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.

Favourites of 2011

It is December 31st, last day of 2011 – I’d say it’s about time I do my favourites list for the year.

FAVOURITE ALBUMS

  • Adele – 21: This was Adele’s year, you can’t argue with that. I had already liked her from her debut album, but her sophomore effort made me a bonafide fan. Not to mention, hearing her perform live is absolutely INCREDIBLE.
  • Kelly Clarkson – Stronger: Right, because Kelly Clarkson comes out with a new album and I wasn’t going to put it among my favourites? HA! I don’t know what to really say about Kelly Clarkson. She has always been one of my favourite artists, and with each album she releases, there’s a quality about them that makes you connect to it. ‘Stronger’ is no exception; I’ll be listening to it well into 2012.
  • Matt Nathanson – Modern Love: Funny thing about Matt Nathanson, I didn’t really listen to his music before. I mean I had his music on my hard drive but I didn’t listen to it all that often to consider myself a fan. Then I went to see him in concert before his new album got released and now I listen to him all the time. And I saw him in concert a 2nd time, and hopefully a 3rd time in 2012 when he opens up for Kelly Clarkson’s tour. ‘Modern Love’ is just a really good album, with great songs and lots of memories.
  • Lady Antebellum – Own the Night: Last year, I talked about how I loved Lady Antebellum’s song “Need You Now.” This year, my appreciation for them went up another level with their latest album. I’ve never been a big country music fan, but I really love ‘Own the Night.’ It’s an album that definitely has that crossover appeal, but not so much where it’s like Taylor Swift (not that there’s anything wrong with Swift.)
  • The Script – Science and Faith: Technically, this album got released in late 2010 but that was only in Europe. Us North Americans didn’t get the album¬† until early 2011, so it makes the cut. They pretty much took what was great about their first album and did it again, with bigger hooks.
  • James Morrison – The Awakening: A three-year wait for this follow-up of ‘Songs for You, Truths for Me’ seemed like AGES, but totally worth it. James Morrison just does not disappoint.

FAVOURITE MOVIES

Admittedly, I didn’t see that many movies this year, especially in theatres, and so I’ve been catching up as they’ve gotten released on DVD (or I watched it on the plane during my vacation). I’m sure this list would’ve been more extensive had I seen more movie, but this will do.

  • Crazy Stupid Love: Cast alone – Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone – I’m pretty sure we were guaranteed a good movie experience. Also, let’s not forget the line that hooked us all – “It’s like you’re photoshopped!” What could’ve easily been a cliche-filled chick flick, ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ was everything a romantic comedy should be –¬† a comedy about love with a lot of heart.
  • Like Crazy: Saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival, and absolutely loved it. It’s a heartbreaking story about 2 people who are trying to keep a long-distance relationship alive, and all these obstacles that come with their situation. You might’ve seen something like this portrayed in other movies, but not in the same way that it was done here. Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin made you believe every moment, every struggle. It felt so real, you forgot you were watching a movie.
  • Midnight in Paris: A Woody Allen movie that seemed to appeal to a much wider audience. I myself can’t even pinpoint exactly why I liked the movie so much. It could’ve been the whole modern look at the 1920s and the culture of the 1920s, mixed along with the fact that it was set in Paris, which has its own magical quality to it.
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene: After hearing such great things about it from Sundance, when I found out they were playing it at TIFF, I knew I had to go see it. I remember after seeing the movie, not knowing exactly how I felt about, which I think is what makes it such a good movie. It’s a different kind of movie. It’s sort of a psychological thriller but not. It kept you on edge. Also, Elizabeth Olsen is a wonder playing the title character(s). She’s definitely got a bright future ahead of her.
  • The Adjustment Bureau: A smart sci-fi type of thriller. From beginning to end, the movie hooks you. Although I must admit from time to time, I did compare the movie to a mix of ‘Fringe’ and ‘Monsters, Inc. ‘ (the Bureau is like the Fringe Observers, and get around town using doors like the monsters from Monsters, Inc.).
  • X-Men First Class: With the exception of January Jones, the rest of the cast was great. Going back to the beginning of the X-Men storyline was a breath of fresh air in the series.
  • Super 8: J.J. Abrams. Steven Spielberg. Alien invasion type movie. Do you really need more? Yes? Well, how about the fact that the movie is carried by a group of kids and it works? Kids acting that well at that age just make the rest of us look bad. Oh well, still a really good movie.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: This list wouldn’t be complete without Harry Potter. It’s the end of an era! And there’s nothing else to say about it.

FAVOURITE TV SHOWS

  • Nikita: The show was good when it started and slowly found its footing getting to its winter finale in 2010. When 2011 came, the show came back kicking ass. I was already a fan, but I became an obsessive nerd about the show, always on the lookout for where they were filming in hopes of meeting Maggie Q and Shane West. I hope that despite its Friday timeslot, the show continues to thrive and be picked up for another season because I can’t imagine a Nikita-less TV world.
  • Once Upon A Time: They got me hooked at the mention of fairy-tales. Fairy-tale characters cursed to live their lives as normal people, with no recollection of their other life? Genius. Obviously, the trick is balancing the fairy-tale world with the real world, and so far it’s working.
  • Revenge: I figured I would like this show when I first heard about it/saw previews, I didn’t realize how much I would love it. ABC bringing back the primetime soap? Good call. Emily Van Camp is wonderful in her role as Emily Thorne, out to get payback for her father. Madeleine Stowe as Victoria Grayson is flat out perfect. Twists, turns, backstabbings, cliffhangers – the show’s got it all.
  • Happy Endings: So many shows have come and gone, trying to do the whole comedy about a group of friends, which inevitably lead to being compared to ‘Friends,’ yet somehow ‘Happy Endings’ stood out. The hook of the show was that 2 within the group were getting married but then Dave gets left at the altar by Alex, and the friends trying to deal with having to pick sides. But the show’s grown so much from that. They still bring up the Dave-Alex relationship here and there, but the show is now really about this group of friends. Also, they have endless amounts of pop culture references which is really all I need to stay tuned!
  • Hart of Dixie: Regardless of the fact of whether you believe Rachel Bilson as a doctor or not, this show is so full of charm. With a cast that includes Rachel, Scott Porter, Wilson Bethel, Jaime King, and Cress Williams, the chemistry is endless. Once you start watching, you can’t help but like it.
  • How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Fringe, Community, So You Think You Can Dance, Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries: Because I still really love these shows, and there’s nothing else to say about it.