Album of the Year
Winner - David Bowie "The Next Day"
Runners Up - Kendrick Lamar "good kid, m.A.A.d city", Janelle Monae "The Electric Lady"
Commentary - It has been a while since David Bowie released an album, a decade to be exact. And the payoff was certainly worth the wait. A breath of fresh air into the rock genre, and a constantly evolving Bowie has led to an incredibly vivid, loud, rollicking album that is genius, as well as a hell of a listen.
Single of the Year
Winner - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert "Same Love"
Runners Up - Katy Perry "Roar" and David Bowie "Where Are We Now?"
Commentary - Kendrick Lamar's album, as a whole, had more depth than Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' putting it over the top in the Rap Album category. But in this category there is simply no competition with the duo's ode to gay rights and gay marriage. A beautifully written song that is socially pertinent, as well as catchy. More importantly, it is a song that is needed right now in rap culture, and American culture, a bold statement of human rights, blasting constantly on the radio.
Best New Artist
Winner - (TIE) Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Runners Up - Lorde and Kacey Musgraves
Commentary - Rap had a great year over all, and for the first time in a long time, the top two names were not Kanye West and Jay-Z (although they were pretty darn close). This year, two new rap stars emerged. Kendrick Lamar with his intricate lyrics and impeccable album, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis lit up radio with their catchy, clever, and sometimes incredibly important hits. A tough choice, so I picked both.
Best Pop Album
Winner - Justin Timberlake "The 20/20 Experience"
Runners Up - Daft Punk "Randon Access Memories" and Ellie Golding "Halcyon"
Commentary - I was not as enthusiastic about Timberlake's latest as many critics and fans, but that being said, it is still one hell of an experience. His deftly blended pop and soul shows a true artist, and upon a second and third listen, I started to get why so many people went gaga over it.
Best Rock Album
Winner - David Bowie "The Next Day"
Runners Up - Paramore "Paramore" and Vampire Weekend "Modern Vampires of the Weekend"
Commentary - See Album of the Year
Best Rap Album
Winner - Kendrick Lamar "good kid, m.A.A.d city"
Runners Up - Kanye West "Yeezus" and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "The Heist"
Commentary - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had some of the catchiest and biggest hits of the year, and Kanye West's Yeezus was artistically fantastic. But the best rap album of the year was by far Kendrick Lamar's second effort good kid, m.A.A.d city. He deftly blends a darker side, a side that normally would not appeal to a mainstream audience, with enough potent beats and swagger to fill arenas. He is one of the hottest young talents to hit the rap scene in a long time, and if he keeps up the good work, his career will most likely be nothing short of amazing.
Best R&B Album
Winner - Janelle Monae "The Electric Lady"
Runners Up - Alicia Keys "Girl on Fire" and Fantasia "Side Effects of You"
Commentary - Janelle Monae is simply a ball of quirky fun energy. Her latest The Electric Lady, continues the trend she started with The ArchAndroid, by ushering in a new and vibrant R&B sound. She and her producers deftly blend old school soul with an almost psychedelic new flair that is so much fun to listen to, and features high quality lyrics, vocals, and production value. She continues to light up the world with her undeniable talent.
Best Country Album
Winner - Kacey Musgraves "Same Trailer, Different Park"
Runners Up - The Civil Wars "The Civil Wars"
Commentary - I'm not the biggest country fan in the world, but I have a soft spot in my heart for country's newest starlet Kacey Musgraves. Her debut Same Trailer, Different Park, is a good ole' time, featuring stunning lyrics that show a dark side, as well as incredibly sharp wit, reminding me of some of the best work of the Dixie Chicks. In a lyric and vocal battle between her and Taylor Swift, she would wipe the floor, and hopefully country fans realize the same thing, and give her the respect, the sales, and the awards they have given to a lesser talent.
Best Pop Performance
Winner - (TIE) Katy Perry "Roar" and Lorde "Royals"
Runners Up - P!nk feat. Nate Ruess "Just Give Me a Reason" and Tegan and Sara "Closer"
Commentary - So I have a soft place in my heart for Katy Perry's Roar. I know it is a tired old pop hit with cheesy lyrics and a similar style to her more original Firework. But you know what, screw all of that. Sometimes, you just like a song, you can't help it, nor should you be ashamed of it. Roar is an uplifting, heart-pounding pop anthem that has lit up radio, and will forever be a hell of a catchy tune. But probably the best pop record of the year is also one of the strangest and oddest hits I have seen in a long time. Featuring mainly soft vocals and a thundering beat, British Lorde blazed onto the American music scene with her harsh class critique disguised as a quirky, yet surprisingly catchy Royals. As it has been since the days of the Beatles, the British Invasion continues, and Lorde looks to carry the torch.
Best Rock Performance
Winner - David Bowie "Where Are We Now?"
Runners Up - Paramore "Still Into You"
Commentary - David Bowie's album is my favorite of the year, and this one of my favorite songs on a great album that perfectly captures the continuing spirit and sound of a rocking legend that doesn't look like he is stopping anytime soon.
Best Rap Performance
Winner - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert "Same Love"
Runners Up - Kendrick Lamar “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Commentary - See Single of the Year
Best R&B Performance
Winner - Alicia Keys feat. Nicki Minaj "Girl on Fire"
Runners Up - Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu "Q.U.E.E.N"
Commentary - Alicia Keys continues to set the music world on fire, and her latest album Girl of Fire, proves that she is still a viable R&B and pop artist in mainstream music. She also had the anthem of the year with Girl of Fire, a song that inspired many covers (particularly a great Naya Rivera one on Glee), and became the anthem for the nation's women's gymnastics team who lit up America with a gold medal.
Best Country Performance
Winner - Kacey Musgraves "Blowin' Smoke"
Runners Up - The Civil Wars "The One That Got Away"
Commentary - Blowin' Smoke is really just here as an example of the type of incredible lyrics that Kacey Musgraves is bringing to modern country music. It is fiery, well sung, and a great hit that showcases a great new talent.