Music Monday: The Rise of Unnecessary Remixes

So I wouldn’t say I’m a music snob, because I love a lot of different genres, but no one genre is superior to another. Just like TV, everybody has different tastes; everybody can like what they want. I am, however, kind of particular about what I like and don’t like. This revelation kinda happened over the past five years or so, but it was sort of always there. I have my favourites of course, but I’m a little bit more reluctant to discover new artists. Chalk some of it up to no time to actively search the internet for new music to listen to, but it’s also the fact that I’m not particularly impressed with the new batch of singers or music that get radio airplay.

Anyways, one of my biggest pet peeves are remixes. Hear me out though: some remixes are good, only if they’re done right. Again, personal preference as to what’s considered “done right”, but for me the remix has to add something of value to the song or changes it in a way that makes it feel like a different version but an extension of the song (if that makes any sense). I am not a fan of the unnecessary remix; the big one I file under that is the Dance/EDM Remix. Considering I’ve always hated EDM as a genre, it just annoys me to no end. Lately, however, the unnecessary remix I loathe is the Radio Edit/Remix where they take a perfectly beautiful song and “pop-ify” it/make it more “radio friendly.” I remember when Lady Antebellum released “Need You Now” which we all know is a great country-pop song, and then I heard some radio stations play a mix of the song that turned up the pop value and made it more upbeat. It was probably one step away from being a full-out club remix. And things have just gotten more ridiculous since then. It used to be every once in a while, typically when you get one of those genre crossover tracks and they get the “pop radio edit.” I’ve heard three, arguably already pop songs, get an unnecessary remix.

ADELE, Hello

Of course, everyone fell in love with this song as soon as it dropped. Powerful and dramatic, with Adele’s sweeping vocals. But then I heard a new mix of the song that still kept most of what you love about the song (Adele’s vocals) but increased the pop factor. It’s a subtle change in the arrangement, but you can tell the difference with the added drums that makes the song sound pop/rock (I would compare it to a OneRepublic song). It just takes away from the drama of the song itself.

Hello – DJ Mike D Remix

KELLY CLARKSON, Piece by Piece

This goes to show how much I try to avoid listening to the radio. After Kelly performed this song on Idol, and subsequently released that stripped down version, that is the version that I’ve been hearing. I love it, I heard it when she went on tour, it’s just a great fit for what the song is about. One day, after hearing the Idol Version on radio, the on-air DJ was talking about how this is such a stark difference to the “original” which was upbeat. I remember sitting in the car thinking, “What is she talking about? Upbeat?! It was maybe a midtempo pop song.  It wasn’t a dance pop song by any means.” Little did I know, the version that actually did get released as a “radio edit” was pretty dance pop-y. The accompanying video confirmed as such. And that just boggles my mind because the version I know from the album was good as is. I didn’t see a need to make it MORE POP. I’m just happy that people have been accepting of the stripped down Idol Version.

 

JAMES BAY, Let It Go

The most recent annoying remix I’ve heard is of James Bay’s Let It Go. For the past couple months, I’ve been hearing the original, simple beautiful song I know and love from the album. One day, I accidentally stumbled upon a satellite radio station that was playing this song, but an R&B remix of it?! WHAT?! It’s not terrible, doesn’t mean it was right to do so. I mean, I’d probably tolerate it more if it was like a reality TV competition show and a contestant had revamped the song for themselves (or maybe not), but giving the song an R&B groove, to me, takes away the purity of the original. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

*It was only while doing this post that I realized that two of the remixes I hated and made as an example were done by the same DJ. He is now on my hate list.

Advertisements

55th Annual Grammy Award Winners + Performers

Music’s biggest night came and went last night, and with no real indication as to who would come out on top, it was an interesting affair to say the least. I’ve made my comments on the nominees, but here’s a rundown of some of the winners and quick thoughts.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • The Black Keys, El Camino
  • fun., Some Nights
  • WINNER: Mumford and Sons, Babel
  • Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
  • Jack White, Blunderbuss

The nominees was a bunch of very solid albums, but I do think Mumford and Sons’ win for their album “Babel” was very much deserved. “Babel” was one of the big successes of 2012, selling 600,000+ copies in its first week of release in September. Critics were fair with the album and without a doubt, Mumford are a part of time in music where real music is once again being appreciated.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • The Black Keys, Lonely Boy
  • Kelly Clarkson, (What Doesn’t Kill You) Stronger
  • fun. ft. Janelle Monae, We Are Young
  • WINNER: Gotye ft. Kimbra, Somebody That I Used to Know
  • Frank Ocean, Thinkin’ About You
  • Taylor Swift, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

“Somebody That I Used to Know” is a perfectly fine song, but because radio played it to death, I have negative feelings towards it. I really wanted Kelly to win it and thought that fun. would probably take it instead (and I was going to be fine with that), but not so fond of Gotye winning.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • Ed Sheeran, The A-Team
  • Miguel, Adorn
  • Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe
  • Kelly Clarkson, (What Doesn’t Kill You) Stronger
  • WINNER: fun., We Are Young

Again, I figured “We Are Young” would win, but was really hoping for “Stronger” to take it.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Alabama Shakes
  • WINNER: fun.
  • Hunter Hayes
  • The Lumineers
  • Frank Ocean

I honestly thought it would’ve been great if Frank Ocean had won. However, considering the track record of R&B/rap/hip-hop acts winning the category, chances were slim. Not so surprised by fun.’s win.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • WINNER: Adele, Set Fire to the Rain [Live]
  • Kelly Clarkson, (What Doesn’t Kill You) Stronger
  • Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe
  • Katy Perry, Wide Awake
  • Rihanna, Where Have You Been

The only 2 possible winners in my book were Adele and Kelly. Kelly’s had a spectacular year, so I was really hoping for her to take the win, but I am perfectly happy with Adele winning.

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Florence + the Machine, Shake It Out
  • fun., We Are Young
  • WINNER: Gotye ft. Kimbra, Somebody That I Used to Know
  • LMFAO, Sexy and I Know It
  • Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa, Payphone

Of course I was pulling for Maroon 5 to win, but alas, Gotye ended up the winner. At least LMFAO didn’t win.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • WINNER: Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
  • fun., Some Nights
  • Maroon 5, Overexposed
  • P!nk, The Truth About Love

I hate the idea that I would vote against Maroon 5 winning, but in this case, I had to give it to Kelly. I have been listening to Stronger ever since it came out, and I’m still not tired of it. So call me super excited when I heard Kelly’s name called out as the winner for this amazing album.

Other notable winners:

  • BEST RAP PERFORMANCE/BEST RAP SONG – Jay-Z & Kanye West, N****s in Paris
  • BEST RAP ALBUM – Drake, Take Care
  • BEST COUNTRY SONG/BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE – Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
  • BEST COMEDY ALBUM – Jimmy Fallon, Blow Your Pants Off
  • BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM – Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

PERFORMANCES

Let’s talk about the performances, shall we? To me, this year’s telecast was one of the best in recent memory. Overall, almost all the performances were incredible, really bringing back the musicianship of it all.

Taylor Swift, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: Taylor opened up the show, with some sort of circus/Wonderland theme. Vocals were on the iffy side.

Ed Sheeran & Sir Elton John, The A-Team: I still contend that Ed Sheeran should’ve been nominated for more awards, but it was certainly a treat to have Sir Elton John perform alongside Ed on this track. This performance really kicked off the show.

fun., Carry On: Nothing says “this is a live performance!” like bringing out the rain machine.

Miranda Lambert & Dierks Bentley, Over You/Home: What should have seemed like a no-brainer in the duet department, the set up for this pairing felt a little off somehow. Although I still don’t understand how Miranda got snubbed for that wonderful song of hers that she co-wrote with Blake Shelton.

Miguel & Wiz Khalifa, Adorn: I had no idea who Miguel when nominations were announced, but the short performance of this song got me intrigued. I have to say though, how hilarious is it that after they performed, they were giving the award for Best Country Solo Performance? Can we say random?!

Mumford and Sons, I Will Wait: These guys are a no-fuss bunch, and simply bring the music.

Justin Timberlake, Suit & Tie/Pusher Love Girl: This was the highly anticipated performance of the night, and JT did not disappoint. Starting off with his new single, the telecast turned the performance to black+white, giving the song the extra amount of class. I haven’t made my thoughts known on the new single, so here’s what I have to say about it – with its retro/throwback vibe, while still sounding current, it may not have been what people expected from JT, but it’s exactly what radio needs right now. Jay-Z came up for his verse, and JT subsequently followed with a new track off of “The 20/20 Experience” (out March 19th!). Highlight of the night, hands down (says the biased JT fan).

Maroon 5 & Alicia Keys, Daylight/Girl on Fire: I’m a little taken aback by how well these two songs meshed together. The way they changed up the songs to suit each other, made me like the songs more. I want this version of Daylight that M5 performed here, to be how they perform it on tour. To be honest, I was never a big fan of Girl on Fire, but I enjoyed this version.

Rihanna ft. Mikky Echo, Stay: Usually one for a dance spectacle, Rihanna surprised with the performance of her new single, a ballad that showed off her vocals in a way we hadn’t seen.

Black Keys, Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Lonely Boy: There was so much going on the wardrobe front, but with such a lively performance, nothing mattered but the music.

Kelly Clarkson, Tennessee Waltz/Natural Woman: Kelly paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement honorees, Patti Page and Carole King. With the latter song, I got total Idol flashbacks to when Kelly had performed it back then, and as always, she KILLED the vocals.

Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, Damien Marley and Ziggy Marley, Locked Out of Heaven/Walking On The Moon/Could You Be Loved: It’s hard to imagine that Bob Marley never won a Grammy, but he has made an indelible mark on music today. It was certainly fun to hear Bruno Mars’ hit song segway oh so perfectly into The Police song, but then getting Damien & Ziggy Marley to come out with Rihanna and completely giving tribute to Bob Marley was a moment that the Grammys are made for.

The Lumineers, Ho Hey: Everyone’s new favourite song. Though to be honest, their performance was a little too short for my liking.

Jack White, Love Interruption/Freedom at 21: I still haven’t taken a listen to Blunderbuss, but will certainly have to now. I liked the two different sounds we heard for each of his songs, and it definitely got me interested.

Carrie Underwood, Blown Away/Two Black Cadillacs: It was a big night for the 2 biggest stars to come out of the Idol Machine. I’ve really come to enjoy Carrie’s music, but I thought she sounded a little under-the-weather here. I mean, we’ve heard Carrie perform numerous times before and know she’s great, so this felt a little disappointing. And that dress! I actually don’t know what to think about it, though it seemed a little distracting.

Levon Helm Tribute, The Weight: Amongst the artists who contributed to this tribute were Sir Elton John, Zac Brown, T-Bone Burnett, Mumford and Sons, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. It was an uplifting tribute and certain proof of real musicianship.

Frank Ocean, Forrest Gump: This was interesting…I’ve listened to Channel Orange and thought that it was an interesting album to say the least. Though I do agree with a lot of people in wondering why he didn’t opt to perform his breakthrough song “Thinkin Bout You” instead, which would’ve gotten more people on board with his music.

LL Cool J, Chuck D, Z-Trip, Tom Morello, and Travis Barker, Whaddup/No Sleep Till Brooklyn: LL Cool J as host, jumped into a performer mode to close out the show, performing a new song and following up with a the Beastie Boys song as tribute to the late Adam Yauch. The timing felt off, with the performance coming on after a commercial break, after the last award of the night was given out.

Cover Songs: Love Them, Hate Them, Can’t Get Enough of Them

I love cover songs. I think it is totally awesome when artists sing another artist’s song, especially during concerts because it mixes things up a little bit. On her recent “Stronger” tour, Kelly Clarkson performed at least 3 cover songs at each stop: 2 were part of the setlist (Florence + the Machine’s “Heavy In Your Arms” and Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t”) plus a fan request. I’ve heard Maroon 5 sing “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “If I Ain’t Got You.” James Morrison and Diane Birch once performed “With A Little Help From My Friends.” John Mayer has sung “Free Fallin” and “Gone.” Justin Timberlake sang “This Love” at one of his benefit concerts (even though he technically performed that with Maroon 5). This is just the tip of the iceberg and I could go on and on with amazing covers.

It’s only recently that I’ve realized where I draw the line when it comes to covers. Hearing covers in concert is one thing because I’m watching an artist I’m a fan of so they can’t do much wrong in my books. But over the years, watching so many TV shows where covers abound like Idol, The Voice, X-Factor, and now with Glee + Smash, my reaction to song choices vary from the usual groan and eye-roll when a song that’s been OVERDONE is sung again (11 years of Idol will turn you into a cynic) or total excitement. There has been countless times when we’ve heard female contestants sing songs by Mariah, Whitney, Celine, etc. even though they don’t have the range for it. But then there are a lot of cases where singers do a fantastic job covering the song by either changing up the song to fit their style (Hello David Cook’s version of “Always Be My Baby” and Kris Allen’s “Heartless” that’s STILL on my iPod) or just simply singing the HELL out of the song. Some covers are even better than the original. Glee, in my opinion, does this the best – take an okay song or one that’s entirely overplayed and make it better/worth listening to (i.e. Blame It On the Alcohol, Teenage Dream, We Found Love). For certain songs though, I’ve found that I can’t even like the cover, despite how good it might be.

In the episode of Glee entitled “On My Way”, the Troubletones sang Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”. I was excited to hear it, but at the same time, it was like “Why couldn’t they pick another song?” I think it comes down to the fact that it was a single and I like Glee better when they’re not doing songs that are already on the radio. After I heard it, I felt kind of indifferent about it – it was good but I didn’t really like it. Why? I realized that I’m fiercely protective of when anyone sings Kelly’s songs. I mean I love Kelly Clarkson – she’s one of my favourite artists ever and I love her songs like they are the soundtrack to my life. So for me, I don’t think anyone should ever sing her songs, unless they can do the original justice.  Megan Hilty sang “Breakaway” on a recent episode of Smash and though there’s no denying that she has a great voice, I didn’t feel as though it carried the same weight as Kelly’s original. But again, maybe that’s because “Breakaway” was such a big song for Kelly. Then on Glee, at the end of the episode “Choke”, Lea Michele sang “Cry” off of Kelly’s “All I Ever Wanted” album and I thought she did a fantastic job with the song. It fit nicely with the storyline and worked well with Rachel Berry’s feelings, so it didn’t feel forced. Actually, it was a nice reminder of what Glee was like when it started. Now of course it really is a track-by-track basis, in terms of what I’m willing to accept.

Christina Aguilera is probably one of the best voices in the industry; she’s got a diva voice. We’ve heard people sing “Beautiful” and “The Voice Within” among other Christina songs, and it’s usually met with the same eye-roll and groan. I thought Amber Riley did a good job singing “Beautiful” on Glee, but I definitely was not happy about Darren Criss singing “Fighter” in the episode “Big Brother.” Not that there was anything really wrong with his version, but “Fighter” is one of my all-time favourite songs and no matter how much angst we’re supposed to feel from the storyline, it just can’t match Christina’s sheer power.

Then there’s Adele. Over the span of this past year, I have no idea how many times an Adele song has been covered. Scratch that, over the span of the past 6 months, I have no idea how many times an Adele song has been sung on TV. I’ll admit I liked  Angel Taylor and Mathai’s attempts at singing “Someone Like You” and “Rumour Has It”, respectively, during their blind auditions on The Voice. Before that, Glee did a great mash-up of those 2 songs as well. But now it’s just plain old fatigue of hearing people try to sing Adele. Just stop please.

It’s not just songs by these artists with big voices being covered that have me  up in arms. I have deliberately  sort of avoided American Idol this past season because it got tiring, with the theme weeks and the judges making no sense. But there was the one week where the theme was songs from this decade (so, the past three years in music). Seeing what the set list was ahead of time, I found it to be an interesting line-up, so I actually attempted to watch the show that week (in between my regular television shows of course). I only came out disappointed, feeling like it was a slap in the face because they not only ruined 2 Kelly Clarkson songs, but also a Maroon 5 song. I know, one should not compare a contestant’s rendition to the original, but let’s be real, it’s inevitable and you can’t help it. The contestant in question, Phillip Phillips, re-arranged Maroon 5’s “Give A Little More”. I’ll embed both versions below and judge for yourself. But while the original has a sexy quality to it (what Adam Levine does seamlessly), Phillip re-arranged it somehow to make it cheesy (Saxophone? Really?). This also doesn’t mean The Voice gets off scott-free either because I was REALLY not impressed with RaeLynn singing “Wake Up Call”. Sure the song can be made country but not by RaeLynn, sorry Blake. And I know Adam seemed to like it, but as a fan, I was not having any of it.

Those are the artists, who in recent weeks/months have been covered that I’ve had problems with. On the flip side, I always love a good Britney Spears cover. I love Britney, and to me, she’s pure pop royalty. People can say what they want about Britney, but damn does she not have some great catchy pop songs? I love it when people cover Britney because her songs aren’t obvious choices. When people hear Britney, they just hear the music because she’s never really been known as a vocalist (which she isn’t and we all know that). So hearing someone sing a Britney song, gives a somewhat cool factor. Naturally, when Tony Lucca sang “…Baby One More Time” on The Voice, I flipped out because the whole thing was just PURE GENIUS. Same song, different show – Marty Casey was absolutely brilliant with his version on Rock Star INXS back in 2005. In concert, I’ve heard Kate Voegele sing “Till the World Ends” and again, I geeked out.

Consider this me ranting about song choices on TV shows (reality or otherwise). Also, a justifiable excuse for me to post videos of some cool/awesome (and I guess one not-so-great) covers. Enjoy!

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.

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.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
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.

RECORD 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.

SONG OF THE 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.

BEST NEW ARTIST
Winner: Bon Iver
The Band Perry
J. Cole
Nicki Minaj
Skrillex

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.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE
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.

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE
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.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
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.

BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE
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”.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM
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.