10 Thoughts About the Grammys
1. Interesting that the two acts with the most nominations are Lil Wayne, with eight, and Coldplay, with seven. Besides the obvious contrasts (white vs. black, rap vs. rock, English Vs. American), Coldplay and Wayne represent wildly divergent approaches to stardom. Coldplay still operate under the album-as-event paradigm, taking years between releases, carefully doling out interviews, hitting the stadiums. Weezy, though, drops mixtapes at a moment’s notice, is more likely to spend time playing rudimentary guitar than plotting a tour, and blogs about sports for ESPN. He’s a loose cannon; Coldplay is a well-oiled machine. Will Grammy voters reward one style over the other?
2. The Album of the Year category is refreshingly free of an obvious sop to older voters. Along with Wayne and Coldplay, albums by Ne-Yo, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and Radiohead merit the award. There’s nary a Steely Dan (whom I like, but still) or Herbie Hancock (whom I like, but still) in sight. Hard to complain when the ‘adult’ choice is an album by the singer from Led Zeppelin.
3. Why is Coldplay’s Viva La Vida nominated in a Rock category but the song “Viva La Vida” nominated as in a Pop category? Why is Metallica nominated for awards in both rock and metal? And for that matter, why are there different categories for solo artists and groups? Do you hear songs and think, “That was pretty good — for a group?” I don’t.
4. Jazmine Sullivan and Lady Antebellum were both nominated in the Best New Artist category. I had only a faint idea about who either of them were until I engaged in some Wikipedia action. Evidently, Sullivan is an R&B singer and Lady Antebellum is a country group. I’m going to take my ignorance of these artists as an example of the ongoing segregation of the rock, country, and R&B markets and not as an example of, um, my ignorance.
5. M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” is nominated for Record of the Year. It’s an aggressively anti-establishment song by a young Sri Lankan woman that features shotgun blasts and a Clash sample. I hope it wins.
6. Take a trip down the rabbit hole and check out some of the bottom of the bill nominations. Did you know that a Grammy is awarded to the best Banda album? Also, did you also know there’s a kind of music called Banda?
7. Johnny Karkazis is nominated for Producer of the Year, non-classical. Karkazi produced albums by Plain White T’s, Staind, and 3 Doors Down. So blame him.
8. Rick Rubin is nominated in the same category. That guy could snap and make me disappear. On an unrelated note, I think he’s the greatest producer of all time and is totally deserving of any and all acclaim he gets.
9. It was good year for U.K. soulstresses. Adele, Estelle, Duffy, and Leona Lewis all scored multiple nominations.
10. Grammy-nominated album title that could also be a porno: Randy In Brasil by Randy Brecker, up for Best Contemporary Jazz album. I’ll wait for the video.