It started with Taylor Swift beat-boxing alongside LL Cool J and got a little weirder from there.
Of course it did. This was “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!” the televised prelude to an awards show that struggles to wrap its arms around the messy entirety of comtemporary music. And so the odd couple took the stage of Nashville’s Bridgstone Arena on Wednesday night to help announce select nominees for the 55th annual Grammy Awards, set to take place in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.
Six artists shared the lead with six nominations, but this year’s big winner was fun., the unabashedly bombastic pop-rock band from New York City who earned nods in each of the Grammys top four categories. R&B singer Frank Ocean also earned six nominations thanks to his excellent and deserving album "Channel Orange," giving the proceedings a whiff of sanity.
However, nominees for album of the year, the most coveted Grammy, skewed toward rock music after a year when rock music felt less relevant than ever. (The category included Mumford & Sons, Jack White, and his most famous imitators the Black Keys.) And deeper in the weeds, the sprawl of categories continued to confuse. After slimming down from 109 to 78 categories last year, the 55th Grammys are back up to 81, adding awards for classical compendium, Latin jazz album and urban contemporary album.
A quick sampling of head-scratchers: fun., widely recognized as a rock band, aren't nominated in the rock categories, but its sophomore album "Some Nights" is up for best pop vocal album. Robert Glasper Experiment's "Black Radio" seems like a lock for a jazz Grammy, but is nominated for best R&B album. The nominees for best alternative album included Bjork, Tom Waits, Gotye, M83, and Fiona Apple, five artists who only seem like alternatives to each other.
Among the local artists who earned nods, Wale’s “Lotus Flower Bomb” was nominated for best rap single, while “Eye on It” from area-native TobyMac was nominated for best contemporary Christian album.
Here's a complete list of nominees for the top four categories with my picks for who should win in bold:
RECORD OF THE YEAR
"Lonely Boy" — The Black Keys
"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" — Kelly Clarkson
"We Are Young" — Fun. featuring Janelle Monáe
"Somebody That I Used To Know" — Gotye featuring Kimbra
"Thinkin Bout You" — Frank Ocean
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" — Taylor Swift
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
"El Camino" — The Black Keys
"Some Nights" — fun.
"Babel" — Mumford & Sons
"Channel Orange" — Frank Ocean
"Blunderbuss" — Jack White
SONG OF THE YEAR
"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)" — Jörgen 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 Monáe)
BEST NEW ARTIST
Visit the Grammys Web site for a complete list of nominees.