February 10, 2013

No clear favorite in this year's wide-open contest

It's gonna be fun. Or it might be Jay-Z and Kanye. Or Mumford & Sons. Or . . .

By GLENN GAMBOA McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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LL Cool J, himself a two-time winner, returns as host of Sunday’s ceremonies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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Jack Osbourne, senior contributing correspondent for the newly launched "Fuse News," says he thinks fun. had a strong year. "I'm a fan of them," he says. "I think their music is good and it has a unique sound, so I'm rooting for them."

Songwriter Claude Kelly, who is up for two Grammys this year for his work with Tamia, is also proud to call himself a fun. fan. "I think the album is so perfect," he says. "I think the album and 'We Are Young' should get some wins."

Kelly says fun. and R&B singer Miguel -- who is up for five awards, including Song of the Year for "Adorn" -- are examples of what artists should attempt with their music. "To me, that should be the norm," he says. "You should expect people to take massive, dramatic chances. What I love about them is that it's so in your face and over the top ... Artists should be above average. You should hear a song or see a performance or a video and not feel like you can do it yourself. There's too much average now."

Kelly says he feels that this year's Grammy nominations, especially their dramatic lean toward risk-taking R&B singers like Ocean and Miguel, is a reaction, in part, to the death of Whitney Houston on the eve of last year's ceremony.

"I think Whitney Houston's death reminded people how powerful soulful singing could be and what a great voice can do for a great song," he says. "It's a shame it took her passing, but there was so much celebration of her music and of R&B as a genre that people thought, 'I want to hear a good soulful voice again.' Not everything has to be dance music."

Osbourne says it seems like this year's Grammy nominations offer a more complete picture of what music has to offer. "It's strong this year," he says. "It's not your typical bubble gum, kind of cookie-cutter pop. There's a lot of diversity. I think that's what the Grammys represent and it's great to see it coming back to that place."

 

A MIXED REACTION

Taylor Swift made a surprised face. Carly Rae Jepsen said she was "over the moon excited." And all Frank Ocean could muster was a tweet saying, "Wow ..."

Here's a look at how other Grammy nominees reacted:

"We weren't expecting to get anything, but we thought that if we would, it would be for best new artist," said Ed Sheeran, whose single "The A Team" is nominated for Song of the Year. "I was on the tour bus and my cellphone was losing signal, but I was trying to text my manager throughout the nominations ... When he said we didn't get best new artist, I thought, 'Well, that's OK then' and forgot about it until we got to a place where I had a cell signal and all of a sudden about 40 messages of congratulations came through. It was shocking."

"This is just incredible," fun.'s Nate Ruess said backstage at the "Grammy Nominations Concert Live" in December, adding that his biggest worry of the night was simply being able to sing after struggling with vocal problems in the week leading up to the show. "I think it's the culmination of the hard work that the three of us have put in, not only in this band, but in the other bands before that."

Kelly Clarkson learned of her nominations while on tour in England, with her friends waking her up extra early to toast her with mimosas. "10 years later and still so excited!" she tweeted afterward.

"To get nominated by our peers is the coolest part of the whole deal," said Alabama Shakes drummer Steve Johnson. "For them to recognize us as Best New Artist, that means a lot."

"I think the new artist category (surprised me most)," said country singer Hunter Hayes backstage at the "Grammy Nominations Concert Live." "To sort of wave the country flag in that category means a lot to me. There's a lot of incredible music-makers in that category that I'm a fan of, and to be included is awesome."

"There's a lot of good people making music," said The Lumineers' Wesley Schultz, backstage at the "Grammy Nominations Concert Live." "I think we feel pretty lucky to be recognized for any of this."

 

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