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Public awareness and popularity of 2014 Grammy Award music nominees

How many live concerts did Bayou City music lovers attend in 2013? Who do you think will win this year’s Grammys? Houston music lovers have plenty of great venues for live music, from the Mitchell Pavillion in the Woodlands to Reliant Center, to Dosey Doe and the Toyota Center. Every music lover will be watching the Grammys to see how their favorite music artists and bands fare amid wide-ranging competition.

Musicians who have entertained SRO crowds in Houston are nominated for the 2014 Grammy Awards. Of course Beyonce is from Houston, started with Destiny's Child.
Musicians who have entertained SRO crowds in Houston are nominated for the 2014 Grammy Awards. Of course Beyonce is from Houston, started with Destiny's Child.
Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images
Grammy nominee Bruno Mars has a 72% public awareness according to Repucom's Celebrity DBI.
Grammy nominee Bruno Mars has a 72% public awareness according to Repucom's Celebrity DBI.
Ian Gavan, Getty Images for MTC

Who do you think is more popular: Houston’s own Beyonce and her husband, Jay Z, compared to Tim McGraw and Alicia Keys? Are you sure?

On Jan. 22, in an exclusive interview for examiner.com, Kathy Gardner, Global Head of DBI for Repucom, explained the science behind the Celebrity DBI, “an independent index that quantifies and qualifies consumer perceptions of celebrities.”

Since 2006, Repucom has monitored popularity of music, television, and sports celebrities on The Celebrity DBI, “the industry standard for celebrity evaluation, in partnership with The Marketing Arm, a marketing and promotions agency.” “The DBI shows just how likeable your favorite musicians are in eight major criteria,” Gardner explained. “What we measure are the key variables: awareness, appeal, aspiration, breakthrough, endorsement, influence, trend-setter, and trust.”

On Sun., Jan. 26, 2014, the 56th Annual Grammy Awards will reward artists perceived as “the best of the best.” Of all those nominated this year, how do you personally perceive these stars? Are they likeable or do you just know their names? If they’ve performed in Houston, you’re much more likely to know their names, but do you buy (download) their music, and most importantly, would you go see them again? If they endorsed a product, would you buy it because of their name-branding endorsement?

Who do you think are the three most influential singers across the general public today? Kathy Gardner said, “Blake Shelton, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry carry the most influence among the general public today.” She said, “this may be surprising, but 87% of Americans know who Kelly Clarkson is, the same as NBA superstar LeBron James and more than Katie Holmes.” Interesting.

Gardner said, “Country stars are the most trustworthy of the Grammy group, with Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw topping the list.” That makes sense, because the country music genre is close to synonymous with down-home values, love of simple, traditional values, Mom, apple pie, and maybe a few tunes about trains and even some Folsom Prison blues. And, there’s value in crossover popularity in cases where Darius Rucker was once best known as the lead singer for the band Hootie and the Blowfish. Or when Blake Shelton records, tours, produces and stars on NBC’s “The Voice.” Blake is actually “everywhere” from Christmas specials to signing prospective stars to record deals.

Taylor Swift “is considered a bigger trend-setter than Justin Timberlake,” said Gardner. It makes sense, then, for Coca-Cola’s wise move to put Taylor Swift’s face on a special run of Diet Coke cans, which are displayed prominently in grocery stores, even your local Walgreen’s.

It’s ironic, but not surprising, but “Kanye West is considered the least trustworthy of the nominees.” Well, it could have something to do with his unfortunate incident, ruining Taylor Swift’s big moment at the VMA Awards five long years ago. The public has a long memory. In fact, Repucom’s Celebrity DBI shows that “Kanye West rounds out the bottom on other metrics as well.” When you lose the trust of the public, there’s nowhere to run or hide.

Which musicians benefit most from public awareness and confidence? Gardner said, “The top-ranking musician endorsers today are Blake Shelton, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Darius Rucker and Alicia Keys.”

When the public has your back, it often stays that way. Even though Repucom monitors weekly metrics across celebrities, most music fans stay true to their favorites, barring unforeseen acts or quotes of stupidity.

In fact, just three months ago, Blake Shelton was rated the “most effective celebrity endorser,” right before the CMA Awards, in a story Randy Lewis wrote for the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 6, 2013. As it turns out Shelton was awarded the CMA Entertainer of the Year. Three months later, Shelton tops the leaderboard again, reported as “89% of Americans report liking him, the most likeable among all Grammy nominees,” said Gardner.

Now, Shelton’s had an advantage in public awareness, having mentored three winners of “The Voice” (until this year when Adam Levine beat him out). Shelton has made millions of new fans and friends from those who tune into see him on television just talking and wisecracking, rather than actually singing. Multimedia presence and exposure just means higher ratings and more endorsements in a seemingly endless upward spiral.

Now, a test. Who would you expect to be among the least likeable among the Grammy nominees?

Turns out “Robin Thicke, Rihanna, Jay Z, Eminem and Kanye West.” Actually, 19% of the Repucom survey group said “they disliked Kanye a lot.” Thinking about it, the moment you think “Robin Thicke,” you think Miley and twerking—thumbs down. Thicke has lost substantive headway in terms of his likeability. Gardner says, “Robin’s appeal score in 2009 was 71.61; today it’s 62.51.”

Eminem is always apologizing for something it seems, and well, Kanye just needs to reinvent himself and start from zero and work it out.

Gardner says, “There’s a difference between the scores of Mr. and Mrs. Carter and the numbers tell the story.” Jay Z, well, “Saturday Night Live” has made fun of him. Beyonce has a 93% awareness score compared to Jay Z’s 75%; her appeal is 73.47 to his 60.43, her influence is 76.98 to his 69.54 and her trust is 63.71, to his 56.65,” says Gardner. Interestingly, Tim McGraw, Gardner said, “earns a comparable influence score to Jay Z, but Alicia Keys’ score is higher.”

Even though Keys sang “You Don’t Know My Name,” it was just a song, because people indeed do know her name. She is definitely still a “Girl on Fire.”

Who are your choices for Grammy winners this year? The following list, taken from Repucon’s Celebrity DBI is an interesting indicator of a statistically useful “group opinion” reputation.

Full list of awareness levels in the United States:

Name, Awareness Levels

Justin Timberlake 93%
Taylor Swift 92%
Rihanna 89%
Kelly Clarkson 87%
Tim McGraw 87%
Eminem 86%
Alicia Keys 85%
Katy Perry 83%
Kanye West 79%
David Bowie 78%
Jay Z 75%
Pink 73%
Bruno Mars 72%
Robin Thicke 71%
Blake Shelton 66%
Miranda Lambert 54%
Darius Rucker 50%
Kings of Leon 49%
Drake 47%
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis 46%
Pharrell Williams 33%
Lorde 33%
Daft Punk 31%
Jason Aldean 30%
James Blake 26%
Kacey Musgraves 17%
Little Big Town 14%

Corporations rely on metrics that are Repucom’s forte—when it comes to Justin Bieber and the news today of his arrest for reportedly DUI and drag racing, it will be interesting to see how many businesses choose to really go out on a limb (in weeks to come) to unconditionally “stand by their man.” In fact, one has already been quick to stick up for him. TMZ Sports reported on Jan. 23, that despite news of Justin Bieber’s arrest today, sports brand Adidas told TMZ, of their 2012 deal with the superstar, “He's still wearing our kicks.”

At first blush, it might be that it appears Adidas execs have confidence in their man-child’s pulling power to sell sneakers (true, he hasn’t worn anything else in years). Chances are good Justin wouldn’t know a Hush Puppy from a Ferragamo or a Tanino Crisci. On the other hand, their deal with Bieber actually isn’t even two years old yet, and they don’t want to be stuck with a lot of Justin’s “Neos,” running straight to the closeout clearance bin either. Justin’s ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez, is also on the Adidas team with her own Adidas skirt and Selena Gomez V Racer shoes.

When you watch Sunday night’s Grammy’s broadcast, will the Record of the Year go to Daft Punk (31%), Imagine Dragons, Lorde (33%), Bruno Mars (72%), or Robin Thicke (71%), featuring T.I. and Pharrell (33%)? It’s a close contest when you look at Mars and Thicke, but Bruno doesn’t twerk, so he could possibly have a slight edge, or not.

Who will win Song of the Year? Pink’s (73%) “Just Give Me a Reason,” Bruno Mars’ (72%) “Locked Out of Heaven,” Katy Perry’s (83%)“Roar,” Lorde’s (33%) “Royals,” or Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (46%) (featuring Mary Lambert)’s “Same Love”? The correlation between awareness and “Song of the Year” will be interesting.

The relevance of the Celebrity DBI, then, is even more important as a weekly metric that truly encompasses emotions, which run high when it comes to music. The Grammy Awards will be broadcast live this Sunday, on CBS beginning at 7:00 p.m. CST. Rapper/actor LL Cool J will host and actress/musician Pauley Perrette is handling pre-show social media for CBS. Follow Perrette on Twitter now (she has 540,285 followers), because she’s in the Green room, and with stars as they rehearse and do sound checks.

And on Sunday night, check out your list of favorites, look at the Repucom DBI and see what the numbers had to say, before the awards were announced. Whose choices were more accurate predictors? Time will show.