Sunday, December 28, 2014

The 3rd Annual Awards Psychic Music Awards: Winners

Album of the Year
Winner Arcade Fire “Reflektor”
Runner Up - Sia "1000 Forms of Fear"
Commentary - Rock had a pretty good year, including three of the best albums released. Beck's Morning Phase made the cut to Album of the Year, a great nomination in an otherwise boring lineup. The Black Keys' Turn Blue was a great followup to El Camino, even if it didn't quite meet its predecessor's heights. I'm sure many would say the same thing about Arcade Fire's followup to their Album of the Year surprise The Suburbs, but I think Reflektor is just as good of an album, and easily this year's best (Sia was right behind him). It was so creative, fun, and explosive to listen to (and listen to and listen to over and over again), and it proved that Arcade Fire is one of the best bands working in music today.

Single of the Year
Winner - Sia "Chandelier"
Runner Up - Kendrick Lamar "i"
Commentary - I still cannot get over Sia's chart-topping Chandelier. It is energetic, yet sad. It has booming production values, yet never loses its soaring vocals. And most importantly, it is a brilliant mix of power pop vocals, mainstream appeal, and a moving message. If there is any wish I have for the upcoming Grammy Awards, is that this brilliant pop record beats out its rivals for Record of the Year. It is easily the best of the bunch.

Best New Artist
Winner - Schoolboy Q
Runner Up - Sam Smith
Commentary - Okay, so I love Sam Smith as much as the next person, and when he wins Best New Artist at the Grammys in a few weeks, I will be thrilled, even though his debut album didn't quite match his talent. But I have to give a shout out to Schoolboy Q for his excellent introduction to hip hop this year. I couldn't put him above Kendrick Lamar or Pusha T in the rap categories this year, but I wanted to make sure he didn't go away without some deserved recognition. New artists come out all the time, but few have had quite the impact on their genre in terms of quality this year like Schoolboy Q.

Best Pop Album
Winner - Sia "1000 Forms of Fear"
Runner Up - Lana Del Rey "Ultraviolence"
Commentary - When I first heard Chandelier on the radio, I sincerely thought that it was one of those records that would be the only standout on Sia's upcoming album. It just felt like that was going to happen that way. Luckily, it did not, and if you loved that song, you should definitely check out the rest of 1000 Forms of Fear. It will play endlessly in your head for weeks after the first listen, and proves that Sia is a mega pop talent capable of both quality and accessibility.

Best Rap Album
Winner - Pusha T "My Name is My Name"
Runners Up - Schoolboy Q "Oxymoron"
Commentary - Schoolboy Q is an up and coming rap star that I am sure we are going to here more about in the coming months and years. Congratulations to Grammy voters for recognizing his talent. But this year's best rap album for me was easily the latest effort from Pusha T. He was once a part of the dynamic duo of Clipse (whose Hell Hath No Fury is still one of my favorite rap albums of all time), but he pushes himself, and shows us what he can do as a solo act, and the results were fantastic. Quite simply, My Name is My Name is the best produced, best written, and best delivered rap album of the year, and puts the veteran rapper miles above his more popular counterparts. Another album is coming soon, and I can't wait.

Best Rock/Alternative Album
Winner - Arcade Fire “Reflektor”
Runners Up - Beck "Morning Phase" and The Black Keys "Turn Blue"
Commentary - See Album of the Year

Best R&B Album
Winner - Beyonce "Beyonce"
Runner Up - Toni Braxton & Babyface “Love, Marriage & Divorce”
Commentary - None of Beyonce's singles landed well, but her album as a whole was a marvelous R&B effort. Not only did it have a great landing, with an excellent surprise factor, but it proved to be one of her most cohesive efforts to date. This is probably why none of the singles stood out, because it is best to absorb her work as a whole collection. The real reason why Beyonce is easily her best album, and easily the best in the field this year is that it was her most personal and most emotional album to date, and yet still maintained its massive appeal to fans across the musical spectrum. Only someone with her talents and her magnetism could have pulled it off. And the musical world is a better place because she did.

Best Country Album
Winner - Miranda Lambert "Platinum"
Runner Up - Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones “Foreverly”
Commentary - Miranda Lambert is the new queen of country, and it is not hard to figure out why. She is better than all of her male counterparts (which is usually the case in country music), she crosses over to the mainstream easily without losing her roots, is well-respected by music critics, and makes great country music that is an interesting mix of fire, vulnerability, and pure talent. Automatic was a great showcase for her artistry, and easily the best country album of the year.

Best Pop Performance
Winner - Sia "Chandelier"
Runner Up - Ingrid Michaelson "Girls Chase Boys"
Commentary - See Single of the Year

Best Rock Performance
Winner - Arcade Fire “Reflektor”
Runner Up - The Black Keys "Fever"
Commentary - I suggest you listen to the whole Reflektor album at some point (see above). Fever was a great record from The Black Keys, but I still love the title track from Arcade Fire the best. It is a great representation of a great album, and a band at the top of its game.

Best Rap Performance
Winner - Kendrick Lamar "i"
Runners Up - Eminem feat. Rihanna "The Monster" and Schoolboy Q feat. Kendrick Lamar "Collard Greens"
Commentary - Easily the best rap performance of the year, Kendrick Lamar continues his streak with clever, and most accessible single to date: i. Lamar had a monster release with good kid, m.A.A.d city, and continues to inspire jealousy among his peers, and awe among critics and fans. If the rest of his new album is anything like i, they we are all in for a treat.

Best R&B Performance
Winner - John Legend "All of Me"
Runners Up - Beyonce "Pretty Hurts" and Janelle Monae "PrimeTime"
Commentary - Okay so I know that All of Me has been out a long time, but in the last year it finally hit its stride to become one of the best songs to hit the radio in a while. Like Legend's first hit Ordinary People, All of Me does not rely on anything other than the vocal and piano chops of its performer. It was beautifully composed, and impeccably sung, pitch perfect in its execution, and brilliantly simple. It brought old school soul back to radio and reminded us that you don't need fancy beats, or auto-tune to make quality, engaging, and popular music.

Best Country Performance
Winner - Eric Church “Give Me Back My Hometown”
Runner Up - Miranda Lambert “Automatic”
Commentary - None of this year's country hits matched Kacey Musgraves last year, but I give a lot of credit to Eric Church for his hit single Give Me Back My Hometown. It was a fun song, with a nice message that stands out among the fray this year. It was an immediately likable tune that I still hum every once in a while when the mood hits me. Hopefully, Church gets his first Grammy win this year. He has been around for a while, and The Outsides, and this single, shows him at the top of his game. It is time the industry recognize it.

No comments:

Post a Comment