Thursday, January 13, 2011

Roll Out The Red Carpet

Arcade Fire in the spotlight
 One month away, my friends. I'm sure you can tell that I am, and will be, on a bit of a Grammy kick. It's just such a wonderful, celebratory, controversial, shocking and exciting time of year. And, unlike the Academy Awards - which I entirely appreciate but most of the time haven't even been able to go see (meaning been able to afford) half of the movies nominated - I've at least heard these songs. I know these artists and I know them well. And, if I don't - it's a fantastic directory to artists from all over the world that I might have missed out on, and should make a note to look into.

After looking over the nominees, presenters and performers, I think it's only necessary to sum up what stood out to me, what shocked me, and what got my fingers crossed about this year's list.

DESERV -- NO, NEEDS TO WIN:
The Suburbs, Arcade Fire, Best Album
This album was an absolutely golden moment in mid-2010. As if they weren't already elevating to indie-rock global sensations, this album and all of it's perfection shot them to the top of the ranks. This Canadian collective powerhouse stayed true to their larger-than-life orchestral rock sound on this release, while taking melodic and thought-provoking risks. The lyrical theme of the album is, obviously, about the appeal and fear of The Suburbs and all that they encompass - something that proved their songwriting to be intense and beyond their years.

GUILTY PLEASURES THAT DESERVE THE RECOGNITION:
"Need You Now", Lady Antebellum, Best Song, Best Country Song
This really is the epitome of what I (a bit of a naive country fan) think a country song should be. Loneliness, heartache, a bottle of booze and a weary lost soul calling out for the one they love. It's an honest and pensive story that we can all relate to, because the sorrowful country melody is so beautifully sad.

"Only Girl In The World", Rihanna, Best Dance Performance
Anyone who tries to say this isn't one of the catchiest songs out right now clearly has no idea what they're talking about. Talk about girl power! If I had a penny for everytime that I was hardly embarrassed to be caught singing aloud to this mid-workout or having an (obviously) pantless, hairbrush-in-hand-sing-a-long moment in my bedroom - I would be a rich woman.

ARE YOU SURE...?:
"Crossroads", John Mayer, Best Solo Rock Performance
I really enjoyed Battle Studies, I did. I thought "Heartbreak Warfare" and "Edge of Desire" were two fantastic tracks. But, "Crossroads", Grammy's? Really? I thought this was such a lackluster cover of a Cream/Clapton classic. I realize that a young grasshopper guitar great should probably cover an older, more legendary guitar great, and Mayer proved himself with 2007's cover of Hendrix's "Bold as Love", but as the kids say nowadays - this cover was an epic fail.

Infinite Arms, Band of Horses, Best Alternative Music Album
My devotion to them is clear, therefore this hurts to say, but I don't think this album deserved a nod. I think that it took the place of at least five other (that I can think of) deserving candidates in this category. Their last two albums were absolutely worthy of the credit, but unfortunately, Infinite Arms wasn't 100 per cent memorable.

A FEW SHOE-INS:
"Tighten Up", Black Keys, Best Rock Performance
This is an undoubtedly scorching hot song and hilarious music video, if you haven't seen it yet. These two dirty southern rockers had their finger in everyone's pie this year (or...you know what I mean), and I would be blown away if they didn't bring home the win. They produced soulful, effortless and mind-blowing music by spicing up traditional hard rock ingredients and pushing a voice that could put even the grumpiest and most resistant at ease.

"Love The Way You Lie", Eminem ft. Rihanna, Best Song
I have no doubt that a group of Academy suits were torn between choosing this and Cee-Lo's "F**k You", but I'm almost certain that due to Rihanna's personal triumphs and the fact that it was out about a week prior to Cee-Lo, this song has a head start. Oh, and I'd also like it to win because I've never heard it before. It's such a rarity. Maybe they should play it, and Cee-Lo for that matter, more often on the radio. I'd love to hear them both more. Again and again.                         ...That was sarcasm.

THE OL' BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. Yeehaw! Check out the crew who are kicking it together in the Best Solo Rock Performance category. What an incredible reunion:
"Run Back to Your Side", Eric Clapton:  Clapton for the win. A ramblin' blues anthem, punctuated with his coined growls and licks, like always.
"Helter Skelter", Paul McCartney: "You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer." I don't need to convince you on this one.
"Silver Rider", Robert Plant: A quiet and echoey piece of Plant's mind. Soft and reminiscent.
"Angry World", Neil Young: Forever Young. A hardened word to the wise told through Young's shaky howls and the groaning strums of his electric guitar.

WOULDN'T HAVE ADMITTED THIS LAST YEAR BUT NOW CAN'T SAY ENOUGH:
"The Only Exception", Paramore, Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group
Oddly enough, this was easily one of my favourite songs of 2010. Lyrically it's about about the plain faithlessness in love felt by a girl who watched her parents' demise, but she's saved by one person and one person only who's restored her belief. Very few songs can almost cause instantaneous tears for me, but this one opens up a whole can of tear-worms with its heartbreaking and captivating tune. I underestimated Paramore until I heard this song.

YES! THEY GOT NOMINATED!:
Mumford and Sons, Best New Artist
Hallelujah! This group of shy pub-stage-preachers sure as hell deserve a nod, and even a win. Their sophomore album Sigh No More made an (at first) unheard entry into the North American music world, before lighting up the entire contemporary folk and indie scene with their spiritual grassroots tales. Harmonic, deep and surprisingly young to possess such wise adages - they're a group to keep a close eye on in the future.

Florence and the Machine, Best New Artist
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. Whether it's Florence alone, Florence with her machine, or Florence and other people's machines - she's taking over the world.

Broken Bells, Broken Bells, Best Alternative Music Album
This pair were a popular mid-year project lead by The Shins frontman James Russell Mercer that had everybody talking and downloading. Featuring spacey melodies and experimental instruments that were like those of The Shins but with less obscure messages, the key to Bells' uniqueness was the second band member, Brian Burton (better known as Danger Mouse).

"Rocket", Goldfrapp, Best Dance Performance
A duo that's held my attention since my 2005 electro-dance addiction to the track "Number One", this nomination makes me happy to hear they're still alive and kicking. As far as I'm concerned, lead singer Alison Goldfrapp started the movement of chill female electronica that's inspired the other gals in this category.

AHEM, I THINK THEY FORGOT SOMETHING. SOMETHING HUGE:
High Violet, The National, Best Everything
This goes down as the biggest and most negligent snub of the year. What stood out to me and many others as one of the most progressive albums of 2010 was the indelible summer release from critically-acclaimed indie-rock prophets The National. They are absolutely nowhere to be found on the list of nominees, and my own personal preferences aside, I find this absurd because High Violet came close to topping many popular artists' and magazines' "Best Of" lists. Artful compositions, hauntingly clever lyrics and Matt Berninger's impeccable baritone are something I would have thought to be impossible to overlook.

CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THEM PERFORM...:
Arcade Fire
Bruce and Win, 2007
A performance that promises to ignite a spark underneath the crowd will be that of our favourite eight baroque-rock performers. The undeniable fun and excitement that each band member experiences on stage makes it impossible not to have it as well - with Win and Regine's incessant bopping, instruments sailing high and sweat dripping in all directions. There will also be some sort of surprise. They're too up-and-coming of an act on the world stage not to do something to drive us wild. Why? Because they're big enough to have things up their sleeve. This may be an outlandish prediction, but let's roll with it. If it's anything like the shock of witnessing Win and Regine join Springsteen on stage for "State Trooper" and "Keep The Car Running" in 2007, I'll have my blood pressure medication handy. Or I would have it handy if I owned any.

Who do you think will be tooting their little victory horn in a month today?



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