Why the Grammys Don't Matter

Categories: Grammys

grammys560.jpg
About this time five years ago, I was driving around with the radio tuned to a classic rock station when whatever super-computer Clear Channel uses to program its stations decided it was time for "Heart of Gold." "That was Neil Young," the DJ bantered afterwards. "Congrats to him for winning his first ever Grammy last night."

"Seriously?," I thought. "It's 2009 and Neil Young just got his first Grammy? He didn't get anything for 'Harvest Moon' or 'Rockin' in the Free World' or 'Ohio?' Nothing for Harvest, one of the biggest albums of the '70s?" Clearly, AllMusic.com had to be consulted.

Conveniently, each artist in AllMusic's massive database has all their Billboard chart peaks and Grammy wins listed under a tab on their profile marked "awards." The DJ was correct; until Young's win that winter in a very minor category (Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package), the Grammys had never given anything--not even an award in some genre category for rock or folk--to one of the most prolific and interesting singer/songwriters ever, and someone who didn't exactly fly under the radar. I started typing in other names compulsively.

See also: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is Worthless

More »

The Best Tweets and Photos From Last Night's Grammy Awards

Categories: Grammys

oceanforrestgump.JPG
CBS
Last night, during the 55th Grammy Awards, we trudged through the bile and self-loating of angry would-be comedians and critics who took to Twitter to tell Jack White he looks like Edward Scissorhands and Johnny Depp he looks like the butt baby of Jack Sparrow and Steve Tyler and Adele she was dressed like a bowl of old potpourri and Wiz Khalifia he looks like Beetlejuice to extract some actual useful, unique and entertaining tidbits. This is what we found. (Warning: Katy Perry's boobs probably NSFW.)

See also: Pusha T on the Grammy Committee: "They Can't Deny Good Hip-Hop Anymore"

More »

Live-Blogging The 2012 Grammys: Tributes, Tribulations, Skrillex, And The Return Of Adele

skrillex_kitty.jpg
via Cats Who Look Like Skrillex
Will this cat win Best New Artist?
Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 54th Annual Grammys, coming to you live from a couch in Astoria. There are quite a few questions lurking around tonight's ceremony. Will Adele sweep the three major categories in which she's nominated, thus putting a cap on the megaselling, incredibly popular 21—and how will she sound in her live return? Will Skrillex (above, sorta) put a wub-wub-wub on the Best New Artist category? Will Bon Iver pout his way to the podium if he upsets Adele in Record or Song of the Year? Will Adam Levine upstage the Beach Boys when they share the stage? Will LL Cool J make at least 10 cross-promotional references to other CBS shows? Will Kanye West show up? Will the Whitney Houston tribute be okay? Tune in belooowwww!

More »

Who Will Win At The Grammys?

Categories: Grammys

113_2577243_adele.jpg
Tonight's the running of the 54th annual Grammys, and for the past week Sound of the City has been running the odds on various categories. Below, a list of all the predictions made by our writers this week. (Spoiler: Adele (above) pops up a lot!) Feel free to clip and save, and fill in the (many) gaps with predictions of your own! I'll be back here at 8 p.m. tonight for live coverage.

More »

Oddsmaking: Is The Best Dance Recording Grammy Basically Skrillex's To Lose?

dancerecording.jpg
If you think the opinions of critics and passionate fans of rock and rap and pop and country mean nothing to the Grammy Awards, being a dance-music fan widens the gap that much more. Essentially, if you're allergic to bottle service and/or newbs with glow sticks, you're better off crying into your pitch-shifter. The bulk of this year's Best Dance Recording roster is out to party like it's 1999—specifically, that year's Ministry of Sound compilations, only dumbed further down. Yet that's notable in itself—part of a shift exemplified last December, when I this Top 40 back-announcement: "I heard that overseas three years ago. That's how far ahead of the curve Europe is when it comes to dance music." That pronouncement is this category—which has six nominees instead of five—in a nutshell.

More »

Oddsmaker: Do Beyoncé And André 3000 Have Enough Swagu To Beat Kanye And His Dozens Of Friends At The Grammys?

rapsungcollaboration.jpg
The Grammys created the awkwardly named Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category ten years ago, around the time Ja Rule's various "thug love" duets were dominating the airwaves. The award recognized a growing sector of popular music that didn't quite fit into the preexisting rap, R&B or pop song awards, and its creation was a prescient move. In 2001, 13% of Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 Songs featured at least one rapper and one singer; in 2011 that number had doubled to 26% (after peaking at 33% in 2010). The category's a little more unpredictable this year, as NARAS snubbed the biggest dancefloor-friendly rapped-and-sung hits of the year ("Give Me Everything," "Party Rock Anthem," "On The Floor," "E.T.") in favor of more urban radio fare.

More »

Oddsmaking: Will Mumford & Sons Upset "Rolling In The Deep" In The Grammys' Record Of The Year Race?

recordoftheyear_2012.jpg
Every year, when I get involved in Grammy debates with my cooler friends, I tell them the problem with the awards isn't that they reward mass-appeal schlock. If the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is doing its job right, it should be rewarding popular, undeniable, and somewhat unhip records. The problem is that NARAS can't even reward the popular stuff right.

Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the Record of the Year category, which, next to the coveted, show-closing Album of the Year prize, should be the marquee award of the night. If NARAS were on its game, it would nominate five high-gloss, career-defining singles that crushed at Top 40, R&B/hip-hop, country or rock radio and then give the big prize to a title that makes everyone say, Yeah, okay, love it or hate it, that record dominated.

Instead, Record of the Year has largely become a head-scratching nonevent, in which NARAS, like a middlebrow missile, homes in on a song that's neither hip enough to be a critics' favorite nor undeniable enough to appeal to the casual TV viewership. Just in the last decade, NARAS has given you such Records of the Year as the Dixie Chicks' most atonal and bile-filled single; two little-heard "event" duets by Ray Charles with Norah Jones, and Robert Plant and Allison Krauss; and a U2 song some like to call a "9/11 anthem," ignoring the fact that anthems are usually widely known and this song came out a year before the tragedy and missed the Hot 100, not even charting after 9/11. Even some of the better RotY picks have been wrongheaded—I happen to like Coldplay's "Clocks," winner in 2004, but over OutKast's "Hey Ya!" and Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love"? Way to miss the plot, NARAS. (I wish YouTube had a clip from the '04 show of presenter and friend-of-OutKast Mary J. Blige, visibly deflating when she opened the envelope and read "Clocks," like the word was "broccoli.")

More »

Oddsmaking: Will Louis C.K. Or Lonely Island Overtake "Weird Al" And Win Best Comedy Album?

bestcomedyalbum_2012.jpg
Throughout the award's history, Grammy voters have tended to bestow Best Comedy Album upon trusted favorites: Bill Cosby closed out the 1960s with six straight victories; Richard Pryor took home three trophies in the '70s and two more in the '80s; and Peter Schickele opened the '90s with four consecutive wins of his own. Lately, Chris Rock, George Carlin, and the Daily Show/Colbert Report nexus of talent have dominated the category, with Flight of the Conchords providing the only surprise. This year, however, the award is pretty much up for grabs. Full rundown below.

More »

Oddsmaking: Will Thom Yorke Dance Away With The Short-Form Music Video Grammy?

thomyorke_tighthat.jpg
Unlike MTV's Video Music Awards, which usually reward some combination of pop excellence, symbolic audacity, and likelihood of being controversial, the Grammys' short-form music video category is a lot like the Oscars. They don't always pick the best videos—this year's list omits such highlights as Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass," Ke$ha's "Blow," the Beastie Boys' "Make Some Noise," and Beyoncé's "Girls (Who Run the World)"—but they do a good job of capturing the middlebrow zeitgeist, recognizing those videos that manage to combine critical respectability with popular appeal. Looking through their past winners, they generally pick the right one from the bunch ("Opposites Attract" in 1991, "Losing My Religion" in 1992, "Digging in the Dirt" in 1993). Their blind spot is the same one in every other category: older artists. That's why "Free as a Bird" beat "Tonight, Tonight" in 1997, and Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" won over Feist's "1234" in 2008. With no dead artists eligible this year, will the righteous (Adele) triumph? Or will Grammy voters give in to their lazier impulses and just pick OK Go?

More »

Oddsmaking: Is Bon Iver Or Foster The People Alt-But-Not-Too-Alt Enough To Win At This Year's Grammys?

bestalternativealbum_2012.jpg
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences introduced the Best Alternative Music Performance category in 1991 in anticipation of punk breaking later that year (and permanently renamed the award in 2000). Over the past two decades, the changing demographics of the nominees have reflected the ever shifting and hotly debated definition of the word "alternative." The Foo Fighters' debut was nominated for in 1996, but without changing their sound much at all they've since migrated to—and dominated—the Best Rock Album category. This year, the award continues to struggle with its identity with a field that's more unpredictable than usual: There's no lock like Beck or The White Stripes present and no big commercial breakthrough for a long-running band like the last two winners, Phoenix and The Black Keys.

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...