We read this year’s Grammy nominations news as blah blah blah blah blah Common, Lupe Fiasco and LL Cool J performed a tribute to Grandmaster Flash last night blah blah blah blah. It’s about time Flash got some respect! Could Melle Mel be next? Or Roxanne Shanté? We can only hope. As for the nominations themselves? We haven’t subscribed to the old “Grammy voters are stupid” wisdom for years –certainly not after witnessing last year’s dramatic Arcade Fire victory. So mostly, these are on target: Brace yourselves for a lot of (deserved) teary Adele moments. But Kanye West continues to be the Rodney Dangerfield of awards shows, and (news flash!) nobody at the Grammys seems to listen to a great deal of metal. Oh well. Despite all that, it isn’t a bad list this year at all.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: If you think Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars or Rihanna will get anywhere near this thing, you probably believe Gingrich-Cain can take Obama in 2012. Adele sold the most records (21 is up to 4.6 million in the U.S. alone) and she has that back-to-basics, counter-counter-cultural “after so many years of Britney, Katy and Gaga we’re finally back to real music” thing that stalwart Grammy voters love.
RECORD OF THE YEAR: See above. No way “Rolling In the Deep” doesn’t win – although the aforementioned “real music” coalition could split the vote between Adele, Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver, giving the world a final chance to salute the pyrotechnics exploding from Katy Perry’s bosom. Notable omission: “Pumped Up Kicks,” by Foster the People, which merely made the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category (and will totally lose to Tony Bennett-Amy Winehouse’s “Body and Soul”).
BEST NEW ARTIST: “New” is always a difficult concept for the Grammy nominations committee: This year’s Bon Iver is the sensitive Justin Vernon band’s second album (plus one Top 20 EP) over the past four years. Our money is on the obvious choice – the unstoppable Nicki Minaj – but those looking for an Esperanza Spalding-type upset might bet on thrashy electronic-dance act Skrillex, which shockingly received five nominations overall.
BEST DANCE RECORDING: Looking for the good stuff? Skip to this category. Our boy Skrillex is here again, with “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” as well as Robyn’s break-up demand “Call Your Girlfriend” and David Guetta’s movie-scene-worthy instrumental (with Swedish DJ Avicii) “Sunshine.” Even Duck Sauce’s novelty “Barbra Streisand” – excellent lyric: “BARBRA STREISAND” – wouldn’t wound us deeply if it won.
BEST HARD ROCK/METAL PERFORMANCE: Every story on how terrible the Grammy nominations are requires one mention of Jethro Tull in this space, so here it is. Ha ha! Aren’t Grammy voters stupid! Of course, that was 23 years ago, and the voters have more or less evolved since then. Anyway, these nominees aren’t too ridiculous – Megadeth, Foo Fighters – unless you’re, like, a real metal fan who prefers Tombs and Autopsy. Anyway, this category belongs to Mastodon, which headbangs and grooves.
BEST R&B ALBUM: Chris Brown’s F.A.M.E. and R. Kelly’s Love Letter are irresistible in their own ways, but we can’t stomach the thought of either of these barbarians using the Grammy podium as a platform for personal redemption. So we’re rooting instead for veteran pillow-talker El DeBarge’s Second Chance, which is middle-of-the-road soul in the best possible definition of the term.
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE: You know how Kanye West is always bitching about a lack of respect, and how it makes him look so arrogant (especially after he, you know, bum-rushes people on awards stages)? We finally agree that he has a point. Clearly, obviously, without a doubt, on any planet in the universe, his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was the best hip-hop album of the year (or the Grammys’ definition of “year,” which runs from October 1st, 2010 to September 30th of this year). And yet, while his excellent Rihanna-Kid Cudi-Fergie single “All of the Lights” landed in other categories, and West received seven nominations overall, including one here for “Otis,” on this year’s Jay-Z collaboration Watch the Throne, Fantasy gets nothing. That is nonsensical.