Monday, December 14, 2009

Grammys Go Young

This year's Grammys are marked by something that may be a recognition of great artists or a ploy to gain more viewers (your choice): there are a lot of mainstream, "cool" nominees. Personally, I think its great to honor those who are making popular music right now, not just the legends who continue to make good records. Because my Grammy ballot, which only consists of a fraction of the full nominees, is still 11 pages long, I'm going to break up my nomination analysis into six entries: the first, this one, will consist of the night's general prizes, while the remaining five will be pop/dance, rock, R&B, rap, and country. RECORD OF THE YEAR
  • "Halo," Beyonce "I Gotta Feeling," Black Eyed Peas
  • "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon
  • "Poker Face," Lady Gaga
  • "You Belong With Me," Taylor Swift
There's not a single song in this group that wasn't a Top 40 hit in the past year, which hasn't happened at the Grammys in a while. The most surprising thing here is that they went with "Halo" over "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," which was a much bigger hit for Beyonce. It's genuinely hard to predict who will take this category, but most likely it will either be Beyonce, Swift, or Gaga. I like all of them, but my vote goes to "You Belong With Me," which stands as a true testament to Swift's fantastic skills as a performer (and at only 20 years old).
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
  • I Am...Sacha Fierce, Beyonce
  • The E.N.D., Black Eyed Peas
  • The Fame, Lady Gaga
  • Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, Dave Matthews Band
  • Fearless, Taylor Swift
Again, all of these are reasonably popular acts with hit records, and this hasn't happened in this category since 2003 when the lineup featured Outkast, Missy Elliott, Evanescence, Justin Timberlake and The White Stripes. I haven't heard all of these albums in their entirety yet, but based on history, any of these albums could easily win. However, the most likely choice is Beyonce, since the Grammys have been very kind to her throughout her career.
SONG OF THE YEAR
  • "Poker Face," Lady Gaga (Lady Gaga and RedOne, songwriters)
  • "Pretty Wings," Maxwell (Hod David and Muzse, songwriters)
  • "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," Beyonce (Thaddis Harrell, Beyonce Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewert, songwriters)
  • "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon (Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill, songwriters)
  • "You Belong With Me," Taylor Swift (Taylor Swift and Liz Rose, songwriters)
I think the Grammys got Beyonce confused, since this is the category where a nomination for "Halo" makes sense. "Single Ladies" is a great, catchy song, but it is not really a songwriting feat. Neither is "Poker Face" really, but Lady Gaga is a good songwriter, so it works. Expect Taylor Swift to walk away with this one though, since her talents in this category are undeniable.
BEST NEW ARTIST
  • Zac Brown Band
  • Keri Hilson
  • MGMT
  • Silversun Pickups
  • The Ting Tings
What a great year to be an indie artist, since MGMT, Silversun Pickups and Ting Tings were counterculture, indie-culture superstars this past year. I don't know who to say will win this one, but I'm going to say Keri Hilson is the most likely choice.
BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK
  • Cadillac Records
  • Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • True Blood
  • Twilight
This is a pretty standard set of the most musically talked-about films and TV shows of the past year. Expect Slumdog to win, though Basterds totally deserves it the most.
BEST SHORT-FORM MUSIC VIDEO
  • "Mr. Hurricane," Beast
  • "Boom Boom Pow," Black Eyed Peas
  • "Life in Technicolor ii," Coldplay
  • "Wrong," Depeche Mode
  • "Her Morning Elegance," Oren Lavie
There was no shortage of great videos this past year, but somehow the Black Eyed Peas' decent but not extraordinary "Boom Boom Pow" video managed to leapfrog Major Lazer's "Hold the Line," Matt & Kim's "Lessons Learned," and, most notably, Beyonce's notorious "Single Ladies." Still, the other 4 are fantastic, the most exciting of all being Coldplay's and Lavie's entries. But the award will probably go to Depeche Mode.

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