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58th Grammy Awards Nominations Predictions: October 2015   Leave a comment

The Grammys’ eligibility period has already ended last September 30, which means no Frank Ocean, Kanye, and Adele for this year. But as we wait for the nomination announcement this December (though by now, expect Taylor Swift to dominate), let’s take a look at the potential top contenders in the Big 4 General categories with names ranging from Ed Sheeran to Sam Hunt and soundtracks from Selma to Furious Seven.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

While we’re not sure yet if the Grammys will easily reward Taylor Swift with an AOTY win #2 for 1989, chances are, it’s a lock for a nomination in this category already. Being the critical and commercial darling of the past eligibility period, there’s no doubt that the biggest story in music for the past year is Taylor’s domination and she’ll cap it with an AOTY nomination. Then there’s the breakout star The Weeknd (I know he’s been in the industry for a few years already), but the past year has been his biggest break churning out hits one after the other, so expect Beauty Behind the Madness to be in the conversation as well. Foo Fighters came close in 2012 sweeping all their nominations except for AOTY (losing to another juggernaut, Adele’s 21), so Sonic Highways might be their redemption bid. Despite getting some buzz the past few years, alternative genre still hasn’t followed up 2010 winner The Suburbs a representative here. This year, Sound & Color from Alabama Shakes seems like their strongest bid. Mark Ronson can clearly sweep the Big 3 category too, especially if the Academy falls in love with him so much that a Uptown Special nod is still possible.

Then there’s also comebacking artist D’Angelo, whose album Black Messiah, his first in 14 years, was critically well received, and if there’s one thing the Grammys love, it’s none other than a good ole comeback. While her breakout year five years ago didn’t translate to much Grammys, it’s never too late for Florence + the Machine to nab a nod in the top category with their latest release How Big Blue, How Blue, How Beautiful. Then what is an AOTY lineup without a country representative? Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material fits the bill even if there’s a group of country acts that can easily replace it too. Another act who enjoyed a big year is Kendrick Lamar which makes me feel confident about his nomination for To Pimp A Butterfly. Lastly, since this is the Grammys we’re talking about (basically the same group who nominated two versions of “How Do I Live” against each other in the same year), then maybe we can see a Ryan Adams version of 1989 competing against Taylor Swift’s version. That would certainly provide more coverage to their group (and it’s not as if Adams isn’t deserving to be nominated).

Current predictions:
“1989” (Taylor Swift)
“Beauty Behind the Madness” (The Weeknd)
“Black Messiah” (D’Angelo)
“Sonic Highways” (Foo Fighters)
“To Pimp a Butterfly” (Kendrick Lamar)

RECORD OF THE YEAR

We’re certain a Taylor Swift is gonna figure in this race, so it depends on what her team will submit, but it seems like “Blank Space” is the logical choice — it’s a huge hit that was well received by the critics. This category loves the Hot 100 #1 finishers, so aside from Swift, expect one to two more contenders from top charting hits like “Uptown Funk” from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, “See You Again” from Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, and The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” to figure in this race. Oh, and Justin Bieber’s sorta comeback can be rewarded as well with a nod for “Where Are U Now” (instead of his other hitWhat Do U Mean) simply because of the Skrillex and Diplo recognition.

The other collaboration that I see the Academy going for is the triumvirate of Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney with “FourFiveSeconds” especially with the name involved (and the love it received when they performed it at the Grammys earlier this year). Ed Sheeran is a General Field favorite figuring in the last three years with SOTY, BNA, and AOTY nominations respectively. He has yet to be nominated for Record of the Year, but “Thinking Out Loud” seems like a good bet to break in here. Two other crossover hits of the previous year were Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance“, so they’re certainly in the race too. For the random last spot, I’m leaning to Major Lazer’s “Lean On” as it was a huge hit as well as the FIFA World Cup theme song for 2017. Plus I won’t be surprised if an electronic song finally breaks it to the main categories.

Current predictions:
“Blank Space” (Taylor Swift)
“Can’t Feel My Face” (The Weeknd)
“Lean On” (Major Lazer)
“Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran)
“Uptown Funk” (Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars)

SONG OF THE YEAR

Song of the Year has a great correlation with Record of the Year so chances are, the same songs vying for that category can also figure out here such as Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space“, Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud“, and Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars collaboration “Uptown Funk.” There isn’t any assurance of which The Weeknd song will be submitted here, but anything between “Can’t Feel My Face”, “Earned It“, or my predicted “The Hills” can be nominated here. For now, let’s call it as The Weeknd spot. If the Academy considers Kendrick Lamar to be a big factor in this race, then we won’t be surprised if “Alright” finds its way into the top five.

Oscar winning classics have been a mainstay in this category too, so this bodes well for current winner “Glory” from John Legend and Common. Working for it is that it’s more than just an Oscar winning song, as it’s been a statement and a powerful one at that. Working against it is that lately, Grammy isn’t much open to Oscar winning tunes in the General Field just like Adele’s “Skyfall” or the gigantic hit “Let It Go” from last year. That said, there’s the other hit soundtrack in contention: “See You Againwhich is also one of the year’s biggest hits. From classics such as Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” to fluffs such as Katy Perry’s “Roar“, Song of the Year has also been the home of inspirational anthems. This year, Rachel Platten can be in the conversation for her uplifting “The Fight Song” even if the record was more low-key than those that got nominated here. As for that country representative, Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” is viable but we expect “Girl Fight” from Little Big Town to be the bigger contender.

Current predictions:
“Blank Space” (Taylor Swift)
“Girl Crush” (Little Big Town)
“The Hills” (The Weeknd)
“See You Again” (Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth)
“Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran)

Image courtesy of: billboard.com

BEST NEW ARTIST

Always the trickiest to predict, with all the eligibility rules changing every now and then, to say that Best New Artist predictions is a daunting task can be considered as an understatement. With his great chart performance the past year, one can count Fetty Wap a contender this year, regardless of how we personally feel about him. This is the same group that nominated Iggy Azalea last year, so there are literally no excuses.  Sure girl groups are rare, but the chances of them getting nominated is rarer (Haim got in last year but we have to go back to 1998 when Dixie Chicks got in). Maybe Fifth Harmony can join the elusive list? The country contingent is really strong in this particular category. In the last nine years, we have Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, The Band Perry, Hunter Hayes, Kacey Musgraves, and Brandy Clark. The name to be remembered this year is Sam Hunt. Leon Bridges meanwhile reminds me of that new artist whom the Academy really just roots for to happen. It also doesn’t hurt that his song “Coming Home” achieved some sort of a viral status. Swedish singer Tove Lo is also picking up traction, so don’t be surprised if you hear her name come nomination morning.

It’s also hard to go against the Academy’s liking for up and coming young female singer/songwriters especially in a year as wide as this one so expect Tori Kelly figuring in this race. English musician James Bay can also get in just like the other English James — Blake that is — in 2013. Then there’s also that new artist who gets in for that one huge hit they have, which bodes well for Walk the Moon‘s chances. However, it can also be a case of “A Thousand Miles” or “Call Me Maybe” picking up ROTY and/or SOTY nods but the artist is nowhere to found in the BNA category. Stitches is peaking at the right time, so it will help Shawn Mendes‘ chances even though he has to overcome the aversion of this category to young stars (well unless you’re as big as Justin Bieber circa 2010). Lastly, there’s always a reserved slot for that artist who has already been nominated earlier but surprisingly wasn’t eligible for this category because of the Academy’s weird rules. This caused Ed Sheeran’s nominated two years ago, and this year’s recipient is likely last year’s ROTY & SOTY nominee Meghan Trainor or Take Me to Church singer Hozier. 

Current predictions:
Leon Bridges
Fetty Wap
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Talk to me about it on Twitter: @nikowl

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Tit for Tat Video Music Awards 2014   Leave a comment

Now that the MTV has awarded of what it thought was the best of music video this year, it’s time to reveal my choices for my own Video Music Awards. I have been doing this since ’99, and this is the first year where I mustered enough time and effort to do mine.  My eligibility period for a given year is July 1 of the previous year up to June 30 of the current year to make it to to any given year’s awards. Unlike MTV, I also have more categories to spare. Ready? I now present my picks in all 20 categories of my Titties(!!!) Video Music Awards (TVMAs) for 2014! Let’s begin!

*Clicking the photo will lead you to the winning music video of the category.

Directing

Visual Effects

Hair and Make Up

Editing

Costumes

Choregraphy

Cinematography

Art Direction

Collaboration

Country Video

Rock Video

Rap Video

Dance Video

RnB Video

Pop Video

New Artist in a Video

Group Video

Male Video

Female Video

Video of the Year

As a recap, here are the winners of the 2014 TVMAs:

VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball
MALE VIDEO: Jack White, “Lazaretto
FEMALE VIDEO: Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball
GROUP VIDEO: Arcade Fire, “Reflektor
NEW ARTIST IN A VIDEO: Steve Grand, “All American Boy
POP VIDEO: Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
R&B VIDEO: Beyonce, “Pretty Hurts
DANCE VIDEO: DJ Snake, Lil Jon, “Turn Down for What
RAP VIDEO: Kanye West, “Black Skinhead
ROCK VIDEO: Arcade Fire, “Reflektor
COUNTRY VIDEO: Steve Grand, “All American Boy
COLLABORATION IN A VIDEO: Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX, “Fancy
ART DIRECTION IN A VIDEO: Katy Perry, “Unconditionally
CHOREOGRAPHY IN A VIDEO: Sia, “Chandelier
CINEMATOGRAPHY IN A VIDEO: 30 Seconds to Mars, “City of Angels
COSTUMES IN A VIDEO: Beyonce, “Partition
EDITING IN A VIDEO: Zedd ft. Hayley Williams, “Stay the Night
HAIR AND MAKE UP IN A VIDEO: Lady Gaga, “Applause
VISUAL EFEFCTS IN A VIDEO: DJ Snake, Lil Jon, “Turn Down for What
DIRECTION IN A VIDEO: Arcade Fire, “Reflektor

And there you have it! Until next year’s music video mania! 🙂

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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

MTV Video Music Awards 2011   2 comments

This is a pretty late post, but since it’s raining and there seems to be the obligatory VMA review, I’ll dedicate a post to this year’s VMA. A for starters, this is a big improvement from last year’s snoozefest. While there are no hosts assigned for the night, they still managed to went overtime again. I still have this theory that the reason why Best Direction wasn’t given at the red carpet was because it was really supposed to be at the main show and will serve as Adele’s moment (which she deservingly won). However, due to time constraints, they decided to just skip it altogether. Screw you, MTV.

Also, Katy Perry won the much coveted Video of the Year, so for the fifth year in a row, a female artist has won the top award (Cue: Beyonce’s Run the World). Rihanna, Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Lady GaGa has won the same moonman for the last four ceremonies. As a sidebar, Madonna got hers on 1998, Lauryn Hill in 1999, Christina Aguilera in 2001, and Missy Elliott in 2003.

Moving on to the main event, I’ll just share a few thoughts here and there about the performances from last night. They ranged from excellent to good actually. Specifically, here’s my grade sheet for last Sunday’s VMAs.

Lady GaGa : You & I

I decided that I’ll grade this performance based on the start of her performance. I’ll voluntarily skip her opening monologue which, as seen from the audience, looks ridiculous as it can gets. GaGa tries so hard to maintain this creative, innovative persona but what she lacks during the monologue is the music. If that wasn’t GaGa doing that shitty man alter ego, I bet that person will be trashed instantly. But since it’s GaGa, she gets free pass. This isn’t even creative. This is bothering. As for her performance, no doubt that she really has the talent to pull it off. Her vocals is always on point, and she gets to have Queen’s Brian May as a special guest. Now, that is genius. Anyway, bottom line is, she could have done the song without that alter ego thing going on, and it would have been much better.

Grade: B

Jay Z and Kanye West : Otis

This isn’t one of my favorite songs from Watch the Thrones so I would have wanted another song to be performed. But, of course this is the current single. Even I couldn’t resist the star power that these two rap powerhouses exude so while this is in no way outstanding, this is also not disappointing.

Grade: B

Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Nayer : Give Me Everything

I don’t get why they were given a performance slot that night. This song is too old by the time they performed it. However, the song is still undeniably catchy. Everyone is still jamming in the crowd and even the people watching at home. This is a similar performance like what they did on The Voice. I’m bothered by how Ne-Yo is so hitting on that woman performer as if he’s so dying to f*ck her right after they went off stage. LOL.

Grade: C+

Adele : Someone Like You

Oh boy, hands down, the best performance of the night. Ballads are rarely performed during the VMAs especially since it’s one big party after all. If they work, they really do get to stand out (Christina Aguilera, Hurt (2006)), but if they don’t, they’ll be overshadowed (Taylor Swift, Innocent (2010)). Fortunately, Adele rocked her performance. Everyone was just cheering while she’s singing. I personally had goosebumps while watching it. Plus, she got a standing ovation at the end. it goes to show that all you don’t need too many gimmicks to stand out. This goes down as one of the best VMA performances ever.

Grade: A+

Chris Brown : Yeah3x, The Beautiful People

It is really difficult to follow up Adele’s performance. So, the best way to do it is by giving a fully entertaining performance. Chris Brown might be lipsynching throughout the whole performance, but who cares? He’s flying all over the Nokia Theater. That is so awesome. It’s so sad that he got overshadowed with all the woman beater and homophobe accusations against him, because he, indeed, is one hell of a performer. He might not be singing at all, but this is the perfect follow up to Adele’s vocally challenging performance. Oh can I say that I died that Jessie J followed this performanc eby singing “No Scrubs”?

Grade: A-

Britney Spears tribute

First, I’m glad that all the speculations that Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Rihanna, Ke$ha, Katy Perry, and Janet Jackson (of all people, really?!?!?!?) giving a tribute to Britney isn’t true. That would have been a disaster in the vein of her Gimme More performance. I’m glad that MTV is giving her the tribute by people who won’t upstage Britney, but when you reward her with a Video Vanguard, the least they could have done is to include all of her videos, and not just chosen ones. All in all, a decent performance but what I didn’t like was that they used her as a segue to introduce the next performer.

Grade: B-

Beyonce : Love on Top

I’m not the biggest Beyonce fan on earth (god knows how “creative” she is) but this is probably one of my favorite Beyonce numbers ever. She’s just glowing the moment she sang the first line of the song. Also, she made a good choice of singing a song that suits her emotions that moment. I love when she said “I want you to feel the love inside me.” There are parts where she wasn’t singing (she had prepared version) and she’s singing it simultaneously with the recorded version, but I won’t complain. Also, love how the audience was so into the song. Adele was even singing. Love the shot of her in the audience. But more so, the finale shot when she rubbed her tummy, and everyone from Gaga to Tony Bennett, Kanye to Jay Z were just jumping with joy. Very memorable performance!

Grade: A-

Young the Giant : My Body

I know that you’re thinking “Who?” but for a VMA debut performance, this is an awesome performance. I know how big of a deal getting a slot at the main show is for some indie band who doesn’t have a solid fanbase yet. But, heck, I enjoyed the performance, and here’s hoping they’ll get a bigger break after this. How I wish Foster the People were asked to perform as well.

Grade: B

Bruno Mars : Amy Winehouse tribute, Valerie

At first, I was hesitant. Why him? Really, of all people?!?!? Bruno Mars?!?!? But boy, did he really deliver! This is a good performance of Valerie, and for what its worth, he gave justice to the song. I love the “clap your hands for Amy part”. The video of Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse opening this performance made it bittersweet. Seeing Amy’s pop-art photos while Bruno is performing is so very touching. I guess I’m a big Amy fanboy because I was in tears near-the-end. Adele was so sad, and so is Russell Brand. Anyway, really good performance that I’m sure Amy was very proud up there. 🙂

Grade: A

Lil’ Wayne : How To Love, John

For years now, the VMAs always end their show with a rap act (Jay Z in 09, Kanye last year) and while Lil’ Wayne was good in his How to Love part, he suddenly went crazy during the John part. This is an okay performance but everyone’s just oh so excited to go home or rest already. LOL. This is a good promotion for his album (which will debut at number one next) though.

Grade: B-

That’s it. The VMAs, while it wasn’t able to reach its peak years anymore, still provided one hell of an entertaining show this year. Til next year folks! =)