Avril Lavigne was one of the artists announcing Grammy nominees at a Recording Academy press conference last month, so you'd think she missed out on some of the surprise that artists who weren't there got to experience.
But you'd be wrong. "I walked off the stage," she remembered, "thinking I had three (the ones that were announced onstage.) Then my tour manager came up to me and told me that I had five. I was like, 'What? Pinch me.' "
If Lavigne's reaction was disbelief, Charli Baltimore's was outright denial when she heard "Diary ..." was up for Best Female Rap Solo Performance. She couldn't have been nominated for anything, she thought, because her album, The Diary, never came out.
"I was sleeping when they announced the nominations," she said, referring to the 8:30 a.m. ET press conference. "My publicist two-wayed me, like, 'Congratulations on your nomination!' But I thought she had made a mistake, so I wrote back, 'Thank you, wouldn't that be nice? But this is Charli, you sent that message to the wrong person.'
"I didn't even really get that I was nominated until she called me. My album didn't even come out, it got pushed back. But that single was out for a few days before it got pulled back, so I guess that was enough."
The most prestigious awards aren't always the ones that bring the most satisfaction. Of Vanessa Carlton's three nominations, which include Album of the Year and Song of the Year, she's most proud of Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), a category in which she's the only person nominated for work on her own album. Her fellow nominees are all hired producers and engineers.
"I'm most excited for that nomination because it's recognizing the process and something other than the vocal and the song itself. ... I was totally surprised, though. I feel like such a proud mom of that song and of my album. It was really the most beneficial aspect of being a thrice nominee, or whatever you want to call me."
In some cases, the one bearing the good news was even more excited than the recipient.
"My man [Funkmaster] Flex called me and just started screaming," explained Fat Joe, who's up for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with Ashanti for "What's Luv?" "I thought something was wrong because he never calls that early. He was like, 'Yo, you done it. You got nominated for a Grammy, B.' Just spazzin' on the phone."
When the sleepy-eyed Joe came around and the news sunk in, he couldn't keep the good cheer all to himself. "I called my mom," he said. "I called thousands of people."
Lavigne also had family on the mind. "As soon as I get out of here, I'm going to call my mom," she said at the press conference. "She's going to freak out."
"I have my mom with me, so I have to call my dad," five-time nominee Ashanti enthused after her stint at the press conference podium. "I've got to call everyone. I gotta call [Irv] Gotti and my Murder Inc. family."
As expected, the old "It's a honor just to be nominated" routine ran rampant. "I got nominated! At least I can walk away and say that," Musiq said, pleased to simply be in contention for the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance honor with "Halfcrazy" and for Best R&B album with Juslisen.
Modesty, however, soon turned into competitive confidence for Musiq. "But I'm taking one," he said with a sly grin. "I'm gonna get it."
Fat Joe was a little more excited. "It's a dream come true when people appreciate your music and contribution to the game," he said. "It's just something where I can be like, 'Yo, I've been nominated for a Grammy.' "
Nelly, who was also on hand at last month's press conference, was more upfront about this goal, though his intentions, too, were tempered by humility.
"It's always good to be nominated, especially for something as big as the Grammys," the St. Louis rapper said. "Just the recognition itself is an award. But you want that little gold record player. You just want to take it home."
Best New Artist nominee John Mayer's reaction added a new level to the tired response. In contention for one of the big four awards, as well as the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance honor, the singer/songwriter was simply pleased that he'd been deemed worthy for comment.
"It's an honor just to say, 'It's an honor just to be nominated.' That in itself is an experience; not everyone gets to say that."
Joe D'Angelo, with additional reporting by John NorrisJohn Norris, Minya Oh, Shaheem Reid