Lorde, the teen sensation from New Zealand is one of the biggest breakout artists of the year. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
The 2014 Grammy nominations were a mixed bag again this year with head-scratching picks and major snubs, including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, Eminem, Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake. But off-beat choices and hot newcomers should add some freshness to the awards this year.
The nominations were unveiled Friday (Dec. 6) at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles in a televised ceremony that featured performances by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Katy Perry and Lorde.
The prestigious “Album of the Year” category was the biggest surprise, with four fresh names Sara Bereilles, Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. They were joined by veteran winner Taylor Swift for her album Red.
The big names–and big sellers– were missing from the list, including Katy Perry, Timberlake, Cyrus and a slew of rappers.
The nominees are chosen by members of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) based on quality alone, without considering sales, chart performance, personal friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty.
The five recordings that earn the most votes in each category become the nominees. There may be more than five nominees if there is a tie in the nomination process.
Because Grammy voters tend to be older, the awards have traditionally be skewed to older artists. But this year there was enough new talent to blunt some of that criticism.
The four top categories are “Album of the Year,” “Record of the Year,” “Song of the Year” and “Best New Artist” because they are not restricted by genre.
All four categories were chock full of surprises. Record of the Year nominees included Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams for “Get Lucky;” Imagine Dragons for “Radioactive;” Lorde for “Royals,” Bruno Mars for “Locked Out of Heaven” and Robin Thicke for his controversial song “Blurred Lines.”
Lorde, a teen singing sensation from New Zealand is one of the biggest breakout artists of the year, yet she was passed over in the Best New Artist category. She was, however, nominated for Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Solo Album.
Timberlake also won a nod for Best Pop Solo Album for The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience.
In the rock category, legacy acts ruled. David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Neil Young all received nods.
In another enduring mystery, Swift received nominations for Best Country Album and Best Country Song for Red, even though the album and song are pure pop.
The 56th Grammy Awards will be broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 26.
Check out the major nominees below and follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest Grammy updates.
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 feat. Pharrell Williams – “Get Lucky” Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive” Lorde – “Royals” Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven” Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell Williams & T.I. – “Blurred Lines”
SONG OF THE YEAR Pink feat. Nate Reuss – “Just Give Me a Reason” Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven” Katy Perry – “Roar” Lorde – “Royals” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert – “Same Love”
BEST NEW ARTIST James Blake Kendrick Lamar Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Kacey Musgraves Ed Sheeran
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM Lana Del Rey – Paradise Lorde – Pure Heroine Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE Sara Bareilles – “Brave” Lorde – “Royals” Bruno Mars – “When I Was Your Man” Katy Perry – “Roar” Justin Timberlake “Mirrors”
BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM Tony Bennett & Various Artist – Viva Duets Michael Buble – To Be Loved Gloria Estefan – The Standards Cee Lo Green – Cee Lo’s Magic Moment Dionne Warwick – Now
BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams – “Get Lucky” Pink feat. Nate Reuss – “Just Give Me a Reason” Rihanna feat. Mikky Eiko – “Stay” Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell Williams & T.I. – “Blurred Lines” Justin Timberlake feat. Jay Z – “Suit & Tie”
BEST ROCK ALBUM Black Sabbath – 13 David Bowie – The Next Day Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork Neil Young With Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE Alabama Shakes – “Always Alright” David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive” Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir” Queens of the Stone Age – “My God is the Sun” Jack White – “I’m Shakin’”
BEST ROCK SONG Gary Clark Jr – “Ain’t Messin Round” Paul McCartney – “Cut Me Some Slack” The Rolling Stones – “Doom and Gloom” Black Sabbath – “God Is Dead?” Muse – “Panic Station”
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM Jason Aldean – Night Train Tim McGraw – Two Lanes of Freedom Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park Blake Shelton – Based on a True Story Taylor Swift – Red
BEST COUNTRY SONG Taylor Swift – “Begin Again” Lee Brice – “I Drive Your Truck” Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart” Kacey Musgraves – “Merry Go Round” Blake Shelton – “Mine Would Be You”
BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE Lee Price – “I Drive Your Truck”
Hunter Hayes – “I Want Crazy” Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart” Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel” Blake Shelton – “Mine Would Be You”
BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE The Civil Wars – From This Valley Kelly Clarkson feat. Vince Gill – “Don’t Rush” Little Big Town – “Your Side of the Bed” Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care” Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton – “You Can’t Make Old Friends”
BEST R&B ALBUM Faith Evans – R&B Divas Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire John Legend – Love in the Future Chrisette Michele – Better TGT – Three Kings
BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM Tamar Braxton – Love and War Fantasia – Side Effects of You Salaam Remi – One: In the Chamber Rihanna – Unapologetic Mack Wilds – New York: A Love Story
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE Tamar Braxton – “Love and War” Anthony Hamilton – “Best of Me” Hiatus Kaiyote feat. Q-Tip – “Nakamarra” Miguel feat. Kendrick Lamar – “How Many Drinks?” Snark Puppy with Lalah Hathaway – “Something”
BEST R&B SONG Anthony Hamilton – “Best of Me” Tamar Braxton – “Love and War” PJ Morton feat. Stevie Wonder – “Only One” Justin Timberlake – “Pusher Love Girl” Fantasia feat. Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliot – “Without Me”
HIP-HOP RAP MUSIC
BEST RAP ALBUM Drake – Nothing Was the Same Jay Z – Magna Carta… Holy Grail Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist Kanye West – Yeezus
BEST RAP SONG ASAP Rocky feat. Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar – “F***in’ Problems” Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake – “Holy Grail” Kanye West – “New Slaves” Drake – “Started From the Bottom” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop”
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE Drake – “Started From the Bottom” Eminem – “Berzerk” Jay Z – “Tom Ford” Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools (Drank)” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz – “Thrift Shop”
BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION J. Cole feat Miguel – “Power Trip” Jay Z feat. Beyonce – “Part II (On the Run)” Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake – “Holy Grail” Kendrick Lamar feat. Mary J. Blige – “Now or Never” Wiz Khalifa feat. The Weeknd – “Remember You”
BEST DANCE RECORDING Duke Dumont feat. AME & MNEK – “Need U” Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch – “Sweet Nothing” Kaskade – “Atmosphere” Armin Van Buuren feat. Trevor Guthrie – “This Is What It Feels Like” Zedd feat. Foxes – “Clarity”
BEST DANCE ALBUM Daft Punk – Random Access Memories Disclosure – Settle Calvin Harris – 18 Months Kaskade – Atmosphere Pretty Lights – A Color Map of the Sun
BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA Coldplay – “Atlas” from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Jessie J – “Silver Lining” from Silver Linings Playbook Adele – “Skyfall” from Skyfall Colbie Caillat feat. Gavin DeGraw – “We Both Know” from Safe Haven Lana Del Rey – “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby Regina Spektor – “You’ve Got Time” from Orange Is the New Black
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Keith Girard is Editor and Publisher of TheImproper, New York City’s cutting edge arts, entertainment pop culture and lifestyle Web magazine. Before that, he was editor-in-chief of Billboard magazine and a reporter for the Washington Post among other media positions.