Friday, February 8, 2008

Grammy Out of Control

Ah...the Grammy Awards. The "Oscars" of the music industry. And just like the Oscars, it is a night that should mean nothing to anyone except the artists; but seems to mean plenty to us music geeks. The airs this Sunday night, and at this point I think I only watch it out of some weird mental obligation. I think I have watched every Grammy Awards show since I was 6 years old. I was there when "I Write the Songs" by Barry Manilow won Song of the Year. I remember the excitement in the air when "Starland Vocal Band" won Best New Artist. Who can forget Christopher Cross owning the 1980 ceremonies (Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist)?! It sure has been great to watch how he's developed as an artist all these years. Of course, the most famous Grammy snafu was Jethro (flute solos) Tull beating out Metallica for Best Heavy Metal Artist in 1989. It was truly a "WTF" moment in Grammy history. Seeing how these awards are supposedly voted on by artists and producers in the record industry, it is always mind-boggling how wrong some the choices can be. For example, this year a Joni Mitchell tribute album is nominated for Album of the Year. Well...Joni actually released her OWN stellar album this year folks!

Because I am older now and no longer pay very close attention to what is "hip" or popular in the music industry (such as it is these days), I'm probably not the most qualified to comment on what should or shouldn't win. But because it's February and I have Grammy Fever, I'll will try anyway. Here are some of the major categories.

Record of the Year
Irreplaceable - Beyoncé
The Pretender - Foo Fighters
Umbrella - Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z
What Goes Around...Comes Around - Justin Timberlake
Rehab - Amy Winehouse

Trying to gage the pulse of the voters, I would say this will go to either Rihanna or Beyonce. Apparently, those songs are everywhere and the masses love them. I just listened to them for the first time and if these are what pass for great songs these days, I'm glad I don't pay attention. The Foo Fighters make nice, pleasant rock and roll and I'm glad there are still bands out there doing what they do, but best Record of the Year? No way. Justin Timberlake is one talented dude, seems to be Grammy Approved, and the song isn't half bad so it has a strong chance. My personal vote would go to Amy Winehouse. I thought her album was totally original and "Rehab" is catchy as hell. The problem for her of course is her widely publicized drug use. "Rehab" may be the most ironic song since "Hell Bent for Leather". I'm thinking the Grammy's and network TV will want to stay far away from Amy this year and that is a huge shame because she deserves some awards. The fact that she couldn't get a visa to attend the show in person may be another nail in the coffin.

Album of the Year
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace-Foo Fighters
These Days-Vince Gill
River: The Joni Letters-Herbie Hancock
Graduation-Kanye West
Back To Black-Amy Winehouse

Unless I am completely wrong on the Amy Winehouse backlash, this goes to Kanye West for sure. He is well respected in the industry and the album is really good. Vince Gill should be in the country category, Foo Fighters are not that good, and no one has ever heard of that "Joni Letters" cd.

Song of the Year
Before He Cheats-Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
Hey There Delilah-Tom Higgenson, songwriter (Plain White T's)
Like A Star-Corinne Bailey Rae, songwriter (Corinne Bailey Rae)
Rehab-Amy Winehouse, songwriter (Amy Winehouse)
Umbrella-Shawn Carter, Kuk Harrell, Terius "Dream" Nash & Christopher Stewart,songwriters (Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z)

This is a writer's award. My pick is "Like a Star", hands down. It has nice, uplifting lyrics and a great neo-soul vibe that sounds classic on first listen. "Before He Cheats" is awful country-pop schlock, "Hey There Delilah" is awful teenybopper pop-rock schlock, "Rehab" is too ironic and will bring unwanted attention to Amy's drug use, and "Umbrella" just plain sucks.

Best New Artist
Taylor Swift
Amy Winehouse

This is the one award I am positive Amy Winehouse will win. Of course, this is always the award the Grammy's seem to F-up the most so who knows. Feist would be another nice choice but Winehouse deserves this one.

OK, did you guys know there are over 100 crazy Grammy categories these days (like Best Urban/Alternative Performance)?! I don't have that much free time to go through them all so let's get to the ones I actually know somthing about....

Best Pop Vocal Album

Lost Highway-Bon Jovi
The Reminder-Feist
It Won't Be Soon Before Long-Maroon 5
Memory Almost Full-Paul McCartney
Back To Black-Amy Winehouse

I don't know what the hell a Pop Vocal album is, but if Paul McCartney doesn't win; it will be criminal:
1. Because he is Paul Freaking McCartney
2. The album blows away the other choices.

Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
It's Not Over-Daughtry
Working Class Hero-Green Day
If Everyone Cared-Nickelback
Instant Karma-U2
Icky Thump-The White Stripes

Every year I am convinced that certain artists are nominated just in the hopes that they will show up to the ceremony. These nominees prove it. You're telling me there were no better rock songs released this year then 2 lame ass John Lennon remakes by Green Day and U2?? I bet Green Day wins this because they are good for ratings. My personal vote is for The White Stripes because that song (and album) rocked my world and they are 100% more original then anything else here. Nickleback? Daughtry? Paaaleeze!

Best Rock Song
Come On-Lucinda Williams, songwriter (Lucinda Williams)
Icky Thump-Jack White, songwriter (The White Stripes)
It's Not Over-Chris Daughtry, Gregg Wattenberg, Mark Wilkerson & Brett Young, songwriters (Daughtry)
The Pretender-Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel & Chris Shiflett, songwriters (FooFighters)
Radio Nowhere-Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen)

This is another one for the songwriters. The strangest thing to me on this list is "Come On" by Lucinda Williams. Not because I don't think the songs rocks, not because it has the "F" word in it, but because it actually is a great choice that shows that some thought went into picking it. I think this one will go to Bruce Springsteen because they will want to get him on stage and because it is a perfectly written rock song. If anyone else wins this one, I will eat my CD copy of "Magic".

Best Rock Album
Revival-John Fogerty
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace-Foo Fighters
Magic-Bruce Springsteen
Sky Blue Sky-Wilco

The Grammys ALWAYS vote people in who have been forgotten in past ceremonies. They also seem to vote them in for what usually is not their best work (think "Tears in Heaven-Eric Clapton). John Fogerty will win this category for this exact reason. I don't think John Fogerty has ever won a Grammy before. Look, I love Fogerty and he deserves anything they want to give him, but "Revival" is far from his best. In my opinion, Wilco made the album of the year and deserves this. Problem is, no one outside of music hipsters know who they are. I give the grammys mega-kudos for nominating them in the first place. Springsteen's "Magic" was good and all, but not Best-of material by any standards. This one will be Fogerty's.

Best Alternative Music Album
Alright, Still...-Lily Allen
Neon Bible-Arcade Fire
Wincing The Night Away-The Shins
Icky Thump-The White Stripes

This is a real tough one for me. All 5 artists are great and made good discs this year; although I have no idea why Lily Allen is considered Alternative. My personal favorite in the list is The White Stripes "Icky Thump", but Arcade Fire is the big buzz band these days so the award will go to them. Either way will make me happy as both bands are two of my favorites.

Best Traditional Folk Album
Try Me One More Time-David Bromberg
Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John-Peter Case
Banjo Talkin'-Cathy Fink
Dirt Farmer-Levon Helm
Charlie Louvin-Charlie Louvin

OK, I will admit to not hearing the other four releases but if Levon Helm doesn't win this one it will be a damn crime. Levon's album was in my top 5 of 2007 and it is just a magical thing to listen to. Just for his past work in The Band alone he should win, but "Dirt Farmer" truly deserves it on it's own merits. Look for a future Blog post here praising it in full....

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
The Calling-Mary Chapin Carpenter
My Name Is Buddy-Ry Cooder
Washington Square Serenade-Steve Earle
Children Running Through-Patty Griffin
Orphans-Tom Waits

Although I have no freaking idea what this category means exactly, in previous years it has provided some of the best nominees of the entire show. Of course, they don't broadcast this one on TV. It's hard for me to pick this one because I think Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, and Tom Waits all deserve it. My personal choice is Tom Waits because it was 3 CD's of all unreleased materiel and it was all amazing. However, I think Waits' material is too bizarre for the Grammy voters so I'm going out on a limb and picking Patty Griffin to win.

Well, since I admittedly know nothing anymore about Rap, Jazz, Gospal, or Classical; I am calling this quits. Enjoy the show on Sunday if you choose to endure it. Usually there are at least 2 or 3 performances worth checking out and it is always entertaining to listen to everyone thank God. God must get really tired of all the rap artists blaming him (her) for their talents.....

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