The Recording Academy is making a statement: These aren't your father's Grammys anymore.
Once again, voters have favored hip picks over hot sellers during the nomination process. Sometimes the two are one in the same (such as in the case of Mumford & Sons), but clearly the Academy seems dead set on shaking its long-standing reputation as an organization that only recognizes old-timers and box-office smashes.
That's not a bad thing. Unless, of course, your name happens to be Lionel Richie.
Richie, whose megahit "Tuskegee" probably would've enticed voters in years past, was perhaps the most notable snub in the all-important general field categories, which were announced as part of Wednesday's prime time TV special
"The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! -- Countdown to Music's Biggest Night." Others that seemed worthy of major consideration included One Direction, Carly Rae Jepsen, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Drake, Justin Bieber and the man who gave us "Gangnam Style," K-pop sensation Psy.
Instead, the leading nominees for the 55th annual Grammy Awards were rising R&B star Frank Ocean, hip-hop greats Jay-Z and Kanye West, the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, modern rockers fun. and folk-rockers Mumford & Sons, all of whom garnered six nods.
It's hard to imagine any of those acts dominating the award show, which will be held Feb. 10, in the fashion that Adele did at the 54th Grammys. That's OK, since it's always
So, let's break down the four general-field categories.
Record of the Year nominees:
"Lonely Boy" -- The Black Keys
"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" -- Kelly Clarkson
"We are Young" -- fun. featuring Janelle Monae
"Somebody That I Used to Know" -- Gotye featuring Kimbra
"Thinkin Bout You" -- Frank Ocean
"We are Never Ever Getting Back Together" -- Taylor Swift
What voters got right: "Somebody That I Used to Know" was played on the radio seemingly every five minutes, to the point where it pretty much became 2012's background music. "We are Young" was the rare indie-rock anthem that crossed the usually rigid radio formats with ease.
What voters got wrong: They missed what was, in many minds, the definitive jam of 2012: Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." Maroon 5's "Payphone," featuring Wiz Khalifa, should've also made the cut. And where's "Gangnam Style"? Who wouldn't want to see that dance performed on the Grammy stage?
Song of the Year (songwriting award) nominees:
"The A Team" -- Ed Sheeran, songwriter (Ed Sheeran)
"Adorn" -- Miguel Pimentel, songwriter (Miguel)
"Call Me Maybe" -- Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen & Josh Ramsay, songwriters (Carly Rae Jepsen)
"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" -- Jorgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi, songwriters (Kelly Clarkson)
"We are Young" -- Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost & Nate Ruess, songwriters (fun. featuring Janelle Monae)
What voters got right: It's hard to argue with the fun. track, the Clarkson anthem or the Jepsen cut — although it's really difficult to understand why "Call Me Maybe" gets a nod here, but not in the record of the year category.
What voters got wrong: Gotye's hit deserves a spot, for sure. Also, I would've taken Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" instead of Sheeran's overrated folk offering. And
Album of the Year nominees:
El Camino -- The Black Keys
Some Nights -- fun.
Babel -- Mumford & Sons
Channel Orange -- Frank Ocean
Blunderbuss -- Jack White
What voters got right: It's wonderful to see Ocean up for this award. "Channel Orange" was indeed one of the year's best.
What voters got wrong: So much. Take Ocean out of the mix and you are left with some really mediocre offerings. I would've much rather seen Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball," Dylan's "Tempest" and Lionel Richie's "Tuskegee" in the mix. The biggest problem here is that voters have totally disregarded the genre that produced, by far, more good music in 2012 than any other: hip-hop. Indeed, the albums nominated in the best hip-hop category represent a much stronger field than this one.
Best New Artist nominees:
What voters got right: Alabama Shakes and Frank Ocean. When I saw Shakes for the first time back in March, I immediately proclaimed that the band would win this award. I'm changing my mind. Ocean deserves it for "Channel Orange."
What voters got wrong: Stop me if you've heard this one before — but how about some hip-hop? Mac Miller and 2 Chainz both should've made this list.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.