When it comes to celebrating the year's greatest music releases, The Grammy's Recording Academy is forever clueless. This year's nominations keep the head-scratching consistent (where's One Direction? How did Rihanna miss the major honors?). But as usual, they got some things right, so we'll be tuned into the big show to see who stage crashes or how many trophies Frank Ocean pockets. Here are eight plot points we'll be eyeing. —John Kennedy
Who will be the Grammy hero this year, fun. or Frank Ocean?
The stage was set for both of these rookie acts to have huge showings at this year’s awards. And with Frank and fun. respectively grabbing three and four of the major award nominations, it’ll be a true showdown to see who nabs the most of their six nominations. Seems like the edge belongs to drama-pop trio fun., yet Odd Future’s crooner is the perfect underdog story. Watch the tallies between these two, if they don’t neutralize each other, they’ll surely be among the night’s big winners.
Will Nas finally win a Grammy?
On 1998’s “Hate Me Now,” Nasir boasted of being the “first rapper to bring a platinum plaque back to the projects.” Yet come February, he’ll likely be cradling some golden, more elusive booty. The Queensbridge-bred rapper adds four nominations to his previous career count of eight, and with his brutally personal Life Is Good album being worshiped by fans and critics alike, this year looks to be his best shot. We’re banking on the Amy Winehouse resuscitating “Cherry Wine” to cash in a Best Rap/Sung Collaboration gramophone, with Life strongly contending for Rap Album Of The Year (don’t sleep on The Roots’ incredible undun LP, though.) While Nas will occasionally fumble his rhymes in concert, we’re sure his acceptance speech will be right on point. QB!
What exactly is “Urban Contemporary”?
The UC album award, a new honor added this year, was created for “albums containing at least 51 percent playing time of newly recorded contemporary vocal tracks derivative of R&B,” according to National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Or in other words, R&B that greatly blends with other genres like EDM and rock. So nominees Chris Brown, Miguel and Frank Ocean are fitting here, but where is Rihanna, Usher, or Estelle?
To whom will the Beliebers direct their ire this year?
When petite bassist Esperanza Spalding beat out Justin Bieber for Best New Artist two years ago, his legion of fans went batshit crazy, sending death threats and hate mail in the emerging jazz star’s direction. This year, as JB successfully transitioned from boy wonder to singing man-child, he earned not one honor. There’s sure to be salty feelings; manager Scooter Braun is already leading the protest via Twitter:
“I just plain DISAGREE. The kid deserved it. Grammy board you blew it on this one. The hardest thing to do is transition, keep the train moving. The kid delivered. Huge successful album, sold-out tour, and won people over. This time he deserved to be recognized and I don’t really have any kind nice positive things to say about a decision I don’t agree with. So to all those nominated…you do deserve it. You worked hard and you earned it. Just feel like so did JB.”
Should we dock The Throne and Frank Ocean one nomination?
With their six Grammy nominations each, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Frank Ocean are just begging Illuminati theorists to shit-
Did Nicki Minaj’s genre split keep her out of the noms?
You’d think a 2012 Best New Artist nominee would get love a year later, after a successfully selling sophomore album. Yet Nicki Minaj divided her sonics toward both hip-hop and electro-pop ears and came out with no noms. Did her refusal to conform to traditional genre norms keep her name out of the envelopes this time?
What will 2 Chainz wear to the big show?
Whether Dos Chainz’s solo debut belongs in the running for Best Rap Album—I’m partial to overlooked LPs by Common (The Dreamer/The Believer), Wale (Ambition) and Big K.R.I.T. (Live From The Underground)—is debatable. But one thing that’s certain is the rapper formerly known as Tity Boi will don a cheddar-sharp getup. Expect him to be rocking a designer whose name you can’t pronounce, some kind of polka spotted accessory, gaudy neckwear, and Wally Gator on his feet. Def Jam A&R Sha Money XL offers this sneak peek:
Will rap ever get the respect from the Recording Academy?
While 2012 hasn’t been a particularly fruitful year for brilliant hip-hop releases, there have been a few stellar, mature and musical offerings from rap’s elite artists like Common, The Roots, Drake and Nas. Yet these projects have been relegated to rap categories, with not a single major award nomination. And they wonder why rappers throw subliminal shots. (Jay-Z’s words: “Fuck your awards like Eddie Murphy’s couch”).