The Grammy Awards, dubbed "music's biggest night" by organizers, are set for a massive celebration of the past year's best in North American music on Sunday.

Heading into the 56th annual celebration, rap heavyweight Jay-Z leads the field of contenders with nominations in nine categories. That said, a host of relative newcomers who made a major splash last year — including American rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, New Zealand teen singer Lorde, rising U.S. hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar and emerging country artist Kacey Musgraves — aren't too far behind.

Others in the running for multiple trophies include singers Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and singer-producer Pharrell Williams.

Canadians vying for Grammy glory on Sunday include Toronto rapper Drake, rocker Neil Young, crooner Michael Bublé and singer Robin Thicke (a dual citizen as son of Canadian actor Alan Thicke).

Nominees in central categories include:

- Album of the year:The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles; Random Access Memories, Daft Punk; Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar; The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis; Red, Taylor Swift.

- Record of the year (for performance): Get Lucky, Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams; Radioactive, Imagine Dragons; Royals, Lorde; Locked Out of Heaven, Bruno Mars; Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams.

- Song of the year (for songwriting): Just Give Me a Reason, Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess; Locked Out of Heaven, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars; Roar, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter; Royals, Joel Little & Ella Yelich O’Connor; Same Love, Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis.

- Best New Artist: James Blake; Kendrick Lamar; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis; Kacey Musgraves; Ed Sheeran.

Over the past week, the U.S. Recording Academy, which administers the Grammys, has held a series of events honouring nominees and special award winners. Celebrations included a producers and engineers ceremony saluting Canadian rocker Neil Young on Tuesday and a Friday gala celebrating the 2014 MusiCares Person of the Year: influential singer-songwriter Carole King.

Memorable match-ups

In recent years, the Grammys broadcast has become known for unconventional or unlikely musical pairings, which have the potential to become memorable match-ups (for better or worse).

In keeping with tradition, this year's tag-team performers include metal icons Metallica performing with classical pianist Lang Lang, rapper Kendrick Lamar with alt-rockers Imagine Dragons, R&B singer Robin Thicke with power balladeers Chicago and soul legend Stevie Wonder with dance hitmakers Daft Punk.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Lorde, Pink and surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will also take the stage during the televised gala.

The Grammys officially get underway Sunday at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles at 4 p.m. ET with a pre-telecast ceremony — hosted by singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper — where awards in approximately 70 categories will be presented. This portion will be streamed live at Grammy.com/live.

The festivities continue Sunday evening at the Staples Center in Los Angeles with the televised Grammy gala — hosted by performer LL Cool J — beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The broadcast will air on CBS and Citytv.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Miley Cyrus

    Miley Cyrus arrives at the 2011 Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute To Industry Icons Honoring David Geffen at Beverly Hilton on February 12, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Lauryn Hill

    Lauryn Hill holding her five Grammy Awards at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, feb. 24, 1999.

  • Shania Twain

    Shania Twain performing at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. She won five Grammy Awards, Feb. 24, 1999.

  • Toni Braxton

    Toni Braxton with Grammy backstage at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2001. Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect

  • Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson.

    Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson at the Grammys, Feb. 24, 1993. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

  • M.I.A.

    Singer M.I.A. (Maya Arulpragasam) poses in the press room during the 51st Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Beyonce

    Beyonce, winner of 5 Grammy Awards, Feb. 8, 2004. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

  • Britney Spears

    Singer Britney Spears arrives at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on January 31, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

  • Justin Bieber, Rihanna

    Singers Justin Bieber and Rihanna arrive at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)

  • Lady Gaga

    Singer Lady Gaga attends The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)

  • Aaron Carter

    Aaron Carter during 1999 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

  • Shania Twain

    Shania Twain during 1999 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez during The 42nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, United States, feb. 23, 2000. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)

  • Christina Aguilera

    Christina Aguilera holds up her Grammy in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category during the 46th Annual Annual Grammy Awards 08 February 2004 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. People Magazine, citing Aguilera's representative, reported 13 February, 2005 that Aguilera is engaged to marry her longtime boyfriend, music executive Jordan Bratman. The pair was on vacation when Bratman, 26, proposed to Aguilera, 23, 11 Februay, People said. They had been dating for more than two years. Bratman bought the blonde singer, whose hits include 'Dirrty' and 'Genie in a Bottle,' a diamond ring designed by London-based jeweler Stephen Webster. AFP PHOTO/FILES/Hector MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Beyonce

    Beyonce Knowles arrives at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at the Nokia Theater on January 31, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

  • Deadmau5

    DJ Deadmau5 arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Carrie Underwood

    Singer Carrie Underwood arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna arrives at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

  • Sasha

    Singer Sasha arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Anne V, Adam Levine

    Singer Adam Levine (R) of Maroon 5 and Anne V arrive at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney

    Singer Lady Gaga (L) and musician Paul McCartney in the audience at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)

  • Rihanna, Katy Perry

    Singers Rihanna and Katy Perry in the audience at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)

  • Nicki Minaj

    Singer Nicki Minaj arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Adele

    Adele Atkins attends The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards Media Center at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Singer Jennifer Lopez arrives at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Rihanna

    Singer Rihanna arrives at The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/WireImage)

  • Katy Perry

    Katy Perry arrives at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Beyonce

    Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel and Beyonce Knowles attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

  • Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry

    Actress Portia de Rossi, comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and singer Katy Perry attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

  • Christina Aguilera

    Pop Star Christina Aguilera arrives at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles 21 February 2001. Aguilera is nominated in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category. AFP PHOTO Lucy NICHOLSON (Photo credit should read LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEXT: 2013 Grammy Awards Red Carpet

  • Jennifer Lopez in Anthony Vaccarello

  • Taylor Swift in J. Mendel

  • Beyonce in Osman

  • Katy Perry in Gucci

  • Rihanna in Alaia

  • Carrie Underwood in Roberto Cavalli

  • Adele

  • Nicole Kidman in Vera Wang

  • Justin Timberlake in Tom Ford

  • Alicia Keys in Azzedine Alaia

  • Janelle Monae

  • Allison Williams in KAUFMANFRANCO

  • Carly Rae Jepsen in Roberto Cavalli

  • Ashanti

  • Natasha Bedingfield

  • Gotye

  • Esperanza Spalding

  • Florence Welch in Givenchy

  • Quincy Jones & John Mayer

  • Chrissy Teigen in Joy Cioci