[4 December 2008]
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
In a bid to inject some much-needed life into a ceremony that, traditionally, is one of the stuffiest awards shows going, the Grammys tried something new Wednesday night.
The clumsily titled “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! - Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night,” hosted by Taylor Swift and LL Cool J, was an attempt to blend star-studded performances with the announcement of a handful of nominees (of the 110 categories the Grammys recognize, a mere six were announced on air; the full list of nominees was made available on grammy.com).
Broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, across the street from the Staples Center, where the 51st annual Grammy awards will be doled out Feb. 8, the evening was a welcome change of pace from the usual, bleary-eyed early morning press conference, and also served to highlight the opening of the new Grammy Museum.
But it’s the multitude of fresh faces littering the list of award hopefuls this year that’s most worth celebrating.
The 2007 batch of astonishingly hip Grammy contenders was no fluke; after decades of lining up the usual suspects (U2, Bruce Springsteen, et al) and handing out trophies, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences have, last year and this year, shaken things up by incorporating many popular and even a few cutting-edge acts into the roster of contenders. Put it this way: the 51st annual Grammys ceremony is going to be mighty interesting.
Lil Wayne’s having a very good year - the multi-platinum rapper led the pack with eight total nominations, including a nod for album of the year.
British rockers Coldplay were right behind him with seven nominations, while rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West and R&B star Ne-Yo each earned six nods. Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, John Mayer, Radiohead and Jazmine Sullivan received five nominations each, and Adele, Danger Mouse, Eagles, Lupe Fiasco, George Strait, and T.I. each received four nominations.
Mariah Carey opened the show with a festive Christmas tune (“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”), while the other artists took turns providing fresh takes on songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Over the course of the 60-minute broadcast, Swift (holding on for dear life through Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry”), Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, the Foo Fighters (whose grunged-up rendition of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” was eye-opening), B.B. King and John Mayer each graced the Nokia Theatre stage.