February 1, 2010

Awkward Turtle

I watched the Grammy's last night.  It probably wasn't a great decision considering how much overwhelming shit I have to do... but I love a good celebrity gathering and I couldn't resist.

Let me just start with the important categories, who won, who should have won, and why.

Record of the Year: 
*Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
Halo - Beyonce
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
Poker Face - Lady Gaga
You Belong With Me - Taylor Swift

Personally, I feel like Kings of Leon are a bunch of sellouts who've traded their souls (and probably original fanbase) for popularity.  They're on the bubble - my final judgement will come when I hear some new music from them.  Let's just say I got "Youth & Young Manhood" when I was a sophomore in high school and they didn't sound anything like they do now.  Or look like it.  You might recall.  I don't know how I feel about the rest of the nominees.  Actually, I like them all, although Poker Face isn't my favorite of Gaga's songs.  Oh, and Beyonce couldn't have won because her song sounds exactly like Kelly Clarkson's, so that was kind of a dealbreaker.  If it were up to me, I'd choose Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" merely because it's literally the most popular song in the world (according to a poll distributed and taken by ME).  Over the summer I heard it in Valencia, Granada, Sevilla, Pisa, Florence (okay, Paulina was just singing it here), and London.  Did I hear any of the other ones?  Noooo.

Album of the Year:
*Fearless - Taylor Swift
I am... Sasha Fierce - Beyonce
The END - Black Eyed Peas
The Fame - Lady Gaga
Big Whiskey and the Groogoux King - Dave Matthews Band

Um, here's what I think.  Well, besides what you already know.  This was obviously going to be between Taylor Swift and Beyonce.  Hm... well.  They were both kind of amazing this year, no?  I mean, look at the facts: they were both incredible crossover artists who got people you would NEVER expect to listen to their music to listen to it.  Both of them!!  And they both sold millions of albums.  And tour tickets.  And they both have strong, solid personalities that reflect incredibly well on them and their music.  So, what exactly was the tie breaker?
I don't think it was a genre thing because most people like both of their albums.  In my opinion, Taylor Swift is like a mini-Beyonce.  And the voters realized that.  She's obviously got some work ahead of her, but I think the way that she handles herself and her career is eerily similar (making movies, too, I see).  I theorize that people voted for her potential and they're hoping that her career follows a similar path to Beyonce's (and to someone else).  And don't go feeling too sorry for B - she did win 7 other Grammy's last night.

Best Contemporary Folk Album:
*Townes - Steve Earle
Middle Cyclone - Neko Case
Our Bright Future - Tracy Chapman
Live - Shawn Colvin
Secret, Profane & Sugarcane - Elvis Costello

Do I even need to say that Neko Case should have won this?  Middle Cyclone was one of my favorite albums of 2009, and is near the top of my all-time favorites list, probably #1 in the country/folk category.  A recent article stated

"And I can only imagine the reaction had a performer with a voice that can shake walls like Neko Case or Mavis Staples been allowed to cavort with the pop celebs in prime time.

Case’s sixth studio album, “Middle Cyclone,” was nominated for a minor award (best contemporary American folk album), and didn’t win. Yet Case is exactly the type of artist that Swift aspires to be: an accomplished singer, songwriter and producer who keeps getting better with each year. Case is at the top of her game right now, and her breathtaking voice is a powerhouse of longing with a tart edge. She drummed in punk bands before embracing her love for mountain-soul ballads on her solo albums, and along the way she’s honed her chops as a lyric-writer and arranger, developed as a guitarist and pianist, and learned how to use the studio as an instrument to enhance the rich atmosphere in her voice and songs. The strike against artists such as Case is that they’re too esoteric, too underground, for a mainstream audience, but that’s bunk. A “Middle Cyclone” song like “People Got a Lotta Nerve” is as catchy as anything Swift has ever written."
I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that the Grammy's continue to be all about revenue.

Best Spoken World Album:
*Always Looking Up - Michael J. Fox
A Very Special Time - Jonathan Winters
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates - Richard Dreyfuss & David Straithern
The Maltese Falcon - Various Artists
We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land - Jimmy Carter
Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher

This one I'm just throwing in because I almost had an "accident" (peed in my pants.) in the car when I was on my way to school while I was listening to Carrie Fisher's audiobook.  I'm sure Michael J. Fox's album was inspiring and everything, but I was literally rolling on the ground when I listened to Wishful Drinking.

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists:
*Quiet Nights - Diana Krall
A Change is Gonna Come - Seal
Dedicated To You - Kurt Elling
In The Still of the Night - Anne Walsh
My One And Only Thrill - Melody Gardot

Okay, so I'm sure no one is familiar with any of these either, but I'm putting it up anyways.  Diana Krall is one of my favorite jazz vocalists and her arrangements are really good... but, Melody Gardot's album is  incredible.  My beef with Diana Krall is this: this album has a very similar arranging style to those of her previous albums (which were also very good), so my question is what made it so much better than her previous albums that it deserved a Grammy?  (Note: she already has 2, one from her 5th album in 1999, the other is from her live album which is probably the best live jazz album I've heard)  Just food for thought.  My 2 cents - Melody Gardot should have gotten the award.

No comments: