2014 Grammy Nominations: Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift … And Sara Bareilles?

2014 Grammy Nominations: Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift … And Sara Bareilles?

The Grammys again announced their nominations with some extra flash and fanfare this year, flipping the old morning podium announcement into another primetime concert special live from the Staples Center in L.A. LL Cool J, who hosted last year’s Grammy broadcast, was back to MC this show as he will for the ceremony next month. Performers included inescapable 2013 stars Lorde, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thicke, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift, all of whom received nominations in major categories. Keith Urban and Miguel teamed for a typically suave cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” too, which was truly pleasant. In the end, Jay Z was nominated for nine Grammys; Kendrick Lamar, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell were each nominated for seven; and Daft Punk and Drake were nominated for five. Here’s how the major categories stand…

Album Of The Year
Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
Taylor Swift – Red

Record Of The Year
Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” feat. Pharrell
Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive”
Lorde – “Royals”
Bruno Mars – “Locked Out Of Heaven”
Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines” feat. T.I. & Pharrell

Song Of The Year
P!nk – “Just Give Me A Reason” feat. Nate Ruess
Bruno Mars – “Locked Out Of Heaven”
Katy Perry – “Roar”
Lorde – “Royals”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Same Love” feat. Mary Lambert

Best New Artist
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Also of note…

  • Daft Punk & Pharrell got a Best Pop Duo/Group Performance nomination for “Get Lucky” and for Best Dance/Electronica Album, where they’ll go up against Disclosure.
  • Lana Del Rey was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album (for Paradise) and Best Song Written For Visual Media (for The Great Gatsby’s “Young And Beautiful”).
  • Queens Of The Stone Age got a Best Rock Performance nom for “My God Is The Sun” along with Best Rock Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical nods for …Like Clockwork. Sirvana (Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear) got a Best Rock Song nomination.
  • Alternative Music Album nominees are Neko Case, the National, Nine Inch Nails, Tame Impala, and Vampire Weekend.
  • Kanye West’s “New Slaves” is up for Best Rap Song against “Fuckin’ Problems,” “Holy Grail,” “Started From The Bottom,” and “Thrift Shop” and Yeezus is up for Best Rap Album against the latest LPs from Drake, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Yes, that “Holy Grail” nod means co-writers Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic are nominated for Best Rap Song this year.
  • Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominees are Rob Cavallo, Dr. Luke, Ariel Rechtshaid, Jeff Tweedy, Pharrell Williams.

Who are the big winners and losers here? You have to see through the cold, hard numbers a bit for perspective.

Technically, Jay Z leads the field with nine nominations, but he was shut out of all the major categories. His collaborator and tourmate Justin Timberlake suffered the same fate; JT earned seven nods but none for Album, Record, or Song Of The Year. That has to register as a disappointment for those two titans of (the entertainment) industry. Drake’s five nominations look a lot less impressive for the same reason: They’re all in rap-specific categories except for his tangential involvement with Kendrick Lamar’s Album Of The Year-nominated good kid, m.A.A.d. city.

Lorde’s failure to garner a Best New Artist nod scans as a snub, especially when NARAS is returning to that confusing Grammy practice doling out nods to well-established acts (James Blake) and artists who’ve already won Grammys (Ed Sheeran). Only two nods for commercial giants Imagine Dragons has to sting a little bit, and you have to think Taylor Swift was hoping for nod in the Song or Record Of The Year categories to go along with her Album Of The Year nod for Red. And Kanye West, who earlier this year noted to The New York Times “I haven’t won [a Grammy] against a white person,” can’t be happy with only to be relegated to the rap categories with his two nominations.

Relative newcomers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar fared far better in the big picture; both rap acts garnered seven nominations each, including Album Of The Year and Best New Artist nods. Macklemore & Lewis also nabbed a Song Of The Year nomination for “Same Love” feat. Mary Lambert, making the Seattle hip-hop duo the most prominently featured artist in the top-tier categories. Even with arguably the three biggest names in rap (Jay Z, Kanye, and Drake) missing out on the major categories, it’s looking like an up year for the genre. This seems like the most likely chance for a rapper to win Album Of The Year since OutKast won in 2004 for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. (Before OutKast, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill in 1999 was the only hip-hop album to take home top honors.) Hip-hop seems especially well represented compared to all-but-invisible showings from EDM and Mumford & Sons-style folk-rock.

Daft Punk’s five nominations are nothing to shrug at either, especially considering the robots made it into the two top categories, Album and Record Of The Year. Their “Get Lucky” cohort Pharrell Williams wrapped up his dominant year with seven nominations too — including one for Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical — although thanks to his involvement with Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” he’s competing against himself in the Record Of The Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance categories. James Blake continues his shocking award tour with that Best New Artist nod. And if you’re Sara Bareilles, you have to be stoked to be in the Album Of The Year conversation at all.

Check out all the nominations here. The Grammys air Sunday, 1/26 on CBS.

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