MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The year’s brightest newcomer, Sam Smith; the most nominated female in Grammy history, Beyonce; and mega-producer Pharrell led the Grammy Award nominations, with six nominations apiece.
Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour,” Beyonce’s surprise self-titled release and Pharrell’s “G I R L” will compete for the coveted album of the year, along with Beck’s “Morning Phase” and Ed Sheeran’s “X,” the most streamed album on Spotify this year.
The Recording Academy announced its nominees for the 57th annual show throughout the day on Friday.
Pharrell earned a whopping three nominations for the top prize thanks to his production work on Beyonce and Sheeran’s albums, which means the hit-maker only has a chance to walk away with four awards when the Grammys are presented on Feb. 8.
Smith is up for key honors such as best new artist and song and record of the year for his hit “Stay With Me.” He performed at KIIS FM’s annual Jingle Ball on Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles following the nominations, calling it “unbelievable.”
“The Grammys is, when they say something — that your song is good or your album is good — it means that they’re saying that your album is a timeless piece of work, which I’m trying to do, and what I tried to do with my record. And to be in that category is amazing,” Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“I can’t — to see my name next to Beyonce’s is just very weird for me.”
Beyonce, surprisingly, was not up for song or record of the year. Her nominations include best urban contemporary album as well as R&B song and R&B performance for “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay Z.
For song and record of the year, Smith’s “Stay With Me” will battle Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Sia’s “Chandelier” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” the viral hit that launched the buzzed songwriter’s own singing career.
“I want to cry again. I keep tearing up all day,” Trainor said when thinking of herself as a “Grammy-nominated” singer in an interview. “It’s crazy. It’s amazing,”
Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” is nominated for record of the year, while Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” is up for song of the year, a songwriter’s award.
Azalea, the Australian newcomer, earned four nominations, including best rap album for “The New Classic,” best pop duo/group performance for “Fancy” with Charli XCX and best new artist, pitting her and Smith against pop-rock trio HAIM, English band Bastille and country singer Brandy Clark.
Sia, who is also Australian and earned four nominations, had a breakthrough this year with “Chandelier” after writing songs for other singers, from Rihanna to Beyonce to Katy Perry.
Beck, Jack White, Usher, Drake, Jay Z, composer Gordon Goodwin and mastering engineer Tom Coyne also earned four nominations each. Eric Church and Miranda Lambert, both nominated in all four country categories, will compete for best country album, along with Clark, Dierks Bentley and Lee Ann Womack.
Swift, who earned three nominations, called 2014 the best year of her life. The singer, whose album “1989” will be eligible for awards at the next Grammys, turns 25 next week.
“It’s kind of like an amazing thing you guys have done for me over the past year because as a nice early birthday present this song today just got nominated for three Grammys,” she said onstage before performing “Shake It Off” at Jingle Ball.
Other Grammy nominees, from Azalea to Pharrell to Sheeran also performed at the concert Friday night.
Smith, who said he had lunch with Sheeran on Friday, is also nominated for best pop solo performance and pop vocal album for his debut, “In the Lonely Hour,” one of the year’s top-selling albums. The big-voiced singer will battle Sheeran, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Perry and Coldplay in the latter category.
Pharrell’s “Happy” and John Legend’s “All of Me,” tunes that peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this year, were technically released before Grammy eligibility, so the singers submitted live renditions of the songs so they could be considered for awards. The songs didn’t earn nominations in the top awards, but the hits will compete with “Stay With Me,” ”Shake It Off” and “All About That Bass” for best pop solo performance.
Pharrell, who won four Grammys earlier this year, is also nominated for best music video for “Happy” and best urban contemporary album for “G I R L,” where he will battle Beyonce’s album. The pop queen is also nominated for best surround sound album for “Beyonce” and music film for her “On the Run” tour with Jay Z. Beyonce has won 17 Grammys and earned 53 nominations.
U2’s “Songs of Innocence,” originally released for free to iTunes users, is up for best rock album against Beck. Other nominees include Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Ryan Adams and the Black Keys.
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s duets album, “Cheek to Cheek,” is nominated for best traditional pop vocal album, where it will compete with Barbra Streisand’s duets album as well as efforts from Annie Lennox, Johnny Mathis and Barry Manilow.
The soundtrack for “Frozen,” the year’s top-selling album, earned three nominations in the music for visual media category, including best compilation soundtrack, score soundtrack and song for “Let It Go.”
The late Joan Rivers earned a nomination for best spoken word album for “Diary of a Mad Diva.”
Swift, Sheeran, Eminem, Chris Brown, the Black Keys, Coldplay and Roseanne Cash were among the acts nominated for three awards.
The Grammy Awards will air live Feb. 8 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
AP entertainment producers Nicole Evatt and Michael Cidoni Lennox contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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