By Sean Daly
Times Pop Music Critic
When nominations were announced for the 53rd annual Grammy Awards (to be held Feb. 13 in L.A.), it didn't surprise anyone when Eminem led all acts with 10. The Detroit rapper had the biggest album of the year, the thrice-platinum (if totally so-so) Recovery, and the moony-eyed Recording Academy loves sucking up to the popular kids.
But the dude with the second-highest noms tally was an eyebrow-raiser: Bruno Mars scored seven. Seven?! More than Jay-Z, more than Gaga? Yep, and he deserves each one.
Mars isn't such a head-scratcher when you check out the 25-year-old's shiny stats: The Hawaiian native crooned the hook on B.o.B.'s Nothin' on You (nominated for three Grammys, including record of the year), he co-wrote Cee Lo Green's life-affirming (Bleep) You (up for record and song of the year), he scored a best male pop vocal nomination for his own Just the Way You Are, plus he'll battle for producer of the year. Not too shabby, eh?
And when the 93.3 FLZ Jingle Ball sashays into the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday, the very hot, happening Mars will be the boldest name on an impressively packed bill. Hopefully, he'll do that acoustic version of Just the Way You Are he busted out on the Grammy nominations show. And it just so happens that good pal B.o.B. will be there, too, so you know they'll team up for a live, loose Nothin' on You. That should be worth the ticket price right there, and yet the radio folks have also lined up Maroon 5, Enrique Iglesias, Train, Mike Posner and more to make for a serious night of pop.
The hottest Jingle Ball ever? With Mars in the house, it just might be.