Grammy Nominees: The Breakdown, Part Deux

Here’s something I never thought I’d say- I’m just going to jump right into this- no long-winded, slightly bitchy introduction. The only thing I love more than airing my grievances is myself because I am the greatest and my genius is wasted on you all you, dear reader. I would never wish to bore you with my precocious mastery of the English language.  So, here we go.

Song of The Year

Christopher Cross won this award for “Sailing” in 1981. For those of you wondering, Christopher Cross≠Kris Kross.

The Nominees

  • The A Team by Ed Sheeran
  • Adorn by Miguel Pimentel
  • Call Me Maybe by Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Josh Ramsay
  • Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill  You) by Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin and Ali Tamposi
  • We Are Young by Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost and Nate Ruess

The Breakdown

Please take note that “Song of The Year” is a songwriting award. For songwriters. Thus, the names written next to the songs above belong to the composers, not necessarily the performers. With that said, IT TOOK 4 PEOPLE TO WRITE THAT KELLY CLARKSON SONG??? The only way that’s justifiable is if it was written like this. It’s unfortunate, but visions of Mr. T pitying fools come to mind way before Ed Sheeran’s addiction-themed sleeper hit. I don’t know what there is I can say about Call Me Maybe that hasn’t already be said. Miguel is the only reason this isn’t category called “Catchiest Song of The Year.” Adorn and The A Team are really the only vocally-oriented songs here. I decline to comment on the appearance of another Fun. song.

Who Should Win

Call Me Maybe. Not joking. This isn’t a “Best Performance” award. Is Call Me Maybe 3+ minutes of being pelted with vacuous, Mother Goose-style rhymes and hooks? It sure as hell is. But it’s want-to-lobotomize-yourself-because-it-won’t-go-away catchy, and that shit makes money faster than Lindsay Lohan’s drug dealer on a Friday night (I know, I know. She’s an easy target. They can’t all be zingers) Carly Rae Jepsen & co. knew their audience (and the extents of its gullibility) and exploited them to create a hit that was popular for a few months, but nobody cares about it now. Is that not the essence of songwriting in the year 2012?

Who Will Win

Somewhere out in Syrupville, Saskatchewan, Canada, Carly Rae Jepsen has February 10th circled on her Justin Bieber calender. It’s going to be the high point of her career. She will win “Song of The Year” if for no other reason than making millions say “Why can’t I get this song out of my head?” You know, it’s a shame Jepsen lost Season 5 of Canadian Idol. But the winner was more than deserving.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

As a reference point, here’s a mashup of 33 songs featuring some form of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The line has been a crutch used by lazy musicians for a very, very long time. Needless to say, no amount of Kelly Clarkson shouting about a boy could make this song a valid candidate for “Song of The Year.”

Best Rock Performance

Still not a rock band. Loving the purple pants, though.

The Nominees

  • Hold On by Alabama Shakes
  • Lonely Boy by The Black Keys
  • Charlie Brown by Coldplay
  • I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons
  • We Take Care of Our Own by Bruce Springsteen

The Breakdown

The Black Keys and Bruce Springsteen are the odds-on favorites for this one. With that said, I’m not a very big fan of Springsteen and the thinly veiled nationalism slathered on his last two albums. If he wasn’t so charismatic (and so adored by 40-something white people), we’d all be sick of him by now. Another deserved nomination for Alabama Shakes, but I can’t see them winning this one. More on Coldplay and Mumford in a bit.

Who Should Win

Is “nobody” an option? They should take this award and beat committee members over the head with it until they come up with a better group of nominees. I guess we’ll give it to The Black Keys. Sheesh.

Who Will Win

We Take Care of Our Own, to the misfortune of anyone who prefers their Grammy award-winning rock stars from this century. It’s a safe pick, and the longer I think about the more I’m convinced that’s all the committee wants

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

Coldplay and Mumford and Sons are nominated for Best Rock Performance. I’m gonna say that again- Coldplay and Mumford and Sons are nominated for Best Rock Performance. This is an award whose previous incarnations (“Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, etc.) belonged to Aerosmith, Eagles, The Police, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Those are rock bands. Coldplay is some type of weird alternative post-Britpop thing, and Mumford and Sons are indie-folk darlings probably slowly being abandoned by the hipster crowd that once declared them the next big thing. Neither group is rock. Neither song is rock. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The White Stripes’ Elephant  was considered alternative, these songs are considered rock. Listen to both, and tell me which one is which.

Best Pop Solo Performance

The most flattering picture I could find of 5-time Best Female Pop Vocal Performance winner, Barbra Streisand.

The Nominees

  • Set Fire To The Rain (Live) by Adele
  • Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson
  • Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Wide Awake by Katy Perry
  • Where Have You Been by Chris Brown’s punching bag Rihanna

The Breakdown

Well, at least there’s no Lady Gaga. The nominated version of Set Fire To The Rain is from Adele’s Royal Albert Hall performance. If you’re a British performer, you haven’t made it until you’ve performed at the Royal Albert Hall. A few paragraphs ago, I wrote about Kelly Clarkson being unoriginal. It’s still true. I’ve exhausted my supply of “Carly Rae Jepsen is Canadian” jokes, so I’ll have to get back to you there. Wide Awake is a clear step up from most of Katy Perry’s usual party-pop trash, (California Girls contained probably the greatest lyric of all time in Snoop Dogg’s random rap verse- “The girl’s a freak/ She drives a jeep”) but the music video is disturbing- it’s what I imagine dropping acid and then reading the Theseus and the Minotaur myth would be like. Where Have You Been is another improperly punctuated song. It’s a question, Rihanna; like “what’s your name?” or “how’s that face healing up?”

Who Should Win

Call Me Maybe is immediately disqualified for being, you know, awful. If you’re reading this straight through (which you should be), you already know how I feel about Kelly Clarkson and her whining. It’s almost like she ate Alanis Morissette. I’ve got a huge man crush on Russell Brand, so I can’t give Katy Perry anything. Rihanna is such an excellent role model, getting back together with a boyfriend who beat the living shit out of her. But I just don’t think she deserves this one more than Adele. It’s really only a matter of time before they just rename this award “The Adele.”

Who Will Win

If Adele is nominated, Adele is going to win. It’s not hard, ladies and gentlemen.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

I understood Call Me Maybe’s nomination as a songwriting award. But it was my understanding winning a performance award required, you know, an actually half-decent performance? There’s really nothing left to be said about how comically over produced it is, how most of the lyrics are just spoken etc… The real reason every person should hate this song is for its ability to A) make every female within a 100-foot radius sing as loud as they can and B) make a million morons think it’d be hilarious if they recorded themselves dancing like a moron and lip-syncing like a moron. Spoiler alert: it’s not original, it’s not funny- find something better to do with your time.

Lightning Round

(I’m a bit pressed for time, I can’t give everything 500 words)

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Shake it Out by Florence + The Machine. LMFAO would work too. Just not fun.. Please, not fun..

Best Rock Song

If only all the awards had titles this simple. Freedom At 21 by Jack White should take this one. If he comes away from this ceremony empty handed, I’ll never watch the Grammy’s again. He’s even performing. Yes, Jack White is performing at a high-profile industry awards show.  They owe him  100 goddamn trophies for having him share a stage with Taylor Swift. Ugh.

Best R&B Performance*

I Want You by Luke James

Best R&B Song*

Adorn by Miguel

Best Urban Contemporary Album*

Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

Best R&B Album*

Open Invitation by Tyrese

Best Traditional R&B Performance*


Best Alternative Music Album

The Fiona Apple one with the really long name. If she does win, she’ll be the only female solo artist to win the award who hasn’t ripped a picture of the Pope in half on national television. What an accomplishment.

Best Gospel Song

I’m not sure who the nominees are. But this song really spoke to me, and I think it deserves the award.

*these are not my picks. They are the picks of resident R&B expert Brian Gregg. Disagree? He’s on twitter. @b_gregg6

Album of The Year

Paul McCartney has left an undeniable imprint on this category, leading the way with 9 nominations and co-writing the first winner from the rock-and-roll genre. Despite his finest efforts, Jesse McCartney has yet to garner a nomination.

The Nominees

  • El Camino by The Black Keys
  • Some Nights by Fun.
  • Babel by Mumford and Sons
  • Channel Orange by Frank Ocean
  • Blunderbuss by Jack White

The Breakdown

This is the best Album of The Year field in a long, long time. It’s the first time since 2008 we’re left without at least one utterly talentless hack. The Black Keys’ El Camino brings their garage-rock revival to a climax, confidently mixing in keyboard hooks and backing vocals to their low-fidelity sound. Fun. bridges the gap between power pop and arena rock, sounding a bit like the musical offspring of Coldplay and Queen. Babel takes Mumford’s banjo-happy roots and cranks them up to 11 with louder, more muscular arrangements. Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange scored an astounding 92/100 on Metacritic. 46 reviews were deemed positive, 0 were categorized as “mixed” or “negative.” Effortlessly smooth and deeply emotional, it’s an undeniable R&B masterpiece. Jack White’s Blunderbuss has to be put into perspective. It’s, on its best day, the 4th best album White has written (slightly beating out Get Behind Me Satan yet not enough to top White Blood Cells or Icky Thump. Not on the same planet as Elephant ) Yes, his fourth best album is an Album of The Year nominee in one of the strongest fields in recent memory. Perhaps it’s difficult to comprehend now, but we’ll all one day see what Jack White has done for alternative rock.

Who Should Win

And now, I face the same dilemma Eric did a short time a go with his countdown. Essentially, it comes down to Jack White and Frank Ocean. Here at Totally Unapologetic, Frank Ocean gets the 2-0 unanimous vote. Universally acclaimed Channel Orange is the most deserving album in a field with many deserving albums.

Who Will Win

Vegas odds have Babel as the 5-2 favorite and I agree with them. Mumford and Sons have to win something eventually, right? Babel  isn’t the best album of the year, but it’s easily accessible. Frank Ocean will, unfortunately, be penalized for his unwillingness to be completely understood. El Camino and Blunderbuss and their delta blues roots will cancel each other out and honestly, Fun. is not a serious contender. Ultimately, the committee will play it safe and go with the Brits with the banjos.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

Really, there aren’t any exceptionally bad albums in this field. Expect the real “what the hell?” to come during Taylor Swift’s performance, when she embarrasses herself trying to sing live tonight at 8:00 EST. Happy awards season to all!