New York indie-rock trio Fun. and L.A.’s breakout R&B/hip-hop star Frank Ocean scored big in Grammy Award nominations, scoring six nods apiece predominantly in the most prestigious Grammy categories.
Absent a single lightning rod artist such as Adele in 2011, the Recording Academy heaped multiple nominations on a broad spectrum of performers. The academy also bestowed six nominations on producer Dan Auerbach, rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West and British alt-country band Mumford & Sons.
Fun. registered a rare Grammy nomination grand slam Wednesday, receiving recognition in all four general Grammy categories: album of the year for the trio’s “Some Nights,” new artist, record and song nods for its hit with singer Janelle Monae, “We Are Young.”
Ocean, from the L.A.-based R&B and hip-hop collective Odd Future, is nominated in three of the top four slots. His “Channel Orange” solo debut is vying for album of the year, and the single “Thinkin’ Bout You” is up for record — highly unusual for an act that is also nominated for new artist. But “Channel Orange” is one of the most enthusiastically reviewed albums of the year, receiving an average score of 92 out of a possible 100 on the Metacritic.com review aggregate website, based on 46 reviews.
Ocean’s album has sold about 390,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan, compared with 791,000 for “Some Nights,” a little more than 1 million for The Black Keys’ “El Camino,” 1.2 million for Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” and more than 400,000 for Jack White’s “Blunderbuss,” the other album nominees.
Conspicuously missing from that field is a middle-of-the-road rock, jazz or country album by a firmly established industry veteran akin to Santana’s “Supernatural” in 1999 or Herbie Hancock’s “The Joni Letters” in 2007, giving this year’s album category a decidedly younger, hipper cast.
Even so, Grammy voters largely passed over eligible pop acts that have electrified the young teen audience in the last year, among them Justin Bieber, One Direction and “Gangnam Style” Korean pop sensation Psy. Rap also was relegated mostly to rap category nods outside of Ocean’s breakthrough.
Even omnipresent pop-R&B singer Rihanna failed to make her presence felt in any of the four top Grammy categories, her three nominations coming for pop solo performance for her song “Where Have You Been,” a rap-sung collaboration nomination with Jay-Z for “Talk That Talk” and another in short-form music video for “We Found Love” with Calvin Harris.
Among record of the year contenders with Ocean and Fun. are The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Gotye featuring Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
The other new artist nominees are Southern rock group Alabama Shakes, country pop singer and songwriter Hunter Hayes and Americana rock trio the Lumineers.
Rounding out song-of-the-year contenders with the Fun. and Clarkson hits are British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team,” Miguel Pimentel’s “Adorn” and Carly Rae Jepsen, Tavish Crowe and Josh Ramsay’s megahit “Call Me Maybe.”
Nominations in top categories were announced from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, where co-hosts LL Cool J and Taylor Swift unveiled the key nominees in a CBS-TV special established in 2008 to presage the award ceremony itself, which next takes place on Feb. 10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Grammy Awards are determined by approximately 13,000 voting members of the Recording Academy. The eligibility period for this year’s awards is Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2012.