Pop music’s freshman class made a big splash on the sales charts in 2013, and now several can boast a raft of Grammy nominations, including Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, 17-year-old singer-songwriter Lorde and country songwriter-turned-singer Kacey Musgraves.
Together the four acts collected 22 nominations as announced Friday night in Los Angeles, although rap superstar Jay Z led the field. The veteran artist earned nine nods, although most were collected in the rap categories rather than in the higher-profile general fields.
The New Zealand-born Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, is recognized in record and song of the year categories in her first round of Grammy attention, and her album “Pure Heroine” also was nominated for pop vocal album. Vying with Lorde’s “Royals” in the record category are Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams’ “Get Lucky,” Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” Bruno Mars' “Locked Out of Heaven” and Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines.”
A majority of the nominated records — and their all-important accompanying videos — are as concerned with romantic hookups as musical hooks, given the sexually charged sentiments at the heart of “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky” and “Locked Out of Heaven.”
The YouTube factor is worth noting. In the record category, the five nominees have tallied more than 800 million views for the official videos. This is considerably less than the nearly 2 billion views earned by Psy’s novelty hit “Gangnam Style,” but further proof nonetheless that the streaming video website is just as influential as pop radio once was for fueling the popularity of new songs.
A couple of surprises arose quickly in the album of the year nominees, including the absence of Justin Timberlake’s well-received “The 20/20 Experience.” Also unexpected was singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles' “The Blessed Unrest” listed next to Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” Macklemore & Lewis’ “The Heist” and Taylor Swift’s “Red."
Bareilles’ album is not only among the least enthusiastically reviewed collections to be nominated, but it also draws nods for a relatively modest eight people in a field that recognizes not just the artist but also each album’s producers, engineers, mixers and mastering engineers. By contrast, Grammys would be awarded to 21 people if “The Heist” wins, 22 if the choice is “Random Access Memories,” and 34 for either “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” or “Red.”
Macklemore & Lewis scored in three of the top four general fields — album, song and new artist — fueled in part by the runaway popularity of their single “Thrift Shop” and its accompanying album, “The Heist.” New artist nominees also include Lamar, Musgraves, James Blake and Ed Sheeran.
Another song from “The Heist,” the socially conscious “Same Love,” turned up among song of the year nominees with Pink’s hit “Just Give Me a Reason,” which she wrote with in-demand songwriter-producer Jeff Bhasker and Nate Ruess of last year's Grammy favorites, fun. Also nominated were the writers for Bruno Mars' “Locked Out of Heaven,” Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Lorde’s “Royals,” a runaway hit that triggered her commercial breakthrough.
Pharrell Williams is among five artists to rack up seven nominations, along with Lamar, Macklemore & Lewis and Timberlake. Jay Z is among the album of the year nominees, though not for his own “Magna Carta … Holy Grail.” Instead he was honored for his guest role on Lamar’s album, which also incorporated guest spots by Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Drake, Jay Rock and MC Eiht & Anna Wise.
Jay Z's album is in the running in the rap album category, along with “Good City…,” “The Heist,” as well as Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” and Kanye West’s “Yeezus.”
In the country field, Taylor Swift's “Red” was the most eclectic-sounding album of her career, but was deemed country enough to warrant an album nod in that category for one of her four nominations. Her album is up against Musgraves’ major-label debut “Same Trailer Different Park,” Jason Aldean’s “Night Train,” Tim McGraw’s “Two Lanes of Freedom” and Blake Shelton’s “Based on a True Story.”
Shelton finds himself in the predicament of competing with his wife, Miranda Lambert, in the country solo performance category with his single “Mine Would Be You.” Lambert received a nomination for her “Mama’s Broken Heart,” along with Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck,” Hunter Hayes’ “I Want Crazy” and Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel.”
Elsewhere among this year’s 82 Grammy categories, the dance/electronica album contenders vying with Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” are Disclosure’s “Settle,” Calvin Harris’ “18 Months,” Kaskade’s “Atmosphere” and Pretty Lights’ “A Color Map of the Sun.”
Classic rockers Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin notched two nominations each, with McCartney’s coming in the rock song category for “Cut Me Some Slack,” his collaboration with Nirvana's Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear from the soundtrack album to Grohl’s documentary “Sound City.” McCartney's “Live Kisses” was also nominated for best music film.
Though the band broke up in 1980, Led Zeppelin was also nominated in rock performance for the track “Kashmir” from the reunion concert album “Celebration Day,” which is also nominated for rock album.
Nominations were announced during a concert at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles that was broadcast on CBS-TV and hosted by rapper-actor LL Cool J.
Grammy Awards will be handed out Jan. 26 at Staples Center. They are determined by about 12,000 voting members of the Recording Academy, including musicians, producers, engineers, songwriters, record company employees and others. The eligibility period for the 2013 awards spans recordings released from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013.
Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun