Taylor Swift doesn't think the Recording Academy is mean. Though she won the Grammy for album of the year in 2010, she's not sad her latest multiplatinum effort isn't up for the honor this time around.
"I got three nominations. I was just so excited," she said Friday, before she was honored as Billboard's "Woman of the Year."
Among the Swift achievements that led to her Billboard honor was the best-selling performance of her third album "Speak Now," which has sold more than 3.7 million copies and generated hits like "Mine" and "Mean."
There was some surprise when the critically acclaimed album wasn't among the overall best album nominees when the Grammy nominations were revealed Wednesday, but Swift says she's excited by her nominations, which include best country album and two for "Mean," in which she answers her critics and challenges bullies.
"That song is so personal, and I'm so glad that the Grammys recognized it," she said on the red carpet ahead of the event.
Swift got a standing ovation as she accepted her honor. Swift recalled reading Billboard as a teen, pouring over its pages and hoping one day to see her name in the trade magazine.
"I got here today and there were all these flashing camera bulbs ... I got to the table, and I saw the magazine on the chair and it had me on it," she said. "All the daydreams I had as a little kid, I guess this is what it looked like."
One of the country singer's favorite artists, Nicki Minaj, was also honored at the event as Billboard's "Rising Star."
Like Swift, Minaj was rocking blonde bangs.
"This is my Taylor Swift look," Minaj joked.
But the rapper and singer got teary-eyed at the event when Minaj received her honor. She's costarred on dozens of hit songs in the last two years, and her debut CD, "Pink Friday," has sold more than 1.6 million copies in the United States. Minaj is nominated for four Grammys, including best new artist, pitting her against the Band Perry, Bon Iver, Skrillex and J. Cole.
"I don't ever expect to win those kinds of things, but it's good to be recognized and it's good for girls to see that you can do whatever kind of music that you want to do," Minaj said on the red carpet.
Minaj is also up for best rap album, where she'll face her mentor, Lil Wayne, as well as Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lupe Fiasco. She says she's diligent, and that lethargic people annoy her.
"I always say hard work pays off. Don't be lazy. I am racist against lazy people. I wish they would not exist in this world," she said.
Minaj, known for her outrageous and colorful fashion style, says she's learning to "trust my first instinct." The 28-year-old says proof of that will show on her upcoming album, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," due out on Valentine's Day.
"Things are happening so much easier for me now because I was over-thinking on the first album. I was trying to give people what I thought they needed, and what I needed my reputation to be," she said. "And now it's like, 'I don't care what you think. I'm going to do what I wanna do for my core fans and if you like it, you like it. If you don't, bye!'"
AP Music Editor Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.
Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/musicmesfin