Nothing's ever too shocking about the Grammy nominations – the recording industry honors songs and albums with artistic merit and decent sales as well as performers who might look nice on TV. But still, 55th annual Awards: No Psy? No Biebs? No One Direction? No Pink? Only a little Rihanna? No Death Grips? (Just kidding about that last one. Would be fun to hear "Bitch Please" on the CBS telecast, though.) Five surprises:
1. Teen/online sensations snubbed!
One Direction, Psy, Justin Bieber and the Wanted – all shut out. Psy is perhaps understandable; although "Gangnam Style" has more than 889 million views and is the most-watched video in YouTube history, it'll seem like "Macarena" by the time the February 10th telecast rolls around. As for the teen-pop superstars, let's just say even the Jonas Brothers once received a Best New Artist nomination, so this seems like an especially harsh comment. The exception: Carly Rae Jepsen, a one-hit-wonderish singer who fits the teen-sensation label, gets Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance nominations for "Call Me Maybe."
2. Bruce Springsteen ghettoized!
Springsteen won the election for President Obama, and all the thanks he gets from the Grammy Awards are nominations for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Performance? Wrecking Ball is shut out for Album of the Year and campaign anthem "We Take Care of Our Own" is shut out for Song and Record of the Year. Granted, "We Take Care of Our Own " is no "Badlands," but still – Gotye gets this slot instead?
3. Miguel gets a handful! In the Esperanza Spalding-Skrillex "Who?" of the Year category, pillow-talking star-to-be Miguel collects nominations for Song of the Year, Best R&B Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album and two others. Miguel's excellent Maxwell-D'Angelo-ish single "Adorn" deserves the accolades, of course, but the Grammys missed a chance to be truly revolutionary by choosing his not-so-double-entendre non-single "Do You . . . " Surprisingly, sure-thing Frank Ocean, another R&B star en route to his Grammy moment, lands just one more nod than Miguel.
4. Kelly Clarkson cleans up!
Guess you have to graduate from teen idol to former teen idol to dominate the top Grammy nominations these days. Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" lands in Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. It's not bad, but with all the dominant singles in 2012, from Pink's "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" to "Gangnam Style," Clarkson doesn't deserve this much real estate.
5. Gotye is "alternative music?"
Check out the recent nominees for Best Alternative Music Album: Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver, Flaming Lips. Notice any themes? Yet Gotye's middle-of-the-road Making Mirrors winds up here? The rest of the list – Tom Waits, Fiona Apple, M83 and Björk – better fits the alt-typecasting of this category.