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Grammy noms yield some surprises

Adele scored six Grammy nominations. Photo credit: Courtesy Sony Music

Adele scored six Grammy nominations. Photo credit: Courtesy Sony Music

Careful, Grammy…you might hurt yourself trying to demonstrate your hipness this year.

Bon Iver? Mumford & Sons? Skrillex? All nominated in major categories instead of the usual niche pockets (if at all)?

Wednesday’s “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!!” (yes, two exclamation points officially required) marked the fourth time the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences chose to hype its February music awards show with an hour of performances sprinkled with a handful of award nominations.

And, for the first time in years, several surprising names slipped into marquee categories: Bon Iver’s “Holocene” nabbed nods for Record and Song of the Year, as did Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave.

Meanwhile, the Best New Artist grouping ranged from predictable – The Band Perry, Nicki Minaj (whose first name was misspelled on stage) – to the somewhat surprising inclusion of North Carolina rapper J. Cole and electro-dance producer/artist Skrillex.

But does anyone think Adele won’t sweep her major categories, which also include Record and Song of the Year for “Rolling in the Deep” and Album of the Year for the critically heralded and commercially monstrous “21”?

The British songstress scored a total of six nominations.

There were a couple of surprising omissions from the album category, which targeted Grammys more mainstream sensibilities with the Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light”; Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way”; Bruno Mars’ “Doo Wops & Hooligans”; and Rihanna’s “Loud.”

Some might have expected appearances from Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now,” Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” or his collaboration with Jay-Z, “Watch the Throne.” Atlanta-born West does lead the nominations with seven.

But who had time to think about awards during the Wednesday telecast, so stuffed with performances, the nominees were mostly an afterthought? (Also an afterthought: Van Halen, whose “historic reunion” was more than lightly hinted at in Grammy press material in the weeks leading up to the show, yet never materialized).

Georgia's Jason Aldean and Ludacris collaborated on Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" on the Wednesday Grammy nominations telecast. Photo credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Georgia's Jason Aldean and Ludacris collaborated on Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" on the Wednesday Grammy nominations telecast. Photo credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Neil Portnow, president of NARAS, is obsessed with creating musical “moments” you’ll never see elsewhere, so in that regard, the incongruous pairing of Georgia boys Jason Aldean and Ludacris on Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” was a success. Still, the performance didn’t quite gel, despite Luda dropping one of his typically funny and fluid raps into the song and breaking out some guitar hero moves at its conclusion.

But Usher’s moving tribute to songwriters Nick Ashford and Jerry Leiber – accompanied by Ashford’s wife and collaborator Valerie Simpson on one piano and Leiber’s iconic partner Mike Stoller on another – was understated and classy. Usher pushed himself vocally on a version of “You’re All I Need to Get By” that was filled with earnest emotion, then slickly segued into “Stand By Me,” urging the crowd at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. to sing along.

But the highlight was, predictably, saved for last, when Sugarland joined Lady Gaga for the latter’s excellent “You and I,” undeniably her meatiest song to date (no pun intended). The pairing worked on every level, with Jennifer Nettles and Gaga trading impressive wails on the rootsy, Elton John-like song, and sparse accompaniment from Gaga’s piano and Sugarland’s guitars.

Nettles even improvised the line, “I’m a Georgia woman gonna run you down” while vamping with Gaga at the song’s climax.

Here’s a look at the nominees in the four categories announced on the show, as well as a cursory compilation of some Georgia nominees (It’s easy to miss a local name amid 78 categories, but I’ll be sure to correct any omissions).

Usher

Usher performed a moving tribute to Nick Ashford and Jerry Leiber. Photo credit: Matt Sayles/AP

The complete list of noms can be found at www.grammy.com. The 54th Annual Grammy Awards air Feb. 12 on CBS.

Record of the Year: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”; Bon Iver, “Holocene”; Bruno Mars, “Grenade”; Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”; Katy Perry, “Firework.”

Song of the YearKanye West, “All of the Lights”; Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”; Bruno Mars, “Grenade”; Bon Iver, “Holocene”; Adele, “Rolling in the Deep.”

Best New ArtistThe Band Perry; Bon Iver; J. Cole; Nicki Minaj; Skrillex

Album of the YearAdele, “21”; Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”; Lady Gaga, “Born this Way”; Bruno Mars, “Doo Wops & Hooligans”; Rihanna, “Loud.”

Some Georgia nominees:

Pop Vocal Album – Cee Lo Green, “The Lady Killer”

Best Traditional R&B Performance – Cee Lo Green and Melanie Fiona, “Fool For You”

Best R&B Song – Cee Lo Green and Melanie Fiona, “Fool For You”

Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance – Mastodon, “Curl of the Burl”

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration – Beyonce with Andre 3000, “Party”

Best Country Solo Performance – Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

Best Country Album – Jason Aldean , “My Kinda Party”; Lady Antebellum, “Own the Night”

Best Contemporary Christian Music Song – Chris Tomlin, “I Lift My Hands”; Laura Story, “Blessings”

Best Contemporary Christian Music Song - Jamie Grace, “Hold Me”

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album – Chris Tomlin, “And If Our God is For Us…”

Best Blues Album – Gregg Allman, “Low Country Blues” (he’s competing against Allman Brothers brethren Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks)

Best Gospel Song -  Canton Jones, “Window”

Best Song Written For Visual Media – Zac Brown, “Where the River Goes” (from “Footloose”); Diane Warren for Justin Bieber’s “Born to Be Somebody” (from “Never Say Never”)

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ajclifestyle

By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene Blog

20 comments Add your comment

JustMyOpinion

December 1st, 2011
6:40 am

Congratulations Peach people!

itsme

December 1st, 2011
7:24 am

Nice to see Gregg Allman nominated.

B

December 1st, 2011
9:10 am

Electro is taking over…Skrillex is a great EDM producer

FenderMan

December 1st, 2011
9:59 am

As a native Georgain, it’s good to see Georgia represented, as usual. Georgia has a rich musical history that keeps growing in all forms of music. Although rap/hip-hop are not forms of music.

Definitely good to see G Allman nominated.

Melissa, please include the blues next time.

XULA96

December 1st, 2011
10:05 am

@FenderMan….I’m not a fan of most of the new hip hop artist or what they create. However, to say that rap/hip hop are not forms of music only shows your ignorance. Sorry but when country singers are collaborating with Ludacris and Nelly I think most folk would disagree with your opinion. I’m not a fan of heavy metal or country music for that matter but just because I don’t like doesn’t make it any less a form of music. Get over yourself!

tla128

December 1st, 2011
10:12 am

You are missing another Georgia nominee from the list. Local Atlanta artist and 102.5 Radio DJ Canton Jones was nominated for Best Gospel Song “Window” from the Dominionaire album. Congratualations Canton!!!

FenderMan

December 1st, 2011
10:45 am

XULA,

I’m not ignorant to music. I know music when I hear it and like all kinds of “music.” When
non-singing rappers and hip/hop performers are not collaborating with real singers and musicians it is not music. What key are LLCoolJ songs in? Does he have a three octave rap voice?
What instrument does he play? I’ll call it expression and/or commenatry but I will not call it “music.” I think “rap music” is an oxymoron.

Melissa Ruggieri

December 1st, 2011
11:37 am

TLA128: Thank you! I will add.

Cheers,
Melissa

Melissa Ruggieri

December 1st, 2011
11:38 am

FenderMan: I did include Gregg Allman in my original list. Not sure what you mean about not including the blues?

Cheers,
Melissa

XULA96

December 1st, 2011
11:39 am

FenderMan,

There was a time when people said Rock and Roll wasn’t music or heavy metal wasn’t music….You are locked into your narrow definition of what music is and that is where you are going wrong. Long time ago a lot of people said the rhythmic sounds from Africa wasn’t music, yet those sounds are what gospel and blues music you mentioned above evolved from. Lastly, not playing an instrument doesn’t make a person any less of a singer or performer, so I don’t know the significance of asking what instrument L.L Cool J or any rapper plays.

FenderMan

December 1st, 2011
11:57 am

I love the blues and African rhythms are music. Your (Xula) response regarding LLCoolJ not playing
an instrument is interesting. Granted, a lot of singers do not play instruments and are talented
performers. I’ve never seen Usher or MJ play anything but they sing and are awesome on statge. However, you did not address LLCoolJ’s inability to sing or if songs are in any key. My definition of music is not narrow. I like any kind of music that involves singers and musicians. Rap and hip/hop does not meet the cirteria.

You’re right Melissa. I just read G Allman and did not notice the Blues category. Thanks.
Although, if it wasn’t G Allman (originally from Florida) or any other Georgian would you include the Blues category?

XULA96

December 1st, 2011
12:15 pm

FenderMan,

Have you ever heard any of the rapper Nelly songs? If you pay close attention to him, he’s singing more than just rhyming verses. Some rappers can do this, most can’t and I’ll give you that but in my opinion it doesn’t make their talent any less worthy of being classified as music. Now I don’t like the subject matter of most more recently made rap songs, but to remedy that I simply choose not to listen to it or allow my children to listen to it. Nevertheless, my dislike of many of the new rap songs doesn’t give me the right call it anything other than rap music.

That Dude Devin

December 1st, 2011
2:06 pm

Cee Lo Green – Lady Killer — Great album. Good job Lo!

FenderMan

December 1st, 2011
2:20 pm

Nelly is the exception. Music and its many styles are there for everyone. There’s plenty
to go around. However, I will never use the term rap music, rap song or classify it as music because rappers (not rappers who sing like Nelly ) are not singers.

We’ll just agree to diasgree.

shilohmama

December 1st, 2011
6:09 pm

Another artist up for Contemporary Christian Music Song is Laura Story who lives & works in Johns Creek, GA.

A point not taken

December 2nd, 2011
3:27 am

‘Rap/hip-hop are not forms of music’ Aren’t both forms accompanied by music? I don’t knock any form of music and there’s a lot that I don’t care for . . .nor do I make jabs at what I don’t like. FenderMan your taste in music is limited and that’s fine, however freedom of speech is something one should respect. Don’t say something just because you can, it shows a weakness of being unable to accept what you don’t like –something that really has not negative impact on your life, or does it? If it’s something really worthwhile speaking out about then by all means do so, but on a blog about music. . .why?

The older I get the more I see that more people would rather piss on a parade than participate.

A point not taken

December 2nd, 2011
3:30 am

Good job Melissa Ruggieri!

FenderMan

December 2nd, 2011
10:00 am

Yes. Some rap/hip hop is “accompanied” by music. The only time I can take JayZ is when he
has a full band. MOST rap and unfortunatley, most pop R&B these days is accompanied by machines and not musicians. The voices are great but where is the live band?

I’m not pissing on anyone’s parade. If you like rap that’s OK witth me. Rap, on its own, without a band backing it up does meet my definition of music.

I’m not an angry white man afraid of black culture. I love the blues and there is nothing more
black than the blues. Actually it’s disappointing there are not more black people at blues shows.

Buddy Guy is the s**t!

Melissa Ruggieri

December 2nd, 2011
3:02 pm

Shilohmama: Thank for you the info about Laura. I’ve added her to the list.

FenderMan: Actually, since the list is about Georgia nominees, then no, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have included the blues unless there were local nominees.

Cheers,
Melissa

A point not taken

December 2nd, 2011
9:35 pm

FenderMan not LesPaul

“I’m not an angry white man afraid of black culture. I love the blues and there is nothing more black than the blues. Actually it’s disappointing there are not more black people at blues shows.”

You’re not even listening to yourself. You know when you were young older beings thought the same as you do now . . .they pissed on your parade.

‘The Blues is a Black man feeling low and Country is a White man low’.