(CNN) — A song about the joy of thrift shops put Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on the charts, but it’s their musical attack on homophobia that’s earning Grammy nominations.
When the Recording Academy revealed nominations for the 56th Grammy Awards Friday night, the hip-hop duo was named in seven categories, including for best new artist, song of the year and album of the year.
“Seven is unbelievable,” Lewis told CNN. “We came here hoping for one.” Only Jay Z’s nine nominations topped them.
A testament to their popularity came from rocker Melissa Etheridge, who won her first Grammy two decades ago. She became a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fan when her daughter asked her to listen to their song “Same Love,” which is now contending for song of the year.
Etheridge was so excited to meet the duo backstage at the Grammy nominations show, she stopped her interview with CNN to chase them down and hug them.
“I just had to tell them when something comes into the music scene, which then seeps into pop culture, you just can’t take it away,” Etheridge said.
English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who was also nominated for best new artist, said in a CNN interview that he’d rather Macklemore & Lewis win the Grammy. “They’ve achieved so much this year in popular culture,” Sheeran said. “They really changed things doing a song about homophobia.”
The other new artist Grammy contenders are English electronic music producer James Blake, hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar — who is nominated for seven Grammys overall — and country singer Kacey Musgraves — who has four nominations.
Noticeably absent from the best new artist category is Lorde, whose smash hit “Royals” did earn nominations for record of the year, song of the year and best pop solo performance. The 17-year-old New Zealand singer-songwriter’s debut album “Pure Heroine” is also nominated for best pop album.
Legendary producer Jimmy Jam, who is chairman emeritus of the Recording Academy, suggested that Lorde’s omission was because she, in effect, “skipped a grade” by having such a successful debut song.
“She is still very new,” he told CNN. “Sometimes I think the Grammy voters like to say ‘Well, let’s see what else you have before we say you’re the best new artist.'”
Lorde’s song, which carries a message criticizing the materialism of the pop music scene, spent nine weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year. She performed it live on the Grammy nominations telecast Friday.
“She’s pretty unstoppable right now,” Jimmy Jam said. “She had a great performance tonight, which I think will resonate in people’s minds. She’s so young, but a great songwriter. I think the sky’s the limit for her.”
He compared Lorde’s situation to that of Katy Perry, whose “I Kissed a Girl” was a big hit five years ago. It earned her a best female pop vocal Grammy nomination, but she was passed over for best new artist. “Grammy voters felt that one single was really good, but let’s see what else she has,” he said.
Perry proved since then that she is the real thing. Grammy voters nominated her “Roar” for song of the year and best pop solo performance this year.
“Blurred Lines,” the Robin Thicke summer hit with T.I. and Pharrell Williams, is up for song of the year and best pop duo/group performance. Their chances of taking home a Grammy might be hurt, though, by the legal battle with the heirs of the late Marvin Gaye, who argue it ripped off his “Got to Give It Up” classic.
Pharrell Williams could still win in those categories because he’s also nominated for other work in each. In all, he has seven nominations in four categories.
Justin Timberlake is also up for seven Grammys. His “The 20/20 Experience” was passed over in the album of the year category, but it is nominated for best pop vocal album. He shares a nomination with Jay Z in the best pop duo/group category for the song “Suit & Tie” and his single “Mirrors” is nominated for best pop solo performance.
Drake was nominated for five Grammys, including for best rap performance for “Started from the Bottom.” The rapper canceled plans to perform at Friday’s nominations telecast citing schedule complications.
Daft Punk is up for four Grammys, including record of the year — for their hit “Get Lucky” — and album of the year for “Random Access Memories.”
Bruno Mars earned four Grammy nominations. His “Locked Out of Heaven” is up for record of the year and song of the year.
Country crossover singer-songwriter Taylor Swift’s “Red” is nominated for album of the year and country album of the year. She’s also nominated for best country duo/ group performance and best country song. She performed on Friday night’s show from Australia.
Fantasia’s latest album “Side Effects of You” brought the 2004 American Idol winner three Grammy nominations.
The nominations list, which has 82 categories, has several legendary names on it with new music.
Paul McCartney’s “Live Kisses” is nominated in the best music film category. The former Beatle is competing for the best rock song Grammy against Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
The best rock album Grammy competition reads almost like the billing from a 1970s rock festival with Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Neil Young with Crazy Horse nominated. Queens of the Stone Age and Kings of Leon are the youngsters in the race.
The Grammys will be handed out in Los Angeles on January. Most of them will be announced in a pre-telecast ceremony, but the top awards will be presented in a music-filled three hour broadcast on the CBS network.