Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-center rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.
Macklemore and Lewis’ gay marriage anthem “Same Love” was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.
Macklemore and Lewis dominated a nominations TV special from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles that also included performances by nominees Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lorde and Robin Thicke.
Macklemore and Lewis opened the show with a colorful, high-energy version of their hit “Thrift Shop,” featuring Wanz, and immediately picked up a song of the year nomination for “Same Love,” featuring Mary Lambert.
Two nominations later, Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, was noting it was a “very surreal moment” during an on-air interview with host LL Cool J. “It’s like we’re not supposed to be here, but we’re here with LL Cool J.” Added Lewis after the show: “There is no greater award than the Grammy. To be here tonight and to be nominated is truly mind-blowing.”
Recording Academy favorites Timberlake and Jay Z teamed up for two nominations apiece, but they only had one major nomination between them this year and that came for Jay Z’s participation on Lamar’s album of the year nominee “good kid, m.A.A.d city” instead of his own “Magna Carta … Holy Grail.”
Williams, who seemed to be everywhere in 2013, is up for producer of the year and faces himself in three categories, including record of the year for “Get Lucky” with Daft Punk and “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke, and album of the year entries “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk and Lamar’s “good kid.”
Drake and sound engineer Bob Ludwig are up for five awards apiece at the Jan. 26 Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles.
Joining Lamar, Macklemore and Lewis, and Daft Punk in the album of the year category were Sara Bareilles’ “The Blessed Unrest” — perhaps the biggest surprise among major category nominees — and Taylor Swift’s “Red.”
Swift is among five acts with four nominations apiece along with Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Lorde and Kacey Musgraves. British musicians James Blake and Ed Sheeran round out the best new artist category with Musgraves, Lamar and Macklemore and Lewis.
Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” Lorde’s “Royals” and Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” join “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” for record of the year. The Lorde and Mars entries also are up for song of the year with Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason,” Katy Perry’s “Roar” and “Same Love.”
Perry said of “Roar” in an emotional moment before a pre-taped performance: “I hope that the song has inspired you guys and it will bring out that kind of self-strength that you need a little bit to go through your days when they get a little bit hard.”
Timberlake picked up a handful of nominations in pop categories, including pop vocal album of the year for “The 20/20 Experience.” Other nominees in that category include Lana Del Rey’s “Paradise,” Lorde’s “Pure Heroine,” Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
“The Heist,” ”good kid” and “Magna Carta” are also on the best rap album list with Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” and Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” which was mostly shut out of the nominations. West also got a nomination for best rap song for “New Slaves.”
West may have suffered the most from the large hauls of Lamar and Macklemore and Lewis. His “Yeezus” is already making many year-end lists, but had no hits and spawned controversy among some listeners.
Others who might consider themselves snubbed are 2013’s most visible country stars Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, who were both shut out.
Academy voters preferred Swift and Musgraves. Swift’s “Red” is up for country album of the year with Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park,” and both are nominated in the country song of the year category, where Musgraves has two nods for co-writing her own “Merry Go ‘Round” and Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart.”
The major nominations were an acknowledgement of 2013’s top hit-makers. “Get Lucky,” ”Blurred Lines” and “Royals” took turns ruling the pop radio airwaves this year. Macklemore and Lewis had two hits — “Same Love” and “Thrift Shop” — that led to nominations.
And Lamar managing to keep his profile high with a number of hits, guest appearances and moments of bravado that helped voters forget his album came out 14 months ago. Lamar called himself the greatest rapper in the game earlier this year, calling out Drake and several others in verse, and voters mostly backed him up.
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