Tag Archives: Grammy

2017 Grammy Nominations!

So the 2017 Grammy nominations came out a few days ago.  Normally, I’m counting down the days, and then spend the whole next week after the nominations come out digesting the results, then I try to get as many of the nominated albums as possible and try to listen to it all.

This year?

I completely forgot about the nominations.  I’ve been so busy with work and school that I just haven’t had time to care.  On the whole, I still like the notion of the Grammys because, in my opinion, they celebrate music and they work to celebrate all kinds of music.  Indeed, they are always creating new categories to accurately reflect the new genres coming out.  While I may not always agree with the nominees, I think it is at least a good attempt to bringing recognition to the importance of music.

This year, I got to say there were a lot of nominees that I didn’t see happening.  I mean, it was no surprise that Beyoncé and Adele got so many nominations, but I didn’t think Justin Bieber would ever get an Album of the Year nod.  Purpose did really well for Bieber these past few years, so it’s not surprising, it just unlike the Grammys.  I was pleasantly surprised by Mike Posner’s Song of the Year nomination for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” – the song, particularly the original, is incredible vulnerable and beautiful, and I would love to see it win.  However, my bet is it’s either “Hello” that will win or “Formation.”

Anyway, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see who will win – if I remember!

You can view the full list of nominees here.

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

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…

Taylor Swift Live!

A week or so ago (or, perhaps, a month? Time flies…), Taylor Swift posted videos of her performing acoustic versions of “Wildest Dreams” and “Blank Space” at the Grammy Museum.  And, they are stunning.  The “Wildest Dreams” version is particularly fantastic, the solo guitar with the reverb transforms the song and makes it even more beautiful.  The acoustic “Blank Space” reminds us of her country background and reminds us that she hasn’t completely shed her roots.

Check them out below, I seriously recommend the “Wildest Dreams” one.

Best Pop Solo Performance – Predictions

Best Pop Solo Performance Nominees:

  • “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

Who Should Win: “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran

Performance categories are always hard for me because each artist has a different singing style, so you can’t judge based on their vocal quality.  I mean, if you put Adele in the category (I know she’s not this year, but next year…) she’d win because Adele could sing my grocery list and it’d be flawless.  Therefore, I’d have to judge this based on which performance grabbed me in the most and had struck me the most, and Ed Sheeran did that.  He doesn’t hold back and really grabs the listener into his song. When he sings on this track, it feels like time stands still.

Who Will Probably Win: “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

I feel like I’m going to write this a lot, but any one of these nominees could win.  They each have very emotive performances, so it probably will come down to politics…

Still, The Weeknd, does have an exceptional vocal performance on “Can’t Feel My Face.”  I personally enjoy when he sings in his lower register.  Still, I’d prefer to see Ed Sheeran win because he does this vocal thing in the last chorus that feels more real than The Weeknd’s performance.  But, again, it’s a gut feeling…

2015 Album of the Year Nominees

Finally, all the 2015 Grammy nominations have been released.  For all eighty-three categories.  And what a long day…they certainly dragged that out!

The nominees for Album of the Year:

Morning Phase – Beck

Beyoncé – Beyoncé

X – Ed Sheeran

In the Lonely Hour – Sam Smith

G I R L – Pharrell Williams

You can read the full list on the Grammy website here.