Backstage after the Grammy Nominations Concert Live! Wednesday (Dec. 2), artists and musicians told Billboard.com what they think of the nominess and what they expect from this year’s show.
1. In the pressroom at L.A.’s Conga Room immediately following the Grammy Award countdown show, sporting a bright red T-shirt with the mug shot of a young Frank Sinatra, rock’n’roll legend Ringo Starr recalled his reaction to the first time the Beatles were nominated for a Grammy Award. “I was 5, I think,” he laughed. “It was long time ago; it was really weird at the time.” Starr also noted that his pick for the 52nd Grammys is the Black Eyed Peas.
2. Celebrating his two-week wedding anniversary, Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill was in “detox mode” tonight after recently finishing an 18-month tour with his band. “We’re taking it easy now,” Followill said, noting that Kings of Leon may hit the studio for a new album in March. But, “we might be in the studio tomorrow,” he added. “We get bored pretty easy.” Kings of Leon has been nominated for four Grammy Awards this year, including song of the year and record of the year.
3. Country star Taylor Swift – nominated this year for eight Grammys – is nearly 20 years old. What was Sugarland vocalist Jennifer Nettles doing at that age? “I was playing clubs and learning how to drink Jim Beam and Coke,” she laughed. During the Grammy Award countdown telecast earlier in the evening, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush joked with host LL Cool J about a possible collaboration. “I’m open to it, but it has to be done properly.” The rapper/actor said later. Nettles said, “Of course we’d have him rap.”
4. The pressroom was full of queries about how the upcoming Grammy show would honor the late Michael Jackson. Rapper/actor LL Cool J suggested that the program should coordinate an extended version of the song “Billie Jean,” featuring verses and dance moves performed by artists who were influenced by the King of Pop, including Usher, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown and even Bobby Brown. “That’s what I think would be hot,” LL Cool J said.
5. Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn wouldn’t give away too many details about the band’s forthcoming album, but wasn’t hesitant to give a few sarcastic comments about what fans should expect: “The new album is a journey through a musical landscape,” said Hahn, whose band was nominated this year for best hard rock performance for the song “What I’ve Done.” He jokingly continued, “The best way to describe it is it’s Grammy-worthy and it’s going to be enjoyable to listen to.”
6. Toronto rapper Drake hasn’t even released a proper album yet, but the newcomer has already been nominated for a Grammy Award. In high school, “I used to dream about hearing my name called out at [the Grammys],” he said. “Today is a special moment in my life that I’ll never forget.” The rapper wasn’t sure if any past artists without a proper album release had ever received a Grammy nod, but “we’re looking into it,” Drake said. The rapper also noted that he’s still working on his new album and that it’s slated for release this March.
7. Prior to the release of his latest album, “Black Summer’s Night,” R&B singer/songwriter Maxwell had been out of the spotlight for about eight years. The follow-up is already finished, but we’re “waiting to release so you guys don’t get sick of me too soon,” he said. “Black Summer’s Night” is the first of a trilogy album series, and Maxwell said it wasn’t too difficult selling Columbia Records on the concept. “They’ve been more patient and supportive than I ever thought,” he said. During the Grammy Award countdown show earlier in the evening, the artist performed a chilling version of Michael Jackson’s “The Lady in my Life.” Smokey Robinson later commented on the performance, saying, “[The Recording Academy] couldn’t have picked anyone better to do a tribute to Michael, as far as I’m concerned.”
8. Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow says his team will “start the process of building the [52nd Grammy Awards] tomorrow.” Many are curious if the telecast will include some kind of tribute to the late Michael Jackson. “Michael Jackson is important to us,” Portnow said. “Michael is iconic and we like to recognize people that way.” A tribute sounds like a pretty sure bet.
9. It’s been a good year for the Black Eyed Peas, who earned six Grammy nominations tonight and recently announced an ambitious 100-city world tour in support of its latest effort, “The E.N.D.” The Peas’ Will.i.am offered a few details about the forthcoming trek, saying that fans should basically expect to play a huge part. “We want the whole arena to turn into a club,” he said. “And after we step off stage, we’re going to have this ‘Boom Boom’ bus that takes us to an after-party, and it’s going to keep on going through the whole day. When we come into your city, it’s Black Eyed Peas day – it’s a whole experience from the beginning to the middle to the end.”
10. When did Keri Hilson discover she had been nominated for best new artist? “My manager showed it to me on a text message she received just as the show was ending,” she said, nothing that did everything she could to fight back tears that would ruin her makeup. “This is the crème de la crème of the excitement so far.”