On the night after an awards show we are almost always reminded of the spectacle that is made with little attention paid to the actual awards. The Grammys are a perfect example of awards shows gone bad. Over the years we’ve watched a steady decline in the accuracy of awards. By this I mean the artist who most deserves the award is almost always looked over. Each year awards are based on mainstream popularity rather than actual talent. If you take a look at artists throughout the years who have written and produced some amazing CDs but were cheated out of an award that year because P. Diddy ripped off someone else’s music again. I’m sure if a radio station plays out a song it’s going to seem as if the song is more popular than it really is when in fact it was just played over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, artists such as Alicia Keys are extremely talented but so is Heather Nova, she released a CD this year, you wouldn’t know it though by the sound of radio and the look of magazines, she was virtually nowhere to be found.
This year’s Grammy nominations don’t seem so awful but then again not all the nominees have been listed. So far the played out Gnarls Barkley picked up a nomination for Album of the Year for St. Elsewhere. Taking the Long Way by the Dixie Chicks was also nominated for Album of the Year and with the excellent year they’ve had it’s a shoe-in in my eyes. The album was so well produced, excellent vocals and writing all while emitting the emotion that was missed in their previous albums. Other Album of the Year nominees are John Mayer Continuum, Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and FutureSex./Lovesounds by Justin Timberlake. While Timberlake enjoys mainstream fame I highly doubt this sophomore effort is Grammy material.
Record of the Year nods go to Mary J. Blige Be Without You, James Blunt You’re Beautiful, Dixie Chicks Not Ready To Make Nice, Gnarls Barkley Crazy, Corinne Bailey Rae Put Your Records On. The Best New Artist nominees new-comber James Blunt, R&B singer Chris Brown, British singer/songwriter’s Imogen Heap from Electronica group Frou Frou, soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae and American Idol’s own Carrie Underwood. I have to say I agree with these nominations I thought Imogen Heap’s album was very good for a solo effort and James Blunt outdid himself on his freshman CD. I’m not all that familiar with Chris Brown or Corinne Bailey Rae but they are artists I will look into. The Dixie Chicks once again taking a nod for the outstanding CD they put out this year and Mary J. Blige who is the Queen of Soul and Hip Hop always the talented performer once again hits a homerun. There are not many singers out there today that are as versatile as Mary J. She is truly in a league all her own.
Song of the Year nominees are representative of so many musical genres where in the past one genre has always dominated this category. Johnta Austin, Mary J. Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox and Jason Perry for Be Without You (Mary J. Blige); Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson for Jesus Take the Wheel (Carrie Underwood); Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robinson and Dan Wilson for Not Ready to Make Nice (Dixie Chicks); John Beck, Steve Chrisanthou, and Corinne Bailey Rae for Put Your Records On (Rae); and James Blunt, Amanda Ghost and Sacha Skarbek for You’re Beautiful (James Blunt). As you can see it’s the pick of the litter and with writing contributors like Amanda Ghost you can be assured these songs will not go unnoticed. James Blunt broke through the scene with his song You’re Beautiful but sadly some of his other great songs on the CD have been nowhere to be found. Mary J. Blige has earned five of her eight nominations in the R&B category. She completely dominates her genre and her talent cannot be questioned. Beyonce`, Mariah Carey, Natalie Cole, and India.Arie also received nods in the R&B category. We can only hope that Jamie Foxx will stick to his acting skills and give up the horrid Chef-like (SouthPark) R&B he put out this past year. I saw Jamie perform on Oprah and literally felt bad for him, he was making a fool of himself. His acting skills and his skills in musicals are great it’s just please don’t ever make a solo attempt again.
Pop as we know it has constantly changed throughout the years and this year’s Grammy’s are no different. Groups like Death Cab for Cutie and The Fray have made it into the Pop category this year normally dominated by bubblegum pop. The past few years the Grammy’s have been a major letdown for me. I get ready, I crack open a bottle of wine, get in my best PJs and find my spot on the couch. It’s supposed to be a joyous night of fun, great music and deserving artists. I haven’t seen a Grammy’s with great music or deserving artists in years. It’s always the same old names getting the same old awards it could be my skepticism of mainstream music that causes me to view it this way.
Where I think the Grammy’s went right this year you might ask, nominating such artists as Tom Petty, John Mayer,
Neil Young, and Bob Dylan in the rock category. John Mayer isn’t afraid to try new things with his group The John Mayer Trio up for a Grammy award. There were 0 women nominated in the Rock category this year, sad but true. The Rap category is filled with familiar names including Jay-Z who has come out of retirement for the 3rd time? Akon, Busta Rhymes, Mos Def, T.I., and Eminem.
After being blacklisted from the Country music scene the Dixie Chicks managed to pull off two nominations in the Country category, Best Country Album and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Newcomers like Carrie Underwood have been nominated and we also see some old faces including Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, and Dolly Parton. The good ol’ boys keep rockin in the country category and I always love to see legends still honored for their contributions to the music industry.
All and all the Grammy’s don’t look all that bad this year. I am a hater of mainstream music as harsh as that may sound. The new faces of music aren’t the same passion and talent as it used to be. They are mass produced cookie cutouts of what was and shaped to be what the industry feels they can sell. The real troopers are those who have fought through shift changes in popular music overcome very bad genres of music and have stood the test of time. The Grammy’s had lost their way for quite some time giving 6-8 awards out to the same musician when there were other musicians up for the award that clearly should have won. It’s been my biggest pet peeve to see this happen and year after year it always does. They’ve missed the mark quite a few times but now I’m seeing a wave of actual voting on talent and production. With the amount of great artists making their way through the industry it’s nice to see they’re recognized for their ongoing contributions.