Nods in the key categories were announced during a one-hour CBS special that aired Wednesday night from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, marking the first Music City-based telecast for the Recording Academy event. Winners will be unveiled at L.A.’s Staples Center on Feb. 10.
With no consensus champ like Adele’s six-time 2012 winner “21” on tap, the 2013 race is divided among several rock acts and newcomer Ocean. New York rockers Fun had a breakthrough year with showings in all four of the top categories.
Album of the year nominees are the Black Keys’ “El Camino,” Fun’s “Some Nights,” Mumford & Sons’ “Babel,” Ocean’s “Channel Orange” and Jack White’s “Blunderbuss.”
In the fray for record of the year (presented to the artist, producers, engineers and mixers of the track) are the Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Fun’s “We Are Young,” Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Competing for song of the year (a cleffer’s award) are Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team” (written by Sheeran), Miguel’s “Adorn” (penned under the singer’s given name Miguel Pimentel), Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” (written by Jepsen, Tavish Crowe and Josh Ramsay), “Stronger” (co-authored by Jorgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin and Ali Tamposi) and “We Are Young” (by Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost and Nate Ruess).
Up for best new artist are Ocean, Fun, rock unit Alabama Shakes, country singer Hunter Hayes and folk-rockers the Lumineers.
Fun’s “We Are Young” — a bestselling collaboration with R&B vocalist Janelle Monae — has driven sales of the band’s sophomore album “Some Nights,” which has shifted 791,000 units. The band’s half-dozen nominations represent the act’s first recognition from the Recording Acad.
Poised for a potentially big night is soulful hip-hop vocalist Ocean, the bust-out critical favorite of 2012. The member of L.A.’s Odd Future rap posse struck out on his own with his formal solo debut “Channel Orange,” which debuted at No. 2 amid critical praise; it has sold 390,000 copies to date.
Mumford & Sons are hoping that lightning will finally strike for them at the 2013 ceremony. The U.K. folk-rock group has earned six previous noms, including best new artist in 2011. Their debut “Sigh No More” has proven a long-running hit, selling more than 2.6 million copies since its February 2010 U.S. debut. “Babel” was the second-biggest arrival of this year, shifting 600,000 in its first week, a sales tally topped only by Swift’s mammoth 1.2 million-unit bow with “Red.” Mumford’s sophomore release has shifted nearly 1.2 million so far.
With noms for album and record of the year and three other bids, the Black Keys have already found favor with Grammy voters, taking home three trophies in rock categories in 2011. The Akron duo of singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, who have been making hard-hitting, bluesy garage-rock since 2001, have sold more than 1 million copies of “El Camino,” which bowed on the U.S. album chart a year ago this week.
Oddly, there will be no direct face-off between the two biggest singles of the year, both thought to be shoo-ins for both record and song of the year honors.
Belgium-born, Australia-based vocalist Gotye (born Wouter De Backer) authored one of the year’s most inescapable hits with “Somebody That I Used to Know,” a duet with New Zealand vocalist Kimbra. Originally released in Oz in 2011, the song broke out on U.S. radio early this year.
Rivaling “Somebody” in ubiquity was Jepsen’s smash “Call Me Maybe.” Lofted by incessant radio play and a self-aware video with a twist in its tail, the song was lodged at the top of the U.S. singles chart for much of the summer.
Missing from the big categories are such much-lauded, top-selling vets as Lionel Richie (who released the million-selling “Tuskegee” this year), Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. Mega-selling U.K. boy band One Direction and R&B luminary Rihanna failed to make a big impression with nominating balloters. It was also not a banner year for country, with Swift’s late-year single and newcomer Hayes serving as Nashville’s only representatives in the big slots.
Rap superstars Kanye West and Jay-Z pulled down six nominations apiece, but none in the marquee categories.
In film and TV categories, nominees for compilation soundtrack include “The Descendants,” “Marley,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Muppets” and “Rock of Ages.”
Several familiar names crop up in the best score soundtrack category (given to composers). Ludovic Bource, this year’s Oscar with his nominated score for “The Artist,” leads a field that also includes John Williams (“The Adventures of Tin Tin”), Hans Zimmer (“The Dark Knight Rises”), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), Howard Shore (“Hugo”) and Austin Wintory (“Journey”).
The best song written for visual media noms went to “Abraham’s Daughter” (from “The Hunger Games,” by T Bone Burnett, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne), “Learn Me Right (from “Brave,” by Birdy and Mumford & Sons), “Let Me Be Your Star” (from NBC’s “Smash,” by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), “Man or Muppet” (from “The Muppets,” by Bret McKenzie) and “Safe & Sound” (from “The Hunger Games,” by T Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, John Paul White and Joy Williams). Burnett, with two nominations, is a 12-time Grammy winner.
In the best musical theater album category, George and Ira Gershwin are front runners, as the composing duo’s work received noms for the revival of “Porgy and Bess” and the retrospective “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” Rounding out the slot are the revived “Follies” and stage adaptations of two screen musicals, “Newsies” and “Once.”
Recordings released between Oct. 1, 2011, and Sept. 30, 2012, were eligible for consideration for the 2013 Grammys.
Complete list of nominations: