The Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles was stepping up its preparations for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday, with stage rehearsals for the ceremony honoring the best in music underway.
Rihanna, Sting, Bruno Mars, Frank Ocean, Carly Rae Jepsen, the Black Keys, and The Lumineers were among the musicians who were on hand on Friday to prepare for the telecast.
For Jepsen, whose song Call Me Maybe became a pop-culture phenomenon and picked up two Grammy nods for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, attending the Grammy ceremony is the culmination of a lifelong goal.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Jepsen said. “I have been watching the show for many years with my family, and to be here and actually have my family with me for the event — it’s very surreal.”
The Black Keys are nominated for five Grammys this year, including Album of the Year for El Camino, their sixth studio album. Band member Patrick Carney says that he hasn’t quite gotten used to being nominated for the biggest award of the night.
“We could never dream of being nominated for album of the year,” said Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. “So, yeah, you know the last time we were here, it was strange, and it feels less strange being back, but still weird, being nominated for the biggest award.”
The Lumineers are nominated this year for two Grammys, including best new artist, and they are having a difficult time adjusting to their new digs, especially their celebrity peers.
“It’s kind of funny, it’s like a ‘guess who’ of celebrities,” said Lumineers drummer Jeremiah Fraites, of the celebrity-packed audience set to take their seats on Sunday.
“Yeah I saw Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Beyonce, and Jay-Z right in front of where we’re playing,” the band’s lead singer Wesley Schultz said. “I can talk to their cardboard faces. I couldn’t really probably get out a sentence if they were standing right here.”
R&B artist Frank Ocean and indie-pop group FUN. go into Sunday’s Grammy Awards ceremony as front-runners for the music industry’s top accolades in a year where new talent and male artists have attracted most of the attention.
After last year’s Grammy ceremony was dominated by British singer Adele, and her best-selling album 21, this year’s awards show will be all about men.
FUN., Ocean, British folk band Mumford & Sons, rocker Dan Auerbach, Jay-Z and Kanye West each received six nominations, while Auerbach’s band, The Black Keys, got five.
With the absence of new music from many major pop artists in the past year, emerging talent features prominently at the Grammys.
Pop chart staples Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Adele and Rihanna all picked up nominations for the 55th annual Grammy Awards, but only Clarkson and Taylor Swift received Record of the Year nods.
New York-based FUN., made up of Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, stormed the charts in 2012 and are back this year. They are the only artists going into Sunday’s awards with nominations in the top four categories — Album, Record and Song of the Year as well as Best New Artist.
But unlike last year, where Adele was a clear favorite and went home with six Grammys, this year’s big winners are less predictable. Experts said the chances are slim of one person or band winning the coveted trifecta of Song, Record and Album of the Year.
FUN. had one of the biggest-selling singles of 2012 with their infectious hit We Are Young, featuring Janelle Monae, which is up for three Grammy awards. Both Doyle and Montgomery think they may take both the Song and Record of the Year titles.
The trio faces strong competition from Ocean, who is nominated in six categories, including Best New Artist, Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
Ocean, 25, has paved an unconventional path to the Grammys after emerging on the music scene a few years ago as part of the Odd Future hip hop collective.
His debut album Channel Orange, released in July, has been both a commercial and critical success.
The singer made waves after revealing that his first love was another man, an admission of same-sex attraction that was seen as groundbreaking in the hip hop community, which is often criticized for hostility towards homosexuals.
Ocean and FUN. will be competing with blues-rockers Alabama Shakes, folk-indie group The Lumineers and country singer Hunter Hayes for Best New Artist.
“Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers and Hunter Hayes may all draw from the some basic vote group, which leaves the race between FUN. and Frank Ocean,” Montgomery said. “And due to his album success and story, I think it may be Frank Ocean.”
Both Montgomery and Doyle said Ocean may also win for Album of the Year.