It's that time of year again: Grammy nomination season and as is usually the case, I consider myself (mostly) disappointed. I'm not going to expend much energy detailing the many ways the Recording Academy has lost its way as an organization and how it annually fails. To borrow from former NFL head coach Dennis Green, they are who we think they are. There are some bizarre and inexplicable choices in the major categories but there are a few inspired moves this year so we'll highlight a few of each.
Let's start with things that please me: Jack White's Blunderbuss is nominated for Album Of The Year. It's a fantastic record worthy of recognition. It smacks of Grammy trying to make a move for the cool here but it's also the right decision. I love The Black Keys and I'm not sorry to see them nominated even if El Camino disappointed me compared to previous records from the band.
What else am I happy about? Oh, how about Alabama Shakes scoring a couple of nods including Best New Artist. The Athens, AL-based quartet are one of the breakthrough artists this and while their debut record Boys & Girls shows room for growth, it was also a powerful introduction to what these kids can and might do. I'm also pleased to see Frank Ocean in this category (and he's going to win). I've not listened to his record but the buzz surrounding it is good and he's a compelling figure; it's good to see him recognized.
I really love Fiona Apple's Idler Wheel record and considering how infrequently she visits us with new music, it's good to see her getting some attention. Florence + The Machine isn't going to fare well in the pop categories where she's been slotted but Ceremonials is fantastic and I'm glad to see it getting some attention in the US.
We've got our share of usual suspects among the Grammy nominees: Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson, Kanye West, Taylor Swift (go ahead and insert your own jokes here; I'm sure we haven't heard them all).
The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons seem poised to add themselves to the list of perennials in the Americana/Roots category after their launch into the public eye, as well.
Now let's turn to the places that angered and confused me. Tom Waits is nominated for Best Alternative Album for Bad As Me. I'll borrow from our Commander-in-Chief and say let me be clear: I'm not complaining that Waits was nominated. I'm not complaining that Bad was nominated. This just seems the wrong category for him. I don't get it. And Gotye in this category as well? Not seeing that, either.
The Grammys failure is complete in the Hard Rock category. Nominated bands include Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson, Megadeath, and Anthrax. I'm 39-years old and at one time, hard rock made up a healthy portion of my listening diet and these were the bands at or near the epicenter of hard rock... when I was 15 (okay, Manson came a little later but you get the idea). I'm not saying these veterans didn't make good records- they may well have. I have a sneaking suspicion there are a few bands formed after 1995 that made good hard rock records. The Academy still doesn't understand or respect this genre; they should get a better panel or stop embarrassing themselves.
The blues category is near and dear to my heart and I really like Ruthie Foster's Let It Burn and Shemekia Copeland's 33 1/3. They're going to give the award to Dr. John for his Dan Auerbach (Black Keys)-helmed record and it's a good one but the nominees in this category really don't represent the genre well. The Academy already shrunk the blues category from two awards to one and they still can't find the right five records and I kind of hate them for it.
The Academy may do a pisspoor job of honoring the best in music but they're good at stirring the conversation. BlindedBySound reviewed many of the artists, albums, and songs nominated in the categories below. Take a look at the nominees, read our thoughts, and please share yours. Who got snubbed? Who deserves to take home the trophy?
Album Of The Year:
Record Of The Year:
Song Of The Year:
Best New Artist:
Best Rock Performance:
Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance:
Best Rock Album:
Best Alternative Music Album
Best R&B Performance:
Best Urban Contemporary Album
Best R&B Album:
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration:
Best Rap Performance:
Best Rap Album
Best Rap Album
Best Pop Solo Performance
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
Pop Vocal Album:
Best Dance/Electronica Album:
Best Country Solo Performance:
Best Country Album:
AMERICAN ROOTS FIELD
Best Americana Album:
Best Blues Album: