Representation of Pop Music at the Grammys

It has been about 2 weeks since the Grammy Awards, and for some reason, I came to thinking about the nominees. I’ve always been a lover of pop music; I make no qualms about it. And when it comes to the Grammys, you will usually expect me to be excited most about the pop categories. I’ve had my problems about the pop categories at the Grammys for some time now. I mean almost anything can qualify as pop it seems, even if it belongs in another genre category. Or even if that same artist is actually nominated for a different song, in a different genre. What actually qualifies as “Pop” then?

That was before, when the male and female performances, plus the group and collaboration performances were their own award. Now, with the awards for male and female being merged into one, and the group and collaboration awards merged into one, you would think that it’d be: a) more competitive as to what were the best songs of the past year; and b) more definitive of what pop is considered as.

I mentioned in the Grammy winners post how weird I thought that Coldplay and The Black Keys were nominated alongside Maroon 5/Christina Aguilera and Tony Bennett/Amy Winehouse. Granted, there aren’t that many pop groups out there, but surely they didn’t need to reach out far to get the 5 nominees?

This year my biggest pet peeve was with the Best Pop Vocal Performance. Like I said previously, I’m glad Adele won and deservedly so. But it seemed to me that all of this year’s nominees were 5 of the most popular songs of the past year, though in my opinion, not particularly the best (except for Adele of course). For most other music award shows (American Music Awards, MTV VMAs, Billboard Awards), popularity is a key factor in awarding the winners. The Grammys are supposed to be about more than popularity – it’s supposed to be about the music.

I rant about this because there are a lot of artists out there, who by Grammy standards should be eligible for the awards. Based on the nominees, it seems like you have to be very well-known to be considered; there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. There’s a lot of talent out there that goes unrecognized and wouldn’t it be nice for them to FINALLY get recognized for their hard work. Sure, some artists could care less about winning a Grammy, but as a fan, I’d like to see my favourites get some support and win awards for being great musicians + writing great songs. And don’t we all just want to get recognition for our hard work, whether we’re musicians, actors, or general office folk?

I could understand the omission of say, Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” from this year’s awards because technically speaking, it was released July 2010 so it was eligible for last year’s show. But what about Matt Nathanson’s “Faster”, Colbie Caillat’s “Brighter Than the Sun”, James Morrison’s “I Won’t Let You Go” or “Slave to the Music” and Sara Bareilles’ “Uncharted” or “Gonna Get Over You”? Yes, I am fully aware that I’m speaking as a biased fan of all these artists, but these songs were better than “Firework” and even “Perfect”.

Maybe this all stems from the fact that these songs were extremely overplayed on radio, making me give a rather negative feeling towards them. But the point of the matter is, I’d like to see the wealth being shared, with a more diverse group of pop artists being nominated. Not all artists get the luxury or luck of commercial success. Maybe the Grammys can actually give others that chance of greater success by acknowledging their work.

2012 Oscar Predictions

The nominations for the Academy Awards were announced on January 24th, celebrating the best in film of the past year. Well, best according to the producers, actors, writers, directors, etc. who make up the Academy. Not to mention there’s a really long process as to determine the nominees for Best Picture (you can read about it here, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly’s writers). Seeing as how I didn’t get this post up in a timely manner (as in the day of the nominations), I figured I might as well make my predictions to go along with my thoughts on this year’s nominees. Hugo leads the pack with 11 nominations, followed closely by The Artist with 10 nominations.

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

It was certainly surprising to hear Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close being nominated, as it seems critics and audiences weren’t very kind to it in terms of reviews and box office revenues. Granted, before the movie came out there was the idea that the movie would be an Oscar contender, but that was before. Also, it seems that every year (or at least since the Academy expanded the number of nominees from 5) there’s at least one movie that makes it, which causes everyone to say “REALLY?” The rest were either locks for nominations or were expected to be nominated. I really wish though that the final installment of the Harry Potter series had been nominated, just as a cap to the whole series, but that’s not to say that I wasn’t entirely shocked that it wasn’t.

Unlike the past two years, I didn’t watch all the nominated movies. I got through 7 out of the 9 movies, and that was barely getting through The Tree of Life. I just couldn’t bring myself to watch War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I wasn’t even the least bit interested in seeing it. And this is coming from the fact that I sat through Winter’s Bone last year, and A Serious Man the year before.

As for predicting who will win, at this point, odds are in The Artist‘s favour. It has won the most “precursors” if you will, so it has got a lot of momentum going for it. Personally, I’d rather not see The Artist win (not that it wasn’t a good movie) but as happens most years, I always find myself rooting for a movie that isn’t the frontrunner. I like underdogs. Last year, it was a toss up between The King’s Speech and The Social Network, with the edge going to TKS. But I loved TSN, so I was really hoping it would win (obviously it didn’t). The year before, with everyone going on about how it was between Avatar and The Hurt Locker for the win, I was all “Screw that! I want Inglorious Basterds or Up In the Air to win!” This year, I’d really like it if The Help won – such a wonderful movie with great acting all around.

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Most surprising is that The Help‘s Tate Taylor didn’t get nominated, instead Malick took his place. It’s hard to decide who should win in this category. The frontrunner in the category is Hazanavicius – I mean a silent movie, in this day and age? It was crazy talk, but it worked.

Best Actor
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

I still can’t believe that this is the first time Gary Oldman has been nominated for an Oscar. But without a doubt, the race is between George Clooney and Jean Dujardin. It’s so hard to choose because both performances were great. I mean Clooney has really never been better, but at the same time, Dujardin conveyed so many emotions without saying anything. I think I’m going to have to give the edge to Clooney.

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Prior to awards season truly kicking in, there was talk that Elizabeth Olsen might get in for her performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene, which I think would’ve been great. She was absolutely amazing in that movie. Alas, that was all talk. I’ll admit that I’ve only seen The Help out of the 5 performances, so that makes me biased a little bit. But you know what? I don’t care, Viola Davis absolutely deserves the win. I know Meryl Streep is LEGEND, but Davis’ performance was incredible.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Christopher Plummer has been the winner all awards season, so there’s no doubt that he’s going to win the Oscar as well. I’ll say this though, how funny is it that we’re going to be seeing “Academy Award Nominee Jonah Hill” on movie ads from now on? I mean who woulda thunk it?

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

There’s some reservations that both Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer are nominated for The Help, which may lead to votes being cancelled out. But Spencer’s totally got the win – like Plummer for Supporting Actor, she’s won every other award this season.

Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

Midnight in Paris might not stand much of a chance in winning the top prize, but Woody Allen sure as hell is winning here.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, and Nat Faxon, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The way I see it, I can only really judge this category if I’ve read both the book and seen the movie – I haven’t read any of the original books and only saw 3 of the nominated films. Surprisingly, the screenplay for The Help wasn’t nominated, which REALLY doesn’t bode well for its Best Picture chances, but hey, weirder things have happened at the awards. Aaron Sorkin did the same thing with Moneyball, as he did with The Social Network – that is turn a subject/book that could’ve been really boring under the wrong hands, and co-wrote a screenplay that kept you interested regardless of whether you know baseball or not. Unfortunately, seeing as how Sorkin did just win last year for TSN, I don’t think he’s going to repeat. Chances are the writers of The Descendants are going to take it.

Best Animated Film
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

For the first time in what feels like forever, a Pixar movie (Cars 2) didn’t get nominated, which means anything goes this year. Seeing as how The Adventures of Tintin didn’t get nominated, I think Rango‘s going to win.

Music (Original Score)
The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

How did John Williams get nominated twice, leaving Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and also last year’s winners) out of the race? For the fact that The Artist is a silent movie, making the score all the more important, I really do feel that Ludovic Bource will win.

Music (Original Song)
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from Rio, Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, and Siedah Garrett

2 nominees? That’s it? I don’t know what to say about it really, but between the two, Bret McKenzie should win. It’s the Muppets after all!

Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Let Harry Potter win this please! A series ending, compilation win! I will admit though that the effects for Hugo were pretty incredible, not to mention the work at creating the apes of Rise. But seriously. Harry Potter!

The Oscars air on ABC, this Sunday Feb. 26th at 8:00 P.M. Billy Crystal hosts.

54th Grammy Award Winners

It was only yesterday that I realized that I never actually wrote a post about the nominees (mostly due to the fact that I was on vacation when they were announced). Oh well, I’ll just post my comments that I would have in the previous post here, along with the winners.

Winner: Adele, 21
Bruno Mars, Doo Wops and Hooligans
Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
Lady Gaga, Born This Way
Rihanna, Loud

I was awfully surprised at the inclusion of Rihanna’s album. Personally, I didn’t think much of it. I would much rather have had Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night or Jay-Z & Kanye West’s Watch the Throne been nominated instead of Rihanna and Lady Gaga but that’s just me. Regardless, Adele won and deservedly so. 21 was without a doubt THE BEST ALBUM of the year.

Winner: Adele “Rolling in the Deep”
Bon Iver “Holocene”
Bruno Mars “Grenade”
Katy Perry “Firework”
Mumford and Sons “The Cave”

Adele won for the biggest song of the year, that was a given. But I was a little surprised that Katy Perry was nominated, especially when songs like Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, Lady Antebellum’s “Just A Kiss” and Jay-Z & Kanye West’s “Otis” were around released in the past year.

Winner: Adele “Rolling in the Deep”
Kanye West ft. Rihanna, Fergie & Kid Cudi “All of the Lights”
Mumford and Sons “The Cave”
Bruno Mars “Grenade”
Bon Iver “Holocene”

Again, I don’t think it would have mattered who was nominated because no question, Adele was going to win…and she did.

Winner: Bon Iver
The Band Perry
J. Cole
Nicki Minaj

To me, this was a ‘meh’ group of artists nominated for this category. I mean this was really the best new artists of the past year? If he hadn’t won a Grammy last year, I’m sure Bruno Mars would’ve been nominated here (under the latest Grammy rule for the category) and won. Others who should have been nominated? Christina Perri, The Civil Wars, Jessie J…any or all 3 would’ve been great. Alas, Bon Iver ended up winning the award, a surprise to many but not much to me. Granted, I haven’t really listened to their music but unlike many others, I really didn’t think Nicki Minaj was going to win. If Drake couldn’t win last year, there was no way Nicki was going to.

Winner: Adele “Someone Like You”
Bruno Mars “Grenade”
Katy Perry “Firework”
Lady Gaga “You and I”
Pink “Fuckin’ Perfect”

For this year’s Grammys, the male and female performance categories were shrunk into one, which I actually don’t mind because over the years we’ve been getting nominees that weren’t quite pop. That being said, I guess there weren’t any real issues with the nominees. All the songs were some of the biggest pop songs of the year. I do think though that Jessie J’s “Price Tag” should’ve been in contention or (longshot) Matt Nathanson’s “Modern Love.” But like it mattered anyways because Adele won.

Winner: Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse “Body and Soul”
The Black Keys “Dearest”
Coldplay “Paradise”
Foster the People “Pumped Up Kicks”
Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera “Moves Like Jagger”

What I said before about nominees not quite being pop, totally applies here. I thought Black Keys were considered alternative and Coldplay are also nominated under rock, so there’s that. Would’ve liked to see The Script nominated for “For the First Time” but I was happy enough with Maroon 5’s nod. I was obviously pulling for M5 to win but there was no way you were gonna bet against Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse.

Winner: Adele, 21
Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops and Hooligans
Cee Lo Green, The Lady Killer
Lady Gaga, Born This Way
Rihanna, Loud

No problems here except for maybe the fact that most of the Album of the Year nominees were from this category. Again, there was no betting against Adele.

Winner: The Civil Wars “Barton Hollow”
Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
Kenny Chesney ft. Grace Potter “You and Tequila”
Thompson Square “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”

I normally wouldn’t care about country all that much but Kelly Clarkson for her song with Jason Aldean was nominated! Unfortunately, they lost but they lost to The Civil Wars who were just as deserving of the award. My one surprise in this category was Lady Antebellum’s lack of a nomination for “Just A Kiss”.

Winner: Lady Antebellum, Own the Night
Blake Shelton, Red River Blue
Eric Church, Chief
George Strait, Here for a Good Time
Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party
Taylor Swift, Speak Now

Didn’t really care about this category that much. I thought Taylor Swift was going to win, but I was so happy when Lady Antebellum won instead. I am totally in love with “Own the Night”, it’s just such a great album and totally deserved to win.

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE: Jay-Z & Kanye West “Otis” – Honestly, I’m just happy this song won.

BEST SCORE SOUNDTRACK: The King’s Speech – I get it, it was good. But when I re-read the nominations for this category and realized that the score for “The Social Network” wasn’t nominated, I was astonished. HOW? Reznor and Ross’s score was amazing, that’s why they won an Oscar for it.

As for the performances, Adele and Jennifer Hudson’s respective performances were spectacular. Taylor Swift has never sounded better live. Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson were great until there was a mic problem near the end of the song. The Beach Boys reunion, with assistance by Maroon 5 and Foster the People was cool. Foo Fighters continue to amaze me with their live performances (I’ve never really listened to them so they’re successfully converting me into a fan).

All in all, not a bad night for music.