Sunday, February 10, marked the year’s biggest night in music – the 55th annual Grammy Awards! The night teemed with lightheartedness with host LL Cool J, nail-biting envelope opening, and as usual, some pretty strange performance duos.
LL Cool J returned for his second year. I had high expectations for his emcee performance, after he managed to find a perfect balance last year between cheerful celebration for the ceremony and dignified respect for the recently deceased Whitney Houston. LL did not disappoint!
Over 81 awards were presented to over 300 nominees Sunday night, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Rock Album, Best Rap Album, and Best Country Album. Six lucky artists tied for the most nominations, each scoring a whopping six nods from the Awards & Nominations Committee.
Resident Grammy contenders Kanye West and Jay-Z returned for yet another year, receiving nods for their collaboration on the album Watch the Throne. Another repeat contender, Mumford & Sons, returned with nominations for their sophomore album, Babel, including several nods for the catchy single “I Will Wait.”
Indie pop rock icons The Black Keys also returned to the Grammys scene with nominations for tracks off from their new album El Camino. Drummer-producer Dan Auerbach helped push The Black Keys to tie for most nominated with his masterful production of several albums.
Given that a record is simply a track on an album, ever wonder what the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year is? According to the Grammys FAQ page, Record of the Year recognizes both the artist and the team behind the artist while Song of the Year awards the songwriter(s).
Newcomer fun. enjoyed nominations in both categories, thanks to chart-topping infectious pop rock song “We Are Young.” Formed in 2008 in New York City, fun. also snagged nominations in Best New Artist, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Album of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album, tying for most nominations.
Another newcomer, Frank Ocean, shared the Best New Artist nomination with fun. Frank Ocean released his first album in July 2012. However, the master singer-songwriter has been active in the music industry since 2009 and even won a Rookie of the Year award back in 2011. Following intense media coverage after coming out as gay this past summer in an interview, Frank Ocean soon made waves by bringing diversity to the hip hop and R&B world with his music, creating an expert blend of R&B and storytelling in his soulful Channel Orange album. Frank Ocean received six nods, including Album of the Year, Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Short Form Video, and Record of the Year.
Other notable nominees included: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson (you know, that song you can never get out of your head) for Song of the Year (really?!) and Best Pop Solo Performance; Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” for Record of the Year (another shocker); Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” (still being played every five minutes on the radio); “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, which was released in 2011 so who knows why it was nominated; Drake’s multiple nods for songs off of Take Care; and Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged album, (which helped even country novices like myself love the genre).
Performances by popular artists from country, rock, pop, and R&B genres thrilled the audience. However, despite Jay-Z and Kanye’s 12 combined nominations, hip hop was shut out of the Grammys. Instead, other contemporary artists collaborated with some of the greats to create interesting, if not sometimes odd, pairings.
Solo performances included Jack White, the highly publicized return of Justin Timberlake, The Black Keys, Frank Ocean, Mumford & Sons, Kelly Clarkson, The Lumineers, fun., Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna. Rihanna also sang with Bruno Mars and Sting in a performance that had critics worried about possible mismatched harmonization and style (remember the atrocity of that Christina Aguilera and Limp Bizkit pairing?!). Other collaborations included Elton John and Ed Sheeran, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, and Maroon 5, and Alicia Keys. Each duo successfully combined perfect style, rhythm, and harmony.
by Jessica Long, 3L