This post has been updated. See below for details.
Whether Grammy voters will recognize it or not, it's been a curious and transitional year for popular music. A few of its brightest new stars, 17-year-old New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves and the DJ-producer team Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, whose ascent from YouTube fame to
In their own ways, all wrote of thriving — not through wealth and fame but through creativity and honesty. When the nominees for the 56th
That the trio first hit big with songs that celebrated frugality is notable. Macklemore donned fake fur in a genre known for celebrating cash and fashion with a quirky left-field ode to thrift shopping, "Thrift Shop." Despite being primed for stardom since she was an adolescent, Lorde seemed to come beamed from the cosmos to pump up the proletariat in "Royals." Musgraves, whose "Same Trailer, Different Park" dug into the rough lives of the underclass, has earned her country-music buzz in with the magnetic realism of "Merry-Go-Round."
Ascending alongside them to infiltrate the 2013 American pop psyche were a similarly varied roster of hitmakers likely to land big-time nominations.
Ditto longtime pop royalty
JT's brunet clone,
Toronto rapper Drake, also strived for crossover, albeit of a different variety with his rap album "Nothing Was the Same." Vying for both the puffy-chested men and the ladies who love them (when they're not messing with their heads), Drake successfully connected demographics, always a wise strategy amid a Grammy votership that rewards versatility. The era's most bankable young middle-of-the-road artist,
Most of these artists scored big enough to suggest they'll be among those popping corks when the Grammy nominations are announced. Less certain is the Friday-night fate of those who landed with hits this year.
Imagine Dragons channeled both rock and electronic dance music, and the combination on "Radioactive" made it one of the year's most relentless (and only) big rock hits. At the opposite end of the emotional spectrum was Lee Brice's heart-wrenching "I Drive Your Truck," in which one brother mourned the death of another by inhabiting his pickup.
A couple of other young men and potential Best New Artist nominees Florida Georgia Line rolled with St. Louis rapper
And, oh, yeah,
Too, superstar rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West both issued big-time solo albums, the better of which, West's "Yeezus," was as polarizing as it was inventive. But in a year in which lyrics about shopping on the cheap and rolling on public transit were screamed more often than were Westian demands for dinner "in a French-ass restaurant," the shifting lyrical priorities of the pop-buying public portends a Grammy year in which humility will likely trump tiresome money flinging. We hope.
Update, Fri., 8:59 a.m. An earlier version of this post indicated the 56th Grammy Awards would be announced today. Only the nominees will be announced.
The Grammy Nominations Concert: Live From the
When: 7 p.m. Friday (broadcast via tape delay on