Grammy nominations: thoughts…

I love the Grammy’s – its the only kind of award that I find still kind-of relevant. I’m a big fan of music, so I enjoy seeing different artists compete for a trophy. Because I don’t have a TV, nor do I listen to a lot of current stuff, though a lot of what’s being nominated I often tend to not recognize. Still, if there is a contemporary artist that has made a mark in my life (i.e. Amy Winehouse, Adele) then I’ll take notice.

The Grammy (I still don’t know what the proper plural form of Grammy is: Grammy’s, Grammys, Grammies?) is also going through some big changes this year in that the committe in charge streamlined and cut out a lot of esoteric categories (i.e. Best Hawaiian Folk, Best Polka) and it has combined male and female categories so that men and women compete with each other for the prizes. The gender-lumping isn’t something unprecedented in the Grammy history: when categories began to strain to include women nominees, like rap or rock, the Grammy folks would just junk the best female rap or best female rock awards and throw everybody in together.

So, here are a list of the nominees, plus my thoughts – I’ll include some artists that I think should’ve been nominated if they’ve been snubbed. Please include your thoughts as well. Also, I’m only going over the nominations that I’m familar with and music that I actually know, so this isn’t a definitive list.

Record of the Year:
Rolling in the Deep,” Adele
Holocene,” Bon Iver
Grenade,” Bruno Mars
The Cave,” Mumford & Sons
Firework,” Katy Perry

Have to be honest, I’ve never heard of the folk band Bon Iver, and I’m not super-familiar with Mumford & Sons; the other nominess, though I like. I think “Firework” by Perry’s a bit of a head-scratcher – it’s a good pop song with a nice uplifting message, but I think it’s really a toss-up between Mars and Adele, both mainstream artists who’ve managed to be more interesting than most pop stars today. I am surprised at some ommissions, though: if Perry got a nod, why no Lady Gaga?

Album of the Year
21, Adele
Wasting Light, Foo Fighters
Born This Way, Lady Gaga
Doo-Wops and Hooligans, Bruno Mars
Loud, Rihanna

I think this is essentially a three-way fight between Adele, Mars and the Foo Fighters and my money will probably go with the Foo Fighters – established rock bands often win this award. I don’t think Rihanna’s last record merited a nomination (she’s a singles artist, anways) and Lady Gaga’s nod seems to be more of a recognition of her imact on the industry. I also think Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was unfairly snubbed. Albums don’t  have the same ubiquitousness as they used to (we’ll never have another Thriller), but some unsung glories like Tom Waits’ latest Bad As Me or Wilco’s The Whole Love would’ve been great.

Song of the Year – this category smells awfully like record of the year, except with Song of the Year, we’re looking at the writers getting recognized.
All of the Lights,” Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi, and Fergie
“The Cave,” Mumford & Sons
“Grenade,” Bruno Mars
“Holocene,” Bon Iver
“Rolling in the Deep,” Adele.

Again, repetitive, but I see this being a fight between Adele and Mars – I’d love for West and Co. to win – the song’s fantastic, but rap songs hardly ever win. A quick scan with the Internet showed that Bon Iver’s pretty well-regarded so it might win the award, as well.

Best New Artist
The Band Perry
Bon Iver
J. Cole
Nicki Minaj

I see either Bon Iver or The Band Perry getting this one, though it’d be neat to see Nicki Minaj winning – she’s been one of the more interesting figures to come out of the urban-pop field. Skrillex is an interesting choice for nominee, as usually dance outfits don’t get general nods, but these awards tend to go to either obscure prestige acts or mainstream, feel-good performers, so I’m banking on The Band Perry being victorious.

Best Pop Solo Performance
Someone Like You,” Adele
You and I,” Lady Gaga
“Grenade,” Bruno Mars
F*ckin Perfect,” P!nk

This category can go to anyone – these are pretty consistent choices, which is kind of delightful. I see Adele pulling a Lauryn Hill-Carole King and dominating, but P!nk’s single was pretty fantastic, and she wins her nominations quite often.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Body and Soul,” Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse
Dearest,” The Black Keys
Paradise,” Coldplay
Pumped Up Kicks,” Foster the People
Moves Like Jagger,” Maroon 5, featuring Christina Aguilera

Bennett and Winehouse have this locked – Bennett’s a sentimental favorite, who’s longevity is impressive and Winehouse’s untimely death will make “Body and Soul” a deserved winner. The only spoiler I can see is if Coldplay bests Winehouse/Bennett, as their Grammy voter favorites.

Best Pop Vocal Album – another category that doesn’t make much sense to me as it seems a bit like Album of the Year.
21, Adele
The Lady Killer, Cee Lo Green
Born This Way, Lady Gaga
Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Bruno Mars
Loud, Rihanna

Adele (surprise!) and Mars are the frontrunners for this category, but I’m a bit tickled that Green made the list (he’ll lose because folks will consider him R&B and his momentum cooled since last year). Rihanna may pull an upset, though as said before, Loud was a bit lackluster. I think Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale deserved a nod as did Beyonce’s 4 which may not have been a blockbuster (for her standards), but still more consistent than Rihanna’s entry.

Best Dance Recording
Raise Your Weapon,” Dead Mau5 and Greta Svabo Bech
Barbra Streisand,” Duck Sauce
Sunshine,” David Guetta and Avicii
Call Your Girlfriend,” Robyn
Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” Skrillex
Save the World,” Swedish House Mafia

This is an interesting category because Grammy voters aren’t known to be all that hip, so usually the victors in this category are dance-pop artists (i.e. Donna Summer, Janet Jackson) but this is a great list of nominees. Robyn may be victorious – she’s a minor comeback kid, known by some Trivial Pursuit geeks as a teen-pop star from the mid 90’s. Duck Sauce’s hit “Barbra Streisand” got a lot of press coverage because of its name (and its namesake is a nominee). Guetta also has a great chance of winning: mainstream enough for the voters, but just cool enough to preserve the cred of the category. Again, not happy with the exclusion of Britney Spears. Also, he’s a shit human being, but Chris Brown’s “Beautiful People” was pretty fantastic. Jennifer Lopez’ “What Is Love?” was also a great track as was her comeback hit, “On the Floor,” and either one should’ve gotten a nod.

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Zonoscope, Cut Copy
4X4=12, Deadmau5
Nothing but the Beat, David Guetta
Body Talk Pt. 3, Robyn
Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, Skrillex

This is a neck-in-neck race between Robyn and Guetta – I think the latter will win, as he’s a very popular DJ and has produced a shelf-load of hits.

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Duets II, Tony Bennett
The Gift, Susan Boyle
In Concert on Broadway, Harry Connick, Jr.
Music Is Better Than Words, Seth MacFarlane
What Matters Most, Barbra Streisand

This is the baby boomer category – but Bennett’s got the lock – he’s won like a bajillion awards in this category. His only true competition is Connick who also got a few of these. It’s nice to see Boyle nominated. MacFarlane of Family Guy fame put together a straight-faced collection of pop tunes and his nod is kind of funny. Streisand’s nomination is obligatory, but the record wasn’t all that interesting (her Love Is the Answer from 2009 should’ve won). This should really be called the Tony Bennett Album award.

 Best R&B Performance
Far Away,” Marsha Ambrosius
Not My Daddy,” Kelly Price & Stokely
Pieces of Me,” Ledisi
Is This Love,” Corrine Bailey Rae
You Are,” Charlie Wilson

Let me first say, that I think it’s terrible that the Grammy folks cut the urban/alternative category. The category was a great way to honor black artists who strayed away from traditional or mainstream urban-pop and it’s a shame that they’re being lumped in with mainstream R&B artists. Rant over. This is a great list of artists, each deserving. I think Wilson has a good chance because he’s a legend, but Ambrosius has had a great critical year, but really this category is anyone’s to win. I think Beyonce’s homage to 80’s romantic new-wave “Miss You” should’ve been nominated – it wasn’t a huge hit, but it’s a pretty fantastic song.

Best Traditional R&B Performance
Sometimes I Cry,” Eric Benet
Fool for You,” Cee Lo Green and Melanie Fiona
Radio Message,” R. Kelly
Good Man,” Raphael Saadiq
Surrender,” Betty Wright and the Roots

I see R. Kelly winning this one – he’s popular with voters (despite his legal troubles), even though of late his music’s been kinda quiet. Saadiq is also a cotender as is Wright with the Roots.

Best R&B Song
“Far Away,” Marsha Ambrosius
“Fool for You” Cee Lo Green and Melanie Fiona
“Not My Daddy” Kelly Price and Stokely
“Pieces of Me,” Ledisi
“You Are,” Charlie Wilson

Multiple repeat nominees – again, all great songs, so I’d be happy with any of the wins. Ambrosious’s tune is probably the leader, though again, Wilson (who is listed as a co-writer) could also pull a win. Beyonce’s “Miss You” should’ve been included in this list, though.

Best R&B Album
F.A.M.E., Chris Brown
Second Chance, El DeBarge
Love Letter, R. Kelly
Pieces of Me, Ledisi
Kelly, Kelly Price

Good list of folks – not all terribly deserving, though – Brown’s album had a great dance single, “Beautiful People” that should’v gotten a dance nod, but his album as a whole wasn’t too memorable. Beyonce’s 4 could’ve been included in this lot, as well, if she didn’t get the “pop” nomination. R. Kelly’s probably going to win this one, though DeBarge might pull a comeback win, though his return to music after years of drug abuse and obscurity wasn’t terribly high-profile (nothing like Santana’s comeback).

More to come:

thoughts on the rap, country, spoken word, comedy, musical theater, soundtracks, producer of the year, best remixes and music videos.

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