Grammy’s Nod to Breakthrough Artists

The eclectic 2013 Grammy Nominations represent the best musical offerings of 2012, featuring an array of talented artists. New artists with critical success invigorate the major nominations this year. While shying away from pop mainstays in the top categories, the Grammy’s primarily recognize artists of various musical genres, from Frank Ocean’s soulful R&B to The Black Keys’ bluesy rock and roll. Jay-Z and Kanye West earned multiple nominations in their categories due to their numerous collaborations with other artists. Also, the top nominees were dominated by the boys, with most female stars relegated to the pop categories.

Frank Ocean garnered 6 nominations this year, including nominations in all the major categories, including Album of the Year for Channel Orange, Record of the Year for “Thinkin’ Bout You,” and a Best New Artist nomination.

Ocean worked as a songwriter behind the scenes for years, and was a member of the hip-hop group Odd Future until his album Channel Orange made him famous in his own right.

Throughout 2012, his poignant songs and complex stories gave him cross-over credibility. Ocean performed his hit “Thinkin’ Bout You” to a hushed audience at the MTV Video Music Awards. Channel Orange was surely the year’s definitive album, and he will likely walk away with Grammy gold.

Newcomers Fun were rewarded with nominations in all main categories, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for their chorus-filled power track “We Are Young.” Additionally, their album Some Nights earned them an Album of the Year nomination. Fun’s catchy beats and lead singer Nate Ruess’s distinct voice made them a musical staple in 2012, and Fun will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the Best New Artist Category.

Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, and Jack White dominate the rock categories. All three are nominated for Album of the Year: Mumford’s folk rock album Babel; The Black Keys’ critically acclaimed El Camino; and Jack White’s solo debut album, Blunderbuss.

This will certainly be one of the more difficult races, due to all of the artists’ stellar success in 2012. Still, it seems likely that White will have an edge in these categories, since he garnered both critical and commercial success with his first solo project. White’s “Freedom at 21,” The Black Keys’ song “Lonely Boy,” and Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait” will also compete for Best Rock Song.

Jay-Z may not have made it to any of the major categories, but he still manages to rule in the rap genre without having released any albums in 2012. Jay-Z is nominated 6 times, for collaborations with multiple artists, including Frank Ocean and Kanye West for “No Church in the Wild” and Rihanna for “Talk that Talk.”

West is also nominated 6 times, again with Jay-Z for “N—as in Paris” from their album Watch the Throne, and for his single with G.O.O.D Music, “Mercy.” Although West’s ultra-collaboration album Cruel Summer did not garner much critical acclaim, “Mercy” definitely has Song of the Year potential, if for no other reason than introducing “swerve” as the ultimate rejection.

Miguel made it out of the R&B category with his sweet song “Adorn,” which earned him a Song of the Year nod. The song was everywhere in 2012, and along with this first major Grammy nomination, Miguel is nominated 5 times this year, with nominations for Best Urban Contemporary Album for Kaleidoscope Dream, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “Adorn.” Miguel is also nominated for Best Rap Song for his collaboration with Wale on “Lotus Flower Bomb.”

By now, it should be apparent that female artists are not getting a lot of attention at this year’s Grammy Awards. No female artist is nominated for Album of the Year.

There is a bit of Grammy love for Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson, however, who are both up for Record of the Year (Swift for “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and Clarkson for “Stronger”).

In fact, Clarkson earned four nominations, with “Stronger” garnering a Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance nominations, and her album Stronger earning a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Swift is nominated twice more for her song for The Hunger Games, “Safe and Sound,” which has a chance of winning, since Grammy darling Adele is not nominated in the “Best Song Written for Visual Media” category for her song “Skyfall,” written for the new Bond movie of the same name.

In addition, Carly Rae Jepson’s infectious “Call Me Maybe” is up for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, as it absolutely should be, given the multitude of parodies it inspired.

This year’s Grammy Awards are certainly a toss-up. I agree that all of the artists in the top categories are absolutely deserving and appreciate that major awards will go to artists with the power to break out of the mold of genre.

It will certainly be interesting to see the winners of the 55th Grammy’s, especially since Adele cannot win all of the awards this time around.

— By Jordie Davies