01/24/2014 05:06 EST | Updated 03/27/2014 05:59 EDT

Grammys Ready To Award Year's Best Music

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The Grammy Award statue (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage for NARAS) *** Local Caption ***

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

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.

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