A Mixed Bag: The Grammy 2012 Nominations
I feel very passionately about the Grammys. So much so that I’m going to write a cliché column on the nominations that were just announced. Sure, it’s easy to criticize the Grammys and I’m gonna have a lot of fun doing it shortly. But it is the biggest award ceremony for rock music period. It has been and it always will be. Because of that, it will always be important. Even if they nominate Justin Bieber for Song Of The Year for the next five years, they will still be important. But the Grammys always deliver in certain things. From winners to performers, it seems we always get the moments we forget as soon as it goes to commercial, the moments we wish we could forget, the moments that make absolutely no sense, and the moments we will never forget. It’s a real mixed bag every year.
Let’s take last year’s. For the moments we quickly forget, we could go with Mick Jagger’s tribute to Solomon Burke or that Train won an award for a live version of “Hey Soul Sister” (because the live version’s the only one we haven’t heard a million times). The moments we wish we could forget would be Lady Antebellum taking practically every award (over Empire State Of Mind & Forget You mind you) and probably the horrendous tribute to Aretha Franklin that made me mute my TV by the end. The head-scratchers would go to Cee-Lo’s outlandish tribute to Elton John (I’d have to say the Queen of Rock’s outfit was more tasteful) and Esperanza Spalding winning Best New Artist over Justin Bieber, Drake, & Florence + The Machine. And for those moments you’ll never forget…man, I remember Bruno Mars & B.o.B. performing and thinking it was pretty damn good. But Janelle Monae, someone I bet only 10% of people in that building had heard of before, went on right after and completely stole the show. When was the last time a female R&B singer did a stage dive? Just spectacular. And of course, Arcade Fire winning Album Of The Year. I don’t even know what was better: the band’s genuine surprise or Barbra Streisand’s severe disbelief. See right there, moments from one extreme to the other.
So the Grammy nominations have been announced for this year. Again, it’s a mixed bag yet again and I’m sure the actual ceremony will be even more so. They’ve whittled down the awards by about 30 or so (they could have easily cut another 10-20 though). They’ve also seem to follow the trend of supporting Indie & smaller artists with Bon Iver getting some big recognition. Below, I’ll share my thoughts for you on some of the awards. What’s been nominated, what should have been nominated, what should win, and what will probably win. It’s my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people out their share the same one…
Best Rap Album
Watch the Throne — Kanye West and Jay-Z
Tha Carter IV — Lil Wayne
Lasers — Lupe Fiasco
Pink Friday — Nicki Minaj
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — Kanye West
This one was terribly predictable. I think someone who doesn’t even listen to rap music could have picked out most of albums that would have been nominated just by looking at a random list of rap albums from this past year. For as progressive as the nominations are getting in other categories, the Rap field needs to catch up. There are great rap artists out there who won’t get played on the radio and be in every commercial possible. Look no further than Tyler, The Creator. Say what you want about him or Odd Future, but he has a legitimate following and has the critical acclaim to back up his work. The fact that Goblin or anything from it was not nominated at all is an embarrassment to the Rap category. End of conversation.
Who Should Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — Kanye West
I actually really dislike this album and really disagree with the praise Kanye got for it. I just don’t buy into it. However, I will say that for the amount of praise that this album got, it would be very, very difficult to imagine another album more deserving.
Who Will Probably Win: Watch the Throne — Kanye West and Jay-Z
Kanye has actually faired pretty well at the Grammys, but that was with albums of a completely different nature than his last solo one. Even more, Kanye’s reputation has only spiraled further down in the past few years despite his attempts at rehabilitation. Given the chance, I think voters will choose this over the solo release in a heartbeat. It’s not like it’s a bad pick either, but might fall flat in a few years when judging the albums side by side.
Best Alternative Music Album
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Codes And Keys – Death Cab For Cutie
Torches – Foster The People
Circuital – My Morning Jacket
The King Of Limbs – Radiohead
I should mention there is only ONE alternative award and you’re looking at it. Also, Foster The People were nominated for a POP award as well for a song from their album and Radiohead were nominated for a ROCK song from their album. I’m actually ok with the nominations here though. It seems like a good mix and the only one I’ll say looks odd is Death Cab For Cutie’s nomination. It’s a good album, but one of the top 5 in the Alternative (whatever that is) field? There’s got to be better. Unfortunately, I don’t know what because the definition is very loose as seen here. I could add Cults or Fleet Foxes or The Decemberists, but again, what’s the definition?
Who Should Win: Bon Iver – Bon Iver
This is the best album of the year hands down and it’s pretty much a travesty it wasn’t nominated for Album Of The Year. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to the album, please do so. I can’t imagine people listening to this album and not enjoying it.
Who Will Probably Win: The King Of Limbs – Radiohead
They have a very pretty good lock on Alternative awards. OK Computer, Kid A, & In Rainbows all won. I see no reason for this one to win especially considering it was better than In Rainbows in my opinion. I really can’t see anyone else besides Radiohead or Bon Iver winning this award.
Best Rock Song & Best Rock Performance
“Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” – Coldplay
“Down By The Water” – The Decemberists
“Walk” – Foo Fighters
“The Cave” – Mumford & Sons
“Lotus Flower” – Radiohead
Ok really? If all five are going to be nominated, why have separate categories? I know there’s a slight difference between the actual recording and the merits of the actual song (see the Record vs. Song Of The Year debate), but in a secondary award like this, why split it up if the nominations are the exact same? Anyway, this is actually a pretty good list I feel. I do think it’s strange that The Decemberists didn’t get nominated for a Folk or Americana award. With the record they released, it seems like it’d be right up there. We already discussed Radiohead’s “alternative” status so no need to vent more there. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any song that was blatantly overlooked for this category.
Who Should Win: “Walk” – Foo Fighters
I actually find this song to be the best of the bunch. They all come pretty close (even Coldplay), but I really enjoy “Walk.” It’s a great song, has some great build-up, and the bridge section is pretty incredible. It’s a tough call to make, but I do feel it’s the best here.
Who Will Probably Win: “Walk” – Foo Fighters
Decemberists & Radiohead have no chance I’m afraid. Coldplay and Mumford & Sons have a very strong chance, but I think Foo Fighters will come out on top here. Push comes to shove, I think the voters would vote for Foo Fighters over Coldplay and for “Walk” over “The Cave.” I could be wrong though…
Best Rock Album
Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul – Jeff Beck
Wasting Light – Foo Fighters
Come Around Sundown – Kings Of Leon
I’m With You – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Whole Love – Wilco
This one’s pretty much the standard for a Rock category. Random rock legend’s submission, some stalwarts of rock, and an odd choice. I find Wilco to be the odd choice here. It’s probably the least ROCK of these albums though still a very good album. Again, I’d like to throw out what’s missing here, but what differentiates the Alternative from the Rock? The new RHCP album is pretty Alternative and they (along with Foo Fighters) are a band that’s basically been pointed to as an example of Alternative for the past twenty years. Who knows?
Who Should Win: Wasting Light – Foo Fighters
Seriously, if you’re gonna be nominated for Album Of The Year, there is no reason you should lose Rock Album to albums that weren’t nominated for the former. It’s not a bad album either though I prefer the Peppers. Regular readers of this website will not be surprised, but I do feel they deserve it. Last time RHCP lost Frusciante, it resulted in One Hot Minute. That wasn’t a bad record per se, but sounded almost nothing like a Chili Peppers record and not in a good way. This time, they have Klinghoffer, basically a Frusciante clone (similar to how Frusciante was originally a Slovak clone). Most of the songs still sound like the Peppers, but the ones that don’t at least have merit this go-round. On another note, Kings Of Leon’s album last year was very good and insanely underrated. Even more so, I’m surprised the band hasn’t released “Mary” from that album as a single. I could see it being close to the level of “Use Somebody” and would be very surprised if it didn’t at least surpass “Sex On Fire” in popularity.
Who Will Probably Win: Wasting Light – Foo Fighters
I’d say Foo Fighters & RHCP have about an equal chance normally, but with the acclaim the Foo Fighters’ album has gotten versus the Peppers’, I think the edge would go to the Foos. I’d be very surprised if neither of these bands win though I wouldn’t put it past the Grammys to throw us a curveball and have Jeff Beck win.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Body And Soul” – Tony Bennett Featuring Amy Winehouse
“Dearest” – The Black Keys
“Paradise” – Coldplay
“Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People
“Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5 Featuring Christina Aguilera
So Coldplay is Rock & Pop? I fail to see how “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” is rock, but “Paradise” is pop? They aren’t drastically different songs, people. And then we have “Pumped Up Kicks” which I can see being a poppy song, but is it pop or alternative? MAKE UP YOUR MIND! Then we have perhaps the worst song of the year, “Moves Like Jagger,” nominated. Count on the pop awards for those songs that should have been cut before the album was mixed, let alone released as a single. Even though it’s for a Buddy Holly cover, I think it’s insanely surreal to see The Black Keys nominated in the Pop category. Weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, WEIRD!
Who Should Win: “Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People
This really has everything a pop song should. Weird lyrics & subject matter, catchy tune, & overplayed beyond imagination. I’m actually surprised this song wasn’t nominated for Song or Record Of The Year.
Who Will Probably Win: “Body And Soul” – Tony Bennett Featuring Amy Winehouse
I’m a cynic, but if she was alive, would this really have gotten nominated? It’s not the first time this has happened either. Was Genius Loves Company really better than The College Dropout and American Idiot or were we just a little sad to lose Ray Charles? Plus, with the way the Grammys like to schedule performances, it’s a no-brainer they’ll do an Amy Winehouse tribute followed by this award.
Best Pop Solo Performance
“Someone Like You” – Adele
“You & I” – Lady Gaga
“Firework” – Katy Perry
“Grenade” – Bruno Mars
“F**kin’ Perfect” – P!nk
About what you’d expect again. I’m surprised that “Firework” is the song that gets nominated by Katy Perry over “E.T.” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” both of which are obviously better songs. It’s also weird that “Rolling In The Deep” is nominated for both Song & Record of the year, but not this award? I don’t really understand why they split the songs up here either except maybe to open it up more. I’m beyond happy that “Born This Way” didn’t get nominated, but “The Edge Of Glory” might be a better pick than “You And I.” “Grenade” is not that bad of a pick and I’m just apathetic on Pink. She has an amazing voice, but she makes some pretty awful music.
Who Should Win: “Someone Like You” – Adele
Really, Adele should not lose one damn award at this ceremony. She has overwhelming critical acclaim and overwhelming commercial success. No one else this year comes even close to that accomplishment.
Who Will Probably Win: “You And I” – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga had a big year too and proved she has a lot to offer. They might have avoided nominating “Rolling In The Deep” to give Gaga a chance here as well. It’s not a bad song and is clearly number two, but seriously, who should beat Adele? Answer: not one damn person.
Best New Artist
The Band Perry
Bon Iver as best new artist? Does For Emma, Forever Ago not exist? The official wording for the award is “For a new artist who releases, during the eligibility year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.” The eligibility year, for your information, is October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011. I could understand this if your first and second releases aren’t that big, but Bon Iver got heavy acclaim in 2007 (for the self-release) & 2008 (label release). It was even ranked high in End Of Decade polls for most publications. What’s getting overlooked here though is that Nicki Minaj won this same award at the B.E.T. Awards in 2009. 2009! Sure, it’s the B.E.T. Awards, way lower on the totem pole than the Grammy. But that’s a 2 year difference. That’s pretty damn embarrassing in my opinion. The other three nominations seem legit as they became prominent in the past year, but for Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver? What’s the reasoning?
Even more so, where the hell is Foster The People? Who the hell heard of them before October 1st last year? This is a band you nominated for two awards, but you fail to realize that they are far, far, far newer than Bon Iver and Nicki Minaj. I can understand them leaving out The Vaccines given how their success is mostly based in the UK, but there are other bands that have debuted in that period that could have replaced the “old” two. Cults and The Head And The Heart come instantly to mind and I’m sure there are countless more.
Who Should Win: Skrillex
He is the best new artist in my opinion.
Who Will Probably Win: Nicki Minaj
I could see the Bon Iver backlash prevent Justin Vernon from winning this award. I don’t think he’ll care too much – I almost want him to win so he can acknowledge his first album came out in 2008 on live TV. Nicki Minaj seems a lock no matter what though.
Song & Record Of The Year
“All Of The Lights” – Kanye West (Song)
“Firework” – Katy Perry (Record)
“The Cave” – Mumford & Sons (Both)
“Grenade” – Bruno Mars (Both)
“Holocene” – Bon Iver (Both)
“Rolling in the Deep” – Adele (Both)
I know the difference between Song & Record Of The Year, but I really think the Grammys are close-minded by not combining the two awards. Tradition & the heritage is a very important reason not to, but every year, the question basically has to be answered as to what is the difference. Plus, only one song is different in each category. What’s the real point? I’m very surprised that “Pumped Up Kicks” didn’t get nominated for either and a little surprised that “Walk” didn’t either. I’m not heartbroken neither isn’t nominated, but it is a little weird especially for a song like “Pumped Up Kicks.”
Who Should Win: “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
“Holocene” is a work of art, but as I said earlier, there is no reason Adele should lose any category. Yes, the song is ridiculously overplayed, but it’s still an amazing song. It’s not like “Hey Soul Sister.” That was a decent song that on the 100th listen became now unbearable. No, “Rolling In The Deep” is spectacular and on the 100th listen is still damn great. Not many people can make a song last 100 listens and still be fresh & enjoyable. Adele did. Give her the damn awards. Both. Stat.
Who Will Probably Win: “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
I just can’t imagine voters being that naive or close-minded. Bon Iver has no chance in hell, but if anyone else wins besides Adele or Bon Iver, it will be a complete and utter joke.
Album Of The Year
21 – Adele
Wasting Light – Foo Fighters
Born This Way – Lady Gaga
Doo-Wops & Hooligans – Bruno Mars
Loud – Rihanna
Bon Iver got screwed here honestly. No chance he has against “Rolling In The Deep” in the previous two categories, but if Arcade Fire won, there is definitely a case for Bon Iver to win here. Others got screwed too. Seriously, Doo-Wops & Hooligans & Loud? I understand you have to put high-selling albums on here (although Tha Carter IV is absent), but you don’t need both when you have 21 already. However, all the other great albums from the year were from smaller artists though and if Bon Iver didn’t make it, what hope do they have?
Who Should Win: 21 – Adele
No one had a better album in this group & no one sold more albums. End of discussion. Even if Bon Iver was nominated, I would still stick by this. It’s rare that a great album gets such big success in acclaim & sales and its songs do equally well. The fact that “Someone Like You” has charted very well only shows you that it wasn’t a random occurrence for “Rolling In The Deep” to get so big.
Who Will Probably Win: 21 – Adele
They can’t possibly be that dumb to give it to someone besides Adele. Of course by saying that, I might have guaranteed that Bruno Mars will win.
Like I said in the beginning, the Grammys are a mixed bag and the nominations for this year prove just that. I will say that these Grammys have a chance of restoring some true value to the award. Adele going home with all the awards she was nominated for (maybe save one) would be a big moment for music especially considering that Adele does not fit what our “American Idol” culture deems a singer should look like. The performances will not be announced for probably another month at least, but they have a chance to make a big impact with that too. Having Bon Iver perform would do wonders for opening up smaller bands to bigger audiences. With all the potential though, we know how it will end. Some big praise and some heavy complaints. All in all, the Grammys are a mixed bag. It’s been that way for a long time and there’s no reason to believe it will change now. Still worth watching though. You never know when you’ll get another Arcade Fire or ODB moment.