In these precarious pop days of weak sales, heightened piracy and a dearth of spark and originality, the Grammy Awards have had no problem embracing style over substance, big fat sellers over artistic cred. Desperate times call for serious sucking up to the popular kids — not to mention an appreciation for awesome hair and bosoms that shoot fireworks.
So when the 53rd annual Grammy Awards go down on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, prepare to scream your little hearts out for great gobs of the exceptionally coiffed Justin Bieber, who earned a best new artist nom during a glitzy Grammy nominations show on Wednesday, and the mammarily incendiary Katy Perry, whose Teenage Dream will battle for album of the year. If you sold a million records, prepare your acceptance speech!
The Recording Academy, the governing body of the Grammys, bestowed noms to pretty much all of 2010's top sellers. Rapper Eminem was the night's leading nominee with 10 nods. He and country trio Lady Antebellum had the biggest albums of the year — his Recovery, their Need You Now — and two of the biggest singles — his wicked duet with Rihanna Love the Way You Lie, their besotted Need You Now — so naturally, Em and Lady A will scrum for album of the year, song of the year and record of the year.
Lady Gaga's EP-plus The Fame Monster also got an album of the year nod, as did the Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, the top category's lone salute to the indie aesthetic. The Montreal band won't win, but in this crowd, they really should.
The Grammys were saved from looking like total sellouts thanks to a few hot acts that just happen to have legit skills and serious hip points. Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars earned seven nominations. New rapper B.o.B. scored a record of the year chance for Nothin' on You. And in perhaps the most delicious storyline, Cee Lo Green's irresistible kiss-off (Bleep) You earned nods for song of the year (a songwriter's award) and record of the year (awarded to artist and producer). And won't it be fun hearing the big man sing that at "music's biggest night."
Country spitfire Miranda Lambert got a raw deal when her Revolution failed to score a nom for album of the year, but her hit The House That Built Me got a nod for song of the year, plus she'll kill in the county categories, including best female country vocal performance. Go get 'em, Ran!
The nominations continued to pour in as we went to deadline, but if you're looking for disgruntled acts, well, Jay-Z might be a little ticked off. Sure, his Empire State of Mind duet with Alicia Keys was nominated for record of the year, but his The Blueprint 3 was expected to sneak into the album of the year conversation.
And although Train was invited to Wednesday's noms show to croon Hey, Soul Sister, that chummy roots-rock strum was shut out of the top categories. That's kind of nasty right there, but hey, at least the Grammys are showing a little edge.
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life column runs every Sunday in Floridian.