Treble’s Grammy Preview: 2013

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Grammy predictions

Best Rock Song

Jack White – “Freedom At 21″ [from Blunderbuss] Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait” [from Babel] The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” [from El Camino] Muse – “Madness” [from The 2nd Law] Bruce Springsteen – “We Take Care Of Our Own” [from Wrecking Ball]

I wasn’t familiar with any of these songs, so I sat through each tune’s music video on Youtube — a complete disaster. The Mumford & Sons tune STILL isn’t a “rock song” — seriously, how is it nominated in this category? The Jack White music video reminded me how I hate Jack White, so I couldn’t concentrate on the song itself with all that hate brewin’. The Springsteen video, while cheesy, didn’t really bother me — the man’s been around long enough to dramatically pose all he wants in whatever video he wants. The dude in the Black Keys video sports some badass dance moves — I dug it. And, finally, I couldn’t make it past the intro to the Muse video, so I still haven’t actually heard the song. I know, I’m arriving at conclusions based on these songs’ videos alone, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter. – RM

Who Will Win? Black Keys all the way, baby!
Who Should Win? Anything off last year’s Violent Bullshit album…oh wait…you meant the nominees? Shit. See above?

Best Rock Album

Black Keys – El Camino
Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Muse – The 2nd Law
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Jack White – Blunderbuss

In case you were wondering, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences defines “rock” as “guitar music played by men, with allowances for keyboards if the men are from England.” I, for one, appreciated this clarification. However, as a Muse fan, I don’t think Muse belongs here. And I’m not surprised that Beach House and Tame Impala didn’t make the cut, as the Grammys require a certain level of commercial viability. But no love for Japandroids? Maybe it’s under “Best Two-Man Punk Album.” I didn’t check. – EM

Who Will Win? Bruce Springsteen (This is like a best-actor nominee portraying a character overcoming his affliction at the Oscars. It’s just inertia at this point).
Who Should Win? The Black Keys


Best Alternative Album

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
Björk – Biophilia
Gotye – Making Mirrors
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Tom Waits- Bad As Me

Much like any other category, the Best Alternative Album lineup has been a mixed bag in the past, last year seeing Bon Iver win in against a shitty Death Cab for Cutie album, an OK Radiohead album, a decent My Morning Jacket album, and Foster the goddamn People. This year, that’s not the case. While Gotye’s Top 40 presence means not really being an “alternative” to anything, the other four are not just categorically correct, but actually really good. Björk’s is noteworthy mostly for its technological integration, while M83 delivered a massive double album, Fiona Apple released her best album to date and Tom Waits merely offered up more of the awesome Tom Waits-ness that we know and love. This one is going to be a tough decision. – JT

Who Will Win? Gotye
Who Should Win? M83

Best R&B Performance

Estelle – “Thank You” [from All of Me] Robert Glasper Experiment feat. Ledisi – “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)” [from Black Radio] Luke James – “I Want You”
Miguel – “Adorn” [from Kaleidoscope Dream] Usher – “Climax” [from Looking 4 Myself]

The big story in 2012 was that it was a particularly vibrant year for R&B, and it’s interesting that one of the most talked-about artists in the genre in the past year, Frank Ocean, isn’t nominated for Best R&B Performance. I’m still trying to figure out how this category differs from “Best R&B Song,” but maybe the key is in the actual execution, rather than how well-written the song is? In that case, maybe the Recording Academy thought Ocean’s performances were a little too raw? Hard to say. But this is a pretty strong batch, and a fairly diverse one, which should make the decision process fairly tough. But still… – JT

Who Will and Should Win? Usher

Best R&B Song

Trey Songz – “Heart Attack” [from Chapter V] Tamia – “Beautiful Surprise” [from Beautiful Surprise] Miguel – “Adorn” [from Kaleidoscope Dream] Anthony Hamilton – “Pray 4 Me” [from Back to Love] Elle Varner – “Refill” [from Perfectly Imperfect]

Now, looking at the comparison between Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance, there’s actually only one artist under both categories — Miguel. And the remainder of the category is occupied by Tamia’s smooth soul, Trey Songz’s boudoir ‘n blues, Anthony Hamilton’s neo-soul and Elle Varner’s electic pop R&B. So, in this case, it’s the song, not the performance, which is ironic, because most of the songs under the “Performance” category were actually better. How do you like that? – JT

Who Will and Should Win? Miguel

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Chris Brown – Fortune
Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Well, first off, it looks like maybe rolling a brand new category out this year may have been a little unnecessary if the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences could only find three albums to nominate. Last year, they decided to pull the plug on the still-fledgling Best R&B Contemporary Album category and just leave the Best R&B Album category by itself. This year we have this bold new category, or at least this bold new title for an old discontinued category. Despite the fact that Chris Brown won Best R&B Album last year (much to the dismay of most people), it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to give it to him again when Frank Ocean is up for Album of the Year. Not that that kind of incongruity is above the Grammys (see Arcade Fire’s loss to The Black Keys in the Best Alternative Music Album in 2011 despite winning Album of the Year) and hey, Fortune is marginally less awful than F.A.M.E, so you never know. Miguel’s album was great, but he’s definitely the underdog here. All in all, last year was Frank Ocean’s year; he should win it and he will win it. – CK

Who Will and Should Win? Frank Ocean

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Best Rap Performance

Drake feat. Lil Wayne – “H.Y.F.R. (Hell Ya Fucking Right)” [from Take Care] Jay-Z and Kanye West – “Niggas In Paris” [from Watch the Throne] Nas – “Daughters” [from Life Is Good] Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz – “Mercy” [from Cruel Summer] Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z and Andre 3000 – “I Do” [from TM: 103 Hustlerz Ambition]

Once again, we have a category split into both “Performance” and “Song” categories, and frankly, with three crossover nominees, they might as well just be combined into one. It seems a little excessive, if you ask me, to have two categories that essentially award the same thing in principle, and to the same artists. But that’s my gripe. The Academy can do what it wants. Jay-Z appears twice here, and Kanye twice as well, so they’re in a pretty plumb spot. However, I feel that Drake should be disqualified on account of spelling “Yeah” as “ya.” – JT

Who Will Win? Jay-Z and Kanye West
Who Should Win? Nas

Best Rap Song

Nas – “Daughters” [from Life Is Good] Wale feat. Miguel – “Lotus Flower Bomb” [from Ambition] Kanye West – “Mercy” [from Cruel Summer] Drake – “The Motto” [from Take Care] Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Niggas In Paris” [from Watch the Throne] Snoop Dogg feat. Bruno Mars – “Young, Wild & Free” [from Mac and Devin Go to High School]

The all-powerful Grammy folks started giving this award in 2004, because, you know, rap music didn’t exist the few decades prior. Former winners include Kanye West, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Ludacris, Kanye West, and Kanye West. Nominated this year are Kanye West, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and other folks who won’t win. – RM

Who Will Win? Drake, but Kanye will steal it from him at one of the after-parties.
Who Should Win? Snoop Dogg (Little known fact: Snoop Dogg’s charm has helped him snatch 14 nominations, but somehow no wins!)

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