The Surprising Lesson Of The Grammy Nominations

The Grammys love Frank Ocean

Well, the Grammy nominations have been announced. So how did Chris and I do with our predictions?

Overall, we did… okay. We got a lot of things right—Fun. everywhere! Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers for Best New Artist!—but we also overlooked some pretty obvious stuff. Like Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” getting all those big noms for “Stronger.” It’s one of the best songs of the year, so you’d think we would’ve remembered it. Also, I said you could “count on” Lionel Richie getting tapped for Album of the Year. Except by “count on,” I meant “receive no nominations in any category.”

Still, though, there was a lot to learn from this year’s nominees, and here’s the biggest lesson…

The Grammys can actually seem relevant.

I know, right? That’s crazy! With the possible exception of Jack White in Album of the Year, none of the nominees in the four major categories—Record, Song, Album, or Best new Artist—seem like boring and/or crazy choices made by old people who are terrified of change. And even Jack White’s album feels a little relevant.

Granted, when they nominate White, the Black Keys, and Mumford and Sons for Album of the Year and then include Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers, and Imagine Dragons in Best New Artist, the Grammy peeps are pretty much saying “we like that old fashioned rock and roll.” But at least that sound is POPULAR right now, you know? And at least all those artists are making good music. (Remember back in April when I said you should love Alabama Shakes? They really are a kick-ass band.)

And when the nominations weren’t praising good-ole-fashioned rock bands, they were showing actual daring. Consider all the noms for Frank Ocean, who got tapped for Record, Album, and New Artist. He’s making bold R&B that pushes the genre in a fresh  direction. And did you notice that Ed Sheeran got a Song of the Year nomination for “The A Team?” I wrote about Sheeran back in May, because I’ve been hearing him for ages on British radio, but he hasn’t become a superstar in America. For voters to notice his talent says a lot about the scope of their attention.

Meanwhile, you’ve got major nominations for amazing pop songs by Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Which means the super-popular hits, the rockers that everyone likes, and a few weird kids from that youth hostel down the road were all invited to the party.

I can’t wait to see all these people perform on the show. I really hope Frank Ocean and Carly Rae Jepsen do a duet.

Mark Blankenship thinks Fun. is going to win a lot of awards on Grammy night. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship