Anytime the Grammys get anything right, it's cause for a minor celebration. And at least three good reasons to start a party were revealed when the Recording Academy released its 110-category nomination list Wednesday night, after a first-ever one-hour telecast on CBS called
Grammy Nominations Concert Live!!
The first commendable headline is that the most nominated artist, with eight, is Lil Wayne.
Tha Carter III
, the new album from the New Orleans rapper born Dwayne Carter Jr., is the biggest seller of the year, but the deranged and dreadlocked MC's abundant talents are of more of a, shall we say, rambunctious variety than the Grammys are in the habit of rewarding. So kudos to you, kudos-givers!
The second happy surprise is that Philadelphia's rising R&B singer, Jazmine Sullivan, pulled in five nominations, tying her for fourth-most with perennial Grammy favorites John Mayer and Alison Krauss. (In a mild shocker, another fresh-faced star with an album called
, 18-year-old Wyomissing, Pa., native Taylor Swift, received not a single nod, though she did cohost the show from L.A.'s Nokia Theater. In addition to singing Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry," she snuck in a few verses of her own "White Horse.")
It stood to reason that Sullivan, whose
debut scored hits with "Need U Bad" and "Bust Your Windows," and who is signed to Clive Davis' J Records label, would snag a nomination for best new artist (one of the four major categories, along with album, record and song).
But Sullivan, 21, who grew up in Strawberry Mansion, surpassed expectations by also scoring nominations for female R&B performance, R&B song, traditional R&B performance, and contemporary R&B album.
The third pleasant surprise is that M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" has a chance to win record of the year. The nomination puts icing on the cake of one of the most heartening developments of the year: the emergence - thanks, in large part to the song's inclusion on the trailer to the genius stoner comedy
- of the Sri Lankan-British firebrand Maya Arulpragasam as a full-blown pop star. There's also a local angle: The Clash-sampling, gunshot-punctuated song was produced by North Philadelphia mixmaster (and M.I.A.'s ex-boyfriend) Diplo.
Sullivan was by far the biggest Philadelphia-area winner. While usual local suspects (the Roots, Jill Scott) were not invited to the party this year, others with a Grammy history did quite well.
West Chester folk label Appleseed Recordings, which got two nominations last year, pulled in three this time, all in the traditional folk category, including Tom Paxton's
Comedians & Angels
, Peggy Seeger's
Bring Me Home
, and the likely winner,
, by her half-brother, Pete Seeger.
Veteran Philadelphia vocal group Boyz II Men is up for R&B album of the year for
Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA
. The group's "Ribbon in the Sky" is up for best R&B performance by a duo or group, a category in which it is facing off against University of Pennsylvania grad John Legend, for "Stay With Me (By the Sea)," his duet with Al Green on Green's
Lay It Down
(which was produced by Roots drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson).
Legend's "Green Light" with Andre 3000, from his new
album, is up for best rap/sung collaboration. And Legend, born John Stephens, is one of seven songwriters credited on Estelle's "American Boy," up for song of the year, a songwriter's award.
The Recording Academy is by far the most generous of the organizations giving out popular-arts awards - it hands out trophies like Ronald Reagan gave out jellybeans. So there are several story lines to follow when the miniature gramophones are handed out in February.
Brit soft-rockers Coldplay got the second-highest number of nominations, seven, on the strength of
Viva La Vida, or Death and All His Friends
, named in all four major categories. Artier (and superior) Brit-rockers Radiohead, whose
was an Internet-only release in 2007 and an actual CD this year, received six nominations - seven if including Nigel Godrich as producer of the year.
Joining those Brits, and Lil Wayne, and Krauss and Led Zeppelin leader Robert Plant's seductive
in the prestigious best-album competition, were neo-soul singer Ne-Yo, whose suave
Year of the Gentleman
pulled six nominations, tying Kanye West and Jay-Z.
The show, hosted by Swift and LL Cool J, served as an ad for the Feb. 8 Grammy telecast and was a prime-time attempt to buck up declining music sales. The concept had contemporary stars singing Grammy-winning songs of the past - not a bad idea since it ensured a standard of quality the younger artists couldn't maintain on their own.
See a full list of the Grammy nominees via
http://go.philly. com/ grammys2009
- The 21-year-old Philadelphia R&B singer is up for five awards, including best new artist, female R&B vocal performance ("Need U Bad"), and traditional R&B vocal performance ("In Love With Another Man").
- The R&B singer and Penn grad bagged three nominations, one as a songwriter and two for collaborations with Al Green "Stay With Me (By the Sea") and Andre 3000 ("Green Light").
Boyz II Men
- The R&B vocal group was named for two awards, including best R&B album for
Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA
- The trumpeter and Cheltenham native was nominated for his contemporary jazz album
Randy in Brazil
- The Philadelphia-born soul man was nominated for contemporary blues album for
Like a Fire
- The Philadelphia music writer was nominated for his album notes for
Kind of Blue
, the 50th-anniversary edition of Miles Davis' jazz classic.
- The Philly DJ (Thomas Wesley Pentz) produced M.I.A.'s hit song "Paper Planes," which is up for record of the year.
- The Philadelphia Orchestra's new chief conductor - with Jean-Yves Thibaudet and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
- is up for best instrumental soloist performance with orchestra for Saint-Saëns'
Piano Concertos 2 and 5.
- Doylestown's Alecia Moore was named for "So What," up for female pop vocal performance.
- The gospel singer from Sicklerville, N.J., and his ensemble G.A. are up for contemporary R&B gospel album for