Grammy nominations 2014: The good, the bad and the ugly

The 2014 Grammy nominations were announced during a live CBS telecast on Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. The show was marred by frequent technical errors, and the nominations were not always pleasantly surprising, but the show had moments of high quality nonetheless.

The Good:
-Lorde performed a stunning rendition of her wildly popular hit “Royals.” Complete with extra-long pauses, an elegant wardrobe, and her fiercely unique voice, Lorde brought the audience to its feet. And to think she’s only 17.

-Keith Urban teamed up with Miguel in an unlikely but impassioned performance of Bill Withers’ Grammy-winning classic “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Though the camerawork obscured the intensity rather than enhancing it, Miguel’s vocal acrobatics and Urban’s sultry guitar work added a haunting spin to this oft-covered tune. (Urban invited Miguel to perform with him after enjoying his performance on this year’s Grammys.)

-Despite some oversights, the nominations reflected the wide, if scattered, range of excellent pop music in 2013. Rising country star Kacey Musgraves nabbed three well-deserved nominations including one for Best New Artist. The Grammys embraced the anti-establishment alternative hip-hop of Lorde and the irrepressible smooth of Daft Punk. Taylor Swift’s excellent album “Red” ended up in the Album of the Year category, suggesting that the Grammys have longer memories than they are given credit for.

The Bad:
-Jay-Z grabbed nine nominations, more than anyone else. While Jay-Z is a superb rapper and a legendary pop culture figure, his musical output this year was far outclassed by the artists whose nomination totals came in beneath him. Justin Timberlake, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lorde and Taylor Swift delivered compelling music that expanded their aesthetic brands and genre associations, while Jay-Z delivered a paltry collection of lackadaisical rap verses an lzy high-fashion shout-outs.

-Justin Timberlake was shut out of the major categories entirely. “Mirrors” easily stands above Song of the Year nominee “Roar” by Katy Perry, and “The 20/20 Experience” arguably had greater cultural impact than Sara Bareilles’ solid “The Blessed Unrest.” Another oversight: the Grammys showered Lorde with praise in the major categories but failed to bestow a Best New Artist nomination.

The Ugly:
-The Grammy Nominations Concert, hosted by the off-puttingly obsequious LL Cool J, overflowed with directorial ineptitude. The oddly shaped nomination screens obscured the album covers by the nominated artists. LL Cool J’s “banter” with the artists felt forced, banal and utterly devoid of insight. (“You ready to perform?” he asked Robin Thicke. “Yeah,” Robin Thicke replied.) And the less said about the nearly minute-long silence towards the end of the night, the better. Drake reportedly bowed out of the show at the last minute, leaving a gaping hole in the middle, but this surprise alteration doesn’t forgive the telecast’s clunkiness.

-No major love for Kanye, Ariana Grande or Janelle Monae? Not cool, Grammys. Not cool at all.

mlieberman@theeagleonline.com

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