The era of nomination domination seems to have ended with the Forty-third Annual Grammy Awards. Destiny’s Child landed just five nods from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, to lead all artists.
Last year, Santana and his Supernatural scored ten nominations before going on to win eight Grammys. The previous year, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill received eleven noms and scored five wins. But this year the playing field looks to be a bit more level. Five of Destiny’s Child’s nods are for “Say My Name” (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with a Vocal) and the vocal group also landed a nomination for “Independent Women Part I” from the soundtrack for Charlie’s Angels in the category for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
Faith Hill’s Breathe took in more nominations, six, than any other album, though three of the albums nods were for the songwriters who contributed to Hill’s album. Eminem scored three nominations of his own; The Marshall Mathers LP was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Rap Album, and “The Real Slim Shady” earned a slot in the Best Rap Solo Performance category. Eminem was also credited in the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his work on Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre.”
As for the Grammy’s biggest awards: Macy Gray’s “I Try,” Madonna’s “Music,” ‘N Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” and U2’s “Beautiful Day” will vie for Record of the Year against “Say My Name.” Beck’s Midnight Vultures, Radiohead’s Kid A, Paul Simon’s You’re the One and Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature join The Marshall Mathers LP as nominees for Album of the Year. Song of the Year will see “Beautiful Day,” “I Try” and “Say My Name” duking it out once again along with “I Hope You Dance” (written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sellers, performed by Lee Ann Womack) and “Breathe” (written by Stephanie Bentley and Holly Lamar, performed by Faith Hill).
The Best New Artist category displayed some stylistic diversity. Funky R&B poet Jill Scott, country traditionalist Brad Paisley and torch country chanteuse Shelby Lynne are up against the might of TRLsters Sisqo and Papa Roach.
Among the more surprising trends found in the broader field of nominees was the success of Steely Dan and the lack of appreciation of Simon’s latest album. While both acts were honored weeks ago as members of the 2001 class into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Simon’s run of Grammy gold looks poised to come to a halt. Though Simon has pulled more than thirty Grammy noms and sixteen wins, his nod for Album of the Year was a solitary one. As for Steely Dan, the group’s first album in two decades pulled in a healthy four nods, including Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (for “Cousin Dupree”), Best Pop Vocal Album (for Two Against Nature) and Best Engineered Album. Fellow baby boomer Don Henley also did well with his comeback effort, Inside Job, which yielded three nominations: Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (for “Working It”) and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (for “Taking You Home”).
After the infamous Jethro Tull/Hard Rock fiasco a decade ago, the Grammys have seemed to develop a keener sense of genre savvy. In the realm of hip-hop Dr. Dre’s Dr. Dre 2001 made the cut for Best Rap Album, and he was also nom’d for Producer of the Year, bringing his tally to three noms. DMX and Nelly each took in a pair of nominations for Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album (. . . And Then There Was X and Country Grammar, respectively). Jay-Z also scored a pair of nominations for Best Rap Album (Vol. 3…Life and Times of S. Carter) and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (for “Big Pimpin'”). For those who don’t take bling with their hip-hop, Common’s “The Light” scored a pleasant surprise by showing up in the Best Rap Solo Performance category and De La Soul’s “Oooh.” earned a nod for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Toni Braxton (Best R&B Album, Female R&B Vocal Performance), D’Angelo (Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album), Jill Scott (Best R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance), Boyz II Men (Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with a Vocal) and Erykah Badu (Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance) all scored multiple nominations in the R&B categories, putting them up against Destiny’s Child in the R&B singles categories.
Country music will see a showdown between two men who have charted the darker side of life and lived to tell the tale, as Billy Gilman and Johnny Cash both took in multiple noms. The two, er, men were nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance along with Vince Gill, Tim McGraw and Dwight Yoakam. Country music’s past was honored not just by Cash’s presence but also by that of Dolly Parton (Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Bluegrass Performance for The Grass is Blue), Riders in the Sky and Asleep at the Wheel.
Last year’s Best New Artist Christina Aguilera needed to rejigger her previous work en Espanol to earn a nod; her Mi Reflejo will go fisticuffs with Oscar De La Hoya’s eponymous debut, Luis Miguel’s Vivo, Alejandro Sanz’s El Alma Al Aire and Shakira’s MTV Unplugged. The late, great Tito Puente also earned a nomination for Masterpiece/Obra Maestra (Best Salsa Album), his collaboration with Eddie Palmieri, and Buena Vista vets Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa both received nods for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album.
B.B. King enjoyed a healthy dose of respect among the bluesmen. He received three nominations including two for Best Traditional Blues Album: for Let the Good Times Roll and Riding With the King, his collaboration with Eric Clapton.
The Alternative category wasn’t quite so assured. Fairly unsurprising alternacat albums by Radiohead, Beck, Fiona Apple and the Cure were joined by Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Sound Collage. More alternative alternative could be found in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category, where Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Woody Guthrie resurrection Mermaid Avenue Vol. II was joined by avant-Americana including Johnny Cash’s American III: Solitary Man, Steve Earle’s Transcendental Blues, Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Girl and John Hiatt’s genuinely contemporary folk album, Crossing Muddy Waters.
In order for a release to qualify for this year’s Grammy Awards, it had to be released between Oct. 1, 1999 and Sept. 30, 2000. The Forty-third Annual Grammy Awards will be held on Feb. 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. CBS will broadcast the program starting at 8 p.m. (EST).
In addition to the Grammy nominees, Tony Bennett, the Who, Sammy Davis Jr., the Beach Boys and Bob Marley will receive lifetime achievement awards and guitarist Les Paul will receive a Technical Grammy.