Grammy Nominations: Who Should Win, Who Will Win, And Who Got Snubbed

The Grammy nominations have been announced, and there were a lot of pleasant surprises.  Some things I expected (Kanye West and Adele with the most nominations), but there were some genuine shockers (Bon Iver getting so many nominations, Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy not up for Album of the Year).  Here is the list for the most prominent awards and their nominees along with who I think should win, who will probably win, and who I believe got snubbed out of a well-deserved chance at this year’s Grammys.  Also to clarify, Song of the Year means that it was the best written song and the award goes to the songwriters.  Record of the Year is the best sounding song and goes to the performers and producers.

Album of the Year

Adele – 21

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Bruno Mars – Do-Wops & Hooligans

Rihanna – Loud

Who Should Win: None of these.  I’m very unimpressed with this selection.  The only album here I’ve heard is Wasting Light which is a great album, but there were much better albums that came out this year.

Who Will Win: 21, because that’s what most people heard all year.

Who Got Snubbed: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This was truly the album of the year.  It was commercially successful while still being artistically strong.  The Purple Rain of our generation (might not be a good comparison musically, but hopefully you get what I mean).

Record of the Year

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Katy Perry – “Firework”

Who Should Win: “Holocene”.  The production of this song is gorgeous and is matched with an equally gorgeous vocal work from Justin Vernon.  A highlight from a truly great album.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  It was impossible to escape this song, and unfortunately I bet most people have never heard “Holocene” (for those people, please click here).  But then again, I said the same thing about Arcade Fire at last year’s Grammys.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – “Taken For A Fool”.  Listen to the song here and see if you agree.

Song of the Year

Kanye West – “All of the Lights”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Who Should Win: “The Cave”.  This is such a great and uplifting song, something that has been missing from popular music for a long time.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  Same reason as why it’ll win Record of the Year.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart – “Down In The Valley”.  A simple yet powerful song.  Click here to make up your mind on it.

Best New Artist

Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

The Band Perry

Who Should Win: Either Bon Iver or Nicki Minaj.  Both have been around for a decent time making quality music, but they are now getting due credit.  I’ll be happy just as long as J. Cole, Skrillex, or The Band Perry doesn’t win the award.

Who Will Win: This is a tough call.  Probably Nicki Minaj but there’s a decent chance for Bon Iver.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart.  I’m not sure if they would be eligible, but this is a solid band with a promising future.

Best Rock Album

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Jeff Beck – Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You

Wilco – The Whole Love

Who Should Win: The Whole Love.  I’m so glad Wilco gets recognition from the Grammys.  This was by far my favorite album out of all of these, and I actually listened to all of these (expect Jeff Beck).

Who Will Win: Wasting Light.  The album did well commercially and it really is a great album.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – Angels.  This might not be the band’s best album, but it was better than most of the albums on this list.

Best Alternative Album

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys

Foster the People – Torches

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Who Should Win: Bon Iver.  For goodness sake please give Justin Vernon a Grammy.

Who Will Win: No Idea: This is a hard call because all these albums did equally well commercially.  Radiohead is probably the most well known band here, but they don’t deserve this Grammy.

Who Got Snubbed: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues.  This album had my vote for the best album of the year so far.  Though my opinion may have changed, this album still deserves a Grammy.

Best Rap Album

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV

Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Who Should Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  The least the Grammys can do for Kanye is to give him this award to make up for not being nominated for Album of the Year.

Who Will Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  I have faith that the Grammys won’t screw this up, but anything can happen.

Who Got Snubbed: Nobody.  That’s because MBDTF deserves this award.

Other Thoughts On This Year’s Grammys

James Blake should have been nominated for Electronica Album of the Year.

Congratulations to Fleet Foxes for being nominated for Folk Album of the Year.

So how did I do?  Are my predictions accurate or way out of line?  Comment below or Tweet at me (@BradyWGerber) and let me know who should bring home the big trophies at this year’s Grammys.


Music Journal: The Best Albums and Songs of 2011 (So Far!)

Well it’s finally August and it’s the halfway point of the year (ok technically July is the halfway point, but I just got around to doing this; better late than never right?)  So far 2011 has been a pretty good year for music.  There were plenty of great albums that have come out, but I will say that there isn’t one album that towers over the rest.  Here are the albums and songs that I feel are the best ones to have come out this year so far.

Please remember this is all subjective!  I can only give my opinion and I’m sure people will disagree with me on some of my opinions.  Also, there were plenty of albums that came out this year that I haven’t gotten around to listening (Cut Copy, Ty The Creator, etc).  These awards only reflect my music taste and what I have been listening to this year so far.

BEST ALBUM

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

For a long time I was torn between picking Bon Iver or James Blake for this year’s best album so far.  These were the two albums I was most looking forward to, and in no way did these albums not match my expectations.  However, for every great moment on both of these albums there were plenty of filler, and sometimes I caught myself becoming bored.

Helplessness Blues completely caught me off guard.

This album is such a pleasure to listen to, and it works well as an album – all the songs complement each other and it rarely drags on (though “The Shrine / An Argument” is pushing it with its eight long minutes).  This album does not abandon the band’s freak-folk style that made them such a hit in the beginning – you gotta love those harmonies – but they are more confident this time around and they greatly expand their creativity without sacrificing the songs.  Compared to their debut album Fleet Foxes (which is still worth checking out), Helplessness Blues is more colorful, as shown by its beautiful album cover.  This album turned a former skeptic into a fan, and now I believe this band is worth following.

Honorable Mentions (aka you should still buy these albums)

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Yuck – Yuck

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

The Strokes – Angels

James Blake – James Blake

BEST SONG

Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”

The highlight to an excellent album, this was the song that turned me into a fan.

Honorable Mentions

The Head and the Heart – “Down In The Valley”

Yuck – “Shook Down”

James Blake – “Limit To Your Love”

Bon Iver – “Calgary”

The Strokes – “Taken For A Fool”

Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist”

Well how did I do?  Were my opinions not good enough for you, or did I hit the nail on the head?  Comment to let me know and also tweet your favorite albums and songs so far released this year @BradyWGerber.

Stay tuned for more music awards!

I Was There: Bon Iver Live In Indianapolis

Last night’s concert in Indianapolis was awesome!  The new album was well done live and it made me appreciate Bon Iver more – those songs were meant to be heard at a very high volume.  The songs from For Emma, Forever Ago were redone to sound more like the last album, and those songs actually sounded better.  The only exception was “Re: Stacks”, where Justin Vernon came out with just an electric guitar and performed the song solo just like the album.  The room was totally silent – you could hear a pin drop (and I think I did a couple of times).  It was powerful and it was one of the show’s many highlights.  Other highlights included a beefed-up rendition of “Blood Bank”, a Bjork cover with awesome beat-boxing, and the final song “The Wolves: Act I and II” where Vernon had the whole crowd sing the line, “What might have been lost” increasingly louder as the band crescendoed into total chaos.  It was truly a night to remember.

Here’s the setlist

Perth

Minnesota, WI

Calgary

Towers

Michicant

Flume

Blood Bank

Hinnom, TX

Wash.

Beach Baby

Holocene

Re: Stacks

Creature Fear

Beth/Rest

For Emma

ENCORE:

Skinny Love

Who is it

     -Bjork cover

The Wolves: Act I & II

Playlist: Introspective modern folk songs

For full effect, listen by yourself at night time when you’re in a reflective mood.

“Older Chests” – Damien Rice

“World Spins Madly On” – The Weepies

“Quiet” – John Mayer

“Waiting On an Angel” – Ben Harper

“Skinny Love” – Bon Iver

“Lua” – Bright Eyes

“I Will Follow You Into the Dark” – Death Cab For Cutie

“All At Once” – Jack Johnson

“I Was Just Thinking” – Teitur

“Stop This Train” – John Mayer

Classics In The Making: Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Soundtrack to the cold grey winter.

Wintertime in Indiana – or anywhere in the midwest – just plain sucks.  The snow is nice during Christmas and it’s nice to have snow to bring in the new year, but soon the snow turns from white to grey and we all start to notice how bitter the cold is.  It is days like this where you don’t want to be outside, but rather hiding in your house, with no sun to make the day – or your attitude – any brighter.  There is a particular album that I listen to when the day is like this, when all I want to do is escape from the cold and get lost in my music, and that album is For Emma, Forever Ago by Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver.

This album appeals to the isolationist in all of us, for it was written by one.  After breakups with his band and girlfriend, Vernon retrieved to his father’s cabin in Wisconsin during the winter months to clear his head, and what came out was this collection of beautiful songs.  The songs are lush but minimal, with only acoustic guitars and bits of soft drums to accompany Vernon’s layered falsetto voice (it’s hard to figure out what he’s saying most of the time, but it sure does sound pretty).  Tracks like “Skinny Love”, “Blindsided”, and “Re: Stacks” are the standouts, all of which can be taken away from the album and still hold its gentle disposition.

The most incredible thing about this album is how clear we can see ourselves in the Wisconsin hills, surrounded by nothing but the snow and our thoughts.  This album takes you to where Vernon was, that dark place we all go to from time to time.  So enjoy the music, and enjoy your time alone with yourself.