Friday, December 5, 2014

2015 Grammy Nominations: An All Day Affair

I applaud the Recording Academy for trying to do something different. They have had a Nominations concert the last couple of years, and this year they decided to dedicate the entire day to the Grammy nominations, ending with the Grammy Christmas Special, and the nominees for Album of the Year. The most the Oscars have done is announce the nominees out of order to try to throw people off, at least they are trying. And they should try less. This was a grueling day that felt like the gimmick it was. And I love Christmas and Christmas music, but that god-awful special felt as bad as some of those two-hour long American Idol shows where they stretch out the proceedings before they announce the winners. Just get it over with. People want to the know the nominees so that they can discuss them, start predictions, and keep moving on. I was happy to see that the Oscars went back to their old format this year. It is neat to try something new, but sometimes a quick 15 minute announcement is as effective, or in this case, more effective than a ridiculous strategy.

And now onto the nominees. I really don't understand the Grammys, and I guess I never will. They don't nominated Pharrell Williams for Record of the Year for Happy, but instead give him an Album of the Year nomination. G I R L was a decent, but not stellar album, Happy was the record of the year, blasting everywhere and earning an Oscar nomination. They simply got it backwards. And how the hell did Sia, despite getting lots of love for Chandelier, miss out on Album of the Year or Pop Vocal Album? 1000 Forms of Fear was better than every single one of the nominees for Pop Vocal Album, which was that category that honestly feels like it was just stuffed with the best selling records just to prove the point that they were hip. If they were going to do that were is One Direction? Pop in general this year was a wash with potential nominees like Lana Del Rey, Ingrid Michaelson, Idina Menzel, and the aforementioned Sia getting either no love, or not enough. Some of the other things that bothered me? Rap & R&B actually had some great work from the likes of Schoolboy Q, Eminem, Common, Drake, and others, Beyonce and Iggy Azalea were the only two artists from that genre to make a dent in any general categories, and country failed to get a nomination anywhere with the exception of Brandy Clark's Best New Artist nod. That has got to be a huge disappointment for the Nashville crowd.

On the rock side, with the exception of the obligatory U2 nomination (still kind of surprised they didn't make it into Album of the Year), they actually had a nice balance of nods for newcomers and a few old favorites with nods for Black Keys, Jack White, St. Vincent, Paramore, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Ryan Adams, although no nods for Bruce Springsteen is surprising. And on the Rap side, despite some nice nods for Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Common, I still cannot understand how Wiz Khalifa, one of the most overrated artists working today beats out quality work from the likes of Pusha T, Mobb Deep, and Rick Ross time and time again. And let's face it, time and time again, the R&B categories are a mess as the Recording Academy doesn't seem to have any consistence on categories or what those categories actually mean, although their nominees were much better than either the Pop categories.

Overall, there has been a trend with Grammy voters the last couple of years that is a bit unsettling. They do not try to be all-encompassing of different genres anymore in the general fields, and even when veterans release quality records they are overlooked for more popular items. I know that the Recording Academy was tired of its reputation for only rewarding old folks, and it probably will get a ratings boost from this year's nominees, but they have still yet to balance old and young, or simply vote on quality no matter what. Like I said, it is a bit unsettling, and I hate to think that in the years to come we won't be able to tell a difference between the Grammys, and popularity contests like the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards. But if the trend continues, this will happen.

This post has been mostly negative, but despite some horrendous snubs, and some horrendous inclusions, there were actually some nice bright spots. In Record of the Year, Shake It Off was infectious, Chandelier a pop masterpiece, and Stay With Me had a nice old-school vibe. I hate that Lazaretto missed in Album of the Year, but X and Morning Phase are nice additions to the race. And the nomination for Hozier in Song of the Year felt out of place, but was a welcomed alternative. Nominations for Common, Schoolboy Q, Arcade Fire, Black Keys, Kendrick Lamar, Ledisi, Miranda Lambert, Aloe Blacc, Jack White in the genre categories, and yes Sam Smith (although Album of the Year was a bit of a stretch for me as the whole work wasn't as good as Stay With Me) were proof that there is still some love for good music within the industry. There will be more discussion, more predictions, and more grumblings over the next two months. But for now, after a long day of nominations, it is time to end it a bit short, and wrap it up quickly. I hope the Grammys learn to do the same next time.

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