Saturday, February 9, 2013

THE GRAMMYS: MY TAKE

I love talking about the GRAMMYS; I've written about it often on my blog, talked about it on the radio, and covered the show for VH1 and, this year I'll be covering for Radio.com.  As longtime readers also know, I'm a voter. Except this year, I'm not - I forgot to pay my dues.  Duh! Normally I keep my votes a secret - I know NARAS frowns upon anyone sharing their votes. But since I'm not voting this year, I figured I'd share what my ballot would have looked like (and why). Enjoy, because I'm never forgetting to pay my dues EVER AGAIN.

Record Of The Year
Black Keys - "Lonely Boy"
Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger"
fun. - "We Are Young"
Goyte + Kimbra - "Somebody That I Used To Know"
Frank Ocean - "Thinkin' 'Bout You"
Taylor Swift - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"

Really tough category. The Black Keys are my favorite artist in this category, and I love the way their whole El Camino album sounds. Is a stripped down garage rock sound the work of a great producer?  Well, to be minimal is a production choice, and in their case, it's the right one. I also love Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" - straight up, great pop song. fun. I don't buy into them as much, and I actually think their song "Some Nights" is a better song and a better sounding song than "We Are Young," so that gets eliminated. "Somebody That I Used To Know" is an incredible production. It's like a Peter Gabriel song, it's amazing.  Taylor's song is great, too, and the production made it her biggest hit yet.  Just when you thought she couldn't get any bigger, she got bigger, mostly because of the production on this song.
My Vote: Frank Ocean Like I said, minimalism is a choice, and in the case of this song, it really brought out the heart, and the hurt, in this song.  I don't buy into Frank Ocean the way everyone else does - I think his Channel Orange is a bit overrated - but "Thinkin' 'Bout You" is probably the best song of the year (and I can't believe it wasn't nominated in that category).



Album Of The Year 
Black Keys - El Camino
fun. - Some Nights
Mumford & Sons - Babel
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange 
Jack White - Blunderbuss 

First off, I produced a series of "Inside The Album Of The Year" video packages around these albums. See them all here, or follow the above links. Secondly,  Bruce Springsteen got ripped off. This isn't as egregious as 2007, when Bruce's Magic wasn't nominated, but lesser albums by Vince Gill and Herbie Hancock were.  All of these albums figured heavily into the conversation about pop music this year.  fun. was a huge band this year, but they feel more like a singles band than an album band. As I mentioned, I don't think Frank Ocean's album is a classic, but I'm in the minority there. And I didn't think Mumford & Sons' album held up to the first one.  But whatever.  For me, it breaks down to the Jack White/Black Keys rivalry. Blunderbuss  was my second favorite album of the year, after Bruce's Wrecking Ball. El Camino was my 4th favorite album of 2011 (it came out in December of that year).
My Vote: El Camino by a teeny, tiny margin. It just felt like it was The Black Keys' year.



Song Of The Year
Ed Sheeran - "The A Team"
Miguel - "Adorn"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"
Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger"
fun. - "We Are Young"

Weak category. Frank Ocean's "Thinkin' 'Bout You" should be here, as should Bruce's "We Take Care Of Our Own." I'd easily eliminate Sheeran for being kind of boring, and ditto for fun.. "Call Me Maybe" was kind of the biggest song of the year, but sort of in a novelty way.  I love the version she did with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots.
My Vote: I really like "Stronger," but I think I'd go with "Adorn."



Best New Artist
Alabama Shakes
fun.
The Lumineers
Hunter Hayes
Frank Ocean

There's some good choices here, but if there was a write-in choice, I'd go with Gary Clark Jr. who really is the best new artist.  I also think Michael Kiwanuka should have been nominated.  For me, it's between Alabama Shakes and Frank Ocean.
My Vote: Frank Ocean, just because the Shakes don't have a song as good as "Thinkin' 'Bout You."

Best Pop Solo Performance
Adele - "Set Fire To The Rain (live)"
Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"
Katy Perry - "Wide Awake"
Rihanna - "Where Have You Been"

I love Adele, but I can't stand when a live version of a song gets nominated. Although 2012 seemed to be as much Adele's year as 2011 was, even though she didn't do much.
My Vote: Kelly Clarkson gets this one.


Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes - "Hold On"
Black Keys - "Lonely Boy"
Coldplay - "Charlie Brown"
Mumford & Sons - "I Will Wait"
Bruce Springsteen  - "We Take Care Of Our Own"

I don't hate on Coldplay, but "Charlie Brown" isn't a great song. I like Mumford, but "I Will Wait" is out of it's league. I dig "Hold On."
My Vote: Bruce Springsteen  I love "Lonely Boy," but "We Take Care Of Our Own" is a better song, and expresses the anxiety of our times, and the sense of hope, better than any other song I've heard.


Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance
Anthrax - "I'm Alive"
Halestorm - "Love Bites"
Iron Maiden - "Blood Brothers (live)"
Lamb Of God - "Ghost Walking"
Marilyn Manson - "No Reflection"
Megadeth - "Who's Life"

First of all, it's total bulls*** that these categories have been combined.  I was glad to see Iron Maiden win their first GRAMMY last year, but this year, they're up for a live version of an OK song. I've listened to all of them, and...
My Vote: Anthrax! Their album surprised me - I didn't actually expect for it to be so great. The reunion with Joey Belladonna has been awesome: I loved seeing them live, they rocked (even though Charlie Benante wasn't with them for that show). And the song "I'm Alive" is awesome (I recently spoke to Scott Ian about it).

photo credit: Maria Ives!
Best Rock Song
Jack White - "Freedom At 21"
Mumford & Sons - "I Will Wait"
Black Keys - "Lonely Boy"
Muse - "Madness"
Bruce Springsteen - "We Take Care Of Our Own"

This is a really tough one. I eliminate Mumford quickly, but the rest are great songs.
My Vote: Bruce Springsteen again, narrowly beating Jack White.

Best Rock Album
Black Keys  - El Camino
Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
Muse  - The 2nd Law
Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
Jack White - Blunderbuss

Another tough one. Easy to eliminate Coldplay. I love Muse, but 2nd Law is out of it's league.
My Vote: Bruce Springsteen in a tight race against the Black Keys and Jack White.


Best Alternative Album
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Bjork - Biophilia
Goyte - Making Mirrors
M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Tom Waits  -  Bad As Me

I respect Bjork, but I find her albums hard to get through. Goyte's seemed to be about just one song. I liked Fiona's record, but not as much as her last one.
My Vote: Tom Waits' Bad As Me is a classic and was my third favorite record of 2011.



Best Urban Contemporary Album
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream
Chris Brown - Fortune

Chris Brown is still making records?  You never really hear about him anymore.
My Vote: Frank Ocean




Best Rap Performance
Drake featuring Lil' Wayne - "HYFR"
Jay-Z & Kanye West - "N****s In Paris"
Nas - "Daughters"
Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz - "Mercy"
Young Jeezy featuring Jay-Z & Andre 3000 - "I Do"

I really dug the Jay-Z/Kanye Watch The Throne record, and I liked "Mercy."
My Vote: Nas' "Daughters" is an incredible song, and how many MCs have the courage to do a song about being a father to their daughters.


Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Flo Rida/Sia - "Wild Ones"
Jay-Z & Kanye West/Frank Ocean & the-Dream - "No Church In The Wild"
John Legend/Ludacris - "Tonight"
Nas/Amy Winehouse  - "Cherry Wine"
Rihanna/Jay-Z  - "Talk That Talk"

My Vote:  "No Church In The Wild"



Best Country Album
Zac Brown Band - Uncaged
Hunter Hayes - Hunter Hayes
Jamey Johnson - Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran
Miranda Lambert - Four The Record
The Time Jumpers - The Time Jumpers

I loved Jamey's Hank Cochran tribute but...
My Vote: Miranda Lambert is the most exciting country artist out there today.


Best Americana Album
The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
John Fullbright - From The Ground Up
The Lumineers - The Lumineers
Mumford & Sons - Babel
Bonnie Raitt  - Slipstream

My Vote: Bonnie Raitt, even if it makes me seem like I'm part of the "grey ponytail" crowd.  I think she made a great album, it was my #8 album of 2012.

Best Blues Album: My vote would easily go to Dr. John's Locked Down, my #5 album of 2012, and one of my favorites by Dr. John.

Best Reggae Album: I'd vote for Jimmy Cliff's Rebirth; I think that Rancid's Tim Armstrong did a phenomenal job producing it, and Jimmy sounds great.

Producer Of The Year: Easily Dan Auerbach. Both for his work with his own band, The Black Keys, and for the Dr. John album. Not just for what he did sonically. But for coaxing Dr. John to write "My Children, My Angels," one of his finest songs.



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