Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Grammys 2012~ Charlie's Predictions

The 2012 Grammy nominations are out but I must say it is not that exciting this year. There have been a number of monster releases in 2011 but most of them do not make the list or end up being nominated for major awards.  Beyonce’s  “4”, Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now”, to name a few. Britney Spears’s hugely successful “Femme Fatale” is completely shut out as well.

A few major changes in award categories can be witnessed this year. The usual “Best Male and Female Vocal Performance” categories in Pop, Rock, Rn’B and Country have been cut and instead The Grammys have come up with new categories in those genres where all solo acts, regardless of gender, are nominated together. And these newly formed categories are called “Best Solo Performance”

There are all together 78 award categories this year with genres ranging from Rock, Pop, and Country to New Age, Classical, Gospel and more. Here are the categories that I am particularly interested in this year. The nominees who I think should win are highlighted in red and the nominees who could win, in blue.

Album of the Year
·         21, Adele
·         Wasting Light, Foo Fighters
·         Born This Way, Lady Gaga
·         Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Bruno Mars
·         LoudRihanna

Previously, this award has gone to so many undeserving winners just for The Grammys to prove the point that they do not award popularity. Well, let’s not ignore the fact that some records are hugely popular because they are good and people actually like them. Personally, this year’s award belongs to “21” by Adele. Period! Her first album “19” which won her two Grammys in 2009 is excellent but her sophomore record “21”that sold millions breaking records around the world is way much better. “21” showcases her artistic growth, maturity and most importantly her superb songwriting and singing skills.  Not only has it featured two of this year’s most-blogged about songs “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You”, the album, from start to finish, is one solid cohesive effort. Having said that, she is not safe.  Foo Fighters could steal her thunder and join the notorious list of previously undeserved AOTY winners. Adele’s biggest competition, music wise though, is Bruno Mars who keeps delivering hit after hit. Rihanna’s record, living up to its title, called “Loud” dominated the airwaves of the entire 2011 and Lady GaGa as well had a good year with “Born This Way” but Bubblegum Pop music doesn’t stand a chance here.

Record of the Year
·         "Rolling in the Deep," Adele
·         "Holocene," Bon Iver
·         "Grenade," Bruno Mars
·         "The Cave," Mumford & Sons
·         "Firework," Katy Perry

There is usually one song that no one knows or has ever heard of in this category which also has the potential to ironically and eventually become the winner upsetting the other hotly-tipped contenders. This year, that song is “Holocene” by Bon Iver. What’s missing and should have been here is Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way”, an epic freedom anthem for women and LGBT community. Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Bruno Mars’s “Grenade” are both hugely popular songs that deserve to get nominated but I am going to go again with Adele. “Rolling In The Deep” is the strongest contender among all five.

Song of the Year
·          "All of the Lights," Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi and Fergie (Writer: Jeff Bhasker, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter and Kanye West)
·         "The Cave," Mumford & Sons (Writers: Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford and Country Winston)
·         "Grenade," Bruno Mars (Writers: Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Bruno Mars and Andrew Wyatt)
·         "Holocene," Bon Iver (Writer: Justin Vernon)
·         "Rolling in the Deep," Adele (Writers: Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth)

“Rolling In The Deep” may be the most famous song form the album “21” but for me “Someone Like You” is the ultimate song of the year. The simple yet powerful lyrics capable of slicing your heart with each word sung and the tear-jerking vocal delivery that makes you stop, drop and wonder regardless of how many times you hear it played. I am surprised and saddened to not see this song nominated in this category.  However, since “Song of the Year” is a writer’s award, it does make sense that “Rolling In The Deep”, where she displays her master class wise-beyond-her-years songwriting skills, instead received the nomination.  RITD’s got it all- clever lyrics, catchy soaring chorus, retro-soul vibe, rousing harmony and a vengeful boy-you-did-me-wrong message that millions can relate to.  

Best New Artist
·         Nicki Minaj
·         Bon Iver
·         The Band Perry
·         J. Cole
·         Skrillex

I want Nicki Minaj to win because she is fun, interesting, and original. Also she is an artist we will be talking about and paying attention to in the years to come.  However it looks like the award is going to Bon Iver, a critically-acclaimed folk band. Nicki Minaj is too popular to win this type of award and not many hip-hop artists do well in this category. And it's America and The Band Perry sings good country songs and is fronted by a strong female singer with a big mouth. I wouldn't be surprised if they won as well. Jessie J should have been nominated though. Maybe The Grammys have had it with the British female imports? There have been too many.

Best Pop Solo Performance
·         "Someone Like You," Adele
·         "You and I," Lady Gaga
·         "Grenade," Bruno Mars
·         "Firework," Katy Perry
·         "F--kin' Perfect," Pink

With “You and I”, featuring her best vocals to date, Lady GaGa proves she is more than just electronic beats.  Pink, one of my favorite artists, as well delivers brilliant heartfelt singing with F-word laced “F—kin’Perfect” . And then there is Mr.Bruno Mars, sole male nominee in the category. Bruno Mars’s “Grenade” has become a new standard for singing competitions like Idol and X factor. Many try but fail to match his soaring vocals but it is him who makes it seem so effortless and sincere. Katy Perry makes mindless but super-cool pop records but the day a song like “Firework” wins “ THE BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE” (Yes, the capital letters!) is the day I will lose my faith in The Grammys.

Many people, including me, raved about how great Adele  sounded when singing “Someone Like You” live, most notably at the Brit awards but it is the studio version that features the line “Don’t forget me I begged, I remember you said” sung in higher nasal register furnishing the song with a melancholy effect while strategically tearing the listeners’ hearts into pieces. (She usually avoids hitting the notes she sings in the studio version and instead goes for lower notes when singing "SLY" live) As much as I hate to make this a yet another Adele post, for me, this is the best solo performance not just for this year but in recent years.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
·         "Body and Soul," Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse
·         "Dearest," The Black Keys
·         "Paradise," Coldplay
·         "Pumped Up Kicks," Foster The People
·         "Moves Like Jagger," Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera

It’s a fight between “Moves Like Jagger” and “Body and Soul”. The Grammys will find a way to honor the departed soul, Winehouse. Deservingly of course, for her last recording which sadly is also one of her finest vocal performances. Her voice, that captivating voice, not only holds her own against the legendary Tony Bennett’s also makes you wonder why “good things don’t ever last”. A posthumous Grammy for Amy please.

Best Pop Vocal Album
·         21, Adele
·         The Lady Killer, Cee Lo Green
·         Born This Way, Lady Gaga
·         Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Bruno Mars
·         Loud, Rihanna

The singles releases from “Loud” kept Rihanna atop in the music charts worldwide in the year 2011.  Cee Lo, GaGa and Bruno Mars are all key players in shifting millions of record sales with their respective pop records. This is the only category this year with all deserving nominees.  But as the title of this category says “Best Pop Vocal Album”, this award should go to the nominees who display remarkable vocals like Adele or Bruno Mars.  Both are such great young artists who not only have golden pipes but also possess killer songwriting skills. I’d be happy to see any of them win but I think, if Adele wins Album of the year, this award is Bruno Mars’s.  A little bit of sharing makes sense.  

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
·         Duets II, Tony Bennett and Various Artists
·         The Gift, Susan Boyle
·         In Concert on Broadway, Harry Connick Jr.
·         Music Is Better Than Words, Seth MacFarlane
·         What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Barbra Streisand

Two of my favorite album releases of the year go to Barbra’s “What Matters Most” and Tony Bennett’s “Duets II”. Seeing that Tony’s album draws strength from 17 high-profile artists who lend their voices to the set, it would be a bit unfair if the Grammy goes to the Jazz Master only. Or if Duets II wins, will the Grammys hand 17 other awards to all artists involved too? Doubtful! C’mon they even tried to cut costs by eliminating solo performance categories. So it ain’t happening!  Barbra’s hauntingly beautiful version of “Windmills Of Your Mind” alone makes her album a worthy winner. Plus they did not give her this award last year for “Love Is The Answer” album and Michael Buble won instead. What an insult! The Grammys must make up this year!

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
·         "Party," Beyoncè and Andrè 3000
·         "I'm on One," DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne
·         "I Need a Doctor," Dr. Dre, Eminem and Skylar Grey
·         "What's My Name," Rihanna and Drake
·         "Motivation," Kelly Rowland and Lil Wayne
·         "All of the Lights," Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi and Fergie

The former band mates Kelly and Beyonce from Destiny’s Child vying for the same award but my bet is on “I Need A Doctor” that teams up Dr. Dre and Eminem featuring the catchy chorus sung by Skylar Grey. The Grammys love Eminem and they will once again find a way to award him this year. Plus the other nominated songs are somewhat forgettable although I love the uber-sexy “Motivation”. Kanye's "All Of The Lights" as usual is ambitious but frankly, a bit overrated. He has done better stuff before. 

Best Compilation Sountrack For Visual Media
·         Boardwalk Empire: Volume 1, Varous Artists
·         Burlesque, Christina Aguilera
·         Glee: The Music, Volume 4Glee cast
·         Tangled, Various Artists
·         True Blood: Volume 3, Various Artists

Although the movie, “Burlesque” is embarrassingly cheesy, the glittering musical numbers featuring songs like “Bound To You”, “Tough Lover” and “Show Me How You Burlesque” allow Christina Aguilera’s glorious pipes to shine. Celebrated by many as the voice of our generation, Aguilera also is a Grammy darling winning awards every now and then. So that means she might take home the award plus the other four nominees are not that strong anyway. (Anyone own “True Blood: Volume 3” soundtrack? Anyone?) Unless the voters become Glee-ed out and give the award to Glee: Vol 4. Nah…I  don’t see it happening. (But I wonder what Cher might think if Christina eventually wins as she as well contributed two songs to the soundtrack? It is like when Whitney Houston won Grammy for “The Bodyguard” soundtrack and the other featured artists were totally ignored.  Really, there are other songs on that soundtrack. )

Best Song Written For Visual Media
·         "Born to Be Somebody," from Never Say Never, Justin Bieber (Writer: Diane Warren)
·         "Christmastime Is Killing Us," from Family Guy, Danny Smith, Ron Jones and Seth MacFarlane (Writers: Danny Smith, Ron Jones and Seth MacFarlane)
·         "I See the Light," from Tangled, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi (Writers: Alan Menken and Glenn Slater)
·         "So Long," from Winnie The PoohZooey Deschanel and M. Ward (Writer: Zooey Deschanel)
·         "Where the River Goes," from Footloose, Zac Brown (Writers: Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Drew Pearson and Anne Preven)
·         "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me," from Burlesque, Cher (Writer: Diane Warren)

What does poor Diane Warren have to do to win a Grammy? Her knack for poignant melody and often times, inspirational lyrics has been shown in many of iconic songs in modern music but she has not been so lucky with her Grammy wins.  Warren is up with two nods this year, one of them sung by Justin Bieber.  And the other, “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me” from the movie “Burlesque”, already a Golden Globe winner, sung by the beautiful Cher, is memorable and so fitting not only for Cher’s character in the movie also for Cher as a person and her career so far. “I've been brought down to my knees. And I've been pushed way past the point of breaking. But I can take it. I'll be back. Back on my feet. This is far from over. You haven't seen the last of me

The music’s biggest night will be held on the 12th of February and we shall see who eventually will become winners. Till then...

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