Grammy Nominations: Winners and Losers

Man bands are in. Boys are out. Even with music's biggest night still two months away, victors have already emerged.

Even if these were only the nominations being announced, it’s not too early to declare quite a few Grammy-related winners and losers based on who gets to say “It’s an honor just to be nominated” and who’s singing the shut-out blues after the fateful list went out Wednesday night.

WINNER Frank Ocean, 6 nominations You have to think that Ocean becomes the immediate front-runner in the album of the year category, if only by virtue of the fact that the other four nominees are rock acts whose votes could cancel each other out. Plenty of Grammy voters will tend toward Ocean because he’s easily the Relevant Act of the bunch, having outed himself shortly before his album’s release, in a genre where that’s not exactly a proven path toward acceptance -- and had a boffo first week anyway. His album is likely to come in at or near the top of year-end critics’ polls, too. Auguring against a win, though: After a strong debut, Channel Orange tumbled down the charts to its current position of No. 127, selling a so-so 390,000 units over 21 weeks. Grammy voters usually like to go for the at-least gold, though making a statement could trump that.

LOSER One Direction, 0 nominations A lot of forecasters thought they were a lock for at least a best new artist nomination. After all, Justin Bieber got a nod in the category two years ago, so NARAS isn’t completely “boy”-averse. And Up All Night is the third biggest selling album of the year so far. Yet the group couldn’t even nail down one nomination. Surely they are crying all the way to the bank and to Taylor Swift’s favorite restaurant.


WINNER Mumford & Sons, 6 nominations The group might have a better shot than Ocean at album of the year after all. Like him, they have six total nominations. Unlike him, they have a commercial smash; Babel had the second best opening sales week of 2012 (trailing only Taylor Swift’s blockbuster) and has sold 1.2 million albums over just 10 weeks (behind only Adele, Swift, and One Direction). Although the conventional wisdom is that the “rock” vote for album will split between Mumford, fun., the Black Keys, and Jack White, leaving Ocean the odd man out and winner, Mumford stand out as the safest choice for NARAS’ older “remember when music was really music?” contingent of voters.

LOSERS Chris Brown, 1 nomination; Rihanna, 3 nominations These two reunited lovers are the king and queen of just about every other pop-oriented music awards show, but they’re certainly not going to dominate the Grammys, not having gotten nominated in any of the top multi-genre categories. Regardless of the merits of their individual work over the past year and a half, Grammy voters just don’t go in for the rude thing.


WINNER Hunter Hayes, 3 nominations Country didn’t field any nominations for record or song of the year (if you’re not counting Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” which NARAS and everyone else officially qualify as a pop song). So it was up to young Hayes to get country some love in one of the three top multi-genre categories, and he came through with a best new artist nod. He’s both a teen heartthrob and a “real musician,” and Nashville denizens have long argued that he could cross over like Swift has if he only got the pop exposure. Between this nomination and his memorable presenting/singing appearance on Wednesday night’s CBS telecast, he may be moving toward that shot.

LOSER Miranda Lambert, 1 nomination She’s the queen of the CMAs, and every other country awards show, on top of being a critical favorite and commercial powerhouse. So how did her moving collaboration with Blake Shelton, “Over You,” not only not get a nomination for best song -- as many expected -- but not even get recognition in the country category?  This is the kind of incalculable oversight that might only be rectified with gunpowder and lead.


WINNER  Miguel, 5 nominations This year’s big “huh?” choice… in a good way. The Grammy committees usually like to “anoint” a relatively underheralded newcomer every year, and this year that slot falls to the critically acclaimed R&B artist Miguel. His sophomore album has only sold 211,000 albums after nine weeks and currently sits at a modest No. 59. Yet his “Adore” is a surprise pick for song of the year, on top of his nods in R&B categories.

LOSER Maroon 5, 2 nominations If you were to judge by time allotted on Wednesday night’s nominations telecast, you’d assume the Adam Levine-led band was a Grammy favorite, since they got to do part or all of four (!) songs over two performance slots. But “Payphone” (the year’s fourth biggest-selling single, with 4.6 million units) and other hits got shut out of the top record and song categories. Are NARAS voters waiting for them to upgrade to a smartphone? 

LOSER  Luke Bryan, 0 nominations At least Maroon 5 didn’t walk away completely empty-handed after the nominations were handed out, unlike another performer on Wednesday’s show, country star Bryan.


WINNER The Black Keys, 5 nominations (Dan Auerbach, 6 nominations) Rock is back, as far as NARAS is concerned -- see Shirley Halperin’s analysis of that late breaking Grammy trend here. And since Mumford & Sons are really folkies at heart, that leaves the Black Keys as the foremost going example of loin-rattling guitar music. Their latest album, which came out a year ago, has scanned over a million units, and they’ve moved onto the arena circuit -- giving the Grammys something to reward that has both commercial heft and sustained indie cred.

LOSER Coldplay, 2 nominations The word “viva” no longer applies to their Grammy popularity.


WINNER  The Lumineers, 2 nominations Sure, they only have two nominations, but when one of those is for best new artist, and you’re an Americana act, there’s cause for luminous rejoicing.


WINNER/LOSER Ed Sheeran, 1 nomination Sheeran surely is not complaining about getting one of this year’s major “whaaaa…?” nominations: a surprise song of the year nod for “The A Team.” Just as shocking, then, was his not being put up for best new artist. But given the choice between that and the opening slot on Taylor Swift’s mega-tour next year, he probably figures he’s coming out okay.

WINNER/LOSER Carly Rae Jepsen, 1 nomination Like Sheeran, Jepsen had to “settle” for one nomination in a highly coveted top category, but not the expected best new artist. Grammy watchers were also puzzled by how “Call Me Maybe” could be up for best song of the year -- a category that typically favors more mature lyricism -- instead of a shoo-in for record of the year, which honors the overall impact of a tune.


WINNER Gotye, 3 nominations The record of the year category is probably his to lose, which is an enviable crowning position for somebody who’s fresh enough to also be up for best new artist.

LOSER Nicki MInaj, 1 nomination On top of that, her one nomination is for assisting Alicia Keys on “Girl on Fire.” On top of the very underwhelming sales for Minaj’s expanded reissue of her sophomore album, this is not her month.


WINNER Bruce Springsteen, 3 nominations So he didn’t get nominated for album or song of the year, as some expected. But on top of the three nods he did get in lesser categories, he’s also the only nominee to have a song about him nominated—Eric Church’s country hit “Springsteen.” So can we unofficially credit him with four?

LOSERS Justin Bieber, Lionel Richie, Lana Del Rey, Madonna, Scotty McCreery, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews Band, Green Day, Neil Young, Emile Sande, Jason Mraz, Ellie Goulding, Norah Jones, Leonard Cohen, Train, the Wanted, Psy, 0 nominations Despite either having huge hits, garnering critical acclaim, or being past Grammy favorites, these performers all joined One Direction in the shut-out dugout. Dylan, pass Psy a tissue, would you?

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