Grammy Nominations: Jay Z Leads But Timberlake, Other Stars Shut Out of Top Categories

Sara Bareilles, Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Taylor Swift compete for album of year honors

A mixed field of rap, pop and dance talent dominated the top categories in nominations for the 56th annual Grammy Awards, making for a wide-open race with no clear favorite and few megastars in the running for top honors at the music biz’s January kudofest.

There was zero consensus by members of the Recording Academy in the heavy-hitter categories, with no act garnering nods in all four key berths of record, song and album of the year and new artist. Meanwhile some of the year’s highest-profile and biggest-selling release received short shrift in the top categories, even as the artists racked up multiple nominations.

SEE ALSO: Full List of Grammy Nominees

Rapper Jay Z, whose highly promoted “Magna Carta…Holy Grail” has shifted more than 1 million, was the year’s most nominated performer, with nine bids, most of them in rap categories. Pop superstar Justin Timberlake, back from a five-year layoff from music, has sold 2.3 million copies of “The 20/20 Experience,” but his seven nods came in the lower-profile pop and R&B fields. Kanye West landed two bids for “Yeezus,” both rap categories. (Lady Gaga’s latest, “Artpop,” was released after the Grammy eligibility window of Oct. 1, 2012-Sept. 30, 2013.)

PHOTOS: 2014 Grammy Nominees

Album of the year nominees are a grab bag of genres, from “The Blessed Unrest” by pop singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles to dance dynamo “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk to “Red” by pop-country queen Taylor Swift to a pair of rap platters: “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” by Kendrick Lamar and “The Heist” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Competing for record of the year (presented to the artist, producers, engineers and mixers of the track) are Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams’ “Get Lucky,” Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” Lorde’s “Royals,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell.

Going head-to-head for song of the year (a writer’s award) are “Royals” (by Joel Little and Lorde, aka Ella Yelich O’Connor), “Locked Out of Heaven” (by Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Mars), Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason” (by Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess), Katy Perry’s “Roar” (by Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Henry Walter & Perry), and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” (by Ben “Macklemore” Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis).

New artist mentions went to L.A. rapper Lamar, Seattle rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, British pop electronic artist James Blake, country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves and Brit singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.

In the album of the year slot, country-pop queen Swift, who corralled the honor in that category with “Fearless” in 2010, is the sole previous winner and nominee. Her late-2012 “Red” was the top-selling new release of last year, and has moved 4 million to date. In 2012, it was bested only by post-Grammys sales of Adele’s “21.”

SEE ALSO: Music Biz Hopes for Holiday Miracle

Breakthrough rap artists notched the greatest attention in the nomination balloting. Rapper Macklemore, who has been active since 2000 and partnered up with Lewis in 2006, busted out in late 2012 with the independently released “The Heist,” which featured the ubiquitous single “Thrift Shop” and the gay marriage-themed “Same Love”; the duo scored seven nominations. Tallying an equal number of nods was Compton’s Lamar, whose only release prior to his widely admired Interscope debut was a title on the indie Top Dawg label.

Rap/R&B performer Pharrell Williams managed to pull down seven nominations, of a very curious variety, since all but his producer of the year nod were the product of his supporting participation on two big singles, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

Tapped in both the song of the year and record of the year categories (and in a total of four categories) was 17-year-old New Zealand native Lorde, who drew comparisons to sextuple 2012 winner Adele with her debut hit “Royals.” However, in perhaps the year’s biggest surprise — and unlike her English predecessor, who took home the best new artist hardware in 2009 — the Kiwi vocalist was not recognized with a nomination in the category.

The record of the year nominees comprise singles that were all omnipresent on the airwaves this year. “Get Lucky,” the early-summer smash by French house music duo Daft Punk, no doubt helped the helmeted twosome collect their first album of the year nomination. The pair previously collected two Grammys in dance music categories.

The year’s darkest horse is certainly California-born singer-songwriter Bareilles, whose “The Blessed Unrest” debuted and peaked at No. 2 in July. A former celebrity judge on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” she has previously been nominated for three Grammys, with no wins. She received only one other nomination, for best pop solo performance, in the 2014 running.

In film and TV categories, best compilation soundtrack competitors are “Django Unchained,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Les Miserables,” “Muscle Shoals” and “Sound City: Reel to Reel.”

In the best score soundtrack category (given to composers), Alexander Desplat again garnered multiple nods, for “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty”; he will compete with Craig Armstrong (“The Great Gatsby”), Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”), John Williams (“Lincoln”) and Thomas Newman (“Skyfall”).

Best song written for visual media nods went to “Atlas” (from “Catching Fire,” by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Willi Champion & Chris Martin), “Silver Lining” (from “Silver Linings Playbook,” by Diane Warren), “We Both Know” (from “Safe Haven,” by Colbie Caillat & Gavin DeGraw), “Young and Beautiful” (from “The Great Gatsby,” by Lana Del Rey & Rick Nowels) and “You’ve Got Time” (from “Orange is the New Black,” by Regina Spektor).

Vying in the best musical theater album category are the cast albums for multiple Tony Award winner “Kinky Boots,” “Matilda: The Musical” and “Motown the Musical.”

Nominees in the top categories were unveiled during a one-hour CBS special that aired live from the Nokia Theatre in L.A. Friday. CBS will telecast the Grammycast live on Jan. 26 from Staples Center in Los Angeles.

(Pictured: Jay Z, Taylor Swift, Daft Punk and Lorde)

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    1. Tanya says:

      Music is so bad any more I can’t hardly stand it!! Although, “Pearl Jam” just recently released a fantastic album!! Although, it missed the cut off date to be nominated I am sure he will get nominated next year,…It’s basically all pop music at the Grammys and all the teeny boppers, it’s just for ratings…..

    2. Divegoddess says:

      I haven’t watched the Grammy awards in years and this is why! No talent or low talent nominations who end up winning. What a joke!

    3. WhoCares says:

      Who cares, I came here to post just to say I don’t care about any of these losers or the main stream media. They are no longer relevant and hopefully will be ignored by the masses as the liars they are.

    4. crystal says:

      This just shows how low this nation has gone….

    5. RedRiver says:

      The Grammy Awards are now a joke. Who ever picked these nominees don’t have a clue. I hear several of the big artists have already made it known they won’t even show up at the ceremony.

    6. kmrod says:

      jay z is awful.

      seriously, it’s like sits back and asks “how bad a song can i make and still have suckers buy it?” and then he sets out to answer the question.

      he hasn’t done anything worth listening to for 5 years. it’s time to go away.

    7. jane says:

      Wow…Variety deleted my comment about how Christian contemporary music is so much better than all the dreck the mainstream media pushes…and how these great artists are ignored by the Grammies.. WHY?? It had no profanity or objectionable content in it…unless you consider mentioning KLOVE – a not-for-profit free radio station somehow “spam,” which is it not. So is the moderator here just some Christian-hating atheist, or are the editors actively trying to remove comments pointing out that there is a vast world of now “alternative” music that isn’t part of the materialistic propaganda they are pushing? Meanwhile, some stupid Jew-hating comment is left up. Yeesh.

    8. D K says:

      In 1973, Marvin Gaye produced two #1 songs. Stevie Wonder and the Isley Brothers also had huge hits. I miss the days when one could just turn on the radio and hear incredibly talented black musicians. But if the music can speak for itself the record labels have no way to control the musicians. Today’s undifferentiated crap is just terrible but it keeps the corporations in control since their marketing and hype machine is the only thing that keeps the careers of most current “artist” alive.

    9. Dorothy says:

      Friendship only goes so far. Somebody restrain Kanye or he’ll rip any award out of Jay-Z’s hands.

    10. Henry Palmer says:


    11. Nala says:

      Jay-Z and Macklemore? It goes to show that the music industry is dead.

    12. Barry bin Inhalin says:

      Wow – this tells you the lowly state of our culture when punks like this are considered ‘it’.

    13. Vladimir says:

      the same people win every yea
      who really gives a fuck?

    14. Ricardo maxwell says:

      What a sad day for the Grammys and for america. Real musical talent ability and performance professionalism mean nothing anymore. Haven’t watched them for years. As a musician, I am disgusted by what the “mainstream” media holds up as Great Music. And rap is just poetry, most of it worthless and obscene. Whatever happened to the good R & B entertainers? Where are all the up and coming young stars? They are not politically correct it seems so they get left by the way side. Alabama shakes??

    15. no fear says:

      How does such forgettable crap warrant an award? Its so commercial and lacking in talent I cant see how anybody can claim its even decent, but to call it best of the year lol. After reading the comments it makes me feel a lil better, knowing Im not alone.

    16. Fred says:

      All of these shows give out their awards to the same people. All the same people with no musical ability or ability to even read music. I don’t know what the difference is between them to be honest. MTV Video Music, Nickelodeon, People’s Choice, Grammys, American Music Awards…They’re all the same thing. The indie scene is ruin too. It’s filled with non-melodic beeps, scratches, and screams. Weird for just weird’s sake is not interesting. It’s just weird. 2013 is maybe the worst year in music history and these phony shows only drag music further down the drain.

    17. so4delish says:

      It is very interesting to see Jay Z in the lead considering yes he’s a wonderful artist with great ideas & a very extremely successful businessman with all of his adventures with music and the Barclay Center which is now home 2 The Brooklyn Nets & rumored Long Island Islanders hockey team will be going there.With all his fragrances & clothing line& all the $$$$ he has invested in multiple real estate businesses & adventures & house & everything else, which has created The Jay-Z Empire now @ 40 years young.. still good looking in knows what he’s got and how to use it and Beyonce as his right or left handed woman the power couple will be in domination for quite some time and you know that their child in any more to come will most likely found love in inherit and continue the legacy. he is a friendly people person some people think she self absorbed he does do a lot of outreach work and donation work and helping people because in humans on the street he had to sell dope to get out of the hood and that’s now and he has the Barclay center to renew and we imagine that neighborhood to make a better life for the children and it grew up on the same street as he did. Age is only a number and if you believe in someone or something he will pursue it hum follow it, and do whatever he can to make it yeah, he definitely make lots of money & is talented and like I said kidding so he deserves it maybe none of the musicians deserved billions they make but they definitely earn may be a million or two. However this album…if you have watched the making of any of this magna carta & email by critics, articles in magazines and interviews on television have stated this is definitely not his Best work it’s the first album since fatherhood…may a few songs are ok when he reflects on his past life and now his future with his child the rest is just mediocre. I am very thankful that Kanye only has two categories and hopefully he will not win he’s living in some other fantasy world maybe he got his head stuck up Kim Kardashians ass I don’t know what it is we knew he’s always been nude like what he did to Taylor Swift who I don’t even like but that was rude! pretty much everybody no matter what race religion and color you are has grown up hearing think before you speak and obviously his mother must have dropped in on his head because he doesn’t. Occasionally we will do it once and twice he does it on a daily basis and as much as he can. She just wants all the attention on him. back then maybe he was jealous and he wanted Beyonce’s body thank God she was smart enough to run the other way and now he can parade around his quote on quote trophy fiance / life who is nothing but a train wreck. Most of the other people that are nominated are decent people I am surprised Justin Timberlake did not get United Nations and I’m really tired of Taylor Swift her songs seem to be all about the same thing over and over and because she’s so young there was a time that it seems she doesn’t really know who she is. She’s a gotta have a boyfriend….and then she will almost carbon copy them with their likes in music and clothing and activities to do for fun she has noon personality of her own and and a drop it like a hot potato and she runs on to somebody else. I’m glad to see there’s none of these teeny bopper bands you know we had man dance The Rolling Stones The Beatles The Grateful Dead like who the hell wants to see one direction and the wanted I guess if you are under 14 in don’t know what you doing and maybe don’t know if you like men or women. As far as some of their nominees Adele should win and there’s only so much country now just coming out that it’s over the counter which by the way Carrie Underwood should have you never been in hand music she definitely cannot act. No one can replace Julie Andrews and supposedly it was about this day in age nobody would have had a governess with that many children living in a estate with hundreds of acres and have to worry about the Nazis coming. It could have been about today’s day in evening with same-sex couples what multicultural couples and the reality that most families have two to four kids and the struggle with it being able to afford a house and get a good education and keeping their kids safe from gangs and drugs and have to worry about the War In Iraq!! That is for another discussion. anything that has to do with the Great Gatsby should win, excellent novel by author Nelson DeMille and they made a movie withMia Farrow & Robert Redford back in the 80’s and then they made this version which was impeccably fantastic.we need to show people more historic times instead making of movies that are ridiculous crap.

    18. Patriot says:

      Nominating that dope-dealing thug shows how little these people think of women.

    19. Nala says:

      Jay-Z is a no talent hack, what is wrong with these voters?

    20. BarrysHypocrisy says:

      The Grammys haven’t been relevant in years. This is just more proof of why nobody cares about them anymore.

    21. GA says:

      It’s official. The Grammys no longer have anything to do with talent – It is ll about Hollywood politics now. There is real talent out there being ignored, simply because they are without deep pockets and Hollywood connections.

    22. Al says:

      I meant “made in America”

    23. Al says:

      The Grammys have disgraced themselves by awarding the honors to the most awful music to made in America in the past 50 years. I guess there’s not much choice. It is what it is, and the Grammy telecast is big bu$ine$$.

    24. 1peevedbob says:

      How can you call someone an artist who does bad rhyming, and makes stupid hand gestures talented.
      Well, suppose that is why there is a grammy award for the talentless.

    25. E.V. says:

      While some of these people are talented (let’s face it, it’s the studio musicians doing all the work, these people just sit on their asses listening and picking what they like), most of this music is pretty mediocre. Nothing stands out. Magna Carta Holy Grail is not a good Jay-Z record, it’s okay, but not that good to warrant a Grammy. A lot of this doesn’t feel new or different, it just feels like it was recycled before and repackaged to look prettier.

    26. pilot says:

      The best Grammy show ever was in 1984, when Michael Jackson won so many awards. The 1988 show was good, too, again due to Michael Jackson. Ever since then, it has been downhill, for the show as well as the industry. And now that Michael Jackson is dead, there is no reason to ever watch the Grammy Awards again.

    27. Matt says:

      It’s unbelievable that many of these so-called artist know nothing about Music. They cannot rear or write music, they don’t even know the musical scales. Many just talk into a microphone and not even sing, and they call themselves musicians. Some use the word “Artist” and that is actually better because we all know a good bs Artist when we see one. This is not Music today, it’s all computerized samples of other peoples music, they alter it and either talk into a mic (some call it rap) or some just dance and Lip Sync.

      Real music is made by a band, and in the 1970s some of the best music was made in history.
      Led Zeppelin was nominated for a Grammy back in 1970 for Best New Artist but did not win. Led Zeppelin never won a Grammy and anyone who knows music would say they were one of the best Bands in the 1970s. They had the first 727 Jumbo Jet for the 1973 Tour and they set the standard for
      playing a Concert with no warm-up Band.

      Grammy’s mean nothing, never did really. Many of the best Bands in History have never got one.

      There is not one musician listed for the next Grammys Awards that will make me want to buy what they are selling, it’s all junk. Most of the people going to the Grammys will be listening to music from the 1970s including the Artist themselves.

      • Al says:

        The Grammys reflect popular music culture. The show is a good reflection of how far downhill we’ve gone (musically). I can’t sit through the whole thing, so I TIVO and watch the 10 or 15 minutes of it that’s worth watching.

    28. Further proof of the irrelevance of the Grammy Award. Almost as irrelevant as the Nobel Peace Prize.

    29. hey, not surprising that is the music industry in america today. overindulgent celebrity worship. that’s all most of these nominations are…auto tuned celebrities posing as musicians with huge endorsements from corporations to sell products. cheap production cost with big payoff, and most kids wouldn’t know real talent if it bit kim kardashian in her huge ass.

      rap winning a grammy is like a porn winning an oscar.

    30. Jay-Z…LOL……third world poetry at it’s best!…..throwing the green, buying the bling,if you know what I mean.

    31. CitizenX says:

      JayZ can kiss my a..

    32. Tony says:

      Do they even give awards for music , or just noise ?

    33. JL says:

      Jay-Z with 9 nominations? That’s what happens when you own an industry and can pay to keep yourself relevant.

    34. dan says:

      Apparently winning a Grammy and a Nobel Peace Prize is a lot easier these days than
      it used to be. They give them out to just anyone, apparently.

    35. Kay says:

      It’s why I don’t have cable. No way will I allow a subhuman “culture” into my home. That behavior and that music belong in the ghetto, not in my home. Just don’t watch and don’t buy. There’s plenty of old good music out there to listen to. I’ll take Led Zeppelin or The Beatles ANY day over Jay-Z or Miley Cyrus. I’m in my twenties too, I’m not old or anything. Modern “culture” (which is anything but) does not appeal to me in the least. There’s plenty of good black music that isn’t rap too. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, etc. This new era of black music is a disgrace, considering all the great music their predecessors made.

    36. AngelaQ says:

      The “music” industry has been poisoned by rap for years. It’s showing up in every other genre of popular music, even country. It is such a shame that ex-drug dealers and criminals who speak filthy words have spread such rot through “music” – and then get awards for it.

    37. Keith Diggs says:

      It really is the DEVIL’S MUSIC. Search on YouTube for “Jay Z Deception” to see how the person who calls himself J-HOVA has been introducing satanism into his music. Or YouTube the documentary “They Sold Their Souls For Rock and Roll” by Joe Schimmel. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK. This is not some “bible thumper” lodging “opinion grenades” and “judging” blah blah blah. IT is the ARTISTS THEMSELVES ADMITTING THAT THEY HAVE SOLD THEIR SOULS FOR WEALTH AND FAME.

    38. Dookifried says:

      I remember when music was melodious, the bands played, and singers sang.

      Nowadays, a mugger with a mic and gold teeF get an award.


    39. stan gore says:

      These are songs not music.

    40. funkeyooo says:

      Like who really gives a s$$t!!!

    41. marco says:

      this is a joke, Leroy corner street drug dealer aka Jay-Z

    42. Frank Zappa stated once that the most abundant ingredient in the recipe of life was stupidity.

      it seems biased coming from a musician/composer but one of his first acts on television was performing a song on a spinning bicycle rim.

      now if that ain’t art i don’t know what is.

      apparently no one else does either.

    43. Ted Brown says:

      Also under Portnow’s leadership(Niel Portnow is president of the National Recording Academy, The Grammys), the National Endowment of the Arts received further funding under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

      Does this seem like a logical use of your hard earned tax dollars?

    44. Thom says:

      It’s good to have been a drug pusher.

      • Keith Diggs says:

        Yeah, I guess nobody get’s to CHANGE THEIR LIVES in your STUPID WHITE AZZ RACIST WORLD. FOK YOU.

        • Kay says:

          How do you know they’re white? Also, nothing they said was untrue. Jay-Z admits to being a drug dealer. It seems like YOU’RE the only racist here, as you’re the only one who brought up race by assuming the previous poster is white.

    45. Music, as an art form, breathed its last gasp and died, at the end of the ’90s. This garbage we have now is, well, garbage.

      • thats because most of it is digital.

        • Al says:

          Moonman is on spot. With the exception of a very few artists, great music withered and died away in the 90’s. Now it’s all crap programmed into a Mac and someone bloviating away about the hood, thug life, money etc. etc. Performers like Jay Z Eminem and Kanye (vomit) West are hailed as important artists…what the hell happened to our great pop culture?

    46. No doubt, it’s always the same talentless hacks. It’s like some form of “affirmative action”.

      • Li'l ole me says:

        Please quote the part of the Bible that says racists will burn in the lake of fire forever. You just made that up. Another thing, who exactly are you addressing? You sound like an idiot, I hope you know. I’m laughing AT you (not with you) because you sound like such a moron. Keep it up. You’re great entertainment. haha

    47. Mike says:

      I wouldn’t walk across the street to watch a Jay Z concert. In fact, I’m finding 95% of today’s music rather repulsive. Making rhymes and/or getting on stage nearly naked does not constitute talent nor music!

    48. schm0e says:

      Bread and circuses!

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