Could this be the year that Grammy gets hip?
Judging from the Final Nominations List for the 38th annual Grammy Awards, it seems a distinct possibility. Instead of the usual mix of Disney themes and power ballads, candidates for the top awards -- which will be presented Feb. 28 in Los Angeles -- consist almost entirely of alternarockers, angry young women and hip-hop artists.
Record of the Year even has a rap single in the running, as Coolio's chart-topping "Gangsta's Paradise" is up against Joan Osborne's "One of Us," Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," TLC's "Waterfalls" and the Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men collaboration "One Sweet Day."
Carey's "Daydream" and Osborne's "Relish" are also up for Album of the Year, along with Alanis Morissette ("Jagged Little Pill") and Pearl Jam ("Vitalogy"). But the big surprise for many fans will be the nomination of Michael Jackson's "HIStory Past, Present and Future Book 1," an album whose sales have lately been about as healthy as the singer himself.
Jackson's hit "You Are Not Alone" was nominated in the Song of the Year category, but since that award goes to the songwriter, not the recording artist, it's actually R. Kelly who stands to win the Grammy. It's a similar situation for two other nominees: Joan Osborne's "One of Us" was written by Eric Bazilian, while "I Can Love You Like That," which was recorded by both All-4-One and John Michael Montgomery, is the work of composers Maribeth Derry, Steve Diamond and Jennifer Kimball. But Seal could claim the Grammy himself if "Kiss From a Rose" is named Song of the Year, and Alanis Morissette would have to share the podium with Glen Ballard should "You Oughta Know" win.
Finally, in what may prove the closest race of all, Osborne, Morissette, teen-age R&B; singer Brandy, country poster girl Shania Twain and multi-platinum rockers Hootie & the Blowfish are all vying for the Best New Artist award.
Osborne is the only artist competing in all four of the big categories; add in her nominations for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Female Rock Performance, and she stands to walk away with six Grammys. (Her producer, Rick Chertoff, is also up for Producer of the Year.)
But she's not the only artist with that many chances to win. Morissette is also up for six Grammys (including Best Female Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Album), and so is Mariah Carey (including Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, Best Pop Album and Best Female R&B; Vocal Performance).
Hot on their heels with five nominations is singer, songwriter and producer Babyface. But since two of his nominations are in the same category -- Best R&B; Song -- the most statues he could actually take home is four. That's how many nominations Michael Jackson got (including Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, Best Music Video, Short Form), although with R. Kelly up for Song of the Year and Bruce Sweiden's work on "HIStory" in the running for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical, the King of Pop has at least a link to two other Grammys.
Shania Twain is clearly the country artist to watch, with three nominations on her own (including Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Album), plus a fourth shared with her husband, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, for the song "Any Man of Mine."
TLC also has four chances to win, as does conductor Pierre Boulez. But while TLC's nominations are spread among four separate categories, including Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, Best R&B; Album, and the incredibly wordy Best R&B; Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, Boulez got two each in Best Classical Album (for his recordings of Bartok's Divertimento and Debussy's La Mer) and Best Orchestral Performance (for the same albums).
Missing from the list of multiple nominees are such traditional favorites as Bryan Adams, who is only up for two awards (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television, both for "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman"), and Elton John, who is only up for one (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance). And if it weren't for the two nominations Boyz II Men share with Mariah Carey for "One Sweet Day," the group would have been shut out entirely.
Most surprising of all is the poor showing "Pocahontas" made. Although the music from Disney musicals has done exceptionally well in recent years, the studio's latest project picked up a paltry two nominations: Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, for the Vanessa Williams single "Colors of the Wind," and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television, for the song itself. A spin-off album, "Pocahontas Sing-Along," is up for Best Musical Album for Children.
Madonna, who previously has only been nominated in the video categories, gets her first shot at a major Grammy with "Bedtime Stories" up for Best Pop Album. Critics' darling P. J. Harvey was nominated in two categories, for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Alternative Album.
Locally, the news is not especially bright. Severn native Toni Braxton is up for Best Female R&B; Vocal Performance, and former Baltimore School for the Arts student Tupac Shakur was nominated in both the Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album categories. But neither D.C. resident Mary Chapin Carpenter nor the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra were named in any of the 88 Grammy categories.
CBS will broadcast the Grammy Awards ceremony live, beginning at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28.
Selected Grammy nominations
Nominees announced yesterday for the 38th annual Grammy Awards include:
Record of the Year: "One Sweet Day," Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men; "Gangsta's Paradise," Coolio; "One of Us," Joan Osborne; "Kiss From a Rose," Seal; "Waterfalls," TLC
Album of the Year: "Daydream," Mariah Carey; "HIStory Past, Present and Future Book I," Michael Jackson; "Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette; "Relish," Joan Osborne; "Vitalogy," Pearl Jam
Song of the Year: "I Can Love You Like That," Maribeth Derry, Steve Diamond, Jennifer Kimball; "Kiss From a Rose," Seal; "One of Us," Eric Bazilian; "You Are Not Alone," R. Kelly; "You Oughta Know," Glen Ballard, Alanis Morissette
Pop Album: "Daydream," Mariah Carey; "Hell Freezes Over," Eagles; "Medusa," Annie Lennox; "Bedtime Stories," Madonna; "Turbulent Indigo," Joni Mitchell
Rock Song: "Dignity," Bob Dylan; "Downtown," Neil Young; "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," Bono, U2; "Hurt," Trent Reznor; "You Oughta Know," Glen Ballard, Alanis Morissette
Rock Album: "Forever Blue," Chris Isaak; "Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette; "Vitalogy," Pearl Jam; "Wildflowers," Tom Petty; "Mirror Ball," Neil Young
R&B; Album: "My Life," Mary J. Blige; "Brown Sugar," D'Angelo; "The Gold Experience," the singer formerly known as Prince; "CrazySexyCool," TLC; "The Icon Is Love," Barry White
Rap Album: "E.1999 Eternal," Bone Thugs-N-Harmony; "Poverty's Paradise," Naughty by Nature; "Return to the 36 Chambers The Dirty Version," Ol' Dirty Bastard; "I Wish," Skee-Lo; "Me Against the World," 2Pac
Country Song: "Any Man of Mine," Robert John "Mutt" Lange and Shania Twain; "Go Rest High on That Mountain," Vince Gill; "Gone Country," Bob McDill; "I Can Love You Like That," Meribeth Derry, Steve Diamond and Jennifer Kimball; "You Don't Even Know Who I Am," Gretchen Peters
Country Album: "Junior High," Junior Brown; "Music for All Occasions," The Mavericks; "John Michael Montgomery," John Michael Montgomery; "The Woman in Me," Shania Twain; "Thinkin' About You," Trisha Yearwood; "Dwight Live," Dwight Yoakam
Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus: "Bible Stories," Donald Lawrence, choir director; "Live in New York by Any Means ," Hezekiah Walker, choir director; "Praise Him Live!," Carol Cymbala, choir director; "Shout," Percy Bady, choir director; "Show Up!" John P. Kee, choir director
Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television: "Colors Of The Wind," "Pocahontas"; "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?," "Don Juan DeMarco"; "Love Me Still," "Clockers"; "Someone To Love," "Bad Boys"; "Whatever You Imagine," "The Pagemaster"
Producer of the Year: Babyface; Glen Ballard; Rick Chertoff; Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis; Rick Rubin
Classical Album: "Bartok: Divertimento; Dance Suite, etc.," Chicago Symphony Orchestra; "Berlioz: Les Troyens," Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre Symphony de Montreal and various artists; "Debussy: La Mer; Nocturnes; Jeux, etc.," Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra; "Music for Queen Mary (Works of Purcell, Morley, Blow, etc.)," Martin Neary and the New London Consort, Westminster Abbey Choir and Various Artists; "Prokofiev/Shostakovich: Violin Cons. No. 1," Mstislav Rostropovich and the London Symphony Orchestra
Music Video, Short Form: "It's Oh So Quiet," Bjork; "Dis Is Da Drum," Herbie Hancock; "Scream," Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson; "What Would You Say," Dave Matthews Band; "Famine," Sinead O'Connor