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From Best to Worst: Grammy Album of the Year 2000 – 2012   1 comment

The Album of the Year is what is considered as the highest award that one can get from music’s highest giving body. After all, you are rewarding a whole piece of work, and not just a single from it. In the past, this category has bestowed wins to endless classics such as The Beatles’  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Carole King’s Tapestry, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours,  Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill among others. Isn’t that a great group to be a part of? With that said, let’s take a look back at the last 13 albums to be rewarded in this category (including this year’s Babel by Mumford and Sons), and see how they hold up in this group:

steely dan
13. “Two Against Nature”  (Steely Dan) | 2000
 Up Against: Beck’s “Midnight Vulture”, Eminem’s “Marshall Mathers LP”, Radiohead’s “Kid A”, Paul Simon’s “You’re the One

While this one is an overall good effort, it’s mostly politics that fueled this win. This is Steely Dan’s comeback album in 20 years, and they have never been rewarded (not even a single Grammy) prior to this. So this one is more of a catch up slash welcome back to one of 70s’ more prominent rock groups.

My vote would have gone to: Radiohead’s “Kid A”. Definitely one of their best albums.

ray charles
12. “Genius Loves Company”  (Ray Charles) | 2004
 Up Against: Green Day’s “American Idiot”, Alicia Keys’ “The Diary of Alicia Keys”, Usher’s “Confessions”, Kanye West’s “The College Dropout

2004 was when we lost music legend Ray Charles, and the lovefest slash tribute to him has resonated throughout the whole awards season both in music (this) and motion pictures (Taylor Hackford’s Ray starring Jamie Foxx). Overall, it seemed as if a choice that was deemed because of the overwhelming love and appreciation to his legacy.

My vote would have gone to: Green Day’s “American Idiot.  A career resurgence of some sort that is filled of cohesive and sold tracks. It’s quite weird that their real Grammy sweep came the year after this nomination.

u2

11. “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”  (U2) | 2005
 Up Against: Mariah Carey’s “The Emancipation of Mimi”, Paul McCartney’s “Chaos and Creation in the Background”, Gwen Stefani’s “Love.Angel.Music.Baby.”, Kanye West’s “Late Registration

17 years after their first win in this category, U2 nabbed their second win for the 2005’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. One can interpret this as a safe and expected choice from the NARAS to give it in a field full of two urban artists, one pop album, and a Beatle’s solid but inferior album. Or maybe it’s a make up win for All That You Can’t Leave Behind (which definitely should have won in its year).

My vote would have gone to: Kanye West’s “Late Registration“. Proving that he is no flash in the pan, Kanye West delivered an even better follow up to an already solid debut effort.

herbie hancock

10. “River: The Joni Letters”  (Herbie Hancock) | 2008
 Up Against: Foo Fighters’ “Echoes, Silence, Pain & Grace”, Vince Gill’s “These Days”, Kanye West’s “Graduation”, Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black

For the record, Herbie Hancock’s collaborations are some of the best created music by musicians. And it’s also nice to see jazz music taking the spotlight. This album, which Hancock dedicates to long friend Joni Mitchell, featured collabs with the likes of Norah Jones and Corrine Bailey Rae. However, as always, it was one of those choices that seemed too safe. Looking at the other nominees in the bunch, this was stuck in the middle of some of these other albums that were nominated and lost to him.

My vote would have gone to: Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black“. It was concise, creative, and transparent. Something that represents Amy’s musical talents as a whole.

mumford and sons

09. “Babel”  (Mumford and Sons) | 2012
 Up Against: The Black Keys’ “El Camino”, fun’s “Some Nights”, Frank Ocean’s “channel ORANGE”, Jack White’s “Blunderbuss

I love it when the Grammys tend to nominate an eclectic bunch of albums for its top prize. This is definitely one of the most inspired line-ups in a long time. Even the weakest, fun’s Some Nights, is different from the usual pop albums that they’ve nominated in the previous years. But when it comes to wins, NARAS goes wit the conservative safe album of the bunch. Mumford and Sons’ Babel is actually good, though it’s really hard to top their previous effort that I consider as more deserving of AOTY recognition.

Who would I have voted for: Frank Ocean’s “channel ORANGE”. Ocean’s debut is near perfection from start to end. Consistent, fresh, and heartfelt. After listening to his album, it’ll make you see how he can top this one.

dixie chicks

08. “Taking the Long Way”  (Dixie Chicks) | 2006
 Up Against: Gnarls Barkleys’ “St. Elsewhere”, John Mayer’s “Continuum”, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium”, Justin Timberlake’s “Future Sex/LoveSounds

If there’s one genre that definitely is the most powerful at the Grammys, it’s definitely country. With that said, this Dixie Chicks victory came at a time when they have been in the midst of a controversy within their own territory. On one hand, it’s nice to see thay they still got overall support to pull off this win. On the other, there are better albums in this category that was unrewarded.

My vote would have gone to: Gnarls Barkleys’ “St. Elsewhere”. If you’re one of those who know that CeeLo Green prior to his Fuck You success, you’d know that he’s half responsible for this genius album which contain’s the decade’s most infectious song, Crazy.

taylor swift

07. “Fearless”  (Taylor Swift) | 2009
 Up Against: Beyonce’s “I Am…Sasha Fierce”, Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.”, Lady Gaga’s’ “The Fame”, Dave Matthews Band’s “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King

From one country act to the other, Taylor Swift has been more known lately as the girl who uses her relationship status as material for her next albums. But prior to that, let me remind you that she was also able to come up with a solid effort that appeals to different genres and shows her multiple skills as a musician, songwriter, and (yes) singer. It also helped that she’s stuck with a mediocre company as co-nominees. So say what you want about her, but Swift’s AOTY win was every inch deserving back then, and even up to now.

My vote would have gone to: Taylor Swift’s “Fearless.” Listening to this album is probably one of the times where in I was really convinced that I was reading someone’s diary. It was fun, honest, and effectively introduced what Taylor wants us to think of her.

plant krauss

06. “Raising Sand”  (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss) | 2008
 Up Against: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends”, Ne-Yo’s “Year of the Gentleman”, Radiohead’s’ “In Rainbows”, Lil Wayne’s “The Carter III

By now, we should already accustom ourselves that if there’s a decent safe album from veterans that they love, then it is soooo sooo winning Album of the Year. Rarely though, we also get lucky that the veterans produce better albums, such as this collaboration between Grammy favorites Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Raising Sand might not be my first choice as Album of the Year, but it’s luckily one of the stronger efforts that manage to sweep its way into a win.

My vote would have gone to: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends”. I’m shocked that this is only Coldplay’s AotY nomination, so it’s an easy pick for me. But it also happened that this is also a coherent solid album (though not my favorite from them).

norah jones

05. “Come Away with Me”  (Norah Jones) | 2002
 Up Against: Dixie Chicks’ “Home”, Eminem’s “The Eminem Show”, Nelly’s’ “Nellyville”, Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising

Pulling off a win (and a sweep that night) is newcomer Norah Jones. I’ve always read and heard comments about how boring Norah Jones is, but I just convinced myself that they don’t get her. Come Away with Me is another of those strong debut efforts, and while she hasn’t come close to the combo of critical and commercial success that this album received, it’s a sweet consolation that this wa rewarded of Grammy’s top honor exactly a decade ago.

My vote would have gone to: Norah Jones, “Come Away with Me.” It’s a combo of liking the album itself and not a fan of the remaining nominees’ albums.

o brother

04. “Original Soundtrack – O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”  (Various Artists) | 2001
 Up Against: India Arie’s “Acoustic Soul”, Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft”, Outkast’s’ “Stankonia”, U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind

Isn’t it such a pleasure when you see compilation soundtracks get music’s top honor? In this case, yes. And this is the third and last time that it has happened (OSTs of Saturday Night Fever and The Bodyguard are the two other winners here). While I admit preferring other albums in the line up, it’s just one of those albums that stood the test of time and still sounds good even if you listen to it now.

My vote would have gone to: U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind“. When you’re gonna reward U2 with a second AotY victory, you could have at least went with this one that contains modern classics from this beloved rock band. The pair of Beautiful Day and Stuck in a Moment is already enough for me to cats my vote for this.

adele

03. “21”  (Adele) | 2011
 Up Against: Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light”, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, Bruno Mars’ “Doo Wops and Hooligans”, Rihanna’s “Loud

Many many years from now, when you’ve decided to take a look at what the music was in 2011, there’s only one name that will be remembered that year: Adele. She was not only everywhere that year, but her music has managed to be the start of the end for the usual auto-tuned dance tracks that dominated the mainstream music for the past few years. It also helps her that she’s up against three inferior pop albums and a decent rock album.

My vote would have gone to: Adele’s “21“. I still listen to this album from start to end, and I still know the lyrics to each and every song in it.

arcade fire

02. “The Suburbs”  (Arcade Fire) | 2010
 Up Against: Eminem’s “Recovery”, Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”, Lady Gaga’s’ “The Fame Monster”, Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream

Definitely an upset that made more sense that most predictions are telling (it was supposedly Eminem’s delayed AotY win for his successful 2010 comeback), it was bittersweet to see Arcade Fire getting the Album of the Year trophy when they even lost their own genre category at the pre-telecast that year. If anything, The Suburbs is far from Arcade Fire’s best effort, but then again, who cares? Arcade Fire at its weakest is still better than all these co-nominee’s albums combined.

My vote would have gone to: Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.  Definitely the little album that could from that Billboard Hot 100 lovefest from the other four nominees, but it definitely pulled off that win and deservingly so.

outkast

01. “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”  (Outkast) | 2003
 Up Against: Missy Elliott’s “Under Construction”, Evanescence’s “Fallen”, Justin Timberlake’s’ “Justified”, The White Stripes’s “Elephant

Time and again, the whole conservative branch of Grammy voters aren’t brave enough to give their top honors to urban acts and albums. But then again, every now and then comes an exception. That’s why it was so sweet when OutKast was proclaimed as the winner in 2003. The double disc effort of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is indeed one of the most definitive albums of the past decade, and it gives us hope that NARAS would open their doors for great urban albums such as this one.

My vote would have gone to: Outkast, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”. Clearly the stand out from the group, though I’d give points to Elephant as well, which could have been my winner in any other year.

There you go! Which of these albums is your favorite? Is there anything from the bunch that you still listen to its entirety? And who would you have given your wins in all those years?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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The 55th Grammy Awards Nominations: The Good, the Bad, and the Interesting   2 comments

2012 nominees

The nominees for the 55th Grammy Awards were just announced hours ago, and as always, it has elicited a lot of wild reactions from music lovers. After all, the Grammy is probably every musician’s dream and is still regarded as the highest recognition one can get as a recording artist. Like what I did last year, I will divide it into three parts:

THE GOOD

* The whole Album of the Year line up. Holy moly. With the current surge of female pop artist who had a big year which automatically translates to an AOTY nom the past years (Beyonce, Katy Perry, Rihanna), it’s very refreshing to see a line up of really good albums here. Yes, one can still nitpick here, but come on! It’s not as if we got Bieber or Maroon 5 here.

* The love for Frank Ocean. Screw the genre category for ignoring him. At least he got 3/4 general nods, and he’s even the frontrunner in Best New Artist. This man deserves all the praise for his album, so I’m glad decided not to skip him.

* Speaking of skip, yay for the Bieber snub. Glad the Grammys weren’t so desperate for ratings this year by snubbing him. I’d argue though that the One Direction deserved a BNA nod at least.

* Kelly Clarkson resurgence! Woot woot. Record and Song of the Year! Who said it was the end for Kelly? HA-HA-HA. In your face!

* Anything The Black Keys, Florence + the Machine, and Mumford and Sons related since it’s better than a lot of what we hear on the radio.

* ED EFFIN SHEERAN. Who saw it coming? Nobody! But is her deserving for a SOTY nod? Absofuckinglutely!

* The nominations of Safe and Sound and Abraham’s Daughter in Original Soundtrack. Even if The Hunger Games was snubbed as a whole, these two songs are worthy of mentions and nominations.

* Adele still rocking it with a Pop Vocal Solo nomination for Set Fire to the Rain. I love you Kelly Clarkson, but that is Adele’s ninth Grammy.

* Miguel’s nods for Adorn. Sure I don’t like him as much as Frank Ocean, but I like Adorn, and it’s one of the best R&B songs of the year.

* The Short Form Music video is probably the strongest since its inception. There’s  a lot of interesting videos there, and even mainstream video like that of Rihanna’s We Found Love is deserving of a nomination.

* Probably my favorite category of the year, Alternative Album is full of hidden gems in it. You have Bjork, Fiona Apple, Gotye, and (my latest addiction) M83! Admittedly, I haven’t heard Tom Waits’ Bad As Me yet, but it is in good company, so I’ll give it a listen sometime.

THE BAD

* Pink only received one nod. I thought for sure this year will finally give her the best Grammy out pour in her career, yet they took her for granted again. Oh well, she can take pride at her three Grammys home.

* Again, no One Direction? Hahaha. Sorry, but they’re real guilty pleasure. If you can give Bieber and Jonas Brothers Best New Artist nods, why not these guys? Though I guess Hunter Hayes getting in was their “One Direction” spot already. After all, hes young, and he’s country, so that’s hitting two birds with one stone.

* Nicki Minaj snub all throughout. This girl think she can settle away with free passes pretending as a rap artist? Bish please. You’re a pop artist now, and glad to know you received nada.

* Call Me Maybe for Song of the Year? Really? Those lyrics!?!? I get that it’s a big song yada yada, but that’s where the Record of the Year is for.

* Why was Miranda Lambert’s Over You snubbed all throughout? Over You is gaining momentum the past few weeks, it’s a good written song, and she’s already a Grammy winner. I guess I must be happy with her Country Album nomination.

* It sucks to have a Pop Vocal Performance then three of the five nominees were Carly Rae Jepsen, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Vocals eh?

* I still don’t see the purpose behind the Urban Contemporary Album especially it only had three nominees, and Chris Brown isn’t even deserving. They should have retired it altogether. Though it’s an easy win for Frank Ocean.

* They really should not combine Vocals category in some genres. Take for instance Pop Vocal. It had five female nominees. Pop is a female centered genre, but we have lots of deserving male vocals this year like Jason Mraz, Bruno Mars, John Mayer, and Philip Phillips, and I guess a filler spot for Bieber. Same goes for the Rock’s hard on for male singers and Country’s preference of male vocalists unless your name is Carrie Underwood. Wrong move at all.

THE INTERESTING

* This is the first time in a long time where no female album is nominated for the top award. It’s also two decades ago when the Best New Artist line up had no solo female artist in it.

* Fun, Jay Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Mumford & Sons, and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach tied for the most nominated act with six nominations each.

* The following people are nominated for a Grammy this year: Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Ellen Degeneres, Janis Ian, Kathy Griffin, Jimmy Fallon, Margaret Cho, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Matthew Broderick, and Elizabeth Mitchell.

* Ever since its inception 53 years ago, this is the only time that record of the Year had six nominees in it.

In case you want to see the complete list of nominees, you can check them here.

All in all, there are more things I like about the nominations this year than I had the past few years. With that said, we still have to wait come February for the winners to be revealed. My first post-nom predictions for the General Field winners are Somebody That I Used to Know (Record of the Year), We Are Young (Song of the Year), Mumford & Son’s Babel (Album of the Year), and Frank Ocean as the Best New Artist.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

54th Grammy Awards predictions: Part 2 (Rock, Rap, Country)   Leave a comment

Okay, here’s Part 2 of the Grammy nomination predictions which will be announced tomorrow morning. Yesterday, I covered the General Field, Pop, Dance, and R&B. For this one, we’ll be having Rock, Rap, and Country.

ROCK PERFORMANCE

Coldplay, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”

Foo Fighters, “Walk”

Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”

Neil Young, “Walk with Me”

Kings of Leon, “Back Down South”

NEXT IN LINE: Bon Iver, “Perth”; Eric Clapton, “River Runs Deep”; Elton John/leon Russell, “Hey Ahab”; Red Hot Chili Peppers, The “Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie”

ROCK SONG

Kings of Leon, “Back Down South”

Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”

Coldplay, “EVery Teardrop is a Waterfall”

Neil Young, “Walk with Me”

Foo Fighters, “Walk”

NEXT IN LINE: Death Cab for Cutie, “You Are a Tourist”; Red Hot Chili Peppers, “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie”

ROCK ALBUM

Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”

Kings of Leon, “Come Around Sundown”

Red Hot Chili Peppers, “I’m With You”

R.E.M, “Collapse Into Now”

Wilco, “The Whole Love”

NEXT IN LINE: Jeff Beck, “Rock N Roll Hall Party”; Green Day, “Awesome as Fuck”; Kid Rock, “Born Free”

ALTERNATIVE ALBUM

Bon Iver, “Bon Iver”

Death Cab for Cutie, “Codes and Keys”

Foster the People, “Torches”

PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake”

Radiohead, “The King of Limbs”

NEXT IN LINE: Little Dragon, “Ritual Union”; Elbow, “Build a Rocket Boys!”

RAP PERFORMANCE

Chris Brown, Busta Rhymnes, Lil Wayne, “Look at Me Now”

Nicki Minaj, Drake, “Moment 4 Life”

Jay Z, Kanye West, “Otis”

Lil’ Wayne, Drake, “She Will”

Lupe Fiasco, “the Show Goes On”

NEXT IN LINE: Wiz Khalifa, “Black and Yellow”; Beastie Boys, “Make Some Noise”; T.I. Eminem, “That’s All She Wrote”

RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION

Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi, Fergie, “All of the Lights”

Beyonce, Andre 3000, “Party”

Bad Meets Evil, Bruno Mars, “Lighters”

Kelly Rowland, Lil Wayne, “Motivation”

Rihanna, Drake, “What’s My Name”

NEXT IN LINE: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Skylar Gray, “I Need a Doctor”; Lupe Fiasco, John Legend, “Never Forget About You”; DJ Khaled, Drake, Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross, “I’m On One”

RAP SONG

Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi, Fergie, “All of the Lights”

Wiz Khalifa, “Black and Yellow”

Bad Meets Evil, Bruno Mars, “Lighters”

Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, “Look at Me Now”

Jay Z, Kanye West, “Otis”

NEXT IN LINE: Drake, “Marvin’s Room”, Lupe Fiasco, “The Show Goes On”

RAP ALBUM

Lil Wayne, “The Carter IV”

Beastie Boys, “Ht Sauce Committee Part 2”

Kanye West, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Nicki Minaj, “Pink Friday”

Kanye West, Jay Z, “Watch the Throne”

NEXT IN LINE: Lupe Fiasco, “Lasers”; J. Cole, “Cole Word: The Sideline Story”

COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE

Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”

Miranda Lambert, “Heart Like Mine”

Blake Shelton, “Honey Bee”

Taylor Swift, “Mean”

Keith Urban, “Without You”

NEXT IN LINE: Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”; Dierks Bentley, “Am I the Only One?”; Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”

COUNTRY DUO/GROUP EPRFORMANCE

Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

The Band Perry, “You Lie”

Lady Antebellum, “Just a Kiss”

Brad Paisley/Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me”

Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”

NEXT IN LINE: Alison Krauss & Union Station, “Paper Airplane”; The Civil Wars, “Poison & Wine”; Willie Nelson & Wilton Marshalls Featuring Norah Jones , “Here We Go Again”

COUNTRY SONG

Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You”

Lady Antebellum, “Just a Kiss”

Taylor Swift, “Mean”

Brad Paisley/Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me”

The Band Perry, “You Lie”

NEXT IN LINE: Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”; Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”

COUNTRY ALBUM

The Band Perry, “The Band Perry”

Keith Urban, “Get Closer”

Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party”

Lady Antebellum, Own the Night”

Taylor Swift, “Speak Now”

NEXT IN LINE: Blake Shelton, “Red River Blue”; Dolly Parton, “Better Day”; George Strait, “Here for a Good Time”; Brad Paisley, “This is Country Music”

That’s it! Who are you predicting to win and get snubbed? Happy Grammy day tomorrow! 😀

Posted November 28, 2011 by Nicol Latayan in Awards, Music

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