When nominations for the 45th annual Grammy Awards were announced Tuesday morning, reactions ranged from sincere congratulations to "What were they thinking?"
Few readers writing to MTVNews.com's You Tell Us forum had sour sentiments about demure Norah Jones, the jazz-influenced singer/pianist who's got a chance to sweep the four biggest categories — Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist (see "Eminem, Avril Lavigne, Nelly, Norah Jones Nab Most Grammy Noms"). Jones is also among the eight artists who garnered five nominations. (Click for photos of this year's Grammy nominees.)
"I'm sooo happy for [Norah Jones]," wrote 18-year-old Lexi, from Seattle. "I know many people haven't heard her music, but those who have know how great it is. Big ups to the critics for giving this girl the credit she deserves."
Jones' Come Away With Me faces stiff competition from The Rising, Bruce Springsteen's return to form, and, to a lesser extent, The Eminem Show. Although the mainstream seems to have embraced the volatile rapper, with hardly a protest over his third major-label album or his fictionalized biopic "8 Mile," the Grammys might not be ready to bestow such a prestigious honor to a man who had a hit with a song that talks about killing the mother of his child and stuffing her in a trunk.
Then again, Eminem already has five golden gramophones in his trophy case (though none in the big four categories), and the Recording Academy did grant an Album of the Year Grammy to Steely Dan in 2001, for Two Against Nature, which featured the song "Cousin Dupree," about incest. But old guards like Donald Fagen and Walter Becker have always had Grammy odds in their favor, which is why Springsteen stands such a good shot. And even if The Eminem Show doesn't win for Album of the Year and "Without Me" doesn't lay claim to Record of the Year, Eminem is likely to make good on at least one of his other three nominations.
While Jones stands as the artist with the smallest presence at radio compared with fellow new-artist nominees R&B songbird Ashanti, singer/songwriter Michelle Branch, sensitive guy John Mayer and pop-rocker Avril Lavigne, most of you think the latter stands as her fiercest competition.
"I think Avril Lavigne definitely deserves Best New Artist," wrote 14-year-old Ashley of Thief River Falls, Minnesota. "She's worked so hard and accomplished so much this year."
"There is no doubt that Avril Lavigne should win Best New Artist," echoed 14-year-old Danielle, from Somerset, New Jersey. "She writes her own music, had three top 40 songs in 2002, sold over 4 million copies of her debut, Let Go, and hates Britney Spears. What more could you want in a Best New Artist?"
While statistics may garner gold records, they don't necessarily translate to a Grammy. Awards are (theoretically) doled out to those who demonstrate genuine artistry in their work. And that's Avril Lavigne, isn't it?
"Avril has no business being nominated for as much as she was," disagreed 19-year-old Andrea. "As far as music and creativity go, Britney is more creative — and you know that's a stretch, especially since Britney is nothing but manufactured bubble gum. Avril may have had something going with her and her ties but let's face it, MTV, that's all she has had."
After yesterday's announcement of the nominations, Lavigne has a lot more attached to her, namely a monumental mistake when she mispronounced David Bowie's last name. When reading the list of artists up for the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, she mispronounced Bowie as "bow-wie" (rhymes with oh, wowee!). An unnerving hush immediately enveloped Madison Square Garden.
"Am I the only person who realizes what a poser Avril Lavigne is?" queried 22-year-old Kim, from Denver. "First of all, she botched the pronunciation of David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of our time. ... Does Avril know anything about music? ... My point is, although everyone seems to be touting Avril Lavigne as some new prodigy, the fact is that she is not a true musician or artist and is just as fake and untalented as Britney Spears."
And here we thought Avril was the anti-Britney.
While Mayer's the only guy among the gals in the Best New Artist pack, his fans warn not to count him out just because he's outnumbered.
"John Mayer deserves to win the Grammy for Best New Artist," declared 18-year-old Tiffany Johnson, from Austin, Texas. "He is just on a different level from the rest of the nominees. The guy is brilliant."
Nelly, who's up for Album of the Year, Best Male Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album honors, among others, is feeling the brunt of haters. For the nearly 5 million copies of Nellyville sold, the St. Louis rapper seems to have just as many, if not more, detractors.
"I want to know what the Grammy folks see in Nelly," demanded 19-year-old Jason Curtis of Seattle. "Everyone is hypnotized by his so-called 'skills,' which are by no means good. As far as I'm concerned, Nelly doesn't deserve a Grammy."
It wasn't all trash talk directed at the St. Louis rapper, however. Many have their fingers crossed that the Band-Aid bearing MC will leave with even more gold than he came in with.
"I'm really anticipating seeing Nelly take home the Grammy for best album," wrote 14-year-old Linzi, from Sandusky, Michigan. "I mean, his music is totally hot, and I'm pretty sure that I don't know anyone who isn't into Nelly."
Linzi, meet 21-year-old James, from New Haven, Connecticut.
"It is clear once again that the awards honor what is popular, not what is good," James began. "Nelly has sunk so far down in the talent pool that he's left rapping about sneakers and some sort of heat wave that has apparently swept Nellyville. Talk about meaningless music. Seriously, if it's that hot in 'herre,' then drink a glass of water. Don't make a freakin' song about it."
Fellow hip-hopper Petey Pablo, up for Best Rap Album with Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry, faced some harsh reactions, with fellow nominee Mystikal also catching some heat.
"I am very upset to see that Pete Pablo has been nominated for Best Rap Album," expressed 25-year-old Curtis, from Tallahassee, Florida. "Also, Mystikal's Tarantula album was very disappointing. How come someone like Trick Daddy or Cee-Lo never gets nominated? He is pure trash, and I understand why people like Jay-Z protest the Grammys. If we want to make it mainstream for all these old white people, let's nominate Will Smith. Even though his album sold probably 200 copies, he does not curse."
Such outrage over those who were nominated couldn't rival the furor over those who were left out: uber-producers the Neptunes and anyone from the neo-garage school, such as the Hives, the Vines, the Strokes or the White Stripes.
"How did Dr. Dre get nominated in the Producer of the Year category, while the Neptunes were ignored?" wondered Venni, 18, from Blacksburg, Virginia. "Dre didn't do anything in 2002. Every single song on the radio was produced by the Neptunes."
OK, Venni may be exaggerating a bit, though Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are responsible for Justin Timberlake's "Like I Love You," Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and Mystikal's "Bouncin' Back (Bumpin' Me Against the Wall)," all of which are Grammy-nominated.
"I'm surprised the new 'the' bands didn't get major nods," typed an aghast CJ, 18, from Newmarket, New Hampshire. "I'm sad that the White Stripes were shafted, when overrated Avril Lavigne gets all the credit. Well, the Grammys are pretty lame either way."
If the nominations aroused such fervent feelings in these folks, they'd better be prepared for the shock of February 23. While some surprises can be expected with the nods, utter jaw-droppers like the over-the-hill Jethro Tull winning for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 1988 are unmatched.
Stay tuned and stay calm.