Awards Season

The Grammys Announce A Few Nominations, And We're There

The Black Eyed Peas performed on December 2 as the Grammy nominations were announced.

hide captionThe Black Eyed Peas performed on Wednesday night as the Grammy nominees were announced. Well, a few of them, anyway.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Usually, nominations for awards shows are announced via some drab medium or other, whether it's a newly refreshed Web site, a hastily emailed press release, or a dry recitation of names in a dusty press conference. Wednesday night, CBS and the Grammy Awards decided to milk the awards-show magic for an extra hour, with a special telecast promising to unveil a bevy of surprises and magical musical performances.

Because there's nothing we love more than watching kudos hurled in the direction of The Black Eyed Peas, we decided to chat about the show online via Instant Messenger, in the spirit of our similar enterprise during last year's Grammy ceremony. For those seeking a commentary-free list of nominees on the Grammy Web site, click here; for those looking to skim the highlights, we've placed the nominees announced in the CBS special in bold.

STEPHEN: So what's getting nominated for Album Of The Year? I simply cannot wait to find out!

LINDA: Fortunately, LL Cool J just personally invited me to watch the nominees being announced.

STEPHEN: If only they were having some sort of television event informing me of the nominees! They could have a concert and everything, and perhaps even sell advertising during breaks in the action.

The thing with the Grammys is that I never spend a whole lot of time thinking about whether a given album will be nominated, but then, when they announce the nominations, I'm always like, "Duh. Of course. How could I have forgotten the Herbie Hancock album of Joni Mitchell covers?" Perhaps one heavily awarded artist made an album with another heavily awarded artist! There needs to be an album in which Sheryl Crow and Alison Krauss perform a collection of austere Michael Jackson covers.

LINDA: Hey, it's Sugarland! I know them from not knowing them during last year's Grammys.

STEPHEN: So what gets tons of nominations? It's hard to tell, in part because the window of eligibility is so screwy. Brand-new stuff isn't eligible yet, while stuff released a zillion years ago is still up for awards. I think Metallica's self-titled album from 1991 will get some nominations tonight.

LINDA: I am very confused by this opening number with LL Cool J and the candy cane dancers. And I realize it makes me seem like I arrived here on a Rascal scooter, but I really enjoy a little LL Cool J with my day.

STEPHEN: I love LL Cool J without reservation. "The Grammy Countdown begins NOW." This is more eventful than a press release, yes. But only just barely.

LINDA: The Black Eyed Peas are performing from their TABLE?

STEPHEN: I don't mean to rock your world, but elements of this performance may have been pre-recorded. Also, if you are the source of the song "My Humps," should you be performing at an event which ostensibly honors artistic merit in music? I realize that this makes me sound like the fuddiest of fuddy-duddies, but dude. "Welcome to our celebration of music's greatness. And, now, the band that does that stupid song from the commercials!"

LINDA: "Welcome to the Oscars! Please welcome the cast of All About Steve."

STEPHEN: Also, we have been getting this party started for 10 damn minutes. "WHEN ARE THEY GONNA GET TO THE FIREWORKS FACTORY?!"

LINDA: So far, we have seen The Black Eyed Peas and George Lopez. I actually feel cool enough to be here.

STEPHEN: Ha! Okay, so Song Of The Year. Are these the nominees? No. These are potential nominees. The hell?

LINDA: This is seriously going to be the longest hour in history.

STEPHEN: But it's already 20 percent over!

LINDA: They are completely blowing the suspense by putting these nominees' photos up in a different order from the order in which George Lopez is reading their names.

STEPHEN: Okay: "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga. "Pretty Wings" by Maxwell. "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" by Beyonce. "Use Somebody" by Kings Of Leon. "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift. Delivered with a lame Tiger Woods joke, putting this show within a 48-hour pop-cultural window. Oh, and it turns out that several of the nominees are pleased to have been nominated! Aaaaaaaand commercials.

LINDA: I endorse "Single Ladies." And I do so in spite of the commercials currently running in which it is sung by a gang of lady Chipmunks.

STEPHEN: Didn't that Kings Of Leon record come out, like, six years ago? I feel like it did. And I have to think "Single Ladies" wins this going away.

LINDA: I think if we are talking about impact, you can't possibly not give it to "Single Ladies."

STEPHEN: Agreed. I feel like all pop songs this year morphed into one giant performance of "Single Ladies," the way everything seemed to morph into Coldplay's "Clocks" earlier in the decade.

LINDA: Time for Sugarland! It seems that the message of this Sugarland song is that mothers are good. I endorse this message!

STEPHEN: Sugarland! Which has suddenly become country music's designated Grammy magnet. As Metallica is to metal, as Bonnie Raitt is to the blues, as Kanye West is to hip-hop, Sugarland has suddenly become to country, as far as the Grammys are concerned. You know how Alison Krauss has won, like, 27 Grammys? The Grammys seem to know about only a handful of gateway non-pop artists, and then reward them RELENTLESSLY.

LINDA: Yes, this keeps them from having to listen to too much music.

More nominees, and more bafflement, after the jump.

STEPHEN Well, all of those artists are for people who don't usually like a given genre of music, but wish they did. "I wish I loved the blues. Say, this Bonnie Raitt record is pretty good!" Gateway bands.

LINDA: Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals.

STEPHEN Twenty minutes in, we're on the second category, and it's this? The Black Eyed Peas, Bon Jovi, The Fray, Daryl Hall & John Oates, MGMT. That... is some list. Daryl Hall & John Oates elicited gasps from the crowd.

LINDA: Okay, two Jonas Brothers have introduced the other one in his new band: Nick Jonas And The Administration. So far, this is a very growly Nick Jonas.

STEPHEN: The voice says "Growr!" and the face just signed up for the Cub Scouts.

LINDA: There's Disney written all over him; there just is.

STEPHEN: Okay, but: MGMT is nominated alongside Bon Jovi and The Black Eyed Peas. For "Kids," which is a fantastic song. That pick seems almost as surreal to me as Daryl Hall & John Oates for "Sara Smile." A very odd list, right there.

LINDA: Yeah, I was going to say. You said the eligibility period was weird; I didn't think it would get back to "Sara Smile."

STEPHEN: I'm going to go out on a limb and pick the upset: "Sara Smile" wins. Call me crazy — you heard it here first. I have theories on this sort of thing.

LINDA: Apparently so! I have to say, for something that has already been on for half an hour, I feel like this has not led to a lot of activity.

STEPHEN: This is... slightly more thrill-packed than an American Idol results show, but barely so.

LINDA: If this were a Dancing With The Stars results show, at least there would be oily people sliding around on the floor.

STEPHEN: Well, The Black Eyed Peas seemed at least moderately oiled.

LINDA: That is true, they did.

STEPHEN Anyway, getting back to my theory: All things being equal, the Grammys will award the oldest, most venerated nominee. Daryl Hall and John Oates are even more venerated than Bon Jovi, so.

Also, couldn't the Michael Jackson tribute wait until the actual awards ceremony? This is the pregame, people. Between the performances and the commercials, I am paralyzed by the sheer number of opportunities to run to the bathroom.

LINDA: This entire show is one long trip to the bathroom, and I don't mean that in any kind of gross way.

STEPHEN: There's a non-gross way to interpret what you just said?

LINDA: Yes! It is one long moment in which it wouldn't be that bad if you had to briefly leave the room for a restroom break.

STEPHEN: I mean, this is flat-out filler, plain and simple. Other than showcasing the obviously heavily nominated Maxwell, what purpose is this serving?

LINDA: Apparently, they are afraid that people are not aware that Michael Jackson died.

STEPHEN: Wait, WHAT? When?

LINDA: Maxwell has just offered to paint my toenails. Is this in the original Michael Jackson song?

STEPHEN: I think Maxwell is just a very giving sort of fellow.

LINDA: Hey, it's Katy "Zooey Deschanel" Perry.

STEPHEN: Katy Perry! Announcing Best Rock Album! AC/DC, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood live, Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, U2. Wow, I am embarrassed to say that I had no idea that the Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood live album even existed.

LINDA: I was going to ask YOU about the Clapton/Winwood thing.

STEPHEN: And now T-Pain is going to announce Best Rap Solo Performance... Drake, Eminem, Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Mos Def. Jay-Z will win, but Kid Cudi winning would be so cool. I like the Mos Def record, too, but that Eminem record is all kinds of dismal.

LINDA: I love Mos Def. He seems like a very likable dude, among other things.

STEPHEN: His newest record's terrific. Getting back to Best Rock Album — it is so hard to keep up when they cover two categories between commercial breaks! — I feel like AC/DC's Black Ice came out in 1997. And I just listened to the U2 record the other day, which is when I realized that, somewhere along the way, I have been inoculated against the enjoyment of new U2 music. It made me kind of sad, because it's clearly my problem, not theirs.

LINDA: Yeah, I can definitely understand that.

STEPHEN: So... they're going to do, what, three more categories? New Artist, Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year? They haven't announced any country categories, and there are only 15 minutes left.

LINDA: Yeah, there's clearly a plan to ... well, to ignore most things, and also to announce a bunch of stuff close together? I guess? This is an extremely weird piece of television.

STEPHEN: Yeah, they're clearly throwing this whole thing against the wall in the hopes of drumming up interest. Ah, here's country. Dwight Yoakam, eh? I love an awful lot of that guy's records. Here's a montage of how many Grammys the Dixie Chicks have won. (Further proving my point earlier about gateway bands.) Country Duo Or Group With Vocals is the most eventful country category?

LINDA: Apparently, owing to the absence of the Dixie Chicks, which opens up the field.

STEPHEN: Brooks & Dunn, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland.

LINDA: The Grammy Awards, I find, is an event with a keen ability to locate musicians I don't have strong feelings about.

STEPHEN: Yep. Unless there's some desire to pay tribute to the now-defunct Brooks & Dunn, Sugarland wins this one by a mile. Okay, Smokey Robinson and Ringo Starr are going to announce a category. Coincidentally, each has a new album to promote!

LINDA: Record Of The Year!

STEPHEN: Beyonce! The Black Eyed Peas! Kings Of Leon! Lady Gaga! Taylor Swift! Pretty much the same as Song Of The Year, right?

LINDA: Yes, I think that's correct. Album Of The Year!

STEPHEN: Are you watching this, like, a minute ahead of me? That will be a problem when we live-blog the ceremony. You will look so smart. Okay, album: Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band, Taylor Swift. Wow, those are the five Album Of The Year nominees, huh? And how do you spend an hour on Grammy nominations and not do Best New Artist?

LINDA: So Kings Of Leon got bumped for Dave Matthews Band.

STEPHEN: Given that the Kings Of Leon record came out one million years ago, I guess I can see that. No Album Of The Year nomination for U2, either.

LINDA: That is a lot of very similar nominations in the big categories. Though was I hearing things, or did they say Beyonce's Record Of The Year nominee was NOT "Single Ladies"? Did Smokey say "Halo"?

STEPHEN: Not a ton of surprises all around. Smokey did indeed say "Halo," which is a little puzzling, I agree. I will say, as an early prediction, that it is going to be A Very Beyonce Grammy Ceremony on Jan. 31. Usually, there's some wildly unexpected Album Of The Year nominee, for example. There's no Ne-Yo this year, it seems, at least based on this early look.

LINDA: Well, not only that, but there's nothing that's, like, a legacy album, really. I mean, Dave Matthews, but that's hardly the Tony Bennett-ish nomination you usually get at least one of.

STEPHEN: Yeah, what was the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Herbie Hancock-covering-Joni Mitchell kind of record this year? I'm drawing a blank. Maybe that means Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood will win big! And Hall & Oates.

LINDA: According to the Grammy Twitter feed, Best New Artist is Zac Brown Band, Keri Hilson, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, The Ting Tings.

STEPHEN: The Ting Tings? I like The Ting Tings just fine, but they hit and disappeared, like, 18 months ago.

LINDA: You're like a guy on Lost. You can't remember when anything was.

STEPHEN: Well, it's like... I've talked about this a lot before, but the hype cycles are SO SMALL now. A record that came out early in 2008, as the Ting Tings record did, feels like it came out before our interns were born.

LINDA: You do have young interns.

STEPHEN: Wasn't there some question about whether Lady Gaga qualified as a new artist? It used to be that they'd disqualify Whitney Houston because she sang a song on an obscure soundtrack a year before her record came out, and now they'll nominate bands that have been around for a decade. I'm kinda surprised Lady Gaga isn't on that list; she must have been ineligible somehow.

LINDA: I believe that's correct.

STEPHEN: Well, if they pick Best New Artist based on the likelihood that the winner will disappear immediately into oblivion, I think it's going to be The Ting Tings. But as much as I don't want to see it saddled with the Best New Artist Curse, I'd love to see MGMT win. That is a marvelous record.

LINDA: I would just like it noted that a recording of "Besame Mucho" by Herb Alpert was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental. I'M JUST SAYING. That's longevity, Ting Tings!

STEPHEN: Perhaps a Ting Tings remake of "Great DJ" will sweep the Grammys in 2060! You never know.

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