Music: 55th Annual Grammy AwardsCelebrating the Earwigs on Feb. 10
February 7, 2013 - By JP Spence
The Messengers ubiquitous critic breaks down the 2013 55th Annual Grammy Awards and the songs that got stuck in your head.
Analyzing music is such a different animal than reviewing movies. With film, I sit down with the intent of pouring my attention into every facet of the scene and plot and character development (and if youve seen The Master, you still might not get there). I devote that same attention to my musical favorites (The Who, Foo Fighters, and Trent Reznor) but, unfortunately, music is inescapable and so is my analysis. As much as I can expound on the merits of Frank Oceans Channel Orange album, the same could be said for Carly Rae Jepsens Call Me Maybe.
Here are some cliff notes for the water cooler or Grammy party. Enjoy!
BEST NEW ARTIST
PHOTO COURTESY ISLAND/DEF JAM
Channel Orange—Frank Ocean, André 3000, John Mayer, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator is nominated for Album of the Year.
Analysis: While not as stacked as the 2011 crop (Bieber, Drake, Mumford & Sons, Florence and The Machine), this years edition has its share of critical darlings. Alabama Shakes and Frank Ocean are the critics champ, while Fun serves as the peoples champ. Its a pick em game among the three. They all deserve it.
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
Stronger Kelly Clarkson
Ceremonials Florence and the Machine
Some Nights Fun
Overexposed Maroon 5
The Truth about Love Pink
Analysis: Its nice to see guitars creep back into this category after a lengthy run of boy bands, Latin shakers and pop princesses synthing the category to death. Clarkson and Pink are usual suspects in the category while its nice to see Maroon 5 receive critical acclaim again. Ceremonials was terribly underrated by American audiences.
Apparently everyone forgot about Flo when introduced to Adele. A nomination is a nice way of saying, Hey. Sorry. Either way, Best Pop Vocal is the best way to cap off 2012 for Fun.
BEST ROCK ALBUM
El Camino The Black Keys
Mylo Xyloto Coldplay
The 2nd Law Muse
Wrecking Ball Bruce Springsteen
Blunderbuss Jack White
Analysis: Now were talking. All the nominees are genre stalwarts with strong albums as a kicker. El Camino and Mylo Xyloto seem reduxes of previous efforts. It sounds like a blanket statement but if you had to sum up the albums to a friend, what would you say? So, moving on...
The 2nd Law, conceptually, follows the bands style guide. Musically, no other band, save for the Chili Peppers, can be so technical yet so funky. Too bad its logjammed behind The Boss and Jack White. As hard as it is to not give the award to Springsteen in the middle of a second wind/prime/Renaissance, it would be a bigger crime not to reward White for tapping the iceberg of his potential on Blunderbuss.
BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM
Fortune Chris Brown
Kaleidoscope Dream Miguel
Channel Orange Frank Ocean
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
Analysis: The Recording Academy made a smart decision in combining hard rock and metal into one performance category. So its all the more baffling that they created the Best Urban Contemporary Album when all the nominees are contemporary by default and, more importantly, R&B, anyway.
The best album of the lot is Orange. By far. Sung soulfully and expertly produced, Ocean also represents the paradigm shift the R&B community desperately needs. A win here could give him much needed recognition across the board.
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
Analysis: While R&B is all about the paradigm shift, rap is all about spectrum. There hasnt been such a tight race in this category since the turn of the century. That last sentence has to make ardent rap fans films somewhat old (Cue fans nodding wistfully).
On one end you have Rick Ross with a throwback persona that harkens the 80s. 2 Chainz is the latest great voice from the dirty south.
Nas continues to be an authentic voice, channeling his anger and disappoint into his most powerful work since Hip Hop is Dead.
No matter where you went, Drake was everywhere so its no surprise that Take Care is the presumed favorite. Its just a shame to see how horribly unsung The Roots are. Undun would be their magnum opus only if fans and the band itself didnt expect their next work to be even better.
Combining hip hop, soul and indie rock, MC Black Thought narrates the life of Redford Stevens with equal prose and social commentary. Still, its Drakes Grammy to lose.
BEST COMEDY ALBUM
PHOTO COURTESY COMETY CENTRAL
Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe is nominated for Comedy Album of the Year at the 55th Annual Grammys on Feb. 10.
Blow Your Pants OffJimmy Fallon
Cho DependentMargaret Cho
In God We RustLewis Black
Kathy Griffin: Seaman 1st Class Kathy Griffin
Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe Jim Gaffigan
Rize of the Fenix Tenacious D
Analysis: Fallon, Griffin, Cho and The D are the big names on the list but Black and Gaffigan are just as, if not more legit and among the best touring comics today. Amazing as Lewis Black is, he could almost be more spoken word considering his takes are just a reflecting mirror of the idiocy that is his source material (government, politics). Then again, there is artwork in letting the setup do all the work. Gaffigan has a cult following that really should be bigger. The comic is a wonderful speedball of Seinfeld, Ray Romano and Mitch Hedberg with an affinity for bacon. Who cant get behind that?
SONG OF THE YEAR
PHOTO COURTESY AURORA RECORDS
“We Are Young”—Fun featuring Janelle Monáe. Jeff Bhasker, producer; Jeff Bhasker is nominated for Record of the Year in the 55th Annual Grammys.
The A TeamEd Sheeran, songwriter (Ed Sheeran)
AdornMiguel Pimentel, songwriter (Miguel)
Call Me MaybeTavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen and Josh Ramsay, songwriters (Carly Rae Jepsen)
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin and Ali Tamposi, songwriters (Kelly Clarkson)
We Are YoungJack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost and Nate Ruess, songwriters (Fun featuring Janelle Monáe).
Analysis: Its interesting to see Call Me Maybe in this category. Had Gotye and Jepsen switched, they may have better chances at winning their respective categories. Fun has to be the odds-on favorite. The Academy usually sides with artists who write and perform their own material (see Alicia Keyes). If there was a Guilty Pleasure category, Call Me Maybe wins it hands down. Unfortunately, this is Song of the Year and We Are Young was on infinite repeat.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Lonely BoyThe Black Keys: The Black Keys and Danger Mouse producers; Tom Elmhirst & Kennie Takahashi, engineers/mixers; Brian Lucey, mastering engineer.
We Are YoungFun featuring Janelle Monáe. Jeff Bhasker, producer; Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dawson and Stuart White, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer.
Somebody That I Used to Know Gotye featuring Kimbra. Wally de Backer, producer; Wally de Backer and François Tétaz, engineers/mixers; William Bowden, mastering engineer.
Thinkin Bout YouFrank Ocean. Frank Ocean, producer; Jeff Ellis, Pat Thrall and Marcos Tovar, engineers/mixers; Vlado Meller, mastering engineer.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back TogetherTaylor Swift. Max Martin, Shellback and Taylor Swift, producers; Serban Ghenea, engineer/mixer; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer.
Analysis: It would be nice to see Gotye or Ocean take this home. One of the distinctions between record and song of the year is the inclusion of vocal performance. As angst and unique as Someone I Used to Know is, Oceans delivery, depth, pitch and range is what makes the song so soulful. Its one of those songs that Prince or R. Kelly go, Damn, I wish I wrote that. On that same note, I couldnt get Taylor Swift out of my head and may or may not have sung We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together at karaoke. So, theres that. Seriously though, Frank Ocean.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
El CaminoThe Black Keys. The Black Keys and Danger Mouse, producers; Tchad Blake, Tom Elmhirst and Kennie Takahashi, engineers/mixers; Brian Lucey, mastering engineer.
Some NightsFun. Janelle Monáe, featured artist; Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, Jake One and TommyD, producers; Pete Bischoff, Jeff Chestek, Andrew Dawson, Emile Haynie, Manny Marroquin, Sonny Pinnar & Stuart White, engineers/mixers; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer.
BabelMumford & Sons. Markus Dravs, producer; Robin Baynton and Ruadhri Cushnan, engineers/mixers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer.
PHOTO COURTESY THIRD MAN RECORDS
Blunderbuss—Jack White. Jack White, producer is nominated for Album of the Year.
Channel OrangeFrank Ocean, André 3000, John Mayer, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator, featured artists; Om'Mas Keith, Malay, Frank Ocean and Pharell, producers; Calvin Bailif, Andrew Coleman, Jeff Ellis, Doug Fenske, Om'Mas Keith, Malay, Frank Ocean, Philip Scott, Mark "Spike" Stent, Pat Thrall, Marcos Tovar and Vic Wainstein, engineers/mixers; Vlado Meller, mastering engineer.
BlunderbussJack White. Jack White, producer; Vance Powell and Jack White, engineers/mixers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer.
Analysis: Stories are everywhere that rock is dying or dead and yet four of the five nominees have some type of rock inflection.
Even Channel Orange has a cameo from John Mayer. This category should be the simplest to figure out. Written, recorded, produced, and released on his own label, how could it not be Jack White and Blunderbuss?