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58th Grammy Awards Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

The biggest night in music comes in two days, and this year is more close than ever. With Kendrick Lamar leading the nods at 11, he’s poised to sweep this year. Then there’s Taylor Swift in her biggest era yet, and The Weeknd also earning seven nominations. The night won’t be shy of memorable performances as well from Adele, to a David Bowie and B.B. King tribute. Now, here are my predictions in 30 different categories among ten different fields.

aoty

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Taylor Swift, 1989
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

PREDICTION: Alabama Shakes, “Sound & Color”. While mainstream media is busy painting this as a three-way fightbetween Taylor, Kendrick, and The Weeknd (which also happens to be the three top nomination getter this year), the actual biggest top honor isn’t really among the three. Just like Arcade Fire’s win in 2010, Alabama Shakes will end up with the win here.

ALTERNATE: Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”. If not them, count on the country bloc to support Chris Stapleton all the way to an AOTY victory especially considering that this is his only nod at the General Field this year.

roty

RECORD OF THE YEAR:
D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Really Love
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud
Taylor Swift, “Blank Space
The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel my Face

PREDICTION: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk.” Uptown Funk has all the staples of a win here — a song with heavy instruments, relatively huge, a performer they love to nominate. It’s basically pop culture staple that has the respect of the critics as well,. Have you seen how they responded to it during the Superbowl? To say it’s massive is an understatement.

ALTERNATE: The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face.” Only one of the two songs this year to garner both ROTY and SOTY nods, The Weeknd’s homage to Michael is very much in contention to win here.

soty

SONG OF THE YEAR:
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
Wiz Kahifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

PREDICTION: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”. On her most successful era yet, the Grammys won’t let it pass without giving her a General Field win. AOTY has been achieved five years ago already, it’s time to add another one on the list.

ALTERNATE: Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”. This is basically the Academy’s catnip here. Think of white male singer with a heartfelt anthem. They’ve proven their love to Ed by giving him nominations in all Big 4 categories, maybe the next stage is to finally give him wins.

bna

BEST NEW ARTIST:
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

PREDICTION: Sam Hunt. In a very open race like this, anything can really happen. Count on the country bloc to support their fellow to have their GF win. After all, it’s been six years since a country act has last won in here.

ALTERNATE: James Bay. He;s the only one aside from Hunt to garner multiple nods here. But then again, he’s the type who strikes me as one who got multiple nominations only to lose all of them (see India Arie in 2001, Avril Lavigne in 2002, James Blunt in 2006).

POP FIELD:

pop

POP SOLO PERFORMANCE:
Kelly Clarkson, “Heartbeat Song”
Ellie Goulding, “Love Me Like You Do”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”

It’s a battle between Taylor and Weeknd again, but expect Taylor to dominate the Pop categories to add to her haul.

PREDICTION: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
ALTERNATE: The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”

POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE:
Florence + The Machine, ” Ship to Wreck”
Maroon 5, “Sugar”
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”

This seems like an easy win for Mark and Bruno, which I still think will happen unless they want to go one-two punch of a moment between Taylor and Kendrick on stage.

PREDICTION: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
ALTERNATE: Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”

POP VOCAL ALBUM:
Kelly Clarkson, Piece by Piece
Florence + The Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Mark Ronson, Uptown Special
Taylor Swift, 1989
James Taylor, Before This World

While this is another part of the 1989 sweep that will happen on Grammy night, James Taylor comes a tad close for his first career #1 album. That said, Taylor can breathe as she’s still winning this handily.

PREDICTION: Taylor swift, “1989”
ALTERNATE: James Taylor, “Before This World”

TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM:
Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern
Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night
Josh Groban, Stages
Seth MacFarlane, No One Ever Tells You
Barry Manilow (& Various Artists), My Dream Duets

This has been Bennett’s category for years now, but every now and then there are exceptions. With his hit album,Josh Groban can look at his first Grammy win of his career. Unless they can’t resist rewarding perennial favorite Bob Dylan.

PREDICTION: Josh Groban, “Stages”
ALTERNATE: Bob Dylan, “Shadows in the Night”

DANCE & ELECTRONIC FIELD:

dance recording

DANCE RECORDING:
Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston, :We’re All We Need”
The Chemical Brothers, “Go:
Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Never Catch Me”
Galantis, “Runaway (U & I)”
Skrillex and Diplo With Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”

We’re looking at Grammy winner Justin Bieber here. Yup, that’s happening.

PREDICTION: Skrillex, Diplo, Justin BIeber, “Where Are U Now”
ALTERNATE: The Chemical Brothers featuring Q-Tip, “Go”

dance album

DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM:
Caribou, Our Love
The Chemical Brothers, Born in the Echoes
Disclosure, Caracal
Jamie XX, In Colour
Skrillex and Diplo, Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

At this point, it’s probably a double whammy already for Skrillex, whom they really love in this category. If not them, then maybe critically lauded Jamie xx, can take home the Grammy.

PREDICTION: Skrillex, Diplo,”Skrillex and Siplo Present Jack U”
ALTERNATE: Jamie xx, “In Colour”

ROCK & ALTERNATIVE FIELD:

rock and alternative

ROCK PERFORMANCE:
Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Florence + The Machine,”What Kind Of Man”
Foo Fighters, “Something From Nothing”
Elle King, “Ex’s & Oh’s”
Wolf Alice, “Moaning Lisa Smile”

Consider this the start of Alabama Shakes’ sweep on Grammy night. That said, isn’t it refreshing to have four women vocals in here? I hope this trend continues soon enough to kill the notion that only male artists do know rock.

PREDICTION: Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight”
ALTERNATE: Florence + the Machine, “What Kind of Man”

ROCK SONG:
Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Elle King, “Ex’s & Oh’s”
James Bay, “Hold Back the River”
Highly Suspect, “Lydia”
Florence + the Machine, “What Kind of Man”

File this under another win for Alabama Shakes. That said, James Bay could be the spoiler in this category.

PREDICTION: Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight”
ALTERNATE: James Bay, “Hold Back the River”

ROCK ALBUM:
James Bay, Chaos and the Calm
Death Cab for Cutie, Kintsugi
Highly Suspect, Mister Asylum
Muse, Drones
Slipknot, .5: The Gray Chapter

As mentioned, James Bay is giving me the vibe of that multi-nominated artist who’ll end up with nothing. That plus the narrative of Death Cab for Cutie and their last album makes me think they can pull off the win.

PREDICTION: Death Cab for Cutie, “Kintsugi”
ALTERNATE: James Bay, “Chaos and the Calm”

ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM:
Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
Björk, Vulnicura
My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall
Tame Impala, Currents
Wilco, Star Wars

I’m predicting Sound & Color for friggin Album of the Year it just makes sense I’ll predict them here. And before you bring me to Arcade Fire and The Black Keys 2011 upset, I think that’s more of an exception here. If there’s an upset here though, consider Bjork to finally receive her first Grammy.

PREDICTION: Alabama Shakes, “Sound & Color”
ALTERNATE: Bjork, “Vulnicura”

R&B FIELD:

rnb.png

R&B PERFORMANCE
Tamar Braxton, “If I Don’t Have You”
Andra Day, “Rise Up”
Hiatus Kaiyote, “Breathing Underwater”
Jeremih feat. J. Cole, “Planes”
The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)”

The R&B categories have been difficult to predict the last couple of years, but I think they won’t resist going with The Weeknd in here to officially welcome him to the big leagues. That is unless they reward the more traditional work of Andra Day.

PREDICTION: The Weeknd, “Earned It”
ALTERNATE: Andra Day, “Rise Up”

TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE:
Faith Evans, “He Is”
Lalah Hathaway, “Little Ghetto Boy”
Jazmine Sullivan, “Let It Burn”
Tyrese, “Shame”
Charlie Wilson, “My Favorite Part of You”

Tyrese has the biggest hit in this group, but will the Academy bite? On the other hand, Lalah Hathaway has been snatching out of nowhere wins the past few years, plus this has the “importance” factor, so maybe count on that to win a new one.

PREDICTION: Lalah Hathaway, “Little Ghetto Boy”
ALTERNATE: Tyrese, “Shame”

R&B SONG:
Miguel, “Coffee”
The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)”
Jazmine Sullivan, “Let It Burn”
D’Angelo and The Vanguard, “Really Love”
Tyrese, “Shame”

This is really a close one between Abel and D’Angelo, but part of me thinks they’re going with their pal that they’ve known longer. Plus, that ROTY nomination is telling. Never discount a Weeknd sweep though.

PREDICTION: D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Really Love”
ALTERNATE: The Weeknd, “Earned It”

URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM:
The Internet, Ego Death
Kehlani, You Should Be Here
Lianne La Havas, Blood
Miguel, Wildheart
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

Now this one is easier. We’re sure this will be a part of Weeknd’s mini-sweep. No AOTY nominated album has lost this category yet (unless losing to another co-AOTY nominee).

PREDICTION: The Weeknd, “Beauty Behind the Madness”
ALTERNATE: Miguel, “Wildheart”

R&B ALBUM:
Leon Bridges, Coming Home
D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
Andra Day, Cheers to the Fall
Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show
Charlie Wilson, Forever Charlie

D’Angelo’s comeback comes full circle as he’s surely taking this. Leon Bridges still has a chance, but for some reason, he missed some big nods (including the one many predicted him for… Best New Artist).

PREDICTION: D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Black Messiah”
ALTERNATE: Leon Bridges, “Coming Home”

RAP FIELD:

rap

RAP PERFORMANCE:
J. Cole, “Apparently”
Drake, “Back to Back”
Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Nicki Minaj feat. Drake & Lil Wayne, “Truffle Butter”
Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney, “All Day”

This is the start of Kendrick’s domination at the Grammys on Monday night. Like no one’s even close. Not even Kanye being pals with Paul McCartney.

PREDICTION: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
ALTERNATE: J.Cole, “Apparently”

RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION:
Big Sean feat. Kanye West & John Legend, “One Man Can Change the World”
Common & John Legend, “Glory”
Jidenna feat. Roman GianArthur, “Classic Man”
Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat, “These Walls”
Nicki Minaj feat. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown, “Only”

Count on the Oscar-winning duo to repeat a victory here. Unless they’d really go hard for Lamar.

PREDICTION: Common and John Legend, “Glory”
ALTERNATE: Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat, “These Walls”

RAP SONG:
Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney, “All Day”
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Drake, “Energy”
Common & John Legend, “Glory”
Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”

Rule of thumb is, count on the SOTY nominee to prevail unless there’s more than one in the group.

PREDICTION: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
ALTERNATE: Common and John Legend, “Glory”

RAP ALBUM:
J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Dr. Dre, Compton
Drake, If Youre Reading This Its Too Late
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint

Again, this will be a part of a huge Kendrick sweep. Like it will be the biggest upset ever if Kendrick doesn’t win this. On a distant second though is Dr. Dre who has some sort of a small narrative for him.

PREDICTION: Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp A Butterfly”
ALTERNATE: Dr. Dre, “Compton”

COUNTRY FIELD:

country

COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE:
Cam, “Burning House”
Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”
Carrie Underwood, “Little Toy Guns”
Keith Urban, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”
Lee Ann Womack, “Chances Are”

Chris Stapleton is the big name in country music the past year, that you’d know he has this one in the bag. That said, never underestimate Carrie Underwood who’s a favorite both in this category and when they still used to separate them before.

PREDICTION: Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”
ALTERNATE: Carrie Underwood, “Little Toy Guns”

COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE:
Brothers Osborne, “Stay a Little Longer”
Joey + Rory, “If I Needed You”
Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley & Eric Paslay, “The Driver”
Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
Blake Shelton feat. Ashley Monroe, “Lonely Tonight”

The usual suspects are actually MIA here, so expect Little Big Town to easily steamroll in this category.

PREDICTION: Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
ALTERNATE: Blake Shelton, Ashley Monroe, “Lonely Tonight”

COUNTRY SONG:
Lee Ann Womack, “Chances Are”
Tim McGraw, “Diamond Rings And Old Barstools”
Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
Brandy Clark, “Hold My Hand”
Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”

It’s Stapleton vs. Little Big Town here, but the SOTY nomination of Little Big Town gives it the edge.

PREDICTION: Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
ALTERNATE: Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”

COUNTRY ALBUM:
Sam Hunt, Montevallo
Little Big Town, Pain Killer
Ashley Monroe, The Blade
Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material
Chris Stapleton, Traveller

The AOTY nominee has this one in the bag, especially considering that he’s also in real talk to win the biggest award as well.

PREDICTION: Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”
ALTERNATE: Kacey Musgraves,”Pageant Material”

VISUAL MEDIA:

soundtrack

SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA:
The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)”
Common & John Legend, “Glory”
Ellie Goulding, “Love Me Like You Do”
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”
Lady Gaga, “Til It Happens to You”

This is a fairly popular group of hits except that Gaga song, and nope the Oscar nod won’t help it win this. It’s between the current Oscar winner or the biggest song in this bunch — both impactful songs, but one has the prestige and importance that the other lacks.

PREDICTION: Common and John Legend, “Glory”
ALTERNATE: Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, “See You Again”

COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK:
Empire: Season 1
Fifty Shades of Grey
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Pitch Perfect 2
Selma

Aside from Selma, I can see a case of the other nominees prevailing in here. That said, Empire was really huge the past year that I see it squeaking a win over its closest competitor, the 50 Shades soundtrack.

PREDICTION: Empire: Season 1
ALTERNATE: 50 Shaes of Grey

SCORE SOUNDTRACK:
Birdman
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Are we looking at the Grammy category or the Best Picture Oscar category? Oh welp there’s Interstellar spoiling the list. I’d just stick with the one that won the Oscar category.

PREDICTION: The Theory of Everything (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
ALTERNATE: Birdman (Antonio Sanchez)

MUSIC VIDEO/FILM:

short form music video

MUSIC VIDEO:
A$AP Rocky, “LSD”
The Dead Weather, “I Feel Love”
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”
Pharrell Williams, “Freedom”

This usually goes to the biggest song in the bunch even if it has inspired quality of nominees. Either way, Kendrick wins.

PREDICTION: Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”
ALTERNATE: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

music film

MUSIC FILM:
Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways
James Brown, Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown
Nina Simone, What Happened, Miss Simone
Roger Waters, The Wall
Amy Winehouse, Amy

This one’s between the two Oscar-nominated movies, and let’s just give it to the Oscar frontrunner.

PREDICTION: Amy
ALTERNATE: What Happened, Miss Simone?

Talk to me about the Grammys by tweeting me: @nikowl

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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

The Cumulative Ranking of Taylor Swift’s Albums   Leave a comment

QUEEN!

Deity Swift just released her fifth studio album (earlier in some parts of the world than the US), and it is said to be her departure to the country genre to fully embrace her pop sound. And if we’ll based it on her first single this era, the infectious “Shake It Off“, it is indeed a major crossover. Is it a risk worth doing, or is it a step back to her glorious streak? In order to gauge how 1989 fared as compared to the rest of her discography, we revisit Taytay’s memory lane and rank all five of her albums.

Taylor Swift

5. TAYLOR SWIFT (2006)

It was eight years ago when Taylor Swift entered the music scene with her self titled debut album. Just like all ingenues to the music industry, Taylor’s first offering was mostly about her dreams, giving a safe offering. But if there’s one thing that’s particularly striking about her, it’s her potential for song writing. Even in her debut album, T.Swift was already giving hints of introducing her self on a deeper level with her song writing. I think she entered the country scene in the right time as there’s no solo teen country girl that has made some name for herself since Leann Rimes in the mid-90s. While she didn’t become as huge as Rimes was when she entered the scene, it is without a doubt that when it comes to Swift and this album, the rest is simply history.

Favorite tracks:Our Song“, “The Outside“, “Teardrops in My Guitar

Speak Now

4. SPEAK NOW (2010)

The follow up the the critically lauded and commercial hit Fearless will always be a crucial for any artist, but two years after, Swift comes up with “Speak Now.” If Fearless made Swift bank and bask in her youthfulness and the feeling of such, there’s certainly no place to move on but go further on her next album. Speak Now had Swift writing songs referring to Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer and Kanye West to name a few, and what one might consider as petty can be Taylor’s view of finally letting her guard down and translating her frustrations as inspirations. And to the surprise of no one, it actually works. At this stage in her career, Swift needs to prove that Fearless isn’t just a fluke, a one-album wonder and she knows that her follow up will start to solidify the great start her previous album had. But like any Taylor related story, she ends up winning having the last laugh.

Favorite tracks:Enchanted“, “Back to December“, “Mean

Fearless

3. FEARLESS (2008)

Officially making her entry known to the rest of the music industry, Fearless is what made Taylor the youngest winner of the Grammy for Album of the Year back in 2009. Coming from where her initial album left off, she followed it with something that is a mix and match of a lot of things. Her sugary stuff was still present, but not only does she make herself relateable with the young girls, she also served as an older sister to them giving them pieces of advice (like that in Fifteen) or being message specific (like that in Hey Stephen.). She still gives homage to her country roots while simultaneously testing the water with them pop beats which probably is an indication of a crossover she’ll be doing in the future years of her career. And for an 18 year old country lady in the business, her album title can probably signify to that shift as well. If anything, in Fearless, Swift is still enjoying both worlds talking about puppy love and romance with a charm that only she can pull off.

Favorite tracks:You Belong With Me“, “Love Story“, “Hey Stepehen

Red

2. RED (2012)

The thing with Taylor’s albums is that the previous one can be connected with the succeeding one especially with the personal details that she shares behind the meaning of her songs. Red, which became her second album to be nominated for the Grammy Album of the Year, follows the same suit. Red is definitely her larger than life album tackling themes and topics in her songs so bluntly and partnering it with big beats and loud thumps making you feel as if every finish of a song is the closing of a different story. Her songwriting details are more aggressive and detailed this time around including a top notch favorite of mine “All Too Well.” In this album, Swift plays a teenager, a heartbroken woman, a cool girl, a hopeless romantic and lots of other facets making the listening experience more enjoyable. In Red, she acknowledges that she is mature already but that she’d still be petty every now and then. This is also her first (and still her only) album where she did collaborations (to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody), and I think one that never fails to give you all the “feels.”

Favorite tracks: “All Too Well“, “The Last Time“, “Begin Again

1989

1. 1989 (2014)

Yep. You’ve read that right. Well you can freely accuse me of having knee-jerk reactions, but I was just slayed by it. In Taytay’s latest, she officially announced that she’s going full throttle to pop territory. While the pop sound was already present in Swift’s previous albums, one could still hear the country twang every now and then. Yet such is the risk that she decides to take with her fifth album. And boy does it pay off big time. 1989, mixing 80s synth pop in it, is probably her most cohesive effort to date. While other songs can sound annoying as stand alone tracks (like that of album opener Welcome to New York), it is perfectly fitting in the context of the whole album. One moment you’re hearing some Lorde realness, then the other you’re hearing Lana and Tegan and Sara. But the difference is that she’s not really ripping them off, but she’s putting her own spin on them. The succession of songs from Blank Space to Out of the Woods is pure pop perfection, and she does that with probably majority of the songs in this album. 1989 is definitely 2014’s pop-gasm album if ever you have to single out one, and DeiTay knew exactly what she had in mind by assuring she’ll deliver with this pop venture.

Favorite tracks: Uhm almost everything? Lol. But “Blank Space”, “Style“, “Wildest Dreams“, “Clean

1989 will be digitally available via iTunes Philippines starting October 28. For the meantime, just keep on bopping to Shake It Off or watch her totally actressing performance of Out of the Woods over at Jimmy Kimmel Live (maybe she got tips from her The Giver co-star Meryl Streep? :))

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2013 in GIFs   Leave a comment

So I decided to skip my annual movie, TV shows, red carpet looks, and songs lists for this year since I have no time to write them all. Instead, I’ll be posting my favorite moments of 2013 in GIF style. So yes, most of these would be from awards show ceremonies or basically any pop culture event of the year. Okay.

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Okay so let’s begin with five six time Oscar loser a.k.a Albert Nobbs herself Glenn Close. At the Golden Globes last January, Close probably thought that she’s also one of the cool kids when she decided to play drunk after Tina Fey’s signal. You probably have no idea how epic this moment was. I mean I can’t even choose my favorite part. Is it the closing of her eyes to give a more convincing portrayal? Is it when she changed her mind and started to look up the heavens instead to make it even more convincing? Is it her husband’s coy “WTF I think I actually married Alex Forrest” tepid laugh? I guess I have to go with none of the above and choose the closing shot of her looking sideways to see check if people find her stuff funny.

That same night, we’re treated to one of the best (and yes I mean the best) awards show presentations ever. When SNL alums Kristin Wyg and Will Pharrell (as Tina Fey would say it) presented the Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy, I.WAS.DYING. As a refresher, here’s how they described the nominees that night:

(on Emily Blunt’s Salmon Fishing in Yemen): “When the salmon comes out.. and when the bad guy comes…. and the salmon was like.. and you’re in Yemen.
(on Judi Dench of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel): “That Judi Dench. Where did she come from? Unknown, she used to be a police officer, and this is her fist movie. And when all the marigold comes out.. and it’s on her hair. And on one scene, she looks at the town people and she’s like “YOUUU!!! YOUUU GET OUT OF HERE!!!”
(on Jennifer Lawrence of Silver Lings Playbook): “Ugh love Jennifer Lawrence. J.LAW. And then comes the silverrr!! I thought it was an animated film. And all the silver she has collected and they tried to get it away from her and she’s like “NOOO! THAT’S MY COOKBOOK!” and she’s like “YOUUU!!! YOUUU GET OUT OF HERE!!!”
(on Maggie Smith of Quartet): “And no one knows what a quartet is. IT IS AMBIGUOUS! And you think you know what it is, but then the guy comes and says “I think I know what a quartet is!” but he doesn’t”
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on Meryl Streep of Hope Springs): “And Meriall Streep. And she’s the sassy sheriff! “I’m Hope Springs!” She comes in a horse and she’s like she looks at the town people and she’s says “YOUUU!!! YOUUU GET OUT OF HERE!!!”

UGH TYPING THAT WAS A HOOT. I’m laughing again. And everyone in the room was actually entertained. Everyone that is except that creature named Tommy Lee Jones.

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Ugh Gramps looked grumpy as hell during that presentation. Guess what TLJ, that was my exact look when you stole that Oscar from Ralph Fiennes and Leonardo di Caprio.

Then we have the Screen Actors Guild Awards where you’re allowed to waste a minute of your life listening to Giuliana Rancic say things like this:

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Girl is useless as their manicam. By the way let’s appreciate that the SAG was the only time this award season where Anne Hathaway opened her mouth and said something entertaining that does not involve
a.”a blunt object I will forevermore use as a weapon against self-doubt”,
b. thanking Victor Hugo
c. thinking her Oscar win will stop prostitution.
d. correcting the spelling of her name
It was when Anne presented with co-star Hugh Jackman and they played a banter of how they will describe Les Mis in 2013.

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Yes Anne, you crushed it. Speaking of crushed, don’t you love this BFF pic of Nicole Kidman and the lesser Nicole Kidman Naomi Watts at the SAGs? Go Nic, giving some Regina George fierceness.

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Prior to her history making releasing an album without anything stint, Beysus graced us all with her presence at the Superbowl. But it wasn’t even her who stole the show. Two words: poor Michelle.

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Go poor Michelle!! Put that one day off to good use and appear at the Superbowl.I’m living for her facial reaction. She suddenly got cocky when she realized she did not fall off the mosh pit. YESSS!!

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But then again, we’re quickly reminded why she never skyrocketed as a solo artist. I mean not literally a rocket but even Bey can do it.

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Anyway, let’s move on to the Grammys a.k.a the first televised exam to see if Taylor Swift knows this song…

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and this one as well…

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and did you know she knew this song too?

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Okay we get it Taylor. You know all the songs. But then again who wants to see her do it for a fifth  time when you can see Legend Kidman bopping to that Bob Marley tribute?

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It wasn’t as epic as her singing Teenage Dream  at the Grammys last year but she gets bonus points because Adele is wearing a red doily.

Then there’s also the BAFTA where the only two interesting things we saw were Dame Dench’s O face (and when I say O, I mean Oh my god!) as Javier Bardem falls asleep

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and David O. Russell’s reaction when Emmanuelle Riva wins Best Actress.

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I was secretly wishing Emmanuelle would say “I beat J.Law” at the podium but then I remembered she doesn’t speak in English. So maybe in French? Anyway, off to the Oscars.

Okay remember when I said a few posts above that Giuliana Rancic is as useless as the manicam? Well I take it back. The Manicam is more useful than Giuliana apparently. I’m pretty sure it made Catherine Zeta Jones upset when Ryan Seacrest denied her to do one. You can clearly see in her eyes she wants to parade her fingers on the manicam. Not good, Ryan!

nicole-kidmanSee even Mr. and Mrs. Keith Urban felt bad for La Zeta.

Aside from that, we saw Lil’ Quvenzhane Wallis proving she’s the man (with a proud Denzel Washington beaming from behind),

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a bored Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter

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and a tripping Best Actress winner. Whoever put that banana peel there for Anne Hathaway clearly didn’t work

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But the best moment happened when Emmanuelle Riva unintentionally takes revenge on David O. Russell upon learning his reaction to her BAFTA Best Actress win.

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Be thankful, David. At least Em didn’t squashed your face with a pillow. #justsaying

In April this year, Reese Witherspoon was arrested by the cops but she tried to get herself out of this…

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…which only means she ended up in prison with a mugshot. You should have called Elle Woods to save you, Reese.

Taylor Swift won eight Billboard Music Awards in May of this year. But surprisingly, not any of those can match the WIN level of her reactions here:

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Meanwhile, Miguel channels his inner Bjorn Barrefors and trains for the Olympics on air

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Ouch for that woman whose head was found in between Miguel’s legs.

And as everyone celebrates film over at the Cannes Film Festival, two tiny teeny things clearly doesn’t wanna be there. Julianne Moore’s little toes can’t wait enough to go home instead they’re trying to escape while she’s on the red carpet.

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Still on the subject of feet, it’s not cool to talk about North West anymore, so let’s just hope Kim K’s feet some speedy recovery for everything they’ve been through this year:

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tumblr_mo6lqdTBl81qanm80o1_400Yes Debra Messing don’t act too surprised, those are her feet.

Last August 10, two of the biggest popstars go head to head as Lady Gaga releases Applause and Katy Perry releases Roar on the same week. You know it was bound to get messy.

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And someone’s coming out on top:

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But come the VMAs, it wasn’t even the two of them who became the talk of the town. But before that we saw…

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Justin Timberlake joined by four other lessers perform,

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Taylor Swift asking her BFF to STFU,

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Willow Smith whipping her head back and forth as Jaden Smith tries another shot at “acting”,

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Lady Gaga opening the show,

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but Katy Perry closing it.. (Ouch Gags! Was that msg for you?)

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But it Miley who made the whole thing classic. Even getting a classic rxn from Rih

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September also was the end for Breaking Bad. And I think no amount of GIF will give it justice so I’ll just post a photo of Bryan and Aaron because uhm, duh, bitch.

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And when the Emmys came, Neil Patrick Harris bombed as host, but no other bombed better than what this guy did:

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Then cute Merritt Wever gives one of the best Emmy speeches ever when she said nothing but…

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while Julia Louis Dreyfus stays in character in her speech.

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Michael Douglas, meanwhile, uses Matt Damon as metaphor in his thank you speech

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And though he did not win, Kevin Spacey still scores one in my b0ok after doing this:

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And the delight of Oprah pushing people

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And last month, Miley Cyrus wins Round 2 of best performance at the American Music Awards when she performs with a huge cat behind her:

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As Ariana Grande shows us all how it’s really done just by standing up.

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Meanwhile, a certain legend named Christina Aguilera is slaying the red carpet fo’sho:

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And that’s how you make an exit!  Wait let me reiterate

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On the other hand, here’s how you make an entrance. An album entrance that is. As Beysus Christ showed us, just drop em ‘off and boom.

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Let’s pause this moment and recognize Queen B.

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Oh wait, did you know Britney released an album this year? I’m sure even she’s not aware, but I guess she’s raking it in Vegas no so go Brit and

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And as Oscar season comes, we’re treated to a whole lot of epic GIFs from contenders like this of J.Law pleading…

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or Sandra Bullock in Gravity a.k.a basically whatever you wanna do to your enemy

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But to close this off, a legendary performance to close the year happened between Gags and Legend X when they did a duet of Do What U Want on The Voice finale.

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Anybody who does not get the ABBA meets Whatever Happened to Baby Jane reference is deads to me. Plus, I’d kill to have my head on Legend’s bosoms. Anyway, cheers to a happy 2013 and let’s hope for crazier things this 2014.

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Happy New Year everyone!

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MTV Video Music Awards 2013 Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

The 2013 MTV Video Music Awards is just right around the corner, and this one is shaping up to be a good one for MTV’s biggest night. Now celebrating it’s 30th year of the awards ceremonies, appearances and performances by the likes of Katy Perry, One Direction, Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, and Robin Thicke to name a few. Also, aside from leading up the nominations this year, Justin Timberlake is this year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard award, and a rumored N*SYNC reunion performance is in the books this year. I know you’re excited for Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. Anyway, here are my predictions on the major categories on who will end up with moonmen on Sunday’s ceremony:

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

* Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”
* Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”
* Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble”
* Robin Thicke, TI, Pharell, “Blurred Lines”
* Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”

WHO WILL WIN: Between the Video Vanguard award, the rumored N*SYNC performance, and his huge comeback this year, MTV is setting this up to be JT’s big night, and it won’t be complete if he doesn’t end up with the highest honor for that night. Plus, he still hasn’t won here yet, and it’s a great video to represent him here.
RUNNER UP: Taylor Swift. This is still a fan-voted format and Taylor is campaigning the hell for a win this year. Besides, the last six winners here are solo female popstars and Swift fits that bill.
MY CHOICE:  JT. Probably the one that stands out the most, thought that’s not saying a lot.

BEST MALE VIDEO

* Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pool (Drank)”
* Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”
* Ed Sheeran, “Lego House”
* Robin Thicke, TI, Pharell, “Blurred Lines”
* Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”

WHO WILL WIN: JT easily. It will be one of those sweep wins for his big night. This win will also put him on a tie with Eminem as the most rewarded act in the history of this category with three wins apiece.
RUNNER UP: 
Robin Thicke. Turning out to be the song of the year by far, they can easily throw him a bone here.
MY CHOICE:  
Ed Sheeran. Let’s throw him a vote come on guys. 🙂

 

BEST FEMALE VIDEO

* Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
* Demi Lovato, “Heart Attack”
* Pink (featuring Nate Ruess), “Just Give Me A Reason”
* Rihanna (featuring Mikky Ecko), “Stay”
* Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble”

WHO WILL WIN: Taylor Swift. It will probably be an easy win for Taylor as she’s sure to end up with a moonman on Sunday. The only scenario I see that lets her lose here is if she wins Video of the Year inside.
RUNNER UP: 
Miley Cyrus. This song is peaking at the right time, and her legion of fans will propel this to a win.
MY CHOICE:  
Rihanna. Probably the best video in this bunch. Simple and effective.

ARTIST TO WATCH

* Iggy Azalea, “Work”
* Austin Mahone “What About Love”
* Twenty One Pilots, “Holding Onto You”
* The Weeknd, “Wicked Games”
* Zedd (featuring Foxes), “Clarity”

WHO WILL WIN: Austin Mahone. Catering the left over conservative Bieber fanbase and opening for Taylor Swift can propel him to a win here.
RUNNER UP: 
Zedd. Clarity is the biggest hit in this group and he can benefit from that.
MY CHOICE:  
Maybe Zedd. But where’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis here? This would have been an easy win for them.

BEST POP VIDEO

* Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
* fun., “Carry On”
* Selana Gomez, “Come and Get It”
* Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”
* Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”

WHO WILL WIN: Miley Cyrus. I think she has better chance here than in Female since her fans are the most active among this bunch unless…
RUNNER UP:
this is still part of the Timberlake sweep so he can easily take this one too.
MY CHOICE:  
fun I guess. I’m not a fan of most of the videos here.

BEST ROCK VIDEO

* 30 Seconds to Mars, “Up in the Air”
* Fall Out Boy, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark”
* Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
* Mumford & Sons, “I Will Wait”
* Vampire Weekend, “Diane Young”

WHO WILL WIN: No idea, but the combo of recent rise to popdom and being the most recent here, I’m thinking Imagine Dragons.
RUNNER UP: 
Jared Leto is on the show as a presenter, so that’s one assured nominee who’ll show up so maybe 30 Seconds to Mars?
MY CHOICE:  
Vampire Weekend probably since they’re the ones I like the most in this group.

BEST HIPHOP VIDEO

* A$AP Rocky, “Fuckin’ Problems”
* J.Cole, “Power Trip”
* Drake, “Started From the Bottom”
* Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools”
* Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, “Can’t Hold Us”

WHO WILL WIN: As a result of their good breakout year and as the other most nominated act (aside from Justin that is), this is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to lose.
RUNNER UP: 
Probably Drake since he’s still 0 in terms of VMA wins.
MY CHOICE:  
Can’t Hold Us is one of my favorite jams this year.

BEST COLLABORATION VIDEO

* Calvin Harris/Ellie Goulding, “I Need Your Love”
* Pink/Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me A Reason”
* Pitbull/Christina Aguilera, “Feel This Moment”
* Robin Thicke/Pharell/TI, “Blurred Lines”
* Justin Timberlake/Jay Z, “Suit and Tie”

WHO WILL WIN: With the VMAs being held in Jay Z’s place this year, there’s no better way to give back to Jay than by giving him the moonman adding up to JT’s domination on Sunday, so I say Suit and Tie wins.
RUNNER UP: 
Blurred Lines since it’s the biggest hit in this line up.
MY CHOICE:  
I’d probably throw Pink and Nate a bone here and give them my vote.

BEST VIDEO WITH A SOCIAL MESSAGE

* Beyonce, “I Was Here”
* Kelly Clarkson, “People Like Us”
* Macklemore and Ryan Lewis/Mary Lambert, “Same Love”
* Miguel, “Candles in the Sun”
* Snoop Lion, “No Guns Allowed”

WHO WILL WIN: An easy win for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Plus, it talks about a hot topic that’s really rampant right now.
RUNNER UP: 
Beyonce just to make this more ridiculous as she wins for a live video. Oh and remember we’re in Brooklyn.
MY CHOICE:  
Same Love is the best song here and the only one deserving of a win.

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BEST SONG OF THE SUMMER

* Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
* Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”
* Selena Gomez, “Come and Get It”
* Calvin Harris/Ellie Goulding, “I Need Your Love”
* One Direction, “Best Song Ever”
* Robin Thicke/Pharell/TI, “Blurred Lines”

WHO WILL WIN: Two words: BLURRED LINES.
RUNNER UP: 
Maybe Miley comes closest to Blurred Lines here. Though she’s far and away a distant runner up.
MY CHOICE:  
Daft Punk and VMA only happens once in a blue moon, so why not grab the chance to vote for it?

There you have it! Are you excited for the 30th VMAs? Don’t forget to watch the show on Sunday!

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Best Dressed List at the 70th Golden Globe Awards   1 comment

The 70th Golden Globe Awards were held earlier this day (here in Manila), and it was the kick off this awards season (because the BFCA sucked too much to be taken seriously). Sadly, the red carpet was a lot tamer this year in terms of red carpet dresses. Most were just safe and even those best dressed have already shown better looks during their past Golden Globe appearances. With that said, here are the fourteen looks that rocked the red carpet. You can

You can also click the photos for them to look bigger. (Photos courtesy of justjared and Yahoo!)

jennifer lawrence

14. JENNIFER LAWRENCE in Dior Haute Couture

The Silver Linings Playbook Best Actress winner started her journey to the Oscar with this red Dior Haute Couture dress that she embellished with a thin belt to further emphasize both her waist and her cleavage.

jessica alba

13. JESSICA ALBA in Oscar dela Renta

Although Jessica Alba’s dress looks quite similar to the color of J.Law’s, they’re actually different. Alba mixed both old and new Hollywood in this dress especially with that attention grabbing necklace, though we could have lived without that feather duster purse.

taylor swift

12. TAYLOR SWIFT in Donna Karan Atelier

Swift did great on her Golden Globe debut with this violet Donna Karan dress that she wore at last night’s event. It was too light for the Oscars and too formal for the Grammys, and she successfully got the right mood for some Globes partying. Now if she can only work on her bitchface mode when Adele won…

hayden panettiere

11. HAYDEN PANETTIERE in Roberto Cavalli

Golden Globe nominee Hayden Panettiere was at her best red carpet look evah as she steps out of this ethereal white Roberto Cavalli creation that she finally looked like she’s dressing her age and that she’s comfortable with it.

jennifer lopez

10. JENNIFER LOPEZ in Zuhair Murad

J.Lo still proved that age is nothing but a number as she steps out of this nude Zuhair Murad that perfectly embraced her curvaceous body. Definitely a photogenic dress that gets plus points for the woman wearing it.

sarah hyland

09. SARAH HYLAND in Max Azria Atelier

Though Modern Family went 0/3 at last night’s show, star Sarah Hyland was a stunner in this black Max Azria creation that made her look mature but still having fun look.

claire danes

08. CLAIRE DANES in Versace

Wow. Who knew that just a month ago, Danes just gave birth to her new born baby boy. This red hot Versace gown is the perfect comeback for a new mommy like Danes.

anne hathaway

07. ANNE HATHAWAY in Chanel

While Hathaway is one of best dressed actresses of her generation, this was a bit of  a letdown especially since her last Globe appearance in 2011 was my top look of that year. This year though, she went with a safe but every inch regal in a white Chanel piece that looks a bit like a wedding gown.

naomi watts

06. NAOMI WATTS in Zac Posen

Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts probably looks too covered in this cherry red Zac Posen gown, but all it needs is one look at the back that showed her flawless tsunami-free skin.

sally field

05. SALLY FIELD in Alberta Ferretti

It’s good to see when acctresses who are already in their 60s still strut to the world how fabulous they look. That’s what Sally Field did when she donned up this blue Alberta Ferretti gown which was a breath of fresh air from her usual black short dresses.

megan fox

04. MEGAN FOX in Dolce & Gabbana

Motherhood has its way of showing the natural beauty in everyone. That seems to catch up on first time mom Megan Fox as she showed up looking pretty in this Dolce & Gabbana creation that gives her this simple but stunning look.

marion cotillard

03. MARION COTILLARD in Christian Dior

Speaking of natural beauty, my God can Marion Cotillard look any prettier than this one. The Best Actress nominee, who was simple in Dior which she matched with same colored pumps, can pass off as a 20 year old woman here. Une jolie femme!

miranda kerr

02. MIRANDA KERR in Zuhair Murad

Kerr is certainly no actress, but the red carpet is definitely her territory. And boy does she rule in it! This red Zuhair Murad creation gives her part sexy, part flirty, but whole goddess look.

nicole kidman

01. NICOLE KIDMAN in Alexander McQueen

She might not have won any Globes that night, but she’s clearly the red carpet winner. Kidman is still on top of the fashion list in this Alexander McQueen gown which she fits like a glove. And check out that see through middle part. Not only that but Kidman seems to be the last few actresses we have whose posture in the red carpet is perfection (along with Cate Blanchett, Penelope Cruz, and Charlize Theron). I particularly like the shorter hair as well, as it’s different from her usual long blonde hair.

Who are your fashion picks last night? Pipe them in below at the comments!

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl