It’s well-documented that the Grammys are awfully messed up. I don’t need to rehash that here. Instead, let’s take a look at what the Grammys would look like this year if someone smart, capable, and really, really good-looking ran them. Who, me? Why, yes, I’d love to.
A few rules to go over first though. First of all, I’d like to change the fact that the Grammy cutoff is September 30th every year, meaning that three whole months of 2013 music weren’t considered for this year’s Grammys and that three whole months of 2012 were, so that’s why only two of the Albums of the Year nominees are from 2013. However, I think I’ll keep it that way just so my Grammys can be a little bit screwy.
Second of all, I’m keeping Song of the Year and Record of the Year separate. The Grammys’ Song of the Year awards songwriting, while the Record of the Year awards production and performance. I think that’s a legitimate line of separation for the two.
I won’t include albums or songs in the major categories that I think stand no chance of being nominated for Grammys. That means the artist and/or album must have had a certain amount of popularity. So while my personal Album of the Year might be Jason Isbell’s Southeastern, there’s no way it would ever be nominated for Album of the Year. But it could be nominated for Americana Album of the Year, because, for me, anything goes in those genre awards.
Both who I think will win and who won my vote are in bold:
Album of the Year
I am terrible at picking this category, but I think Daft Punk has the most momentum since it dominated 2013. But given the Grammys’ strange track record, I have to root for Sara Bareilles to win this. How great would it be if she won? She’s an awesome person, and, while I don’t like the album much, I love upsets and want the Grammys to be as crazy and wacked out as possible. But in my version, I switched Bareilles out for a folk album that actually makes sense (The Civil Wars’ album hit No. 1 on Billboard and the duo has a lot of support in the industry), replaced Daft Punk’s overblown effort with Justin Timberlake’s somewhat less overblown effort, and replaced Macklemore’s approximation of an album with Kanye’s masterpiece. I don’t really have a problem with Taylor in the lineup, but I preferred Lorde’s revelatory pop album to Swift’s more straightforward one. And, in a surprise win, to the joy of music lovers everywhere, Kendrick Lamar wins the big one and good kid is the first rap album to win Album of the Year since- wow, since 10 years ago when OutKast won? And that’s the only rap album that’s ever won? I’m about to change my mind- there’s nothing I can do about the Grammys. They’re unfixable.
Record of the Year
Real nominees: “Locked Out of Heaven”, Bruno Mars
“Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams)”, Daft Punk
“Radioactive”, Imagine Dragons
“Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams)”, Robin Thicke
“Get Lucky” was the best song of the year, hands down. “Locked Out” and “Royals” are the only actual nominees that can even compete. It’s a travesty that “Blurred Lines” was even nominated. And “Radioactive” may be one of the worst popular “rock” songs in recent history. Drake, Kendrick, and Taylor make much better bedfellows for Lorde and Daft Punk.
My nominees: “Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams)”, Daft Punk
“Hold On, We’re Going Home (feat. Majid Jordan) ”, Drake
“B***h, Don’t Kill My Vibe [Explicit]”, Kendrick Lamar
“I Knew You Were Trouble”, Taylor Swift
Song of the Year
I hate “Same Love”, but the Grammys like to pretend they’re progressive (I say pretend because they nominated “Blurred Lines” in the previous category), so it’ll probably win. I’d prefer “Royals” over any of them, but I would be happy with “Locked Out” or even “Just Give Me a Reason”. But “Mirrors” was the best-written song of the year, music and lyrics.
Best New Artist
Neither Ed Sheeran nor Kacey Musgraves really belongs in this category, since they both released their debut album/single respectively before the voting deadline. Kendrick deserves it, and in a perfect world (read: my world), he’d win it. But Macklemore’s going to get it. Booo.
Best Pop Album
Real nominees (Pop Vocal Album): Unorthodox Jukebox, Bruno Mars
The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience, Justin Timberlake
Paradise, Lana Del Rey
Pure Heroine, Lorde
Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke
I don’t particularly like Bruno Mars’s album, but it wouldn’t be a tragedy if it won. The real tragedy is that the Recording Academy deigned to give Robin Thicke another nomination in the place of really strong work from three newcomers, Ariana Grande, Charli XCX, and Haim.
Best Rock Album
Real nominees: 13, Black Sabbath
The Next Day, David Bowie
Mechanical Bull, Kings of Leon
Celebration Day, Led Zeppelin
Psychedelic Pill, Neil Young with Crazy Horse
…Like Clockwork, Queens of the Stone Age
The nominees in this category are a joke, but it’s hard not to admit that there’s not much mainstream rock out there to reward. I’m predicting a win for Queens of the Stone Age, since it’s the only album on the list that really rocks. But I prefer the lesser heard rhythms of all my nominees, especially the fiery, punk-tinged music of Frank Turner.
Best Alternative Album
Real nominees: Trouble Will Find Me, The National
The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, Neko Case
Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails
Lonerism, Tame Impala
Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend
I’d be happy with any of these nominees winning, but Vampire Weekend seems to have the most support. I would’ve liked to have seen Laura Marling get some love for her best album so far in her young career.
Best R&B Album
I’ve only listened to the Legend album, but it’s Legend is the biggest name on this list, aside from Keys, who didn’t inspire anyone with Girl on Fire. I loved Love in the Future, but Goldenheart is more impressive and passionate, and severely underrated.
Best Rap Album
This isn’t a bad group of nominees- except for the fact that they included Jay-Z and Macklemore, but the quality of the other three can’t be denied. This one should go to Kendrick, and rightfully so. In my nominees, I’d take out the albums that are bad, and throw in some albums that are good and that would never receive Recording Academy love, since they’re Christian rap albums.
Best Christian Album
Real nominees (Contemporary Christian Music): We Won’t Be Shaken, Building 429
Burning Lights, Chris Tomlin
All the People Said Amen [Live], Matt Maher
Your Grace Finds Me [Live], Matt Redman
The Recording Academy doesn’t really listen to Christian music, so of course their lineup is generic and not at all representative of what’s going on in Christian music today. But then again, my nominees aren’t either, they’re just personal preferences. However, I included three members of the old guard (Derek Webb, Jars of Clay, and Sandra McCracken), the band that’s ready to take over the Great Christian Band mantle (Gungor), and an up-and-coming indie group (Golden Youth). Maybe I’m not so bad at this.
Best Americana Album
Real nominees: Songbook, Allen Toussaint
Buddy and Jim, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale
Old Yellow Moon, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
One True Vine, Mavis Staples
Love Has Come for You, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell
Let’s face it: country music doesn’t really deserve a category of its own. The genre has been lackluster for too long; the real vanguard is in folk and Americana music. Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe could have snuck in here, but these five albums were too strong to give those two the nod just because they’re more traditionally country. Let’s give Americana the spotlight it deserves for making the quality music that Nashville has been missing.