acoustics are the stuff of naps.
As is James Blake, who brings some light, bedroom electronics to low-key moody, slower-than-slow-paced songs. Kacey Musgraves is also questionable, as she's released three small albums before hitting it big on her fourth, and the Grammy rules say a new artist should have released three or less albums. Regardless, she sings songs about the working class as if she's leading the town parade.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had a breakout year, and this is probably the only category that the act is truly deserving to be recognized in. But, wait a second…What happened to Lorde? The young artist just gave the night's most fascinating performance. And if it's silly, good-time pop Grammy voters want, they should have paid closer attention to Icona Pop. And if it's relevance Grammy voters wanted, they should have went for the scalding rock 'n' roll of Savages.
8:16 p.m.: The 60-minute Grammy nominations show came fast with the nominees, so we missed a couple.
The country album nominations were announced! They are:
“Two Lanes of Freedom,”
“Same Trailer Different Park,” Kacey Musgraves
“Based on a True Story,”
“Red,” Taylor Swift
Quick analysis: Taylor's "Red" was a pop album with few country notes. Musgraves' "Same Trailer" is the work of a promising newcomer, while works from Aldean and Shelton are those of wannabe bad boys. That leaves McGraw's "Two Lanes" as the best of a middling bunch. But hey, the country contingent fared better than the rock 'n' roll block. Over in the rock field, Led Zeppelin's concert compilation "Celebration Day" snared a nod, as did a nostalgia trip from Black Sabbath and an arena souvenir from Kings of Leon.
Also announced were the record of the year nominees. They are:
"Get Lucky," Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
"Radioactive," Imagine Dragons
"Locked Out of Heaven," Bruno Mars
"Blurred Lines," Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell
Quick analysis: It's the alt-rock-era all over again with Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," but Bruno Mars is at his best in retro-rock-soul mode, as he is on "Locked Out of Heaven." But this is a race between "Get Lucky" and "Royals," with the latter being the only song in this field that aspires to say something. But record of the year goes to the producer, which should tip it to Daft Punk's robotic house.
Stay tuned to Pop & Hiss for more Grammy analysis, much of it far less off-the-cuff than this.