Justin Timberlake may have earned seven Grammy nominations, but he still has reason to cry himself a river: The pop star was shut out of the top Grammy categories — album, song and record of the year — though his comeback effort, “The 20/20 Experience,” is 2013’s best-selling release.
It might seem a bit much to call the second most nominated act at the Grammys snubbed, but it’s only fitting after Timberlake’s ultra-successful homecoming: The singer had back-to-back, multiplatinum hits with “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors,” launched two successful tours and strategically marketed his return, including a full week on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” deals with iTunes and Target, as well as two film releases.
His “20/20” album, which sold nearly a million discs in its debut week in March, has pushed 2.3 million units this year; the album’s sequel, which was met with mixed reviews, has moved more than 630,000 units since its Sept. 30 release.
Timberlake’s nominations include best pop vocal album, pop solo performance for “Mirrors” and R&B song for “Pusher Love Girl.” He also shares four nominations with Jay Z — who is the Grammy leader with nine nominations — for their hits “Suit & Tie” and “Holy Grail.”
While the rap icon is the frontrunner, he’s nominated twice in two categories, giving him a chance to bring home seven trophies, much like some rap newcomers who are having their Grammy breakthroughs: Kendrick Lamar, the critical darling who impressed on his own songs and by stealing thunder from others on their tracks, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the rap duo who blazed the pop charts with a same sex anthem and a tune about used clothes.
Both hip-hop acts have seven nominations, including the coveted album of the year and best new artist. “Same Love,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ original first single which saw a re-release after the success of “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us,” is nominated for song of the year.
“It feels awesome,” Macklemore, 30, exclaimed backstage during the Grammys nominations unveiling in Los Angeles. “There is no greater award than the Grammy. To be here tonight and to be nominated is truly mind-blowing.”
For album of the year, the Seattle-based rap group’s independently-released debut, “The Heist,” will battle Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” Taylor Swift’s “Red,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” and Sara Bareilles’ “The Blessed Unrest,” the only album in the group to not reach gold status.
“I never in a billion million years thought I’d be nominated for Album of the Year. … Best birthday ever. Woah,” tweeted Bareilles, who turns 34 on Saturday.
Bareilles, who got a boost this year after Katy Perry’s “Roar” had been criticized for sounding like the piano-playing singer’s “Brave,” will see her song battle Perry’s No. 1 hit in the best pop solo performance category. “Roar” is also nominated for song of the year among three other No. 1 hits — Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” Lorde’s “Royals” and “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink and Nate Ruess. Macklemore & Lewis’ “Same Love” has peaked at No. 11 and is up for the top honor.
The tracks competing for record of the year also mirrored the Billboard charts: “Royals,” ”Locked Out of Heaven” and the year’s longest-running No. 1 song, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” is up against Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” songs that peaked at No. 2 and 3 on the charts, respectively.
Thicke, whose performance closed the Grammy nominations special at the Nokia Theatre, quickly ran off to sing at the Jingle Ball concert event at the Staples Center.
“I just want to say that dreams do come true. Don’t ever give up on your dreams,” Thicke said onstage, thanking his actress-wife Paula Patton, band and fans. “Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer for some of us.”
Pharrell will compete twice for record of the year thanks to his work on “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky”; both songs are also nominated for best pop duo/group performance. The producer-rapper-singer, who has seven nominations, is also up for non-classical producer of the year, and he’s earned two nods for album of the year for his contributions to albums from Lamar and Daft Punk.
Drake and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig, who worked on Daft Punk’s album, both earned five nominations, while Mars, Lorde, Swift and Daft Punk each earned four nominations.
Lorde, the 17-year-old New Zealand native, was surprisingly left out of the best new artist category, where Lamar, Macklemore & Lewis will compete with successful singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, electronic soul singer James Blake and country singer Kacey Musgraves, who also earned four nominations.
Lorde’s “Pure Heroine,” released the final day of Grammy eligibility, is nominated for best pop vocal album, pitting her against Timberlake, Thicke, Mars and Lana Del Rey.
“I don’t know if I can sum up my year,” she said backstage. “It was too big and too much. It was probably one of the best years of my life I would say, of my short life.”
Swift, a seven-time Grammy winner, is nominated for best country album for the multiplatinum “Red,” country song for “Begin Again” and country duo/group performance for “Highway Don’t Care” with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. Of the country world, snubs included Georgia Florida Line’s remix version of “Cruise” with rapper Nelly — one of the year’s top hits. Luke Bryan, who latest album “Crash My Party” reached platinum status after two months, didn’t earn a single nomination.
Thicke, Black Sabbath, Tamar Braxton and Fantasia earned three nominations, while double nominees include Rihanna, David Bowie, Imagine Dragons, Miguel, Blake Shelton, Pink and Kanye West, whose nominations include best rap song and album. His “Yeezus” will battle efforts from Lamar, Jay Z, Drake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
The Grammys will air live Jan. 26 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
AP entertainment writers Jessica Herndon and Nicole Evatt contributed to this report from Los Angeles.