Grammy Nominees 2014: The Breakdown, Part 1

In Part Deux of last year’s Grammy Nominee Breakdown, I said that if Jack White walked away from the 2013 Grammy Awards empty-handed, I’d never watch it again. Well, while his performance blew the friggin’ roof off the Staples Center, he won nothing. But guess what? Here I am, writing another multi-part Grammy post. Why? I got here the same way so many of 2014’s Grammy nominees got to where they are- I sold out. Selling out is the name of the game. Robin Thicke unabashedly stole a Marvin Gaye song for his Record of the Year Nominee. Taylor Swift, in position to add to her already ridiculous Grammy total, is current supreme sellout queen. Teen gospel-singer Katy Perry, famous for her work with serial garbage-producer “Dr. Luke” Luke Gottwald, is the recipient of two nominations. Bill Hicks said it better than I ever could. Their music is so corporate it hurts, and the Grammy Awards are just as corporate. They’re completely, utterly, meaningless. But it gives me something to do on an otherwise boring Sunday night. So, without further ado, I present to you Totally Unapologetic’s 2nd Annual Grammy Breakdown.

Last year’s format worked pretty well, so I’m gonna use that. Two new things: I’m adding a “Who got snubbed?” sub-heading, and every award will have a reaction gif from Mr. Eric Cortes, too. Last year’s disclaimers apply-I’m only going to cover the categories that I know-or can pretend to know-reasonably well.

Record of The Year

ROTY

If only every year could be as great as 2000…

The Nominees

  • Get Lucky by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers
  • Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
  • Royals by Lorde
  • Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
  • Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell

The Breakdown

It could be worse, I guess. Not much worse. But worse. Get Lucky is a really fun song, which is a word rarely-used to describe serious contenders for this award. IMAGINE DRAGONS ARE NOT MY CUP OF TEA, MOSTLY BECAUSE THE GODDAMN SINGER IS ALWAYS SCREAMING. REMEMBER WHAT I SAID LAST YEAR ABOUT HOW BIG, LOUD, AND ANTHEMIC DOESN’T MEAN GOOD? Yup, it’s still true. I wrote a ton of shit about Lorde already (spoiler: I like her). Locked Out of Heaven is a very blatant Police ripoff. But lets be honest here- I mostly don’t like Bruno Mars cause his freakin’ name is Bruno Mars. Blurred Lines was pretty terrible BEFORE the whole Miley VMA thing. That performance, though, catapulted it to Nickelback-like levels of hate.

Who Should Win

Daft Punk and friends with Get Lucky. “Record of The Year” is an award for performance and production. The way I see it: since none of the nominees offer a mind blowing performance (like Frank Ocean did last year), it comes down to production, where Daft Punk blows away the field.

Who Will Win

Daft Punk. Putting some faith in the committee here. I really hope they ignore the garbage nominees. I think it’s 50/50 Lorde-Daft Punk. Either way, I’d be fine with it.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

Serious question: does anyone like Blurred Lines at this point? A lot of people did when it first came out, but then the radio happened. And then the VMA’s happened. Now pretty much everybody thinks it’s annoying and everybody knows it’s stolen. But apparently it’s one of the 5 best performances of the year. Hmm.

Who Got Snubbed?

Kanye deserved a spot here, for either New Slaves or Black Skinhead. Not that any of her songs deserve the nomination, but I’m pretty shocked at the lack of Miley here. I guess Imagine Dragons is the committee trying to look like they still care about rock, but it’s not rock. Queens of the Stone Age and Led Zeppelin were both more deserving of the token rock nomination.

Eric’s Take(in gif format)

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Best New Artist

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J-Cole, upset for Best New Artist by Bon Iver at the 2012 Awards, has already been totally forgotten by the committee. Eminem got a nomination over him. In 2014!

The Nominees

  • James Blake (Not Lorde)
  • Kendrick Lamar (Not Lorde)
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- MACKLEMORE!!! (Not Lorde)
  • Kacey Musgraves (Not Lorde)
  • Ed Sheeran (Not Lorde)

The Breakdown

As you may have noticed, none of the nominated artists are Lorde. How in the blue hell did that happen? Anyway, James Blake is pretty cool. But seeing someone nominated for this award and nothing else is rather unusual. Kendrick Lamar is, no exaggeration, the best rapper alive. He’s the favorite here. This award starts a disturbing trend among this year’s nominees- there’s so much Macklemore- MACKLEMORE!!! Yes, I am going to do that every type his name because I’m still in disbelief about how many nominations he got. Get used to it. I’ll save hating on him for later. Who is Kacey Musgraves? I looked her up and I still don’t know. Ed Sheeran is another confusing nomination. His debut album came out in September 2011. I’m pretty sure the committee just didn’t have room for him last year and is hoping no one will notice. Unless they really are just nominating a guy for a Taylor Swift duet and a song on The Hobbit’s soundtrack.

Who Should Win

Lorde. But she’s not nominated and that’s against the “rules.” So Kendrick Lamar gets the nod. Kendrick, in addition to outright being the best at it, is the most socially conscious rapper in the industry. It, for better or worse, gets lost in a whirlwind of wordplay and rhyme schemes, whereas Macklemore’s-MACKLEMORE’S!!! socially conscious image is built on his more easily understood style.

Who Will Win

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. “Look, we picked a rapper! We’re hip! We understand the kids today!”- Grammy voters. Don’t sleep on James Blake, either-the committee likes going hipster for this award.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

The eligibility period for the 2014 Grammy Awards was from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. In that time frame, Ed Sheeran released…uh…one song. It’s called “Give Me Love” and it was originally on + (sorry Ed, WordPress won’t let me italicize your plus sign), which, as I previously said, came out in September 2011. The committee is cheating here. You can’t snub a guy and then have a makeup nomination the next year. It’s stealing a spot away from someone who, I don’t know, actually released music during the eligibility period.

Who Got Snubbed?

HAIM comes to mind. If they wanted more rappers, Earl Sweatshirt and A$AP Rocky would’ve been better choices than Macklemore-MACKLEMORE!!! Oh, and also LOOOOOOOOORRRRRRDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEE.

Eric’s Take (in gif format)

"Where's Lorde? Where's Haim?"

“Where’s Lorde? Where’s Haim?”

Best Rock Album

PagePlant

“They think we give a shit about Grammy awards!”

The Nominees

  • 13 by Black Sabbath
  • The Next Day by David Bowie
  • Mechanical Bull by Kings Of Leon
  • Celebration Day by Led Zeppelin
  • …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age
  • Psychedelic Pill by Neil Young

The Breakdown

To save a few words here, Eric and I have already covered The Next Day, …Like Clockwork, and Psychedelic Pill in previous album countdown posts. 13 is, much to my surprise, actually pretty good. Sabbath definitely misses ex-drummer Bill Ward, but they’re still able to lurch and groove like the days of yore. Mechanical Bull also wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t really anything groundbreaking from Kings Of Leon. They don’t stand out in this category. I’m just about as big of a Zeppelin fan as there is, and Celebration Day is an AMAZING step up from the misguided reunions in previous decades. Definitely awesome to see that talent as great as theirs doesn’t fade.

Who Should Win

As you might’ve figured if you read the glowing review I wrote on it, I’m picking …Like Clockwork here. It’s a very strong field this year, with bona fide rock legends occupying half of the nominations, but the new(ish) blood put out the best overall rock album and their best album as a band. (While I’m here, the best Zep, Bowie, and Neil Young albums are, respectively, Led Zeppelin II, Hunky Dory, and After the Gold Rush. If you think otherwise, you’re wrong)

Who Will Win

Led Zeppelin- not because it’s the year’s best rock album, but as some kind of bastardized consolation award that they don’t even want. Don’t get me wrong, Celebration Day is fantastic. Every Zeppelin fan-me included-has to love it. But Zep as a group, incredibly, has won a whopping ZERO Grammys. That’s one less than the Baha Men. It seems live performances very rarely don’t win when nominated, especially when the committee has a chance to give a legendary band a “we screwed up” award after ignoring them through their peak.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

Well, this is what I get for doing my favorite category. No jokes, no one to make fun of. Kings Of Leon are probably the least deserving here, but even that is nitpicking a bit.

Who Got Snubbed?

Arctic Monkeys’ AM is an outstanding album that probably deserved a nomination, but was released just a few weeks before the cutoff date-always a bad time for consideration. Hopefully the committee pulls another Ed Sheeran trick for 2015.

Erics Take(in gif format)

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Best Alternative Music Album

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Gotye brought home this award and two others in 2013. Yeah, remember Gotye? Now he’s just somebody…*puts on shades* that we used to know.

The Nominees

  • The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You by Neko Case
  • Trouble Will Find Me by The National
  • Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch Nails
  • Lonerism by Tame Impala
  • Modern Vampires Of The City by Vampire Weekend

The Breakdown

It’s the alternative category, so there has to be at least one album with a ridiculous, excessively long name. This year, Neko Case fills that spot. She’s an excellent lyricist and songwriter. Her voice is sorta like what Lana Del Rey would sound like if Lana Del Rey didn’t suck. Trouble Will Find Me received insane amounts of praise from critics-maybe the most out of any album this year. Hesitation Marks is covered more in-depth here. Aaaaaand Lonerism here. One more! Modern Vampires here. THANK YOU BASED COUNTDOWN FOR MAKING THIS SECTION EASY.

Who Should Win

Tame Impala. Lonerism is downright spectacular, I don’t know how else to put it. If it were nominated for Album Of The Year I’d pick it for that, too. Seriously.

Who Will Win

It’s a true tossup between Lonerism and Modern Vampires. Neko Case and The National simply don’t have the exposure, and Trent Reznor is just destined to get nominated and lose for this award every time he releases an album. Vampire Weekend gets the nod, I think. It’s more accessible, and if Mumford & Sons taught us anything last year, it’s that accessible is good.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

That Neko Case album…why is its name so goddamn long? It deserves the nomination, but do you have any idea how long it took me to type that thing, capitalizing the first letter of each word? Here are some questions that people have probably asked: “Hey, have you heard Lonerism?”; “Hey, have you heard Modern Vampires of the City?”; “Hey, have you heard Hesitation Marks?”. Here’s a question NOBODY has ever asked: “Hey, have you heard The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You?” Neko. Girl. I love ya. I do. But seriously, you gotta cut it short next time. It’s easier for everyone involved.

Who Got Snubbed?

No James Blake is a bit of a surprise, especially since he’s up for a Big 4 award. Imagine Dragons probably belongs here instead of the rock category, where they had absolutely no chance at a nomination.

Eric’s Take (in gif format)

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“Great field!”

Best Pop Solo Performance

adele

This award is only two years old and Adele won it both times. She’s not nominated, but you just can’t count her out here.

The Nominees

  • “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Royals” by Lorde
  • “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars
  • “Roar” by Boobs Perry Katy Perry
  • “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake

The Breakdown

I don’t wanna be the guy who has to bring this up, since it’s common knowledge at this point, but “Brave” and “Roar” are the same song. Here’s a good mashup. They’re both pretty annoying. And generic. Boy are they generic. Never one to be out generic’d, Bruno Mars is nominated for another cliched piano ballad love song- his specialty. “Royals”, like I’ve said before, is a beautifully crafted song, but not a stunning performance. Her voice is better showcased on some of Pure Heroine‘s other tracks. Justin Timberlake kinda screwed himself out of an Album of The Year nomination by having a double release instead of a box set. “Mirrors” isn’t the best song he’s ever released, but the production on it is good enough to win this award.

Who Should Win

“Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake. JT’s vocal performance is impressive and the production-done, of course, by Timbaland- is outstanding.

Who Will Win

Katy Perry. She was nominated the last two years and probably would’ve won at least once if it wasn’t for Adele winning every Grammy she comes within 10 miles of. I really don’t think much of Ms. Perry-she hasn’t progressed as an artist at all since she hit it big in 2007. But if this award turns out to be a popularity contest (which I think it will) she’ll take it easily.

What The Hell Is That Doing Here?

You can’t really trash one without trashing the other, so I contend that neither “Brave” nor “Roar” belong here. Sara Bareilles is very talented, and-not kidding-every other song on The Blessed Unrest is good. “Brave” is just TERRIBLE. It’s one of only three songs she doesn’t get production credit for on the album, so let’s just chalk it up to that. “Roar” is a painfully predictable pop-song. Nothing to see here.

Who Got Snubbed

Seriously guys, where’s the Miley? She sucks and all but she gives us something to talk about. Did she not draw enough attention to herself this year? Is that the problem? We’d rather have the king of boring, Bruno Mars in there than Miley goddamnmuthafuqqin Cyrus? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Eric’s Take(in gif format)

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Well this was fun. These posts get so long so fast. But I still have so many musicians to hate on! Keep you eyes peeled for a part deux sometime in the next 10 days.

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