New and old stars vie - or team up - for Grammys glory

January 27, 2014 | 09:47
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Music's top stars gather on Sunday for the Grammys, with artists ranging from the Beatles and veteran rapper Jay-Z to French electro duo Daft Punk and newcomers like New Zealand's Lorde up for honours.

Lorde performs at the The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live in Los Angeles, California, in this December 6, 2013 file photo. (AFP)

LOS ANGELES - Music's top stars gather on Sunday for the Grammys, with artists ranging from the Beatles and veteran rapper Jay-Z to French electro duo Daft Punk and newcomers like New Zealand's Lorde up for honours.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar, pop diva Taylor Swift, chart-topper Justin Timberlake and Seattle hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are also among those vying for prizes at music's version of the Oscars in Los Angeles.

The show will also feature some eye-popping collaborations, including rockers Metallica with acclaimed Chinese pianist Lang Lang and Lamar with the Imagine Dragons rockers.

Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will perform as Recording Academy organizers belatedly bestow a Lifetime Achievement Award on the Fab Four.

Performers at the awards show include a who's who of music's finest, ranging from Katy Perry and Robin Thicke to veterans Carole King, Chicago and Madonna.

The first couple of hip-hop, Jay-Z and Beyonce, are also expected to perform at the show, brought forward from its usual February date to avoid media conflicts with the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Going into Sunday's show, Jay-Z topped nominations with nine nods, followed by California hip-hop star Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Timberlake and Pharrell Williams with seven each, while Canadian rapper Drake scored five.

Tipped by many for coveted Record Of The Year is Daft Punk's "Get Lucky", but rival nominees include Kiwi teenager Lorde's "Royals", "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons and Hawaiian crooner Bruno Mars' "Locked Out Of Heaven".

Thicke's "Blurred Lines", made infamous by Miley Cyrus' twerking at last year's MTV Video Music Awards show, is also competing for the evening's top prize.

In the Album of the Year category, Swift's "Red" will compete with Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories", Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "The Heist", Lamar's "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City" and Sara Bareilles's "The Blessed Unrest".

Shortlisted for Song of the Year -- for songwriters -- are "Just Give Me A Reason" sung by Pink, "Locked Out Of Heaven" sung by Mars, "Roar" sung by Perry, "Royals" sung by Lorde and "Same Love" sung by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis was also nominated for Best New Artist, against Lamar, country singer Kacey Musgraves and British singer-songwriters James Blake and Ed Sheeran.

The 56th annual Grammy Awards show will include a "Grammy moment" bringing together country music veterans Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Blake Shelton.

The show, at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, will climax with a rock supergroup featuring Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham.

Some observers have poured scorn on the Grammy's tradition of throwing unlikely performers together.

Washington Post pop music critic Chris Richards said the so-called "Grammy Moments" were little more than "brand synergy masquerading as artistic collaboration", boosting sales by attracting new demographics to artists.

"Over the past decade, the music industry's biggest awards show has mutated into a Frankenstein-ish pop concert clogged with duets that feel as desperate and illogical as speed dating," he wrote on Friday.

McCartney will accept a lifetime achievement award for the Beatles, one of seven to receive the honour also including Kristofferson, the Isley Brothers and German electro music pioneers Kraftwerk.

McCartney and Starr will also reunite for a Grammys tribute event being recorded on Monday, and set to air on February 9 -- the 50th anniversary of their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" launching Beatlemania in the United States.


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