On Friday, December 6, the 2014 GRAMMY nominations were announced during a live concert in Los Angeles in preparation for the 56th annual awards—the biggest night in music—to be held on January 26, 2014. Among the whopping eighty-two categories that recognize the year’s best in music were the usual suspects, the surprises, and the snubs.
This year, Jay Z and Magna Carta…Holy Grail led the pack with nine nominations overall including nods in Best Rap Song, Rap Performance, and Rap Album. Newcomers Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore also dominated the nominations, each earning eight nods for their musical achievement throughout the year. Another pleasant surprise was the two nominations given to Sara Bareilles, whose album The Blessed Unrest—her first album in three years—received nods for its hit song “Brave” and Album of the Year.
Especially noteworthy in the nominees is Lorde, the seventeen year old singer-songwriter from New Zealand, whose album Pure Heroine, released in November, has achieved fame worldwide. The new pop-alternative star received a nomination for Pure Heroine in the Best Pop Vocal album, and its hit song “Royals” received three nods in the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance categories. Despite the fact that this newcomer earned a handful of nominations in her first year on the American music scene, Lorde surprisingly was not recognized in the Best New Artist category.
Instead, the Best New Artist category honors the talents of the electronic James Blake; rappers Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, and Ryan Lewis; country crooner Kacey Musgraves; and songwriter Ed Sheeran.
Pop: Dominating the pop category is Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake with nominations for their albums Unorthodox Jukebox and The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience, respectively. Robin Thicke was also recognized repeatedly for his catchy yet painfully annoying “Blurred Lines,” which was one of the most overplayed songs of the year in addition to Daft Punk and Pharrell’s “Get Lucky,” which picked up a nomination for Record of the Year.
Country: Country newcomer Kacey Musgraves is nominated for Best New Artist, but the country music category features many polished veterans of the southern genre this year. The favorite of youngsters worldwide—Taylor Swift—received nominations for her song “Begin Again” and a nomination for Best Country Album with Red. Swift’s nomination for Best Country Album is disputable considering Red, her fourth studio album, is hardly country music or even in the realm of pop-country crossover.
Other catchy hits such as Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” earn a spot in the Best Country Solo performance alongside amateurs and veterans such as Hunter Hayes, Lee Brice, and interestingly, husband and wife Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert.
Alternative: The alternative field features the sole category of Best Alternative music album, whose contenders include Nine Inch Nails (Hesitation Marks), Vampire Weekend (Modern Vampires Of The City) and The National (Trouble Will Find Me). Ultimately, Vampire Weekend will be favored to win this one, as their album struck gold once again with recent hits like “Diane Young” and “Don’t Lie.”
Hip Hop and Rap: This year, the Hip Hop and Rap category features various musical legends of the past decade, like Eminem and Jay Z, who both picked up a nod for Best Rap Performance. Among other notable nominees were J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, and newcomers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Kanye West’s good, yet overexposed Yeezus earned a nomination for Best Album, one of two for West, who may have been snubbed in several other categories.
In 2013, the arrival of many new artists such as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Lorde, and Kacey Musgraves contributed to a memorable year in music. However, iconic veterans of the 2000’s—Jay Z, Kanye West, and Justin Timberlake—all released albums this year. This year’s GRAMMY Awards should be interesting to see whether or not the newcomers or the favorites will take home the titles. Lorde, who is performing at the awards, definitely deserves to win for her album Pure Heroine, or at least the hit track “Royals.” From the veterans, Jay Z should win for Magna Carta…Holy Grail and hopefully its song “Tom Ford.” However, many of the categories are an evenly matched toss-up; the world will find out who wins on January 26.