Looking Ahead to the 2013 Grammys

I don’t often write posts looking ahead to events and making predictions, but then a funny thing happened. While watching TV with my family a few weeks ago, Canadian network CTV aired a promo for the re-release of Katy Perry’s album Teenage Dream and I said to my siblings “Look at that! Music sucks so much right now, that they have to advertise an album that has essentially, been out for 2 years” (the re-release itself has been out for months.) To which my brother responded, “It does suck…So what are they gonna do for the awards stuff?” My brother, for the record, could care less about the Grammys (or any other awards shows for that matter), but for him to make such an observation, that’s kind of a big deal. And so the question is: With pop music not being entirely great this past year, what will come of the Grammys with its focus being on appealing to the mainstream audience?

*NOTE: My music knowledge is far greater in the pop category, so forgive me if my focus is on pop music*

Generally speaking, in terms of the overall Grammys, it is in my honest (and slightly biased) opinion that Kelly Clarkson will come out on top when nominations are announced. Stronger was such a great album, not to mention the title track itself is one of the best songs all year (that you’re probably still not sick and tired of hearing). After Kelly, I think Coldplay’s a pretty solid bet for nominations for their album Mylo Xyloto, as well as Grammy favourite John Mayer for Born and Raised.

The category that scares/worries me the most, as has been the case for the past few years, is Best New Artist. I feel like it gets harder and harder to determine who the best new artist is, because there hasn’t really been a standout new artist. I mean last year, Bon Iver won, where he was up against Nicki Minaj, The Band Perry, J-Cole, and Skrillex. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had won a Grammy at the 2011 show, I would’ve bet my money on Bruno Mars being nominated and winning the category; but he did win, making him ineligible in the category for 2012, per Grammy rules. Guesses for who could potentially be nominated? I think Ed Sheeran has made enough of an impact to garner a nod and even a win. Representing Country, I’m going to take a wild guess and say Thompson Square or Hunter Hayes (based purely on observation). Representing Hip-Hop, I wonder if Childish Gambino can sneak in there. Which means 2 spots left, that could go to any of the following who had hit singles this past year: fun., Ellie Goulding, Carly Rae Jepsen, One Direction, Karmin, Gotye.

So some predictions (however off-base they will probably be) in some of the categories:

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
  • Coldplay, Princess of China [ft. Rihanna]
  • Jason Mraz, I Won’t Give Up

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto
  • John Mayer, Born and Raised
  • Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
  • Miranda Lambert, Four the Record

BEST SOLO POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
  • Jason Mraz, I Won’t Give Up
  • Adele, Set Fire to the Rain
  • John Mayer, Shadow Days
  • Ed Sheeran, The A-Team

BEST POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE BY A DUO/GROUP

  • Maroon 5, One More Night
  • Coldplay, Princess of China [ft. Rihanna]
  • Taylor Swift, Safe and Sound [ft. The Civil Wars] —> I really think they’re going to put this under pop, if nominated, just because the Grammys can be weird when it comes to this category

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Maroon 5, Overexposed
  • Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
  • Jason Mraz, Love is a Four Letter Word
  • John Mayer, Born and Raised

The Grammy nominations will be announced live on their annual Nomination Concert on December 5th, airing on CBS. Taylor Swift will be co-hosting with LL Cool J, and Maroon 5 will be one of the performers. Until then, any thoughts as to who might get nominated? Who really are the best new artists of the past year? Can we possibly see some lesser known (but equally talented, if not more) artists get nominated this year? Sound off!

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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.