LOS ANGELES - Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-centre rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.
Macklemore and Lewis's gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.
Macklemore and Lewis dominated a nominations TV special from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles that also included performances by nominees Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lorde and Robin Thicke. They opened the show with a colourful, high-energy version of their hit "Thrift Shop," featuring Wanz, and immediately picked up a song of the year nomination for "Same Love."
Two nominations later, Ben Haggerty, the rapper known as Macklemore, was noting it was a "very surreal moment," during an on-air interview with host LL Cool J. "It's like we're not supposed to be here, but we're here with LL Cool J."
Recording Academy favourites Timberlake and Jay Z teamed up for two nominations apiece, but they only had one major nomination between them this year and that came for Jay Z's participation on Lamar's album of the year nominee "good kid, m.A.A.d city" instead of his own "Magna Carta ... Holy Grail."
Williams, who seemed to be everywhere in 2013, is up for producer of the year and faces himself in three categories, including record of the year for "Get Lucky" with Daft Punk and "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke, and album of the year entries "Random Access Memories" by Daft Punk and Lamar's "good kid."
Joining Lamar, Macklemore and Lewis and Daft Punk in the album of the year category were Sara Bareilles' "The Blessed Unrest" and Taylor Swift's "Red." Swift is among five acts with four nominations apiece along with Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Lorde and Kacey Musgraves. British musicians James Blake and Ed Sheeran round out the best new artist category with Musgraves, Lamar and Macklemore and Lewis.
Toronto rapper Drake led the Canadian contingent with four nominations, but the 27-year-old — who claimed best rap album a year ago — couldn't escape the rap categories to land a nod in one of the marquee races.
Still, the versatile rapper-singer earned nominations for best rap album (for the platinum-selling "Nothing Was the Same"), best rap performance (for his irrepressible origin tale "Started From the Bottom") and two nods for best rap song ("Started From the Bottom" again and for his guest appearance on A$AP Rocky's "F***in' Problems.") He's also named on Lamar's nomination for album of the year after contributing a verse to the sweet-natured "Poetic Justice."
Thicke, meanwhile, secured only three nominations but one of those came in the primetime category of record of the year (awarded for performance, while song of the year is based on songwriting). Thicke — the Juno-eligible crooner who has Canadian citizenship by virtue of his actor father, Alan — is also up for best pop duo/group performance and best pop vocal album after a year in which his racy hit "Blurred Lines" ruled the charts.
Other Canadian nominees included Michael Buble, a three-time winner nominated again for best pop vocal traditional album, best rock album nominee Neil Young (for "Psychedelic Pill") and reclusive R&B breakout the Weeknd, who earned attention in the best rap/sung collaboration category for the Wiz Khalifa collaboration "Remember You."
Decorated Toronto composer Mychael Danna is up for best score soundtrack for visual media for his work on "Life of Pi," Vancouver-reared composer and conductor Darcy James Argue (and his Secret Society) are up for best large jazz ensemble album and Dream Theater — led by Midland, Ont., singer James LaBrie — secured a nomination for best metal performance.
Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," Lorde's "Royals" and Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" join "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines" in the race for record of the year. The Lorde and Mars entries also are up for song of the year with Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason," Katy Perry's "Roar" and "Same Love."
Perry said of "Roar" in an emotional moment before a pre-taped performance: "I didn't think that it would take on such a life of its own, and so I hope that the song has inspired you guys and it will bring out that kind of self-strength that you need a little bit to go through your days when they get a little bit hard."
Jay Z and Timberlake teamed for two nominations: best rap/sung collaboration for Jay Z's "Holy Grail" and best video entry "Suit & Tie." Jay Z is competing against himself rap/sung with "Part II (On the Run)," featuring his wife, Beyonce, also nominated. And he's up for best rap performance for Tom Ford. He also grabbed a best music video nomination for "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film" and again teamed with Timberlake in that category for their video for "Suit & Tie."
Timberlake picked up a handful of nominations in pop categories, including pop vocal album of the year for "The 20/20 Experience." Other nominees in that category include Lana Del Rey's "Paradise," Lorde's "Pure Heroine," Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" and Thicke's "Blurred Lines."
"The Heist," ''good kid" and "Magna Carta" are also on the best rap album list with Drake's "Nothing Was the Same" and Kanye West's "Yeezus," which was mostly shut out of the nominations. West also got a nomination for best rap song for "New Slaves."
There were six rock album of the year nominations, meaning there was a tie in the category. Nominees alongside Young were Black Sabbath's "13," David Bowie's "Next Day," Kings of Leon's "Mechanical Bull," Led Zeppelin live album "Celebration Day" and Queens of the Stone Age's "... Like Clockwork."
Swift's "Red" is up for country album of the year with Jason Aldean's "Night Train," Tim McGraw's "Two Lanes of Freedom," Blake Shelton's "Based on a True Story ...," and Musgraves' "Same Trailer Different Park." The country newcomer also faces herself in the country song of the year category where she helped pen her own "Merry Go 'Round" and Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart."
The major nominations were an acknowledgment of 2013's top hit-makers. "Get Lucky," ''Blurred Lines" and "Royals" took turns atop the pop radio airwaves this year. Macklemore and Lewis had two hits — "Same Love" and "Thrift Shop" — that led to nominations.
And Lamar seemed like he was everywhere, managing to keep his profile high with a number of hits, guest appearances and moments of bravado that helped voters forget his album came out 14 months ago. Lamar called himself the greatest rapper in the game earlier this year, calling out Drake and several others in verse, and voters mostly backed him up.
West may have suffered the most from the large hauls of Lamar and Macklemore and Lewis. His "Yeezus" is already making many year-end lists, but had no hits and spawned controversy among some listeners.
Others who might consider themselves snubbed are 2013's most visible country stars Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, who were both shut out.
The show featured some of the year's top songs. Lorde performed a starkly different version of "Royals." Swift performed her hit "I Knew You Were Trouble" in a performance pre-taped in Australia. And Thicke, T.I. and Earth, Wind & Fire teamed on "Blurred Lines."
For a complete list of the nominees go to the Grammy Awards website.