57th Grammy Award Nominations

Last Friday (Dec. 5th), the nominations for the 57th Grammy Awards were announced. In an attempt to change things up, the Grammys announced nominations for a handful of categories on the CBS Morning Show, which was then followed by random announcements throughout the day by various artists on Twitter, a more-or-less complete nomination list by mid-afternoon, and topped off by the Album of the Year announcement on their A Very Grammy Christmas special. Yeah, it was really weird. I appreciate the effort but I would rather them have stuck to one way of announcing nominees; the nomination concert followed by the posting of the entire list seemed to have worked well in recent years.

Anyways, here are my thoughts on the big category nominees, as well as a select number of other categories.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Beck, Morning Phase
  • Beyonce, Beyonce
  • Ed Sheeran, X
  • Pharrell Williams, GIRL
  • Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that I’ve actually listened to the majority of the albums nominated in this category. Last year, the only album nominated that I had heard in full was Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest, which was a surprise nominee. This year, the only album I haven’t heard is Beck. To be honest, I was a little surprised to see Pharrell nominated in this category, not to say that GIRL was a bad album (it’s really solid, actually) but when I think “Album of the Year” I think an album that made a huge impact in the past year. By that logic, I think Beyonce might be the frontrunner, though don’t count out the ongoing momentum Sam Smith is enjoying right now. It’s possible that Sam Smith might sweep up all the wins.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, Fancy
  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass

Like AOTY, I feel that this category encompasses the biggest songs of the year, that made the biggest impact. So it was no surprise to see Fancy, Chandelier, and Stay With Me nominated in the category. (Though it is curious to see that Stay With Me is nominated here and elsewhere with the Darkchild version.) I suppose I expected Shake It Off to get nominated because Taylor Swift is a popular choice these days, even if I personally find her and the song annoying. I absolutely don’t understand the appeal of All About That Bass; such an overrated and overplayed song. As far as snubs go, I’m quite surprised that Beyonce & Jay-Z’s Drunk in Love wasn’t nominated or even Ed Sheeran’s Sing.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass
  • Hozier, Take Me to Church

It should be noted/remembered that this category is awarded to the songwriters, to differentiate from ROTY, and I’ve listed the track’s artist just to make things easier (some songs can have a handful or more songwriters who all worked on it, meaning it can get pretty lengthy). Despite the differences, we have an almost identical nominee list to ROTY, with Hozier taking over Iggy Azalea’s spot. While ROTY typically takes the more popular route, I like to think that SOTY is where the Grammys can really make some offbeat choices in their nominations. Yeah, it can sometimes take a lot of people to craft the perfect pop song, but how about recognizing songs with substance and stands for something? As much as I love Sam Smith and Stay With Me, I want Chandelier to win here. Not only is it a fantastic song, but it would be such a big win for Sia who has written so many great songs for other artists over the years, that this would almost be like an all-encompassing win for her.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Bastille
  • Brandy Clark
  • HAIM
  • Iggy Azalea
  • Sam Smith

I’ve heard of all these people! There’s not a single “Who?!” in the bunch (though Brandy Clark is almost that nominee). I’m honestly trying to think of what other “new” artists (as defined by the weird Grammy rules) came out in the past year who could’ve been recognized and I’m kind of drawing a blank. Regardless, I’m fairly certain it’s going to be Sam Smith for the win.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • John Legend, All of Me (Live)
  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Pharrell Williams, Happy (Live)

Honestly, I kind of don’t like the idea of a live version of a song being nominated. By all accounts, All of Me and Happy could’ve been nominated last year, but the Grammys probably pulled the “it’s eligible this year because it became popular within this eligibility period” despite the fact that the songs got released LAST summer. To that end, there could’ve been so many other performances to consider. Where’s Ed Sheeran’s Sing? Colbie Caillat’s Try? Jason Mraz’s Love Someone? Lorde’s Team? Justin Timberlake’s Not a Bad Thing? And don’t even get me started on songs/performances that aren’t big enough to be recognized by the Grammys (of which there are MANY).

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, Fancy
  • Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars
  • A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera, Say Something
  • Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, Bang Bang
  • Katy Perry ft. Juicy J, Dark Horse

As always, what qualifies as pop in this category confuses me, though this year is a little bit more cohesive than most. You can argue that this is pop in the most general of terms, in that it means “popular.” I mean I would’ve put Fancy in the Rap/Sung Collaboration category, and I’m not sure how A Sky Full of Stars is more or less pop than Paramore’s Ain’t It Fun (which was nominated in the Best Rock Song category). Considering Maroon 5 performed in the Grammy Christmas special, I was expecting them to at least get a nod here for Maps, but I guess not. And I was thinking about this the other day, but The Script still aren’t big enough to get any Grammy recognition? Because I would’ve liked to see them nominated here for Superheroes. Actually, you know what song I’m surprised didn’t get a nod? Michael Jackson featuring Justin Timberlake, Love Never Felt So Good.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Coldplay, Ghost Stories
  • Miley Cyrus, Bangerz
  • Ariana Grande, My Everything
  • Katy Perry, Prism
  • Ed Sheeran, X
  • Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

Really? Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry all got nods? And again, even though I’m happy they did get nominated, I wouldn’t have pegged Ghost Stories as a pop album. I definitely think Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz deserved nods for their albums Gypsy Heart and Yes!, respectively. I’ve made it known how I feel about Maroon 5’s venture into mainstream pop, but I’m surprised that V didn’t get nominated. I mean, Overexposed got nominated and that was a weaker album in my opinion (though Hands All Over didn’t get nominated either, which again, was a completely underrated album and deserved more love than it got)

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK

  • American Hustle
  • Frozen
  • Get On Up: The James Brown Story
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix Vol. 1
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

I have but one complaint: WHERE IS THE NOMINATION FOR MY BEGIN AGAIN?! That soundtrack is perfection!

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • Tegan and Sara ft. The Lonely Island, Everything Is Awesome!!! (The Lego Movie)
  • Ed Sheeran, I See Fire (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
  • Glen Campbell, I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me)
  • Idina Menzel, Let It Go (Frozen)
  • Scarlett Johansson & Joaquin Phoenix, The Moon Song (Her)

One egregious snub: WHERE IS MY LOST STARS?! Come on now! How am I supposed to have faith that it’ll get nominated for the Oscar, if it doesn’t get nominated for a Grammy?!

Other Notables:

  • With her nominations this year, Beyonce became the most nominated female singer in Grammy history, beating previous record holder Dolly Parton.
  • Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) nominated for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album.
  • James Franco is now a Grammy nominee. He’s nominated in the Best Spoken Word Album category.
  • Pentatonix have officially hit the big time! The group is nominated for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or Acapella for their Daft Punk Medley found on PTX, Vol. 2.
  • Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ will duke it out in the Best Music Video category.

At the end of it all, Beyonce and Sam Smith lead all nominations with 6 each. The Grammy Awards will air on CBS, February 8th, 2015.

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Music Monday: Current Obsessions

I love the feeling of hearing new music; there’s just something so exciting about it. While there are a lot of songs on the radio I really can’t stand, there are quite a few radio hits and a few songs from recently released albums that I’m currently obsessed about.

  1. Keira Knightley, Lost Stars – It brings me absolute pleasure to see Begin Again (fka Can A Song Save Your Life?) finally get released and people loving it. I saw it at TIFF last year and just fell in love with both the movie and the songs, so it was an excruciating wait to get my hands on the soundtrack. There’s actually two versions of Lost Stars, the other sung by Adam Levine, but surprisingly I love Keira’s version more. There’s a sort of pure quality to the mix and her voice, that I really love.
  2. Nikki Yanofsky, Necessary Evil – Nikki Yanofsky is a Canadian talent, whom you may remember as the voice of the official Olympic song for Vancouver 2010. Regardless of that fact, she just released a new album with the help of the legendary Quincy Jones. This song got me right away when I first heard it because I immediately started picturing an Argentine Tango being choreographed to it. [The barometer of how much I like a song now depends on whether I can picture choreography to it…despite not being a dancer.]
  3. Ed Sheeran, Don’t – You thought I was gonna pick Sing, with all its Justin Timberlake/Justified inflections, which I still love but I’m obsessed with Don’t. It samples a Lucy Pearl (remember them?!) song and just has this awesome R&B groove to it.
  4. Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, Problem – That 90s R&B throwback sound with the horns? LOVE.
  5. Tessanne Chin, Everything Reminds Me of You – Tessanne’s recently released debut album is actually the first Voice winner album I’ve bought. This song in particular seems made to fit in with Top 40 radio in the same vein as Emeli Sande’s songs, which is part of the reason why I really like it. If you listen to the other songs on her album, you can really hear her Jamaican influences mix well with the pop/R&B sound. Everything feels authentic and doesn’t feel like it was haphazardly put together.
  6. Maroon 5, Maps – I was a little bit wary about the song because I feel like Overexposed (their previous album) was playing too much as mainstream pop. There were still some songs that I really loved, but the album as a whole didn’t do it for me. Maps though, is a little bit more true to form for the band; it has a quality that plays well to Top 40 radio but still feels more decidedly Maroon 5 than most of Overexposed. Jesse Carmichael being back certainly helps, as does the fact that it doesn’t sound so Ryan Tedder-y despite him having a hand in producing/writing the song.
  7. Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, Love Never Felt So Good – Let’s be real, this song just feels good.
  8. Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars – Let it be said that even when Coldplay is experimenting with their sound, their songs still sound distinctively theirs. You can tell it’s a Coldplay song and this one’s no exception.
  9. Hayden Panettiere, Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet – OK so this is kinda old but for some reason, I can’t stop listening to it. It’s the right amount of country with a little bit of an edge that I seem to gravitate towards.
  10. John Mayer, XO – John Mayer doing a cover of Beyonce’s XO and it is awesome. After two very folk-ish albums, him doing this cover just made me think: Where has this John Mayer been for the past 5 years?! It sounds like the JM I used to know and love! Will he keep this up for the next album? I don’t know but I hope so!