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Archive for February, 2012
11 Feb

Grammy 2012 (aka Adele’s Awards)

The Grammys are almost here and the expectations are that Adele will sweep everything. You would think that the chance of this happening would make people not watch the show, as it would seem boring. But typically the opposite happens – people watch. They seem more interested in watching someone predictably win than the excitement of not really knowing who will win. I believe the most watch Oscar telecast was when “Titanic” won. Everyone knew it would, but folks loved the movie and tuned in to see it win. I think the same will happen with this year’s Grammys. Everyone will want to see Adele win. I predict the show’s rating will be higher than the past few years because of this. And I will say that I’d be pleased as punch if Adele won all her categories. I think it would be well deserved. Great album, huge hit, smash singles, etc. It has been a long time since the Grammys have had something like this to reward and I’m all for it.

Below are my selections for a few categories this year. Album, Song, and Record of the year I’d vote for Adele, so no need to mention those.

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

Gotta go with Nicki Minaj. Bon Iver may be the more “artistic” choice, but I just haven’t connected with his music. Skrillex would be a cool choice as the first DJ to win, but if I were to place money, I’d say that The Band Perry is the safe Grammy voter choice.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:  Tony Bennet & Amy Winehouse (Body & Soul), The Black Keys (Dearest), Coldplay (Paradise), Foster the People (Pumped Up Kicks), Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera (Moves Like Jagger)

Really? That is it? I think this is one of the weakest categories of the night. But if I had to choose, Maroon & Xtina are just a whistle ahead of Foster. But we all know Grammy loves old people and dead people, so prediction will be Tony & Amy will win.

Best Folk Album:  Barton Hollow (The Civil Wars), I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (Steve Earle), Helplessness Blues (Fleet Foxes), Ukulele Songs (Eddie Vedder), The Harrow & the Harvest (Gillian Welch)

This is one of those categories where you can’t go wrong with any of them. I enjoyed each one but I’d have to stick with Fleet Foxes as my overall pick. I think Grammy will award The Civil Wars.

Best Dance/Electronica Album:  Zonoscope (Cut/Copy), 4×4=12 (Deadmau5), Nothing But the Beat (David Guetta), Body Talk, Pt. 3 (Robyn), Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Skrillex)

My girl Robyn is up and that is without a doubt my choice. She is so underrated and should be a huge star here, but the US still has yet to catch on. Too bad. Y’all are missing out. But I’m pretty sure she will lose to David Guetta. I know that Skrillex is up for New Artist and that seems like a lock here, but with all the hits on Guetta’s album, he’s got the recognizable name. But definitely between the two DJs.

Best Alternative Music Album:  Bon Iver (Bon Iver), Codes and Keys (Death Cab for Cutie), Torches (Foster the People), Circuital (My Morning Jacket), The King of Limbs (Radiohead)

The Grammy most likely belongs to Bon Iver, due to his multiple nominations, so this will be the consolation prize. However, for a group I don’t particularly like, I thought Circuital was a really solid album and would be my choice.

I’ll close on a small RANT about the Grammys. To all those Grammy haters that think the awards are just a commercial venture, or think the awards mean nothing because the “right” artists are never nominated, or say stuff like “I don’t need awards” or “music is not a competition, man,” I say a hearty screw you. You need to come down off of your pedestal and touch your feet on the earth. Saying stuff like this make you look like an ungrateful asshole. Yes, Grammy doesn’t always get it right in noms or wins, but that is okay. Everyone has an opinion and NARAS is just sharing theirs; and it is not (or shouldn’t be taken as) the ultimate word in music. It’s interesting, fun, the show usually has some great performances and artists get awards. And who doesn’t like to get an award for what they love to do? If you say “eh, I don’t need any award to tell me I’m good,” you are full of shit. It is always nice for someone to hand you something and say, “well done.” If  you are so high and mighty and think your “art” is above awards and recognition, then don’t participate. Don’t submit your stuff, don’t talk about it, don’t go to the show….just don’t. In fact, don’t even sell your music (you are on iTunes? How commercial…). If it is that “important,” then perhaps you should donate it to a museum as a significant cultural artifact. While you do that, the rest of us will enjoy watching the show, hearing (and sometimes discovering) some great music, see artists get recognized, and then do it all again next year.

Categories: Commentary, Music Tags:
06 Feb

Cover Day

So just a couple of posts ago I was waxing rhapsodic about cover songs and shared a few that I thought hit the mark. Oddly enough, today I was listening to some new releases and it included three full-on cover albums! Here is the rundown:

“Kisses on the Bottom” by Paul McCartney – I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the pre-release news on this one as I had no idea he was covering a set of old standards. I will say that it is impeccably done, but frankly it was a total snooze-fest. As I mentioned in my earlier post, to do a cover (even on standards like these) you have to bring something new to the table to make it interesting. There’s nothing here to hold my attention or shine new light on these moldy oldies. C’mon Macca, I expected more than a basement trio and strings. However, I will give a bonus point or two for covering “The Inch Worm.”

“Let It Be Roberta” by Roberta Flack – Strange that this is coming out on the same day as McCartney’s. She does a whole album of Beatles tunes. This is much more like I was taking about. She has some very interesting takes on these songs and I feel brings something new to the table. The semi-samba pop of “In My Life” is terrific and is followed by a mellow electro-R&B groove version of “We Can Work It Out.” Not all are 100% winners (“I Should Have Known Better” is barely recognizable), but she knocks it out of the park more often than not. Really quite nice.

“Popular Songs” by Richard McGraw – I had never heard of this guy but a description included comparisons to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Perfect! Well, this album is a doozie. And I’m not sure if that means really awesome or abysmal. I’m not even sure I can describe the work. He has taken an eclectic set of songs and made them while channeling the two previously mentioned artists along with Nick Cave. I read a note about the album and apparently he said this is his “selling out” album. I’m not sure what his intentions were in making this, but it certainly makes for an interesting listen. I think the two that floored me a bit were “Bad Romance,” done almost in a Decemberists-type of arrangement, and….hold on for this….a cover of Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time.” It sounds like a mid-tempo alt-rock jam, echoing Wilco, maybe? It is either freakin’ genius or positively horrific. In either case, you will never hear versions of these songs anywhere like this. Not only these songs, but “Take It On the Run,” “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Baba O’Riley,” “This Old Heart of Mine,” and “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll.”And he tops it all off with a really great original “Leonard Cohen R.I.P. (The Song),” which imagines what will happen after Cohen dies.

Overall, for the masses I recommend Roberta Flack’s Beatles tribute. For those looking to just have some background music for reading, Paul McCartney will do it for you. If you are looking for adventure, I highly recommend Richard McGraw. You can find his album to listen to on Bandcamp.com. And for just this week only (Feb. 6, 2012), you can hear all 3 of these full albums on Spinner.com in their “Listening Party” section. In the meantime, here is Richard McGraw’s original.


 

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