Going For The Gold At The Grammy Awards
By Tim Parks
For 55 years the Grammy Awards has delineated which musicians are at the top of their game; a celebration of the best of the best in their respective rhythmic fields reverberating with the sound of success. This year’s top nominees includes such industry luminaries as Jay-Z, Kanye West, the Black Keys, Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift.
But there are also a wealth of up-and-coming artists, and those who have been making a steady ascent on the music scene, on hand to potentially take the stage and make their acceptance speeches. There’s a literal mix of those who are vying for Grammy gold in categories with established artists and those who fall under the Best New Artist category.
Here’s a gander at who’s looking to snag that coveted gramophone statuette.
On The Rise
DJ, songwriter, record producer and singer Adam Richard Wiles, AKA Calvin Harris, hails from Scotland and obviously wears many hats within the world of music. He first emerged on the scene in 2007 when he unleashed his gold-selling debut album, I Created Disco, onto the listening populace. He has since followed up that effort with 2009’s Ready For The Weekend and last year’s 18 Months.
During his musical tenure he has amassed quite the street cred across the pond, scoring nearly a dozen hits on the UK charts. His producing skills have been utilized by a number of divas, including work on Kylie Minogue’s X and Aphrodite, on which he produced and co-wrote the tunes, “Heart Beat Rock,” “In My Arms” and “Too Much,” respectively.
Most recently, he aided Rihanna on her smash singles “We Found Love” and “Where Have you Been” with the latter scoring a Best Pop Solo Performance nod; while his song “Let’s Go” that features Ne-Yo is up for Best Dance Recording.
Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance nominees Halestorm have been rocking since 2009 with their self-titled debut album. However, it was their second record, The Strange Case Of…, that caught the eyes and ears of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences .
Their song “Love Bites (And So Do I)” was singled out as a valiant effort from the Pennsylvania-based group comprised of siblings in the guise of lead singer Lzzy Hale and her drummer brother Arejay, while guitarists Josh Smith and Joe Hottinger flesh out the rest of the band. The nomination places them in direct competition with more established acts like Megadeath, Iron Maiden, Anthrax and Marilyn Manson.
For five-time over nominee Miguel, the road to the Grammy’s was paved with its fair share of potholes. The artist, whose song “Adorn” is up for Song of the Year and Best R & B Performance, was sued by his first label Black Ice for breach of contract.
He eventually released his inaugural disc, All I Want Is You, through Jive Records in 2010; however, the label dissolved and the record was under promoted, but it ended up being a sleeper hit when it spent 45 weeks on the Billboard 200 charts and ultimately sold 440,000 copies.
Critical acclaim followed the release of 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream, which received a nod for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and debuted at number three and sold 71,000 copies in its first week.
If you aren’t familiar with Gotye’s song “Somebody That I Used To Know,” then you must have spent last year in a coma! The Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter received three nominations in total for the aforementioned hit that featured singer Kimbra; he’s up for the coveted Record of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Alternative Music Album.
His rise up the musical ladder began in 2001 with a four-track CD entitled Gotye, he formed the duo The Basics during that same time frame and released a sophomore album, Like Drawing Blood, in 2006. Fast forward to 2012 with the release of Making Mirrors and Gotye became the first Australian artist to reach number one since Savage Garden achieved that feat in 2000.
It’s no surprise that Carly Rae Jepsen has the ability to traverse musical borders as her single, “Call Me Maybe,” saw the Canadian Idol winner become a household name in the States. In 2008, she came out with her first album, Tug of War, and released several of the tracks on her MySpace page.
In fact, the internet has been very kind to the 27-year-old, the video of her song had 300 million views on YouTube; when Justin Bieber and then-girlfriend Selena Gomez heard the single on the radio, while on holiday in Canada, they took to their Twitter accounts and Jepsen received international attention.
New Kids On The Block
The race to be crowned Best New Artist is chocked full of musicians that have been thrust into public consciousness over the past year. Among them is Frank Ocean, who received attention when he became the first major hip-hop artist to have professed to having fallen in love with a man, which was somewhat of a shocking revelation to be made within the predominantly homophobic field of music.
The newcomer, who started his career as a ghostwriter for Justin Bieber, Brandy and John Legend, scored six nominations in major categories such as Record of the Year for his song “Thinkin’ Bout You” and Album of the Year for Channel Orange.
The roots rock group The Alabama Shakes cut their musical teeth by doing covers of groups such as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and James Brown, while lead singer Brittany Howard has been compared to another member of rock royalty, Janis Joplin.
The quartet were placed on MTV’s list of Artists To Watch in 2012 and delivered the goods on their debut album, Boys & Girls, as well with their Best Rock Performance song, “Hold On.”
The Lumineers, a Folk Rock Band, scored a one-two punch with nominations with one for Best New Artist and another for Best Americana Album for their self-titled melodious introduction.
“Ho Hey,” which is the first release off of the aforementioned album, proved to be a great way for fans to get to know their style of music; it sold over 2 million copies to become certified as Double Platinum.
At 21-years-old country crooner Hunter Hayes is definitely the baby of the bunch, but he has been making the world his stage since the tender age of four, when he made appearances on Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show, among others.
His single “Wanted,” which is nominated for Best Country Solo Performance, proved that he was a musical force to be reckoned with; he became the youngest solo male act to dominate the top of the country music charts since 1973.
The indie rock band, Fun., racked up six nominations this year and are competing for top honors for Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The latter was for their chart topper, “We Are Young,” which featured singer Janelle Monae and likely had pyromaniac watchdog groups concerned about their ability to “set the night on fire.”
To see which of these rising stars and new kids on the block have what it takes to take home the glory and live out the lyric from Fun., tune into the Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 10 on CBS.