Fan Favorites and Chart Toppers Mark Pop Nominations for The 56th GRAMMYs
The annual GRAMMY season kicked off in style last night with the airing of the "GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live "on CBS that served as a platform to announce the nominations for The 56th GRAMMY Awards. Jay-Z leads the pack of nominees with nine bids followed by Justin Timberlake with seven nominations in the Pop and R&B categories. Other frontrunners include Macklemore & Ryan Lewis who also received 7 nominations and New Zealand pop sensation Lorde who received four. The 56th GRAMMY Awards air January 26 at 8 p.m. on CBS.
I reported on all the backstage scoop on Twitter last night (at a ferocious pace if I may add) as GRAMMY's official pop correspondent and I chatted with a few artists about their nominations as well. Lorde received four nominations (including in the coveted Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories) and she was overjoyed. She told me backstage, "I'm very excited. This doesn't usually happen to people from New Zealand."
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were equally excited when they talked with members of the media backstage. "Last year, we were an underground hip hop act and now we're here. It's surreal. It's a beautiful moment," Macklemore said. The humble Seattle rapper also talked about the passing of Nelson Mandela and called the South African icon "a true hero."
This year's pop field in particular is loaded with talent and covers the entire pop spectrum from sweet to crunchy. Let's have a look at each of the five pop categories:
★ Best Pop Solo Performance (for new vocals or instrumental pop recordings that are singles or tracks only) - This category features a solid mix of nominees including Justin Timberlake "Mirrors" that was one of the biggest tracks of 2013 and rivals Katy Perry's empowerment anthem "Roar." The Academy also selected Bruno Mars' superb ballad "When I Was Your Man" that was favored over "Locked Out Of Heaven" that is nominated in the Song of the Year category. Interesting to note is that Mars performed "Locked Out Of Heaven" with Sting at The 55th GRAMMYs. The track was released on October 1, 2012 that is the start date of the eligbility period for The 56th GRAMMYs. Also nominated are Lorde with "Royals" and Sara Bareilles' "Brave."
★ Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (for new vocal or instrumental duo/group or collaborating pop recordings that are singles or tracks only) - The Recording Academy hit the mark perfectly in this category selecting all major collaborations of the year, including Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko "Stay, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell "Blurred Lines," Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-Z "Suit & Tie" and Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams "Get Lucky. The category concludes with nominations for GRAMMY faves Pink featuring Nate Ruess "Just Give Me A Reason." (Sidenote: Nate Ruess told me at last year's GRAMMY Nominations Concert in Nashville how excited he was about this track with Pink.)
★ Best Pop Vocal Album (for albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal pop recordings) - This major pop category features an eclectic mix of works by exciting newcomers and existing chart-toppers who continue to produce high quality work. The nomination for Pure Heroine rounds up all four nominations for Lorde. Bruno Mars gets a well-deserved nod for his excellent Unorthodox Jukebox and Robin Thicke received a pop nomination for Blurred Lines. Justin Timberlake's two recent albums were submitted by RCA Records as a single (double) LP and The 20/20 Experience - The Complete Experience received a nomination as well. Last but not least, Lana Del Rey received her very first GRAMMY nominations for Paradise.
★ Best Pop Instrumental Album (for albums containing at least 51% playing time of new instrumental pop recordings) - Nominations in this often-overlooked category are Herb Albert "Steppin' Out," Boney James "The Beat," Earl Klugh "Hanpicked," Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot "Summer Horns" and Jeff Lorber Fusion "Hacienda."
★ Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (for albums containing at least 51% playing time of new traditional pop recordings) - Some expected nominees in this category including Michael Buble (To Be Loved), Cee Lo Green (Cee Lo's Magic Moment), Dionne Warwick (Now), Tony Bennett (Viva Duets) and Gloria Estefan (The Standards). Estefan's co-producer/arranger Shelly Berg was also nominated for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for the song "What A Wonderful World" that is included on The Standards. Over the course of her career, Estefan has won seven GRAMMYs.
December 7, 2013 | Permalink
Exclusive Premiere: Kat Dahlia 'Happy and I Know It' (Behind The Scenes)
Kat Dhalia is known for keeping things real and letting us know exactly what's on her mind. Her debut single "Gansta" created a storm of interest earlier this year and this week the Miami, FL rapper returns with her new mixtape "Seeds." With this release, Dhalia further details her developing brand of pop and hip hop that is fierce, personal, always colorful and authentically raw.
Raised by Cuban-born parents in Miami Beach, Kat began singing when she was 8 and started writing songs at 15, ripping instrumentals from YouTube in lieu of a band. "I write my own music," she says. "If you want to break it down, I’m just being myself."
Saving money from a waitressing gig, Kat moved to New York in 2010. She was almost derailed by what she describes as a "toxic relationship," but she got herself out of it, and emerged fired up as a writer, with new insight and a deepened commitment to uncompromising emotional honesty. Coming up with the funds to finance studio time, Kat released a music video and an EP, and signed with Vested In Culture (VIC) shortly thereafter.
Check out some exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of her "Happy And I Know It" that she shot in Miami and has her unique signature all over it. The song is taken from "Seeds" that is available now.
December 6, 2013 | Permalink
Exclusive Premiere: Listen to Manhattan Clique 'Torn In Two' [Review]
I'm sure that Manhattan Clique is no stranger to the dance-pop aficionados among you. The British production duo has remixed officially-commissioned dancefloor ragers for artists like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, OneRepublic, Ellie Goulding, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and many others. But the duo of Philip Larsen and Chris Smith has a whole lot more on their sleeves with big plans in the works.
Manhattan Clique will be unveiling their debut artist LP, entitled "This Should Have Been Easier," in 2014 that is introduced by the very good single "Torn In Two" that exclusively premieres on this blog today. It's a hook-laden stomper driven by a pulsing groove and splashy synths that shows off Manhattan Clique's unique sound in all of its glory. The single comes fully loaded with an additional remix from Bronx-based newcomers Trojan 101 and will be released on January 6, 2014.
"'Torn In Two' began life a couple of years ago when we started demoing tracks for the Manhattan Clique album," the group writes me. "We kept getting waylaid by our hectic remix schedule, but always came back to this track as we felt it had a bit of je-ne-sais-quoi and we were very partial to Lydia Kaye's vocals."
They add, "This summer, we finally locked ourselves into the studio for a few days and focused on nailing it, feeling it was finally time for our debut single to see the light of day. We really love 'Torn In Two,' especially as to our ears, it doesn't really feel like anything else out there at the moment and captures the essence of the Manhattan Clique sound."
December 6, 2013 | Permalink
You Must Hear This: Listen to Peter Thomas 'All Of You' featuring Betty Who
Peter Thomas' "All Of You" featuring Betty Who is what happens when two amazing people jam out amazing music. Thomas and Who are two of the most exciting newcomers to hit the pop scene this year. Together they introduce an exhilarating new pop sound that we're so desperately craving among the EDM-inspired bombast that is ruling the charts.
Thomas is the savvy soundboard prodigy behind Betty Who's The Movement EP that includes her current hit single "Somebody Loves You." Frequent readers of this blog will remember that I tipped you about Betty Who first, which was quickly followed by a wholehearted endorsement of Peter Thomas. When these two pop babies make music together a spark of pop brilliance happens and this new "All Of You" is solid proof of that.
It's a warming and lush tune with gentle, bittersweet undertones that will have you cry happy tears. It will hit you right at the core with lyrics about true love that sometimes takes a passionate fight to make even stronger. Betty Who is heading out on tour early next year and we're eagerly hoping for more new material from her and Thomas soon. In the meantime, enjoy "All Of You" and share, like and play it again.
December 5, 2013 | Permalink
Previewing This Friday's Nominations Ceremony for The 56th GRAMMY Awards
We're only a few days away from the start of the annual GRAMMY season that formally kicks off in style this Friday when the nominees for the 56th GRAMMY Awards are being announced during a live CBS telecast at 10 p.m. EST. The 56th GRAMMY Awards will air live from Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on January 26, 2014 on CBS. Mark your calendar! This Friday, the nominations in all 81 GRAMMY categories will be announced and it's shaping up to be a very competitive race in most categories with many exciting newcomers vying for GRAMMY glory.
Let's stare for a moment in our crystal ball and have a look at some of the artists, songs and productions that are in pole position to grab a coveted GRAMMY nomination. Note that the eligibility period for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards is October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. The final GRAMMY nominees are selected by multiple review committees consisting of recording industry professionals and voted for by the thousands of members of The Recording Academy (NARAS).
★ Record of the Year - Traditionally, this is considered a top GRAMMY prize that awards outstanding "artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry." It is an award for all the people that are responsible for the making of a record, including singer(s), songwriter(s) and producer(s). This year, it looks like "Same Love" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake are top contenders in the category. However, also expect nominations for "Royals" by Lorde, "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons and possibly "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke & Pharrell. (According to reports, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis did not submit "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us" for GRAMMY consideration.)
★ Song of the Year - Previous winners in this category have been "We Are Young" by .fun, "Rolling In The Deep" by Adele, "Need You Know" by Lady Antebellum and "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. I think that this category will mimic the Record of the Year nominees but I would not surprised if "Roar" by Katy Perry or "Just Give Me A Reason" by Pink featuring Nate Ruess would make the final selection. "Locked Out Of Heaven" by Bruno Mars that was released on October 1, 2012 and is eligible for consideration may also make the final cut. Other potential nominees are "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus, "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift, "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly and "Wake Me Up" by Avicii. Believe it or not, GRAMMY fave Adele may once again get nominated with "Skyfall"
★ Album Of The Year - There are five very strong contenders in this category including Justin Timberlake "The 20/20 Experience" (that was submitted by RCA as a double LP), Macklemore and Ryan Lewis "The Heist," Taylor Swift's "Red," Drake's Nothing Was The Same" and Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" that had both critics and fans raving. Dark horse candidates in this category include Daft Punk "Random Access Memories," Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party" and Kendrick Lamar's "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City."
★ Best New Artist - This is always a fun category to speculate about. There are so many great new artists that are eligible and deserving in this category. I feel Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons and Philip Philips are very likely nominees, followed by Ed Sheeran, Kacey Musgrave and Florida Georgia Line. Other contenders include Emeli Sande, Icona Pop and possibly Arianna Grande who is a potential GRAMMY darling for years and years to come.
★ Also look for the following: I suspect that GRAMMY voters will show very little love for Kanye West "Yeezus" and Jay-Z's "Magna Carta... Holy Grail" in the general categories. Jay Z's "Holy Grail" featuring Justin Timberlake will likely receive a few nominations in the hip hop category (including Best Rap/Sung Collaboration). Avicii's "Wake Me Up" is solid in the lead in the Best Dance Recording category and I believe Disclosure's "Settle," Daft Punk "Random Access Memories" and Icona Pop "This Is" will lead in the Best Electronic/Dance Album category.
Who do you hope will get nominated? Let's discuss.
December 2, 2013 | Permalink