Thursday, February 7, 2013
Its that time of year again. The Grammys! We all know that winning a Grammy is the top honor. An American Music Award or Billboard award is cool, but every artist wants to get their hands on a Grammy. Although I've mixed plenty of country and rock records through GetMixed.net, I won't profess to know enough about the artists in those genres to make a sound decision on who should win a Grammy. I'll stick to the categories and genres I'm most familiar with. I will discuss the three main Grammy awards and a select few of the Pop, R&B and HipHop categories. Here are my picks on who should win, and hopefully my "should wins" will match the "will wins". We'll find out on February 10th!
Album Of The Year - "El Camino," The Black Keys; "Some Nights," fun.; "Babel," Mumford & Sons; "channel ORANGE," Frank Ocean; "Blunderbuss," Jack White.
Okay, this seems like an obvious choice. Frank Ocean's Channel Orange was an amazing accomplishment. Not only was it a great album with high minded music production, songwriting, and immaculate vocals by Ocean. It was an achievement because it is technically an R&B album and R&B is a genre that has been pretty stagnant for a while now. Chris Brown, Trey Songs, and every male artist that does R&B are seemingly confined to variations on the single topic of sex, with very few exceptions. How many songs do we have to hear about sexual prowess? How many ways can you sing "I'm gonna f**k you real good?" Apparently, this sentiment can be expressed a myriad of ways. Recently, we heard Trey Songs express it in "Dive In" (no, not into a pool) and Chris Brown with "Wet The Bed" (yeah, he said it). Female R&B artists have a better range of song topics but musically the ladies haven't made any Grammy worthy albums lately. Enter Frank Ocean. He made an R&B album that breaks all of the contemporary R&B rules. No sexual prowess records here. Channel Orange contains songs about everything from rich kids running a muck, to love, drugs, sexuality, and everything in between. The other nominees in this category had a easier path to making a great album. There is more artistic freedom in just about every other genre except R&B. To get an Album Of The Year nomination as an R&B artist, you have to make an album that transcends R&B. The album has to be a seriously amazing body of work, far beyond just a great R&B album. Ocean definitely did that. The proof is that Channel Orange isn't even up for the Best R&B album award - it's bigger than R&B. He should win and he will win, fingers crossed.
My pick - Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
Record Of The Year - "Lonely Boy," The Black Keys; "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," Kelly Clarkson; "We Are Young," fun. featuring Janelle Monae; "Somebody That I Used to Know," Gotye featuring Kimbra; "Thinkin' Bout You," Frank Ocean; "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Taylor Swift.
People often get confused between this award and the Song Of The Year award. Record Of The Year is for the performer and production team involved in the record - the artist, producer, and engineers but not the songwriter. Song Of The Year is the song writers award that goes to the writers and composers of the song.
This one's a little trickier than Album Of The Year. While I think that Channel Orange is the front runner for the Album award, I don't think that "Thinkin Bout You" is the Record Of The Year. Like Ocean himself said on "Sweet Life" - The best song wasn't the single. Of all the nominees, I'm leaning more towards "We Are Young" and "Somebody That I used To Know". Both of those are great records that are certainly not the norm and took some musical chances. What chances you say? Well..We Are Young has that piano and percussion intro that's at a totally different tempo and vibe than the rest of the song, then it switches up to that big, sing-along anthem of a hook. You don't hear tempo and vibe changes in pop music often, if ever. Pop is all about repetition - you can't change the groove! That hook is so catchy that even if you don't like the song you're gonna give in to it eventually. I actually think that makes it a better candidate for the Song Of the Year award.
Somebody That I Used To Know is also an unlikely pop hit. It's interesting to note that the pop/radio version of this song is quite different than the original album version. The radio version is a remix by some dude named DJ Mike D. He contributed some radio friendly drum programming and production elements to the song, making it less alternative and more pop oriented. The original version is low key, organic and quirky affair. Mike D's remix transformed it from a great but indie alternative record to a great pop radio record. Either way, it was a freakin' smash.
My pick - Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye
Song Of The Year (songwriters): "The A Team," Ed Sheeran; "Adorn," Miguel Pimentel; "Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae Jepsen, Tavish Crowe and Josh Ramsay; "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," Jorgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin and Ali Tamposi; "We Are Young," Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost and Nate Ruess.
Although Call Me Maybe WAS everywhere, I don't think that the Grammy folks care about that kinda stuff. I don't think.. Call Me Maybe was an extremely successful and well put together song in its own right, even if it was a little too poppy for my taste. It could win, it might win. To me, the other songs in this category are good but We Are Young and Call Me Maybe are the front runners here. From a songwriting point of view, Call Me Maybe is great because anybody could have sang it, anybody and everybody did sing it on YouTube. This is one of those cases where the song is bigger than the artist.
I'd love to see Miguel win for "Adorn" but I don't think it will happen. Unfortunately, Call Me Maybe and We Are Young were just bigger records. Ed Sheeran's "The A Team" is a classic acoustic guitar, singer songwriter record. It's fine, but Song Of The Year? I dunno. Kelly Clarkson's Stronger is a generic pop record to me. Her vocals are great on it and I think she has a better chance at winning the Pop Solo Performance award with this song.
This is a tough one. As infectious as Call Me Maybe is, I think that We Are Young was a more difficult record to pull off and Fun deserves some recognition for taking those musical chances.
My Pick - We Are Young by Fun.
Best New Artist - Alabama Shakes; fun.; Hunter Hayes; The Lumineers; Frank Ocean.
This is a fairly obvious choice - Frank Ocean. However, Fun is a close second and could win. The others... Good luck.
Best Pop Solo Performance - "Set Fire to the Rain (Live)," Adele; "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," Kelly Clarkson; "Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae Jepsen; "Wide Awake," Katy Perry; "Where Have You Been," Rihanna.
This category is a tough race. Just about all of the artists here gave excellent vocal performances on their respective songs. Carly Rae Jepsen had the benefit of singing on a supremely catchy song so I can't say that her vocal performance is on par with Adele or Kelly Clarkson's. Her vocal didn't carry the song, the song carried her vocal. Rihanna's performance on Where Have You Been is really good, maybe her best so far. She's come a long way, remember S.O.S? Katy Perry also turned in a good vocal but I think Adele is probably the safe choice here.
My Pick - Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
Best R&B Performance - "Thank You," Estelle; "Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)," Robert Glasper feat. Ledisi; "I Want You," Luke James; "Adorn," Miguel; "Climax," Usher.
Man.. That Ledisi can sing her ass off, no question about that. She put it down on Robert Glasper's "Gonna Be Alright". I do like Estelle, but I don't think Thank You should win. I Want You by Luke James has some good vocals on it too - but, nah... That leaves us with Adorn by Miguel and Climax by Usher. I'm a big fan of "Climax" and being that it isn't up for any other awards, Usher's song with the sexy title that's actually not about sex should win.
My Pick - Climax by Usher
Best R&B Song - "Adorn," Miguel; "Beautiful Surprise," Tamia; "Heart Attack," Trey Songz; "Pray for Me," Anthony Hamilton; "Refill," Elle Varner.
This one is easy and needs no explanation. Adorn is by far the best R&B song this year.
My Pick - Adorn by Miguel
Best R&B Album - "Black Radio," Robert Glasper Experiment; "Back to Love," Anthony Hamilton; "Write Me Back," R. Kelly; "Beautiful Surprise," Tamia; "Open Invitation," Tyrese.
My Pick - Black Radio by Robert Glasper
Best Rap Song - "Daughters," Nas; "Lotus Flower Bomb," Wale featuring Miguel; "Mercy," Kanye West's G.o.o.d. Music Compilation; "The Motto," Drake featuring Lil Wayne; "Ni**as in Paris," Jay-Z & Kanye West; "Young, Wild & Free," Wiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg featuring Bruno Mars.
First of all, I can not believe "Young Wild & Free" is up for a Grammy. That song is nowhere near Grammy worthy in my opinion. I like Snoop and Wiz but this song? Nah man, just.. no. Okay, now that we got the wackness out of the way, lets get down to it. I'll so some deductive reasoning here. I think "Lotus Flower Bomb" is dope but it should be in the Best Rap/Sung category. I was a fan of the Nas's "Daughters" but I think the record is out gunned in this category. While "The Motto" got plenty of airplay, its just not that dope of a record to me. Drake and Wayne are cool but the production value is just not up to par - not for the Grammys. We're now left with "Ni**as In Paris" and "Mercy". FYI, these same two records are also up for Best Rap Performance. I'm definitely a fan of Mercy, but "Ni**as" will take this one. It's gonna be interesting to see how they announce it... and the Grammy goes to... Brothas in Paris? Fellas in Paris? N-Word in Paris?? We'll see.
My Pick - Niggas in Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye
Best Rap Performance - "Daughters," Nas; "Ni**as in Paris," Jay-Z & Kanye West; "HYFR (Hell Ya F***ing Right)" Drake featuring Lil Wayne; "Mercy," Kanye West's G.o.o.d. Music Compilation; "I Do," Young Jeezy featuring Andre 3000.
This is an easy one, we'll get to hear them fumble over the "N" word one more time.
My Pick - Niggas in Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye
Best Rap Album - "Take Care," Drake; "Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1," Lupe Fiasco; "Life Is Good," Nas; "Undun," The Roots; "God Forgives, I Don't," Rick Ross; "Based on a T.R.U. Story," 2 Chainz.
We all know that Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, Mad City is the best rap album. I looks like it was released after the Grammy cut off time so it's not included this year. Next year he'll win it all I'm sure. We do have some good hiphop nominated this year though. However, the 2 Chainz nomination was... curious. Because of that, I made sure to give his album a thorough and objective listen as I wanted to be pleasantly surprised. I wanted to listen to it and think, "damn this 2 Chainz album is not at all what I thought it would be". Well.. That didn't happen. My takeaway from "Based On A T.R.U. Story" is that 2 Chainz is obsessed with strippers. Seriously, homeboy makes some sort of reference to a stripper on damn near every song. Also, the production on the album is largely the same drum sounds and programming. When will we move on from them damn 808 snare fills? I'm burnt out on that tat-tat-tat, tat-tat-tat. Come on y'all.
The Root's "Undun" album is pretty good and probably the most technically sound record in this category. Questlove and company pay close attention to their sound and engineering; they're mixes are always on point. Drake's "Take Care" is good, but I liked the "Thank Me Later" album a little better than this one, same with the Rick Ross album. His previous release "Teflon Don" was better to me. Lupe Fiasco's "Food & Liquor II" is a good album from the always militant, complex lyricist. I think Nas's "Life is Good" is gonna take the Grammy on this one. Nas put together a near perfect album with diverse production, emotional weight, and his lyrical ability was in top form.
My Pick - Nas - Life is Good
There's more categories and more nominations but I don't want this post to be long and boring like the Grammys can be!
Congrats to all the nominees.