Category Archives: Grammys

2017 Record of the Year Nominations Prediction

The 2017 Grammy nominations announcement is just a few weeks away – December 14th – so here are yet more of my predictions, this time for Record of the Year:

  • “Hello” – Adele
  • “7 Years” – Lukas Graham
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake
  • “Cheap Thrills” – Sia featuring Sean Paul
  • “Closer” – The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey

2017 Best New Artist Grammy Predictions – Updated

We’re one month away from the 2017 Grammy nominations being announced, so I thought I’d share my predictions – it’s fun for me and sometimes I’m weirdly accurate.  One year I correctly guessed all the nominees for Record of the Year and I was 90% accurate on the other main categories (not that I’m bragging).

Anyway…

I know I already written about my predictions for Best New Artist, but I think that was a bit premature – at the time I didn’t realize that some of the following artists could be nominated.  So below is an updated list of artists (in no particular order) who I believe could/should get nominated (not that the people in the last shouldn’t be nominated, but I think these artists have greater odds of getting nominated).

Kelsea Ballerini

 

Halsey

 

Twenty One Pilots

 

Alessia Cara

 

Maren Morris

 

Rachel Platten

 

Personally, I think Twenty One Pilots, Halsey, and Maren Morris have the greatest chance of being nominated considering each made huge waves in their respective genres.  Twenty One Pilots had a huge year with their hits “Stressed Out,” “Ride,” and “Heathens,” it’s almost likely they’ll get nominated.  Halsey’s break out with Badlands and her new take on alt-electronic-pop deserves a nod.  Maren Morris’ Hero is one of the biggest country albums this year, and she recently was nominated for a lot of big CMA awards (i.e. she has critical acclaim).

Kelsea Ballerini likewise made similar splashes in country music like Morris, but I’m hesitant to think she’ll be nominated because her album The First Time was released outside the Grammy period.  However, the Grammy’s have bended this rule before, so you never know.

Alessia Cara and Rachel Platten both had huge hits (“Here” and “Fight Song,” respectively) and likewise have chances of being nominated as both albums are within the Grammy period.  I’m hesitant, however, because while I’d love to see both of them there, I have a gut feeling…

2017 Best New Artist Grammy Nominees Prediction

While the 2017 Grammy nomination period officially comes to a close September 30th, I’ve been thinking a lot about potential nominees, particularly Best New Artist.  Now the rules state that the nominee has to release “the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist” during the period,  which would mean the album would be released October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016.  I don’t know how strictly they enforce this because, for instance, Ed Sheeran’s album + was released in America in June 2012, but he was nominated for the 2014 Best New Artist – the release date was within the 2013 Grammy period.  Regardless, I thought I’d throw a list together.  It’s fun for me.

Halsey really made waves this past year with her album Badlands, which showcased her unique take on electronica/alternative.

Twenty One Pilots are a shoo-in for the nomination and win.  They blew up last summer with “Stressed Out” and have been dominating the charts this summer and breaking records.

Rachel Platten was pretty big last summer with her hit “Fight Song” and made some more waves with “Stand By You.”  She’d be an underdog, but Platten has proven people wrong time and time again, so she could get nominated.

Charlie Puth burst on to the scene with his “See You Again” collaboration with Wiz Khalifa, but this past year he shaped pop music with his album Nine Track Mind.

Shawn Mendes rose to prominence in 2015 with his hit “Stitches,” and his album.  Personally, I think it’d be a stretch for him to be nominated, although he does have an incredible voice.

Marren Morris made her debut in late 2015 with her hit “My Church” and is the country darling following in the steps of hitmakers like Sheryl Crow and Kacey Musgraves.

So…that’s what I got so far.  I’ll probably add to it and create more lists, but it’ll be interesting to see who gets nominated in December!

The Reincarnations of “Torn”

I was driving around the other day, flipping through the radio stations.  It was an odd hour of the day where they play blasts from the past, so I wasn’t really finding anything particularly alluring.  I skipped to a channel that happened to be playing Natalie Imbruglia’s ’90s hit “Torn.”  The song is a little bit before my time, but I’ve heard it so I was slightly familiar.

Because I’m me, I decided to do some research behind the song and learn it’s history.  Basically, “Torn” has been Imbruglia’s only real hit in America (she was quite big in Australia), and it garnered her three Grammy nominations (Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance).  But what I found even more interesting is that the song that made her career was actually a cover.  The original English version of the song was recorded by Ednaswap, an alternative rock group.  I like Ednaswap’s version, it has a good edge to it – it’s less airy than Imbruglia’s.

But the funny thing is that Ednaswap technically covered the song too!  The song was originally recorded in 1993 by Danish singer Lis Sørensen with the title “Brændt,” meaning “Burned.”  The song was translated into English and recorded by Ednaswap.

It’s interesting the incarnations the song took, it reminds me of “Angel of the Morning” in that it appears many different people recorded it until it got a large audience appeal.

If I Was an Executive Producer

At this year’s Grammy Awards, Taylor Swift took home the award for Album of the Year, making her the first female artist to win the award as the lead artist of an album more than once.  She has also joined the ranks of Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and U2 for winning Album of the Year as the lead artist more than once (Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder are the only two artists to win this award three times).

What's curiously interesting about Swift's wins is that both her winning albums - Fearless and 1989 - have a total of thirteen tracks, the only two of her albums to have that amount of tracks.  Swift has said for years that the number thirteen is her lucky charm...it's kind of intriguing that the two albums to have thirteen tracks went on to win the top prize of the music industry.

But, let’s look at her fourth album Red which was also nominated for the coveted Album of the Year Grammy, but lost to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.  It deserved the nomination because Red challenged what we think of contemporary country music, almost to the breaking point.  She added synths and dubstep beats onto the album that are unknown to the genre and still dared to call it country.  And it still fit in the spirit of country music – she was speaking her truths in the storybook tradition of country music, but did it in a rather unusual sonic way.  She took risks and it deserved the recognition it got.

The album, however great it is, still held a major flaw: it was too long.  The standard version holds a whopping sixteen tracks (which any self proclaimed Swiftie was/is overjoyed by this treat), something Swift did to give her fans everything that fit in the Red-era without having them to purchase a reissue a year after the release to gain three extra songs (remember: there was no Red: Platinum Edition like Fearless or tour CD/DVD like Speak Now).

However, if I was the executive producer on Red, I would’ve cut the album down to thirteen tracks.  This is not to fit in with Swift’s lucky charm, but because the extra tracks did in fact bloat and dilute the core theme of the album.  When she first announced Red, Swift described the album: “All the different emotions that are written about on this album are…about the kind of tumultuous, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic relationships that I’ve experienced… All those emotions…are red…. There’s nothing beige about any of those feelings.”  This intense passion is felt in the majority of the album, but as you continue on to the album towards its end, it starts to lose that intensity (and, by the way, it’s not only Taylor Swift that this happens/ed to.  I find most albums that exceed fourteen tracks tend to drag on…it’s to a point where you start to feel lost and lose track of where the album is going).

Here was the tracklisting Swift presented on Red in 2012 (*tracks that were presented as bonus tracks on the Target Edition):

  1. State of Grace
  2. Red
  3. Treacherous
  4. I Knew You Were Trouble.
  5. All Too Well
  6. 22
  7. I Almost Do
  8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
  9. Stay Stay Stay
  10. The Last Time (featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol)
  11. Holy Ground
  12. Sad Beautiful Tragic
  13. The Lucky One
  14. Everything Has Changed (featuring Ed Sheeran)
  15. Starlight
  16. Begin Again
  17. The Moment I Knew*
  18. Come Back…Be Here*
  19. Girl At Home*

The first thing as executive producer I did was airlift “Treacherous” out and replaced it with “Come Back…Be Here.”  I felt the transition from “Red” to “Come Back…Be Here” hit a stronger and sweeter note.  It also made me, as an objective listener, keep me listening on to “I Knew Were Trouble.”  I personally felt that “Treacherous” made it easy for the listener to get distract and stop listening or to simply skip to the next track.

When listening to Red, I think  the point where Swift starts to drift away from the Red theme is somewhere after “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”  So, I laid out those ten songs (counting the bonus tracks minus “Come Back Be Here” since I moved that to the beginning of the album), and ranked them based on which ones fit the albums best and which ones were catchy/couldn’t be left off.

This resulted with me cutting “Stay Stay Stay” and replacing it with “Girl At Home.”  While I like “Stay Stay Stay” very much – it’s fun and upbeat – it’s almost too cheerful.  I also think that “Girl At Home” is more whimsical and a better fit.  I then cut “Holy Ground,” “The Lucky One,” “Starlight,” and “The Moment I Knew.”  Some of these songs got cut because they just didn’t fit (e.g. “Starlight” represents the passionate spark of love, but I didn’t have enough space and I felt others were a bit stronger).  Others I felt didn’t really fit the theme of the album.  For example, I really like “The Lucky One” (if you remember, it was a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay), but I just can’t see it fitting into the Red theme.  It doesn’t spark passion, but describes a situation where Swift regrets her fame.  It’s kind of a downer.

My final act as executive producer was arranging the tracks to be sonically cohesive.  This I struggled with because I don’t think they overall tell a linear story, but I do think they fit well together sonically.

My edit of Red:

  1. State of Grace
  2. Red
  3. Come Back Be Here
  4. I Knew You Were Trouble
  5. All Too Well
  6. 22
  7. I Almost Do
  8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
  9. Girl At Home
  10. The Last Time
  11. Sad Beautiful Tragic
  12. Everything Has Changed
  13. Begin Again

I need to end this post by saying that I admire every song Taylor Swift writes.  I think she is a very gifted songwriter and musician – she has a way of connecting words and beats that most can’t do.  This wasn’t in anyway to criticize or judge her, but a fun exercise of my love of crafting playlists and playing pretend-producer.  Again, I think Red is a phenomenal album and just wanted to see if it was possible to make it a thirteen track album…

My Grammy Predictions 2016

The Grammys are tonight, and I thought I’d collate all my predictions into one post.  I didn’t manage to write about all the nominees (there were a lot) but I hit the top four plus a couple more.

Note: The bolded and underlined nominee is the nominee who I think will win.  The nominee colored in red is the nominee I think should  win.  Sometimes it will be both.

Album of the Year

  • 1989 – Taylor Swift
  • To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
  • Traveller – Chris Stapleton
  • Sound & Color  – Alabama Shakes
  • Beauty Behind the Madness – The Weeknd

Record of the Year

  • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars*
  • “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
  • “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran
  • “Really Love” – D’Angelo And the Vanguard
  • “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd*
    • *I feel like either “Uptown Funk” or “Can’t Feel My Face” either win…

Song of the Year

  • “Blank Space” by Max Martin, Shellback, and Taylor Swift (Taylor Swift, artist)
  • “See You Again” by DJ Frank E, Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa, and Andrew Cedar (Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, artists)
  • “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran, artist)
  • “Girl Crush” by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, and Liz Rose (Little Big Town, artist)
  • “Alright” by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears, and Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar, artist)

Best New Artist

  • Meghan Trainor
  • James Bay
  • Tori Kelly
  • Sam Hunt
  • Courtney Barnett

*I don’t know who will win…too close to call.

Best Pop Solo Performance

  • “Heartbeat Song” – Kelly Clarkson
  • “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
  • “Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding
  • “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran
  • “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

  • “Ship to Wreck” – Florence + The Machine
  • “Sugar” – Maroon 5
  • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars*
  • “Bad Blood” – Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar
  • “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth*
    • *Like Record of the Year, I feel either one could win..too close to call.

Why Wasn’t Selena Gomez “Good For” a Grammy?

So, I will admit that recently I’ve had “Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky)” by Selena Gomez stuck in my head.  I think it has some clever lyrics and interesting vocalizations.  The more I listen to it, the more I pay attention to Gomez’s vocals, which has got me wondering why she wasn’t nominated for a Grammy for her vocal work.

Revival is Gomez'a second solo studio album, her fifth overall (she has three with her band Selena Gomez & the Scene) and features "Good For You."

Revival is Gomez’s second solo studio album, her fifth overall (she has three with her band Selena Gomez & the Scene) and features “Good For You.”

If you forget the fact that it’s Selena Gomez singing and listen to how she sings the song, it’s actually quite substantial for the 2014-2015 music period.  She does this soft, murmured vocal that effectively grabs the listener in, in rather a haunting way.  This is something that wasn’t done through the year, and it is a huge step outside of Gomez’s past work.  While the song as a whole includes influences of hip-hop, R&B, and electric slow jam, it’s her vocals that really create the character and life of the song.

If Gomez sang the song solo (without the feature), I think she could’ve gotten nominated for the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance.  Maybe. Probably.  If politics didn’t come into play.  However, because she has A$AP Rocky featured on the track, it couldn’t qualify for the solo performance category.  It could’ve, on the other hand, been nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, but it never stood a chance with this year’s nominees.  When you have five nomination spots in a year of major collaborative hits (e.g. “Uptown Funk,” “See You Again,” “Bad Blood,” etc.), it was obviously going to lessen the odds of “Good For You” being nominated.  This  has to do with the fact that Gomez’s vocals and A$AP Rocky’s rap don’t meld as fluidly as Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar on “Bad Blood” or Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth on “See You Again.”  Both those songs feature two artists from opposite musical worlds coming together to create a unified front.  Meanwhile, Gomez and Rocky aren’t necessarily dependent on each other.  I think a strong collaboration would require the song’s success to be due to the fact all parties involved hold equal weight in it and elevate the song.  If we look back at “Bad Blood” – a song released to radio in both a solo and duo format (the song originally was a Swift-only song before Lamar remixed it and added his verses) – the song was transformed and elevated with the collaboration.  Sure, the solo song is strong, but the version with Kendrick Lamar is a completely different animal and is elevated from the original.  If you take Lamar out of “Bad Blood” it doesn’t stay the same.  However, the Gomez-only and the Gomez-Rocky version of “Good For You” literally sound the same. You could take out the rap or put it in and it wouldn’t help or hurt the integrity of the song.  That isn’t a slight against either artist, it’s just how the song is structured.

Just my thoughts.  For you.

Album of the Year – My Predictions

Album of the Year Nominees:

  • 1989 – Taylor Swift
  • To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
  • Traveller – Chris Stapleton
  • Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes
  • Beauty Behind the Madness  – The Weeknd.

Who Should Win: 1989 – Taylor Swift

This is not my inner Swiftie shining through, I truly think Swift had the strongest albums of the 2015 season after listing to all nominees.  In fact, Billboard reported it as being a “cultural juggernaut,” a term they did not use for any of the other nominees.  The fact that it had such a powerful impact in pop culture and is such a sonically strong and cohesive album, it deserves the Grammy.  The other nominees are certainly strong contenders, but none of them are “juggernauts” like 1989.

Who Will Win1989 – Taylor Swift

There is a chance 1989 will not win simply because Taylor Swift has already won Album of the Year.  Only a handful of artists have won this top prize more than once.  This seriously isn’t a reason not to vote for her, but politics do come in to play with Grammys…unfortunately.  But, I can’t see the Grammys giving this to anyone else as 1989 had such a huge impact on music.  Although, we were all surprised last year when Beck won for Morning Phase against Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which many considered the shoo-in.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance – My Predictions

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Nominees:

  • “Ship to Wreck” – Florence + The Machine
  • “Sugar” – Maroon 5
  • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  • “Bad Blood” – Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar
  • “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth

Who Should Win: “Bad Blood” – Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

While Florence Welch’s voice in “Ship to Wreck,” like anything she sings, is pure gold, and while “Uptown Funk” and “See You Again” were perhaps the anthems of 2015, “Bad Blood” has the most cohesive collaborative nature to it.  The song emits the anger and frustration through Swift’s parts but it is even more enforced by Lamar’s sharp raps and attitude.  Swift and Lamar come from two different worlds (the former from the country-pop, the latter from rap/hip hop), and yet they can cohesively make a song together.  If you read the collaboration on paper before listening to it, it would look like a joke and like it shouldn’t work.  But it fits like a glove.

Who Will Win: “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth or “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars

If we vote based on which song is the biggest, it would be a tie between “See You Again” and “Uptown Funk” (although, I was reading in Billboard that “Uptown Funk” was the number one song of 2015 by a significant margin), so it’s close which one will win.  I, again, think “See You Again” will win simply for the fact it’s an ode to the late Paul Walker…I also think it’s this reason why it will win the Golden Globe and get nominated and win the Academy Award.  I’m not suggesting it’s not a good song or isn’t deserving of any recognition, it just has that aspect of it to make it shine a little brighter in a group of close nominees.