Will Bon Iver Be The Arcade Fire Of 2012? And Other Pre-Grammy Nomination Show Questions

boniver_promo.jpg
D.L. Anderson
Aw, why so glum?
Tonight's Grammy nomination concert, airing at 10 p.m. on CBS, will not only jam-pack a bunch of performances by the likes of Lady Gaga and Jason Aldean into its 60 minutes, it'll also let us know which artists will be prostrating themselves in front of the globe and thanking their families and God during next February's awards ceremony. Sure, Adele not getting as many nominations as humanly possible for her much-beloved, best-selling 21 is probably the most shocking development that can transpire this evening, but there are other questions afoot, too. Will the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences allow Taylor Swift to look surprised again and nominate Speak Now for multiple awards? Will Kanye West get honored for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a year after it was greeted by nearly across-the-board critical love? Will the ambition all over Lady Gaga's Born This Way pay off in nominations? And is Bon Iver, currently racking up the "Best Album Of 2011" laurels from the likes of Paste, slated to rep for "indie" next February a la the Arcade Fire this year? Nick Murray and I answer these questions, and offer our picks for the Big Four categories' nomination slates, below.

Maura Johnston: So Nick, tonight is the Grammy nomination special, although I assume you already have your DVR set. Want to engage in a little bit of nomination handicapping?

Nick Murray: Sounds good, though I have to admit I don't have any DVR to set. Let's just say that I already opened a browser window and typed "'Dirt Road anthem' + grammy nomination special" into the search bar.

Should we start the finisher? Or, 21 is a guaranteed Album of the Year lock and a clear favorite to win, right?

MJ: Not sure how many actual nominations are going to get announced during the show given that there are something like 10 performers scheduled for the evening, but I guess the producers wanted to save time, given that reading all the nominations means that the people on stage will have to say "Adele" and "Adele" and Adele" over and over again. And she won't even be there.

21 is definitely a lock for a lot of nominations. It sold a lot! It has gravitas! And a great backstory, as long as our heroine recovers from the throat condition that sidelined her from the AMAs and from tonight's festivities to give that story a tidy conclusion.

NM: What do you expect out of another numerically titled album, Beyonce's 4? Three years ago I Am... Sasha Fierce picked up eight nominations, and while the new one doesn't have "Single Ladies" to win Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B song, I imagine it's still going to do well, at least at this stage in the process.

MJ: I think it has a lot of potential (although this might be colored by my love of most of it) and could even take the crown from Adele if it gets nominated and is promoted correctly during the voting period. It's throwbacky and classy and a bit of a victory lap, and its credits contain a few Grammy-beloved names—Babyface, Diane Warren—alongside the likes of The-Dream, Frank Ocean, and (sigh) Ryan Tedder). And as far as songs, may I remind you of a little song called "Countdown," or at least "Love On Top"? Neither of them is eligible thanks to them coming out too late as singles, but they're still solid contributions to a great album.

NM: As much as I love "Countdown," and as much as just about everybody who's heard "Countdown" loves "Countdown," it still only peaked at 71 on the Hot 100. Radio has apparently been similarly ambivalent, and the song has only barely cracked the R&B/Hip-Hop top 40. Contrast that which "Single Ladies," which even made its way into the trailer for the Alvin & the Chipmunks reboot.

Who else do you expect big things from?

MJ: Lady Gaga, maybe.

NM: Of course, plus it never hurts to have her involved in any sort of awards show or public event. Will there be a rap LP in the Album of the Year final five? Usually we get one: Recovery last year, The E.N.D. (sort of) the year before, Tha Carter III in 2009, but on first glance this year's field doesn't have a clear frontrunner. You could go with Carter IV, but the even National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences must be able to hear the drop off between that and its predecessor. You had mentioned to me earlier that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy might a chance, and that would make sense, particularly since every record in Kanye West's College triptych got nominated in its respective year.


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32 comments
Pell Mel
Pell Mel

Will Bon Iver Be The Arcade Fire Of 2012? Christ, I hope not.  I want to get on psychotropics drugs for depression every time I hear a song.

James
James

Though I'm familiar with the Village Voice, I hadn't (as far as I remember) read any blog entries...credit to Maura for actually responding and to the commenters for being surprisingly, well, unoffensive, a rarity in internet comments these days.

As for my points...not just to echo the earlier conversation thread, but I too nearly gave up on the article after the "Pink Friday is better than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" comment.  I'm glad I didn't, but still.  Sure, Pink Friday album opens brilliantly, with "I'm the Best" and "Roman's Revenge", and I had high expectations after those two.  However, I can barely remember anything else on the album doing anything except either annoying me (Right Thru Me) or going in one ear and out the other.  "Super Bass", easily the best track from those sessions, wasn't even on the edition I bought and so I heard it far later.  Granted, I'd take Pink Friday any day over Rihanna's Loud, but I guess that continues the trend of the last few years (The Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D, Katy Perry's Teenage Dream) of nominating three or four standout singles surrounded by forgettable-at-best filler for Album of the Year.

I'm against lionizing any particular album as much as anyone...to risk indie wrath, I thought Arcade Fire's The Suburbs was rather overrated and, though I like them as a whole, didn't think they merited the top award in 2011; it's the one time out of her now three nominations I would've given it to Gaga.  However, this is one of the rare cases it seems entirely deserved.  MBDTF reminds me of Outkast's Stankonia (which was nominated for Album of the Year) in it's scope and bold nature; it does more, better, than most albums I can think of in the past few years, and for my money "Runaway" deserves the same accolades as "Rolling in the Deep".  If anything, Nicki Minaj's verse on "Monster" (which even the most negative review of MBDTF, in The Guardian, called "stunning") was the musical equivalent of Melissa McCarthy's appearance in Bridesmaids; it was so amazing and all-out that I don't mind her getting nominated elsewhere, but the source shouldn't have been snubbed, and certainly not in favor of Minaj's solo effort.  She's a talented rapper, but sadly the vast majority of her album reminds me of Loud...pop-rap/hip-hop that failed to harness her fierce skills.

And lastly, Kanye's misogyny is nothing to ignore, true, but the earlier poster had a good point in stating that Minaj is no less guilty of sexism in her lyrics.  Yes, two wrongs don't make a right, but it seems harder to argue against Kanye when using Minaj as the good example.

Ultimately...Nicki Minaj did deserve to be up for Album of the Year over the Foos or Rihanna, but she deserved it more as a guest on MBDTF.  Her and Bon Iver could've gotten another chance to have been a part of Grammy gold.  No album is perfect, but MBDTF has a hell of a lot fewer flaws than Pink Friday IMO, while taking far more risks, and is damn near the only album on the Grammy's radar I would've had no problem seeing win over Adele's 21. Minaj's real snub case is "Super Bass" in either/both Record and Song of the Year.

maura
maura

It is probably not surprising that a lot of male commenters don't realize that a lengthy string of nihilistic misogyny can be kind of wearying for a female listener, but I guess Artistry wins out when you're not the one whose gender is constantly being put down.

Jay Jones
Jay Jones

"Pink Friday is better than Dark Twisted Fantasy anyway"Pink Friday did not bring nothing new and even by rap and hip/hop standards the album was no better than other rap/hip hop release of the past year. On the other hand you will never find a rap/hip-hop album that compares to MBDTF. Kanye had the perfect mix of influences. Hip-Hop/rap, pop, rock (2 songs had rock samples, and 1 had a kickass guitar solo), and indie(the brilliant use of Justin Vernon throughout the album) were all represented in MBDTF. MBDTF completely destroys Pink Friday. To add insult to injury Nicki Minaj's best verse is not on her own record. Her verse on "Monster" was better than anything in her album. How anybody can make such a statement is beyond me?

Britt Alderfer
Britt Alderfer

I kind of WISH Pink Friday was better than Dark Twisted Fantasy. But it's... just not? I want Minaj to just do a rap album, honestly.

So yes, I will be hostile over the fact that the Nicki Minaj album I want doesn't exist instead of your preference for it over MBDTF. Gosh I do enjoy list season but I don't quite understand the hostility towards a critic who doesn't share all of your favorites! Like, I just pity those who don't love the new Bon Iver as much as I do. No need to be so pissed about 'Ye, James A. Callahan.

It's only going to get worse from here on out though let's brace ourselves

James A. Callahan
James A. Callahan

Look guys, I thought your Grammy prognosticating was worthless on page one, but I seriously stopped reading after Nick suggested that "Pink Friday is better than Dark Twisted Fantasy anyway," tossed off as if this inanity were accepted logic anywhere in the known universe.  

But hey, the numbers speak for themselves:Metacritic:My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: 94/100Pink Friday: 69/100

Oh, and on the Village Voice's own Pazz and Jop list?

Kanye: #1 Nicki: # ... oh, fuck, 234?

You guys are better off tuning in to your DVRs and shutting the fuck up.

ojk
ojk

nm is an idiot

SoCalMalaise
SoCalMalaise

Anybody who says or agrees that Pink Friday is better than MBDTF is a sacrilegious infidel whose first amendment rights should be revoked

rendit
rendit

I, first of all, take issue with your associating Bon Iver and Steely Dan.

Second of all, the greatest Bro Goes Into The Woods To Find Himself And Write A Record Of Deep Shit Maaannn story is Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, duh.

Lll
Lll

"Pink Friday is better than Dark Twisted Fantasy anyway." Wow.

Old Man
Old Man

I'm probably significantly older and less hep than you. I don't enjoy Pink Friday's or Kayne West's music persee but I did see a performance live at Black Hawks arena in 1972. The first set was great, they're songs from umagumma, meddle and other albums. The second set was new, I never heard it before and never heard it again until the late spring of 1973. It was different for them. It was jazz, It was blues, It was space rock. It was jazz, blues, space rock. When the concert was over all I sensed was, wow. I went to plenty of concerts and listened to a lot of music since. Nothing struck me the same until I listened to Bon Iver / Bon Iver. My first question was, could this ever be recreated live? I went to the opening concert of the current 2011 tour and listened to Justin Vernon and his band. When the concert was over all I sensed was, wow.

Britt Alderfer
Britt Alderfer

Yeah I get you. I wouldn't ever try to brush off the misogyny present in Fantasy or some of its marketing, or know how. However, there was still enough of value there for me to be invested in the album. I listen to music I like that sometimes is unkind to women and try to not let it get me down, I hang out on the blogosphere that likes to make excuses for it, and try not to let that get me down either. Usually I just get really pissed instead. But, uhm, thanks for being one of those people who would call this out, especially with the way these dialogues tend to end up (all the male commenters saying PLZ GET OVER IT BITCH! or something to that extent).

At least this isn't Stereogum-comments level terrible? Yet? (bright side?)

Jay Jones
Jay Jones

Then you must have hated the fact that Nicki would allow someone like Eminem on her album. Nicki is not so innocent herself. Have a male rapper repeat some of Nicki's lyrics and you would accuse them of being misogynistic. 

James A. Callahan
James A. Callahan

Bon Iver, Bon Iver is lovely, lovely.  No arguments there.

maura
maura

So what you're saying is, every critic has to go along with the opinion of the masses? Also, you do realize that toting out aggregates is an utterly flawed way of sonning Nick and me, since surely there were people in that imperfect average who, I don't know, VOTED FOR PINK FRIDAY or GAVE KANYE A BAD REVIEW in that mix?

Katherine
Katherine

Considering that you've typed the sentence "Pink Friday is better than MBDTF," which technically qualifies as "saying it," I'd reconsider that statement. #loopholes

nick
nick

i always assumed 'behind blue eyes' was Durst's ~finding himself~ moment

-_-
-_-

Flippant contrarianism disguised as critique -- VV really in top form as they round into the end of the year, eh?

maura
maura

Sigh. No. I'm talking about the idea that Fantasy is The Greatest Record Ever, Or At Least Better Than 99.9% Of Others, and how it's patently flawed and based in a lot of assumptions.

James A. Callahan
James A. Callahan

First of all: nothing illustrated in your Grammy discussion contains any kind of insight into voter decision making, or impresses that either of you have done anything more than scan Billboard charts and Wikipedia for your information, making it - at least in my mind - as worthless as my aggregate reference (and I'll give you that, aggregates mean little next to individual opinion - trust me, I get it).  That's why Page 1 was worthless.  Look, if shit got better on Page 2, well, hey good on that but I didn't make it that far.  Like most Village Voice articles recently, I find myself wondering why I even hit the Twitter links these days.

But Nick's suggestion was an irresponsible bait-and-hook tactic thrown into the conversation under some imbecilic notion his is a stance of cultural authority assuming we've all kind of decided, post-release and under reevaluated consensus, that hey, MBDTF was overrated.  Which it wasn't.  And I think most people can make the uncontroversial argument that in 2020, MBDTF will probably be the Kid-Fucking-A of this decade. 

Hey, consider me bait-and-hook'd then, because I'd rather stick sharpened pencils in my ears than ever listen to Pink Friday again. 

maura
maura

Pink Friday is certainly more enjoyable than MBDTF. Not every critic agreed with the 10.0s, you know.

Jay Jones
Jay Jones

Sorry for misinterpreting your comments. Your right, people blindly stating one album as the best is annoying. As I stated, Kanye's incorporation of other genres and music artist in MBDTF is what separates the album from other hip-hop/rap album imo. I just can't think of another rapper that will add a 2 minute guitar solo to the middle of a song, sample bon iver, and use Justin Vernon the way he did.

James A. Callahan
James A. Callahan

Remember when it wasn't about sales but instead of about art?  That was when the Grammys MATTERED. 

maura
maura

One important thing to note also when judging Pink Friday and MBDTF against each other for Grammy consideration: Sales, a category in which Pink Friday bettered Kanye's album. And sales are very important to the Grammy calculus! Just look at Teenage Dream last year (sorry, I had to get another KP dig in)

maura
maura

I actually try to use Wikipedia only in emergency cases, and then source it (ideally double-source it) afterward. Ask my students.

James A. Callahan
James A. Callahan

I encourage footnotes for anything I deem legit, otherwise I assume Wikipedia.  Just saying.

James A. Callahan
James A. Callahan

Uh-oh, okay, look that's been my background for a long time.  I'd been meaning to change it.  For a while.  ALRIGHT LOOK OK.  TRUTH IS I AM KANYE WEST.  I'm cruising the comment sections on all the websites because it's all research for a song I'm working on currently, and of course I frequent Village Voice because yall Pazz and Jop-topped me not once, twice, but THRICE.  And that IS a line from my next jam.

maura
maura

As for your other complaints, I can certainly cite the sources of my opinions, which are not just "Billboard and Wikipedia" (so cute, you are!) and which are based on watching the Grammys for years, and professionally for more than that. But you know, this is a blog, not a final paper, so I figured footnotes would be a bit over the top?

maura
maura

I didn't see him making a wide declaration on behalf of the critical establishment so much as expressing an opinion, although your declaration that MBTDF is the "Kid-Fucking-A of this decade" (and your Twitter background, sorry, I clicked out of curiosity!) seems to indicate that you are particularly prickly about disagreements over Kanye's superiority!

Young Scuba
Young Scuba

Pink Friday is only better than MBDTF in the pop sense, thats it. Otherwise, the latter has wider themes, wider sound and MUCH better lyrics.

maura
maura

Okay, that was another case of me using an adjective that could be applied objectively to my subjective opinion! Look, it's the human flesh editing machine (she said with a nervous laugh).

Holla
Holla

Gotta disagree here, Maura. Pink Friday is not "certainly" more enjoyable. Not every critic agrees that Nicki Minaj eschewing her strengths = an enjoyable album.

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