Drake, Thicke, Buble among Canadians vying for Grammy nominations? - InfoNews

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Drake, Thicke, Buble among Canadians vying for Grammy nominations?

Drake performs at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Nov.7, 2013. The Grammy Award nominations will be announced Friday night and there are several interesting storylines to watch, with Canadian rapper Drake among those expected to reap a major haul. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP
December 05, 2013 - 11:55 AM

TORONTO, Cananda - One doesn't need hindsight to see that Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" will gather a horde of Grammy nods when nominations are announced Friday.

Since stepping away from 'N Sync (eight-time Grammy nominees), the 32-year-old has six Grammy wins out of 18 nominations spread across only two solo albums and a smattering of guest appearances.

Sure, once the hype machine's opaque smoke cleared, many realized that the sprawling two-album "20/20" event was less visionary than vanity — despite a couple of solid singles, the albums were rather sleepy, self-indulgent affairs.

But a year after the Grammys played a role in trumpeting Timberlake's return with a plum performance spot, there are scant other blockbusters to compete with the part-time pop star's triple-platinum set. So Timberlake seems a virtual lock.

Still, there are always a few surprises. Below, some of the storylines to watch when the nominations for the 56th Grammy Awards are unveiled with a prime-time concert on Friday night.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

If we cede Timberlake one of five nominations in the Grammys' biggest category, who will the pop slickster compete against?

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "The Heist" is a fairly safe bet, given that the pop-rap breakouts produced one of the year's biggest surprise smashes (platinum sales in the U.S. and Canada) while also gaining goodwill with the gay and lesbian rights anthem "Same Love." Rap purists don't have much time for the duo, but the Grammys will.

Otherwise? It's a fairly open race. Taylor Swift is a Grammy favourite (seven previous wins) and was certainly in the black with the quadruple-platinum "Red," but her third album "Speak Now" boasted equally robust sales and failed to secure an album-of-the-year slot, so she shouldn't be considered a shoo-in.

Another fairly safe choice would be Bruno Mars, who could be considered — to use an NBA analogy — the Grammys' go-to unheralded glue guy: he seems to perform every year and has racked up 14 nominations, with only one win. His last record, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," received an album of the year nomination and 2012's "Unorthodox Jukebox" earned similar sales.

But here's hoping the Grammys opt to fill the last couple slots with less conventional choices.

Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" was one of the year's best-received records, with the French dance duo reaching back for a retro-analog esthetic that could appeal to Grammy voters tired of highly compressed, computerized sounds. Yet it's more likely that the two-time Grammy winners finally escape the dance-category ghetto in record or song of the year for their twinkling Pharrell Williams collaboration "Get Lucky."

Another critically beloved record that the Grammys would be unwise to ignore is Kendrick Lamar's sterling "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City." The debut commercial release from the Compton, Calif., rapper — a gripping, elaborately executed concept album — has gradually inched over the platinum mark since its October 2012 release and hailed as an instant classic in rap circles. But Lamar's opus lacks the pop lean that has elevated previous album-of-the-year contenders from the likes of Outkast and Kanye West, so a nod for best new artist is perhaps more likely.

Speaking of West, whither "Yeezus," the sonically inspired, endlessly provocative latest from the Chicago rapper that has placed on the podium of nearly every critical list of the best albums of 2013?

Despite the fact that West has secured 21 Grammy Awards, it must be said that the gala has seemingly soured on the habitually controversial star. He's been nominated only once outside of the rap categories since "Graduation" vied for the top award at the 2008 show, and he hasn't even attended recent productions, let alone performed.

There's also the fact that the brilliant "Yeezus" goes down about as easy as a serrated horse pill. If West's 2009 baroque masterpiece "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" couldn't nab an album of the year nod, it seems highly unlikely voters would look more kindly upon this testy manifesto.

DRAKE HORSE?:

One contender conspicuously absent from the previous round-up? Star Toronto rapper Drake, who could be the best stealth candidate to sneak into the album-of-the-year discussion.

His ambitious third record "Nothing Was the Same" has racked up platinum-plus sales in just a couple months, and it's already yielded hit singles in the from of the insidiously insistent origin tale "Started From the Bottom" and the candy-coated R&B confection "Hold On, We're Going Home."

Both deserve to be contenders for song and record of the year. But the 27-year-old has long been uncommonly concerned with crafting album-long statements, and "Nothing Was the Same" is arguably his best yet.

He carries a star power that eclipses Lamar and and a cheerful charm foreign to West (at least recently). Voters likely like him, and he's performing at Friday's nominations special. It's not a stretch to think that by the end of it, the one-time winner will be even farther from the bottom.

BLURRED BORDERS:

Robin Thicke is another Canadian who's a virtual certainty to receive some Grammy love — though, yes, his nationality does seem a bit fuzzy. But the L.A.-raised crooner — son to beloved Canuck celeb Alan, of course — does possess Canadian citizenship and will be eligible for March's Juno Awards. He also possesses an excellent shot at a record-of-the-year nomination for his irrepressible "Blurred Lines."

Record of the year is perhaps a more likely proposition than song of the year — confusingly, the former is awarded based on performance, while the latter for songwriting — given the ongoing legal wrangling with Marvin Gaye's estate over similarities to the late soul singer's "Got To Give It Up." Still, it wouldn't be a massive shock to see the Thicke song up for both awards alongside such sure things as Lorde's "Royals" and Timberlake's "Mirrors."

Another Canadian likely to secure a nomination is Michael Buble, an eight-time nominee who has won in the best traditional pop vocal album category in three of the past six years. It's hard to believe the Grammys wouldn't show similar affection for his latest, "To Be Loved," even if the gold-certified record sold fewer copies than his other recent efforts.

Other Canuck contenders include reclusive Toronto R&B singer the Weeknd, who rounded up three acclaimed digital releases for the commercially available "Trilogy" within the nomination period, Calgary twins Tegan and Sara — whose propulsive "Closer" elevated the pair to new heights Stateside — or Walk Off the Earth, the Burlington, Ont., band whose inventive YouTube videos swelled their profile internationally.

Meanwhile, Montreal rockers Arcade Fire released their sprawling "Reflektor" outside the window for Grammy contention but the disco-dive title track will be eligible. And has it ever been wise to bet against Arcade Fire?

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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