Grammys 2015: Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea among top nominees
Key 2015 Grammy Award nominations are going to the musical celebration of a woman’s backside, a cheerleader-esque kiss-off to bullies and a heartfelt plea for love. But amid such diverse topics, Grammy voters still ignored two of the year’s biggest feel-good hits in the top nomination categories: Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and “Let It Go” from Disney’s hit animated film, “Frozen.”
Instead, one of the biggest favorites was Sam Smith, whose yearning “Stay With Me” yielded nods for the British neo-soul singer in the record and song of the year categories along with new artist. Along with another nomination in the album category for his “In the Lonely Hour” album, Smith scored a rare sweep of nominations in all four major Grammy categories, and six in all, tying him with Beyoncé and Williams to lead the nominees announced Friday.
Beyoncé received one nod among the top four categories: an album of the year nomination for her “Beyoncé” collection. The others came in R&B performance, song, urban contemporary album, surround sound album and music film categories rather than the marquee fields.
Williams’ “Girl” album also showed up alongside Beyoncé and Smith’s efforts among album of the year nominees with Beck’s “Morning Phase” and Ed Sheeran’s “X.”
Another breakout star of 2014, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, also picked up a nomination in the new artist category as well as record of the year for her self-aggrandizing collaboration with singer Charlie XCX, “Fancy.” Along with Azalea and Smith, contenders for new artist are L.A. indie pop trio Haim, country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark and British pop band Bastille.
In a bit of a departure, the record and song of the year categories — the former recognizing vocal performance, production and songwriting, and the latter strictly a songwriters’ award — overlapped on four of five nominees. Smith’s “Stay With Me” and Meghan Trainor’s runaway hit “All About That Bass” vie with Sia’s “Chandelier” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” in both categories. The only distinction between the two fields is Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” which rounds out the songwriting category, where Azalea’s “Fancy” is the fifth record of the year nominee.
The success of Sia’s “Chandelier” was pushed in part by the massive popularity of the song’s video featuring an expressionistic dance by a young girl. The clip has logged more than 350 million views on YouTube and not surprisingly also is among nominees for music video.
Swift made the most of “Shake It Off,” the only part of her blockbuster fifth album “1989” to be released during this year’s Grammy eligibility period, which covers music issued from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014. “Shake It Off” figured into four nominations: record, song, pop performance for Swift, and a nonclassical producer of the year nod for Max Martin, who co-wrote and co-produced the track with Swift. (The album and other singles will be eligible next year.)
Probably the biggest upset among the nomination news was the absence in the main categories of “Happy” and “Let It Go,” both of which were expected to figure prominently because of the broad appeal of both hits. “Happy” still generated two nominations for Williams, one for pop vocal performance for a live version, the other for the music video.
“Let It Go,” the megahit single from Disney’s “Frozen,” propelled the film’s soundtrack to become the biggest-selling album of 2014, selling more than 3 million copies during the year.
The album received nominations for compilation soundtrack and score soundtrack for visual media categories.
Idina Menzel’s recording was passed over, but songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez did turn up in the song written for visual media category, along with Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, Shawn Patterson, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone’s “Everything Is Awesome!” from “The Lego Movie,” Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Spike Jonze and Karen O’s “The Moon Song” from “Her” and Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from James Keach’s documentary “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.”
Campbell and his well-publicized journey with Alzheimer’s disease figured into three nominations.
The Band Perry received a duo-group country performance nod for their rendition of Campbell’s signature hit “Gentle on My Mind,” which also was used in the documentary, and “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which took a second nomination for country song.
The attention from the Recording Academy could bode well for the film’s chances for Academy Award recognition as well.
Perennial Grammy favorites Coldplay and U2 weren’t overlooked. Coldplay received nominations for pop vocal album and music film for “Ghost Stories” as well as duo or group vocal performance for the single “A Sky Full of Stars.” U2 earned a single nod in rock album for its new “Songs of Innocence.” The Irish quartet generated considerable controversy by distributing the album free, with Apple’s help, to some 500 million iPad and iPhone owners.
The top country nominees are Eric Church and Miranda Lambert, with four apiece in all country categories: solo and duo or group performance, song and album.
Usher collected four in two R&B categories, rocker Jack White has four in rock and music video fields, while Eminem gathered three related to his latest album “The Marshall Mathers LP2.”
Recording engineer Tom Coyne scored four nominations for his work on albums and singles by Smith, Swift and Beyoncé.
The Grammys are bestowed by the Recording Academy, which is made up of 22,000 members of the music industry including musicians, producers, engineers, record company and radio industry personnel and others.
The awards are determined by the academy’s voting membership of about 13,000.
Winners will be announced Feb. 8 at the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony to be held at Staples Center and telecast on CBS-TV.
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